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NNS020925-01 Truman Battle Group Completes Successful COMPTUEX

9/25/2002 6:19:00 AM

From Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command Public Affairs

NAVSTA ROOSEVELT ROADS, Puerto Rico (NNS) -- The Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) Battle Group wrapped up its Combined Training Unit Exercise (COMPTUEX) recently, successfully meeting the training goals for the three-week exercise.

COMPTUEX is an intermediate level battle group training exercise. It typically represents the first time a carrier battle group operates together as a cohesive team and is a critical step toward final certification to deploy overseas. Successful completion of COMPTUEX also certifies the carrier and its embarked air wing as qualified for open ocean operations.

According to Rear Adm. John D. Stufflebeem, Commander, Carrier Group Two, COMPTUEX was effective in preparing the battle group for its upcoming deployment.

"COMPTUEX is a very important and comprehensive exercise that serves to forge the battle group into a fighting team," he said. "We feel confident the training events we conducted were successful in bringing together the many elements of the USS Harry S. Truman Battle Group into a cohesive, effective fighting force."

Seven destroyers, cruisers and frigates successfully qualified in Naval Surface Fire Support (ship-to-shore) operations, and F/A-18 Hornet and F-14 Tomcat aircraft qualified for air-to-ground operations during the exercise, which used the firing range on the island of Vieques, in addition to two open ocean operating areas.

Using the Vieques firing range continues to be a controversial issue for some on the island who initiated many violent incidents seeking to disrupt the exercise. Despite attempts to interfere with the training, the schedule continued as planned with no interruptions to the firing exercises.

Throughout the exercise, Navy security personnel endured rocks, eggs and lead weights being thrown at them; rocks hurled by high-powered slingshots; and flares fired at manned security towers. Several security vehicles sustained damage, including two broken windshields, during the attacks. Fortunately, although mant Naval security personnel were struck, only one received minor injuries as a result of the attacks.

During this COMPTUEX, 564 feet of fencing was destroyed, causing more than $50,000 in repair costs. This brings the total amount of fencing cut since May 2000 to 30,889 feet, adding to the more than $3 million of taxpayer funds that have been used to repair federal property damaged by vandals during this period.

Twenty-two people were also detained for trespassing on federal property and turned over to the U.S. Marshals Service for processing.

In accordance with presidental directives, all training on Vieques utilized inert (non-explosive) ordance.

The Harry S. Truman Battle Group is commanded by Stufflebeem. Units participating in COMPTUEX included Harry S. Truman with Carrier Wing Three (CVW 3) and Commander, Destroyer Squadron 22 (CDS 22) embarked, the guided-missile cruiser USS San Jacinto (CG 56); the guided-missile destroyers USS Oscar Austin (DDG 79), USS Mitscher (DDG 57) and USS Donald Cook (DDG 75); the destroyers USS Briscoe (DD 977) and USS Deyo (DD 989); the guided-missile frigate USS Hawes (FFG 53); the attack submarines USS Pittsburg (SSN 720) and USS Montpelier (SSN 765); and the oilers USNS Kanahwa (T-AO 196) and USNS Mount Baker (T-AE 34).

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