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CVW-9 Provides Support to OIF

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS070526-04
Release Date: 5/26/2007 12:25:00 PM

By Lt. Nathan Christensen, USS John C. Stennis Deputy Public Affairs

USS JOHN C. STENNIS, At Sea (NNS) -- Aircraft from USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) began providing direct support of Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) May 24.

The aircraft, assigned to Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 9 and embarked aboard Stennis, will conduct close air power support, shows of force, and reconnaissance missions for ground forces operating in Iraq.

“CVW-9 will be providing a variety of effects, both kinetic and non-kinetic,” said Capt. Sterling Gilliam, commander, CVW-9. “We will be tasked with close air support, reconnaissance, and other tactical missions while operating in support of OIF.”

Stennis and its strike group entered the Persian Gulf May 23, along with the Nimitz Carrier Strike Group and the Bonhomme Richard Expeditionary Strike Group.

As a Combined Forces Air Component Command (CFACC) asset, CVW-9 integrates closely with multi-national coalition forces to prevent and counter-insurgent attacks. Carrier aircraft provide close air power support and deliver ordnance on enemy positions designated by ground forces.

“Our coalition ground forces are in harm's way each and every day,” said Gilliam. “It is critical we provide support to them, be it armed over-watch, reconnaissance or employment of weapons through close air support, so that they can effectively carry out their mission.”

While operating in the Persian Gulf, the carriers and amphibious strike groups will also perform Expeditionary Strike Force (ESF) training along with conducting missions in direct support of OIF. This marks the first time the Stennis, Nimitz and Bonhomme Richard strike groups have operated together in combined training while deployed to the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet. In March, Stennis and the Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group conducted a dual-carrier exercise in the Persian Gulf.

The ESF training demonstrates the importance of the strike groups’ ability to plan and conduct multi-task force operations as part of the U.S.’s long-standing commitment to maintaining maritime security and stability in the region.

Stennis left its homeport of Bremerton, Wash., Jan. 16 for a regularly scheduled deployment and began operating with coalition forces in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations (AOO) Feb. 19.

After arriving in the region, the John C. Stennis Carrier Strike Group (JCSSG) began providing support to coalition ground forces in Afghanistan participating in Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF), as well as conducting maritime operations.

Maritime operations set the conditions for security and stability in the maritime environment as well as complement the counter-terrorism and security efforts of regional nations. Maritime operations deny international terrorists use of the maritime environment as a venue for attack or to transport personnel, weapons and other material.

To date, while in the U.S. 5th Fleet AOO, CVW-9 has flown 1,325 sorties and more than 8,000 hours in direct support of coalition forces operating on the ground.

JCSSG also operated alongside the French nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, Charles de Gaulle, in the North Arabian Sea. The two strike groups provided support to OEF as well as conducted bilateral exercises and personnel exchanges.

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

Stennis is the flagship for JCSSG, which includes its embarked air wing, CVW-9, Destroyer Squadron 21 (DESRON 21), 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).

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