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ANNUALEX '05 Comes to a Successful Conclusion

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS051122-06
Release Date: 11/22/2005 12:08:00 PM

By Journalist 3rd Class Christopher Koons, USS Kitty Hawk Public Affairs

USS KITTY HAWK, At Sea (NNS) -- The USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63) Carrier Strike Group concluded the main event of its fall under way period Nov. 18 as Annual Exercise (ANNUALEX) 2005, a joint exercise between the U.S. Navy and the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF), came to a close.

ANNUALEX, which began Nov. 9, saw a total of 61 naval vessels, including two U.S. submarines, 10 U.S. Navy ships and 49 JMSDF ships, participate in a series of simulated wartime exercises. U.S. and JMSDF Sailors also visited each other’s ships, with 31 Japanese Sailors, including Rear Adm. Sensei Izumi, embarking on Kitty Hawk Nov. 7 to observe and help improve mission interoperability.

According to Cmdr. Glen Leverette, Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 5’s exercises and plans officer, ANNUALEX succeeded in improving the joint capabilities of U.S. and Japanese forces.

“The ability of both of our nations’ armed forces to operate together safely in a high-tempo environment is the biggest accomplishment of this exercise,” said Leverette. “The [JMSDF] forces were professional, tactically proficient and at the top of their game. They were able to completely integrate with us in every aspect of the exercise.”

According to Leverette, ANNUALEX also succeeded in improving the way different components of CSG 5 coordinate together.

“We learned how to operate better as a strike group and were able to improve the coordination between our various [CSG 5] warfare commanders, doing so in the context of a multi-threat, multi-dimensional warfare scenario,” he said.

ANNUALEX featured the largest assemblage of maritime forces in the western Pacific Ocean in the past 50 years, Leverette explained, and junior Kitty Hawk and Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 5 Sailors proved they were up to the task of participating in such an intense exercise.

“Kitty Hawk’s flight deck crew had to conduct a series of alert exercises in which they had to launch aircraft on short notice,” he said. “They performed as well as any team could, especially considering the complexity of the task.”

The tempo of these alert exercises kept Kitty Hawk’s flight deck personnel constantly motivated, said Chief Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Handling) (AW) Jimmy Candelaria, Kitty Hawk’s flight deck leading chief petty officer.

“During large launch event cycles, 15 to 17 aircraft were launched per event, with 10 of these events per day,” said Candelaria. “It allowed me to qualify a lot of flight deck personnel.”

During these event cycles, flight deck personnel operated all four catapults at once, Candelaria explained, giving Sailors valuable training in launching aircraft as quickly and safely as possible.

“Once, we launched a total of 13 aircraft in six minutes, 44 seconds,” he said. “We accomplished this through teamwork. Our guys gave 110 percent every day.”

Leverette also praised the performance of Kitty Hawk, CVW 5 and Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 15 Sailors during a photo exercise featuring 16 U.S. Navy and JMSDF ships Nov. 15.

“During the exercise, all of the ships had to maneuver within 250 yards of each other,” he said. “It was an outstanding seamanship evolution.”

All of the participants in this year’s ANNUALEX should take pride in their performance, said Leverette.

“It required every part of the Hawk/5/15 team to show that we are dedicated to our war fighting skills and ready to go at a moment’s notice,” he said. “I call it a huge win all around.”

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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