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Stennis Strike Group Rolls Into RIMPAC Full Speed Ahead

Navy Newsstand

Story Number: NNS040709-06
Release Date: 7/9/2004 11:15:00 AM

By Journalist 2nd Class Barrie Barber, RIMPAC Combined Information Bureau

ABOARD USS JOHN C. STENNIS (NNS) -- The nuclear-powered aircraft USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) proved what it means to be a "surge" carrier strike group during Rim of the Pacific 2004 (RIMPAC) exercise.

It demonstrated its ability to be on station when and where it is needed with a 600-mile transit at 31 knots "without a light flickering" in less than 18 hours.

The carrier traveled from Exercise Northern Edge in the rough seas of the Gulf of Alaska to RIMPAC, now under way around the Hawaiian Islands.

"The rapid arrival shows the ability to surge carrier strike group power during Summer Pulse '04," said Rear Adm. Patrick M. Walsh, commander of Carrier Group 7. "Summer Pulse, which ties in with RIMPAC, demonstrates the U.S. Navy's ability to surge seven carriers in five theaters to give national leadership the ability to project naval power around the globe."

RIMPAC is now testing the strike group's ability to collaborate with the navies of six other nations in the largest maritime exercise in the Pacific.

"Anytime we have an opportunity to work with allies, we benefit from it and the allies benefit from it," the rear admiral said as he stood on the flight bridge while fighter jets boomed off the deck. "The direct benefit we get is to identify where the conflicts are, where the challenges are."

The time saved in working out those differences today means less time dealing with those issues again when the strike group sails on deployment or into battle with coalition forces, Walsh said.

"We look at the problem the same way so we have the benefit of cross work from one navy to the next," he said.

Nearly 18,000 military personnel from each of the nations participating with RIMPAC - Canada, Australia, Japan, South Korea, Chile and the United Kingdom - are embarked with the strike group, Walsh said.

Chilean Navy Lt. Cmdr. Fernando Cabrera, a RIMPAC liaison officer, said despite his nation's small size, it's working hand-in-hand with foreign navies that are stronger together as a multinational force than operating independently alone.

"We don't have this kind of ship in our country, so it's a different way to use our assets," said Cabrera, of Valparaiso, Chile.

In the post Sept. 11, 2001 world of terrorist attacks, the focus has shifted to capabilities and collaboration with allies in the global war on terrorism, Walsh said.

Canadian frigate HMCS Vancouver (FFH 331), for instance, sailed with the Stennis Carrier Strike Group during Operation Enduring Freedom.

Today, RIMPAC keeps the Stennis crew on the go.

"We have an awful lot of work to do right now," said Capt. David H. Buss, Stennis commanding officer.

The fury of flight deck operations with F-14 Tomcats and F/A-18 Hornets launching and landing on the aircraft carrier left an indelible impression on the foreign observers aboard.

"It's in a word, awesome," said Royal Australian Navy Chief Petty Officer Lex Davison, of Canberra, Australia.

Summer Pulse '04 is the simultaneous deployment of seven aircraft carrier strike groups (CSGs), demonstrating the ability of the Navy to provide credible combat power across the globe, in five theaters, with other U.S., allied, and coalition military forces. Summer Pulse is the Navy's first deployment under its new Fleet Response Plan (FRP).

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