Carrier Group THREE
Carrier Groups are led by an aircraft carrier and include an airwing and a small contingent of cruisers to act as carrier escorts. When the escort ship contingent is designed to accommodate destroyers as-well-as cruisers, the group is referred to as a Cruiser-Destroyer Group. USS Carl Vinson is the flagship of Commander, Carrier Group Three and falls under their operational command as well as that of Commander, Naval Air Forces Pacific. On 13 May 1997 Carrier Air Wing ELEVEN was reassigned to Commander, Carrier Group THREE and the USS CARL VINSON. Additionally, Carrier Air Wing ELEVEN was the first Air Wing Staff in San Diego to relocate to Naval Air Station Lemoore California in conjunction with the base realignments and closures. Lemoore is the new home for all the West Coast Air Wing Staffs.
Carrier Group THREE arrived at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard after an arduous six-month deployment to the Arabian Gulf that included participation in Operations Desert Fox and Southern Watch. When the deployment began, the Carl Vinson Battle Group was scheduled to make port visits in Australia before proceeding to the Gulf in support of Operation Southern Watch. However, because of increased tensions in the Gulf region, the ship took a more direct route there, permitting port visits to Hong Kong and Singapore. Shortly after departing Singapore, Carl Vinson was ordered to make best speed to the Arabian Gulf, more than 2,000 miles away, proceeded directly to their designated operating area and immediately launched a combat strike on the fourth and final day of Operation Desert Fox in December 1998. Carl Vinson Battle Group surface ships USS Princeton (CG 54) and USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) simultaneously launched cruise missiles, while Carrier Air Wing 11 aircraft struck a half-dozen sites in southern Iraq using precision-guided munitions in the closing wave of attacks in Operation Desert Fox.
Following Desert Fox, the Carl Vinson Battle Group settled into a combat routine supporting Operation Southern Watch, enforcing the Southern No-Fly Zone in Iraq and conducting Maritime Interception Operations, before leaving the Arabian Gulf on 19 March 1999. The Carl Vinson Battle Group included five ships homeported in San Diego: USS Antietam (CG 54), USS Princeton (CG 59), USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62), USS Oldendorf (DD 972) and USS McClusky (FFG-41). USS Columbus (SSN 762) and USS Pasadena (SSN 752) are homeported in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii; and USS Rainier (AOE 7) is homeported in Bremerton.
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