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John C. Stennis Strike Group WESTPAC 07 Deployment
CVN-74 John C. Stennis
"Johnny Reb" / "Look Ahead"

USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) pulled into its new homeport at Bremerton's Delta Pier on Naval Base Kitsap (NBK) on January 8, 2005 at 1 p.m. Stennis moved to Bremerton, Wash., from San Diego to utilize NBK's overhaul facilities and to replace USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70), which would in turn be moving to Norfolk, Va.

USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) entered dry dock at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard on Jan. 19, 2005 for a routine Docking Planned Incremental Availability (DPIA). Stennis was scheduled to remain in dry dock until early September. Although the entire DPIA was scheduled for 10 and a half months, the ship was expected to only remain in dry dock for seven and a half months with sea trials scheduled for mid-December. Work preformed while the ship is in dry dock included assessment of the condition of the hull and any necessary repairs, refurbishment of the shafting, rudders, screws, and all seawater hull valves and sea chests. Preservation work on the anchors and anchor chains were also accomplished. In addition, work was done on combat systems upgrades, as well as installation of a new Integrated Bridge System in the pilothouse that will save manpower and provide state-of-the-art displays.

One of the major renovations Stennis received was a new mast. The new mast's structure is the first of its kind. A new type of steel alloy was used, making the mast stiffer and thicker than before. The new mast is also heavier and taller, allowing it to support new antennas the old mast would not have been able to support.

The Nimitz-class nuclear powered aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) departed her homeport in Bremerton, Wash., for a weeklong phase of sea trials Dec. 12 after spending more than 11 months receiving extensive equipment and technology upgrades during a scheduled Docked Phased Incremental Availability (DPIA) at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard (PSNS). USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) returned to homeport in Bremerton, Wash., Dec. 17 after completing the first weeklong phase of sea trials.

Stennis' successful completion of sea trials will lead the ship to the next phase of testing this winter, when the Navy's board of Inspection and Survey (INSURV) team will come on board. The inspection is typically conducted every five years to perform a thorough all-encompassing inspection of nearly every aspect of a Navy vessel in areas of material readiness, maintenance and safety.

The crew of USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) briefly returned to San Diego Feb. 4 for the first time since Stennis underwent a homeport change to Bremerton, Wash., in January 2005. Stennis pulled into Naval Base Coronado, Calif., for a two-day port visit and picked up the crew and equipment of Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 9, Stennis' newly assigned airwing. Shortly after leaving port, Carrier Air Wing 9 began flying aircraft aboard for a one-week underway testing and qualification period, where Stennis' flight-deck operability was top priority.

With the recovery of an SH-60 helicopter from Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron (HS) 8, USS John C. Stennis' (CVN 74) flight deck was certified capable of conducting regular flight operations Feb. 8, transforming the ship from a carrier in maintenance back to an operational carrier.

The commanding officer and crew of USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) celebrated with a traditional spiking of a football in Hangar Bay 2 for passing its INSURV (Board of Inspection and Survey) 21 April 2006. Stennis earned the highest scores ever for an aircraft carrier during its inspection and survey.

USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) returned to Bremerton, Wash., 18 July 2006, after a seven-week underway period jammed with an assortment of tests, inspections and qualifications. Stennis was certified surge ready, meaning the ship will have to maintain a high state of readiness in case of an unscheduled deployment. To begin the underway, Stennis underwent a week-long combat systems ship's qualification trial (CSSQT), which included the test firing of the ship's Close-in Weapons System (CIWS), NATO Sea Sparrow Missile System (NSSMS) and the new Rolling Airframe Missile system (RAM). All the tests were completed successfully.

USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) returned to Naval Base Kitsap, Bremerton, Wash., Nov. 21 after completing its Joint Task Force Exercise (JTFEX) off the coast of Southern California. The exercise was the final step in preparing the carrier and John C. Stennis Carrier Strike Group (JCSSG) for deployment. It was designed to test the strike group's ability to operate in a complex warfighting environment with other U.S. and coalition forces. At the conclusion of JTFEX, Commander, U.S. 3rd Fleet, Vice Adm. Barry Costello certified the JCSSG as "ready for deployment." According to Stennis' Commanding Officer, Capt. Brad Johanson, JTFEX was the capstone event of the ship's three-phase inter-deployment training cycle.

"The Tailored Ship's Training Availability was the first training phase that tested John C. Stennis' ability to respond to threats against the ship," said Johanson. "The second phase, the Composite Training Unit Exercise, tested the strike group's ability to work together in a major combat operations scenario. The final phase, JTFEX, was a graduate level exercise combining two carrier strike groups into a single carrier task force for the planning and execution of various air, surface, and anti-submarine warfare operations. JTFEX was the graduating exam that proves we are ready to deploy." Upon arrival, Stennis' 3,200 Sailors will begin their holiday stand down before leaving in late January 2007 for its scheduled deployment.

CBS News reported on 18 December 2006 that the Bush administration had decided to ramp up the naval presence in the Persian Gulf to send a message to Tehran. CBS reported that an additional aircraft carrier would be added to the Gulf contingent in January 2007. A Pentagon official called the report "premature" and denied knowledge of changes in deployments in the Gulf. The New York Times reported 20 December 2006 that the Bremerton-based aircraft carrier and its strike group could leave weeks earlier than planned as part of a move to increase the U.S. military presence in and around the Middle East. Cmdr. Dave Werner, a Navy spokesman at the Pentagon, said that no decision had been made about changing the level of naval forces in the region.

Moving up the Stennis' departure date in January 2006 allows a longer overlap with USS Dwight D. Eisenhower, the carrier currently in the Persian Gulf. Eisenhower deployed 01 October 2006, and could remain on station into March 2007. According to the New York Times story, "Doubling the number of carriers in the region offers commanders the flexibility of either keeping both strike groups in the Gulf or keeping one near Iran while placing a second carrier group outside the Gulf, where it would be in position to fly combat patrols over Afghanistan or cope with growing violence in the Horn of Africa."

The Stennis departed on the roughly 12,000 nm voyage to the Persian Gulf on 20 January 2006. The transit time depends on the cruising speed of the ships, assuming no intermediate port calls, and based on making best speed [though in practice such speeds are frequently not sustained, and port calls can slow things considerably]. At 20 knots the voyage would take 25 days [600 hours] arriving around 24 February. At 24 knots the voyage would take 21 days [500 hours] arriving around 20 February. At 28 knots the voyage would take 18 days [429 hours] arriving around 17 February.

The USS John C. Stennis (CVN-74) Carrier Strike Group entered the 7th Fleet Area of Responsibility on 31 January 2007. The USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) Carrier Strike Group (JCSSG) entered the Guam Operating Area (GOA) 04 February 2007 to conduct several days of exercises while in the region. The distance between Bremerton and Guam is almost exactly 9,000 kilometers, or about 4,850 nautical miles, suggesting the Stennis was making about 13.5 knots [4,850 nm / 360 hours]. As of 08 February 2007 the JCSSG had "recently" completed flight and ISG operations off the coast of Guam, and is now headed west to provide support for U.S. and coalition forces operating in the U.S. 5th Fleet. While there, the strike group will support Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom, conduct maritime security operations, and be prepared to support other taskings as assigned.

Stennis visited Singapore 18-23 July 2007. While operating in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility (AOR), Stennis' Sailors and Marines participated in five COMREL projects in Singapore.

Sailors and Marines from USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) returned to sea 01 August 2007 after a five-day port visit in Hong Kong. After completing four and a half months of operations in the Middle East, Hong Kong was the fifth port visit of the ship's deployment. While in Hong Kong, Sailors and Marines gave back to local communities by volunteering for community relations (COMREL) projects. More than 250 service members participated in 13 COMREL programs, from playing with elementary children to cleaning local beaches. Stennis' MWR division provided a variety of tours and trips enjoyed by 2,629 crew members including a trip to Disneyland Hong Kong and a trip to the Lantau Island Monastery, home of the world's largest Buddha statue.

Beginning 07 August 2007, Stennis was to participate in exercise Valiant Shield with two other carriers, USS Nimitz (CVN 68) and USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63).

Chronology

    12 Oct 2006 - COMPTUEX complete
    9-11 Aug 2006 - Esquimalt, Victoria, B.C., Canada
    7-8 Aug 2006 - Eastern Pacific
    18 Jul 2006 - Returned to Bremerton
    6 June 2006 - Pacific Ocean
    18-21 Apr 2006 - INSURV
    4 Feb 2006 - San Diego
    12-17 Dec 2005 - Completed DPIA; Sea trials
    1 Sep 2005 - Leaves dry dock
    19 Jan 2005 - Began DPIA
    29 Nov 2004 - Pacific Ocean



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