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Hawk/5 Team Returns to Yokosuka

Navy Newsstand

12/13/2002 10:44:00 AM

By Journalist 3rd Class Jeff Williams and Interior Communications Electrician 2nd Class Hendrick Simoes, USS Kitty Hawk Public Affairs

ABOARD USS KITTY HAWK (NNS) -- USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63), America's only permanently forward-deployed aircraft carrier, returned to its port of Yokosuka, Japan, Dec. 13 after seven weeks of mission-oriented training.

The crew of the Navy's longest serving active commissioned war ship, along with the embarked Carrier Air Wing 5 and the staff of Destroyer Squadron 15, departed Yokosuka Oct. 25 to engage in combined military exercises with regional allies and conduct unit-level training.

The first task for the Hawk/5 team was getting approximately 100 pilots re-acclimated to launching and landing on Hawk, as well as increasing their strike proficiency after a four-month in-port period, according Capt. Chris Fedyschyn, Hawk's air department head.

Along with qualifying its pilots, Hawk and its crew joined other U.S. Navy units and units of the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF) Nov. 11-22 by participating in ANNUALEX 14G. ANNUALEX is a maritime exercise designed to promote teamwork and mutual defense of the waters surrounding Japan.

It is designed to boost military-to-military relationships between the U.S. Navy and the JMSDF, along with improving command control abilities of both naval forces, according to Cmdr. Matt Walsh, a Battle Force 7th Fleet exercise officer.

Approximately 7,500 U.S. military personnel participated in the exercise.

Hawk Sailors also participated in two community relations projects while in Hong Kong. Sailors volunteered time to the Ronald McDonald House and the Hong Chi Pine Hill Village School for the mentally challenged. They interacted with children and performed general gardening by cutting down trees, shrubbery and painting playground equipment.

"I think anytime we have the opportunity to interact with the communities we visit and show different cultures working together, it's a good thing," said Aviation Electricians Mate 2nd Class (AW) Antwon Kyle, of Hawk's aircraft intermediate maintenance department.

While anchored off the shores of Hong Kong, Hawk also drew the interest of an international celebrity.

Jackie Chan, a Hong Kong native, came aboard for a tour and to interact with the crew.

Another plus to the recent underway for Hawk Sailors was the opportunity to enhance their professional skills by working on warfare qualifications and enrolling in educational programs offered aboard Hawk. Some of Hawk's crew used the time at sea to advance professionally by acquiring an enlisted surface warfare specialist or enlisted aviation warfare specialist (EAWS) designation, which demonstrates their knowledge of the various operations performed on the ship and the purpose of the equipment aboard.

"It is a very proud moment standing before the captain. It's worth every hour I spent studying and getting signatures," said Aviation Maintenance Administrationman Airman (AW) Keisha Montgomery, who earned her EAWS pin while underway.

Hawk's education services office offered a variety of options for Sailors to advance their educations while at sea.

Navy College Program for Afloat College Education courses and College Level Examination Program tests were just a couple of the ways more than 143 Sailors earned college credits while at sea.

Overall, the underway period was very productive in many aspects, according to Master Chief Storekeeper (SW/AW) Jeffrey Clark, of Hawk's supply department.

"This underway period, we, as a whole, gained so much valuable information about our capabilities as an aircraft carrier and a crew. And now we can assess that information and make the necessary improvements in order to remain the most effective carrier in the fleet," said Clark.

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