Carrier Group FIVE
Battle Force Seventh Fleet (CTF-70)
Surface Combatant Force Seventh Fleet (CTF-75)
Carrier Strike Force Seventh Fleet (CTF-77)
The U.S. Navy announced that the ballistic missile defense (BMD)-capable guided missile destroyer USS Benfold (DDG 65) and USS Milius (DDG 69) will become part of the Forward Deployed Naval Forces (FDNF) based at Commander Fleet Activities Yokosuka, Japan. As part of the U.S. Navy’s long-range plan to put the most advanced and capable units forward, Benfold and Milius will leave their current homeport of San Diego and forward deploy to Yokosuka in the summers of 2015 and 2017, respectively. The move directly supports the announcement made by Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel in April of this year that the Navy would commit to sending two additional BMD-capable ships to the defense of Japan by 2017.
The Navy also announced that the guided missile destroyer USS Barry (DDG 52) will conduct a hull swap with USS Lassen (DDG 82) and become a member of the Forward Deployed Naval Forces (FDNF) in early 2016. USS Barry will forward deploy from its current homeport of Norfolk, Va. while USS Lassen will return to the U.S. and homeport in Mayport, Fla. Barry, Benfold and Milius will all complete a midlife modernization, making them among the most capable ships of their class.
The Avenger-class mine countermeasure ships USS Pioneer (MCM 9) and USS Chief (MCM 14) were loaded onto an ocean-going heavy lift ship as final preparations were made to get underway for their new homeport in Sasebo, Japan 31 May 2014. Pioneer and Chief will be part of forward deployed naval forces (FDNF) assigned to Mine Countermeasures Squadron 7, replacing USS Avenger (MCM 1) and USS Defender (MCM 2), which have been serving the FDNF since 2009. Pioneer and Chief will bring improved capability on newer platforms to the Western Pacific and reinforce the U.S. Navy's mission of maintaining safe and free navigation of the seas. Built to detect, identify, and neutralize underwater mine threats, the ships represent a commitment to peace and stability in the increasingly vital Indo-Asia-Pacific region.
The US Navy announced in January 2014 that it would deploy the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan to Japan in the summer of 2015 to replace USS George Washington. USS Ronald Reagan, commissioned in 2003, will be moved from San Diego to the Yokosuka Naval Base as part of the Pentagon's efforts to bolster combat readiness in the Pacific region where tensions have flared over a tiny Japanese-controlled island chain also claimed by China. The George Washington carrier will move to Norfolk, Virginia to complete a multi-year nuclear refueling and overhaul. Most of the crew of the George Washington will transfer over to USS Reagan, so there will be no mass movement of families overseas.
Carrier Groups are lead 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. For many years COMCARGRU FIVE was permanently embarked abarod USS Kitty Hawk (CV-63) in Yokosuka, Japan, as part of the only permanently forward deployed carrier battle group in the United States Navy. COMCARGRU FIVE is also know as Battle Force Seventh Fleet (CTF-70), Surface Combatant Force Seventh Fleet (CTF-75), and Carrier Strike Force Seventh Fleet (CTF-77).
The Group's mission is to provide centralized planning, control, coordination and integration of assigned assets in support of air, surface, subsurface, strike warfare, space and electronic warfare, amphibious warfare, and mine warfare operations or exercises simultaneously. It exercises Tactical Command of Cruiser-Destroyer, Carrier Air Strike, and Surface Action Groups, and functions as Combined Warfare Commander for the Battle Group and Task Force, and as Naval Component Commander for Combined, Joint, or Allied Forces. The Group operates as a component of, or as the Joint Force Air Component Commander (JFACC) directing tactical air control within a Joint, Unified, or Allied environment.
USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63) left its berth at Fleet Activities Yokosuka on 11 April 2000 to begin a routine deployment to the Western Pacific. The carrier had spent the previous five weeks in Yokosuka following a 12-day sea trial in February and March. America's only permanently forward deployed aircraft carrier first journeyed to Guam to rendezvous with Carrier Air Wing FIVE (CVW-5), which was participating in the Strike Fighter Advanced Readiness Program at Andersen Air Force Base until 18 April 2000. Shortly after leaving Yokosuka, the 86,000-ton warship underwent a large-scale Command Assessment of Readiness and Training (CART). Afloat Training Group (ATG) Western Pacific and ATG San Diego embarked the ship to evaluate the crew while operating near Guam. Through simulations and drills, the ship's damage control, combat systems, aviation, seamanship, engineering and medical areas were evaluated during the assessment. In addition to Guam, the ship made port calls throughout the Western Pacific and participated in Exercise Cobra Gold with the military forces of the Republic of Thailand -- a busy two months from start to finish. USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63), USS O'Brien (DD 975) and USS Chancellorsville (CG 62) returned to Yokosuka on 05 June 2000. During this routine spring deployment they travelled a total of 19,440 nautical miles during this underway period. The 4,800 Sailors of Kitty Hawk and Carrier Air Wing FIVE (CVW-5) maintained an ambitious underway schedule, conducting 3,146 aircraft landings on the carrier's flight deck, demonstrating their abilities for various inspection teams, and exercising with the militaries of Thailand and Singapore.
Following a brisk pace of underway operations that included three exercises and two port visits in 55 days, USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63) returned to Yokosuka, Japan, on 20 November 2000, completing its regularly scheduled fall deployment. In total, Hawk steamed 4,750 miles and completed over 3300 catapult-assisted takeoffs and arrested landings. Hawk Sailors also undertook preservation work often left for shipyard availability periods. Hawk departed Yokosuka Sept. 26 and was soon joined by Carrier Air Wing FIVE (CVW-5) to ramp up for Exercise Foal Eagle, Annual Exercise (ANNUALEX) 12G and Exercise Keen Sword. Several other Navy units participated in the exercises, including the staffs of Battle Force Seventh Fleet and Destroyer Squadron 15, USS Chancellorsville (CG 62), USS Cowpens (CG 63), USS Vincennes (CG 64), USS Vandegrift (FFG 48), USS Gary (FFG 51), USS Cushing (DD 985), USS John S. McCain (DDG 56), USS Honolulu (SSN 718), USNS Rappahannock (T-AO 204), USNS Pecos (T-AO 197), USNS Kiska (T-AE 35) and USNS Victorious (T-AGOS 19). During the first leg of their journey, the 4,800 Sailors of the Hawk/FIVE team conducted landing qualifications near Okinawa and integrated battle group training in the Sea of Japan.
In mid October, Kitty Hawk pulled into Otaru, Japan, on the northern-most island of Hokkaido. As the second aircraft carrier to visit the port, Hawk attracted some 66,000 visitors during a two-day open house. Hawk, CVW-5 and other U.S. Navy ships joined the 39th annual Exercise Foal Eagle in late October. During the exercise, approximately 25,000 U.S. forces personnel trained with their Republic of Korea allies, testing rear area protection and major command, control and communications systems. In early November, the Hawk/FIVE team joined various elements of the Seventh Fleet, the U.S. Air Force and the Japan Self Defense Force in ANNUALEX 12G and Keen Sword. ANNUALEX and Keen Sword focused on improving the capability for coordinated and bilateral operations in the defense of Japan. Specifically, the exercises focused on enhancing military-to-military relationships, improving command and control and air, undersea and surface warfare.
Throughout the Korean War, the United States Navy provided substantial assistance to land operations. Planes from carriers gave air support to combat operations and destroyed factories, power stations, supply trains, and other targets. Commander Carrier Division I (Rear Admiral E. C. Ewen), Commander Fast Carrier Task Force (CTF 77), was engaed in operations during the Korean Campaign (25 June 1950 to 19 January 1951). Task Force 77 systematically destroyed hundreds of bridges in North Korea. Operations included close air support, which was marred by communications problems. By mid-September 1950, three U.S. Navy Essex-class aircraft carriers were available for Korean War operations. The Essex class carriers of Task Force 77 tended to stay off eastern Korea, where there was more sea room. Eight foreign nations deployed more than 100 naval vessels to Korean waters, including carriers, destroyers, cruisers, frigates, landing ships, tankers and other utility craft. Foreign naval vessels were assigned by U.S. commanders to Task Force 77, the carrier strike force; Task Force 95, the blockading and escort force; Task Force 90, the amphibious landing force; and Task Force 96, the logistical support force.
The nickname "Tonkin Gulf Yacht Club" came to be associated with US carrier operations off Vietnam. 'Rolling Thunder' air strikes, armed reconnaissance, and photo reconnaissance missions were conducted against selected targets and lines of communication (LOC) in North Vietnam. Operational procedures were developed by the operating units, 7th Air Force and Carrier Task Force 77, that permit the full range of coordination for all air operations in the Rolling Thunder program.
As the Navy entered heavy combat in Southeast Asia between 1965 and 1968, a chain of command evolved which reflected the complex character of the war. In theory, Commander in Chief, Pacific was the commander of all American forces in Asia, including those assigned to Commander U.S. Military Assistance Command, Vietnam (COMUSMACV). The U.S. Pacific Fleet was the naval component of the Pacific Command and as such directed the Navy's activities in that ocean. Subordinate to Commander in Chief, U.S. Pacific Fleet (CINCPACFLT) was Commander Seventh Fleet, who conducted those naval operations in Southeast Asia primarily external to South Vietnam. The fleet's Attack Carrier Striking Force (Task Force 77) mounted from the South China Sea the aerial interdiction campaign in Laos and North Vietnam. Commander Seventh Fleet's cruiser and destroyer units hunted the enemy's logistic craft along the North Vietnamese coast, bombarded targets ashore, and provided naval gunfire support to allied forces in South Vietnam.
From the South China Sea, the Seventh Fleet's Attack Carrier Strike Force mounted the Rolling Thunder bombing and Blue Tree tactical reconnaissance operations in North Vietnam; the Barrel Roll, Steel Tiger, and Tiger Hound bombing and Yankee Team reconnaissance efforts in Laos; and the ground support mission in South Vietnam. Except during the period in 1965 and 1966 when the aircraft carrier supporting operations in the South sailed at Dixie Station, the carrier task force was deployed at Yankee Station (after April 1966 at 1730'N 10830'E). Generally, before August 1966, two or three carriers operated in Task Force 77, and after that date the number was often three or four. On each ship a carrier air wing controlled 70 to 100 aircraft, usually grouped in two fighter and three attack squadrons and smaller detachments. However, the number depended on the size and class of the carriers, which varied from the large-deck 65,000-ton Forrestal-class ships to the 27,000-ton, World War II Essex-class ships.
The U.S. Navy announced Dec. 2, 2005 that USS George Washington (CVN 73) would replace USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63) as the forward-deployed aircraft carrier in the western Pacific and will arrive in Yokosuka, Japan, in 2008. The forward deployment of George Washington would not necessitate a change in the assigned air wing in Japan, nor in the composition of the air wing. Carrier Air Wing 5 will remain the forward-deployed air wing.
The United States implemented a key element of its strategic shift toward Asia 01 October 2015 with the arrival in Japan of the Navy's nuclear-powered aircraft carrier the USS Ronald Reagan. In addition to projecting American power in Asia, the U.S. warship’s forward deployment is a show of support for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s controversial efforts to expand the Japanese military's role in the region. The USS Ronald Reagan, which carries 5,000 people and more than 60 aircraft, is at the center of the United States' Asia "pivot," focusing military and diplomatic assets on a region of increasing strategic importance.
Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list