Kitty Hawk Strike Group Returns to Japan
Story Number: NNS050329-01
Release Date: 3/29/2005 9:01:00 AM
By Culinary Specialist 3rd Class Diana Smiley, USS Kitty Hawk Public Affairs
YOKOSUKA, Japan (NNS) -- USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63) and Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 5 returned to Japan March 28 following an eventful seven-week underway period in the western Pacific Ocean, Sea of Japan, and the East and South China Seas.
The 46 days at sea included visits to Hong Kong and the Republic of Korea, and some critical training for the Navy's only permanently forward-deployed aircraft carrier and its accompanying air wing. Among the highlights were the breaking-in of a new executive officer (XO), a joint and combined exercise with Republic of Korea and U.S. forces, and continued training for ship and air wing personnel.
"I am very impressed with everybody and their performance both underway and during our port visits in Hong Kong and Korea," said Capt. Jeffrey C. Amick, Kitty Hawk's XO.
Between the two ports, Kitty Hawk and CVW-5 Sailors completed seven community service projects, assisting four orphanages, a community center, a seminary and loading Tsunami relief supplies.
"One of the opportunities we get while deployed is to visit foreign ports and conduct community service projects," said Chaplain (Cmdr.) Michael Schutz, of Kitty Hawk's religious ministries department. "Any time we can do humanitarian efforts, it expresses our goodwill."
Operationally, the winter underway period was just as successful for maintaining the carrier strike group's readiness. Kitty Hawk and CVW-5 performed many operational and training exercises. One of the first of these was the completion of the air wing's carrier landing qualifications to provide the pilots with refresher training to ensure currency in their flight qualifications.
"During the short transit down to the Okinawa Op-Area (operating area), we concentrated on strike training, or bombing proficiency, on targets at Oki Daito Jima (ODJ)," said Cmdr. Luther Hook, the ship's combat direction center officer.
"After the port call in Hong Kong, they again performed strike missions, concentrating on strike leader qualifications and basic bombing proficiency on the ODJ targets," said Hook. "Finally, during Exercise Foal Eagle, after the Busan port call, we worked on strike leader training and limited air-to-air training proficiency sorties while performing surface surveillance coordination missions to support the exercise."
Teamwork throughout the underway and through all the exercises, training, as well as professional and personal improvement for each individual Sailor, made the deployment a success.
"For two months, we did exceptionally well, with two great port visits, strike missions and spectacular missile shoots, which were big for air wing missile qualifications," said Rear Adm. Jamie Kelly, Carrier Strike Group 5 commander. "We've got better missile readiness than we've had in a year and a half."
"We also had a successful distinguished visit this month," added Kelly. "That was a tremendous event, with everybody doing their part to ensure we made a lasting impression, and we did. It was a success followed by a successful air power demonstration."
Kitty Hawk's commanding officer, Capt. Tom Parker, also had words of praise for the underway period.
"As I'm fond of saying, there are no exits from the fast lane here on the Battle Cat, and we certainly proved that during this underway," said Parker. "The past seven weeks have been very demanding. We crammed a lot of events into a relatively short amount of time, but the crew responded with remarkable skill and dedication."
"Now we're back in-port Yokosuka," said Parker. "We are happy to be back and look forward to our time with family and friends here, as always."
The Kitty Hawk Strike Group is the largest carrier strike group in the Navy and is composed of the aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk, CVW-5, the guided-missile cruisers USS Chancellorsville (CG 62) and USS Cowpens (CG 63), and Destroyer Squadron 15.
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