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Stennis Sends Aircraft Forward in 1st Combat Mission of Deployment

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS070224-06
Release Date: 2/24/2007 10:11:00 PM


From USS John C. Stennis Public Affairs

USS JOHN C. STENNIS, At sea (NNS) -- The USS John C. Stennis Carrier Strike Group (JCSSG) began conducting missions over Afghanistan on Feb 23.

Operating in the North Arabian Sea, USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) launched an F/A-18C Hornet from the “Death Rattlers” of Marine Strike Fighter Squadron (VMFA) 323, beginning the strike group’s first combat mission in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

Stennis deployed from its homeport of Bremerton, Wash. on Jan. 16 and arrived in U.S. 5th Fleet’s area of operations on Feb. 19, ready to execute their mission.

“Our current mission is to provide air support to the coalition forces on the ground in Afghanistan,” said John C. Stennis Commanding Officer Capt. Brad Johanson. “There are currently 32,000 coalition security force personnel from 37 different countries providing assistance to the government of Afghanistan in stabilizing their nation. We are providing an opportunity for the government of Afghanistan to establish a secure foundation for democracy in their nation.”

Commander Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 9 Capt. Sterling Gilliam added that although the “Death Rattlers ” were the first squadron off the flight deck, all the squadrons of CVW-9 participated in Friday’s mission.

Recognizing that success in the region will be a direct result of the whole team effort; Rear Adm. Kevin Quinn, commander, Carrier Strike Group 3 had this message for the men and women aboard Stennis.

“I expect everyone in the strike group to be fully prepared to conduct combat operations,” said Quinn. “I am 100 percent confident that every Sailor and Marine in the strike group will act with honor, commitment and courage throughout our time in 5th Fleet.”

JCSSG is currently supporting Operation Enduring Freedom as well as conducting maritime security operations (MSO). MSO set the conditions for security and stability in the maritime environment as well as complement the counter-terrorism and security efforts of regional nations. MSO deny international terrorists use of the maritime environment as a venue for attack or to transport personnel, weapons and other material.

The JCSSG is comprised of Carrier Air Wing 9, Destroyer Squadron 21 (DESRON 21), the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis, guided-missile cruiser USS Antietam (CG 54), guided-missile destroyers USS Preble (DDG 88) and USS O’Kane (DDG 77), and the fast combat support ship USNS Bridge (T-AOE 10).

The squadrons of CVW-9 include the “Black Knights” of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 154, “Blue Diamonds” of VFA-146, the “Argonauts” of VFA-147, the “Death Rattlers” of VMFA-323, the “Yellowjackets” of Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron (VAQ) 138, “Golden Hawks” of Carrier Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 112, “Top Cats” of Sea Control Squadron (VS) 31, “Eightballers” of Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron (HS) 8 and “Providers” of Fleet Logistics Support Squadron (VRC) 30.

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