Wednesday, September 02, 2009

GW CSG Begins Training with Nimitz CSG

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class John J. Mike, USS George Washington Public Affairs

USS GEORGE WASHINGTON, At Sea (NNS) -- USS George Washington (CVN 73) began its participation in joint aircraft carrier operations with USS Nimitz (CVN 68) in the Western Pacific Ocean Aug. 30.

The goal of the joint operation is to practice integrating the operations of embarked Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 5 with Nimitz's embarked CVW-11, said Cmdr. Pete Walczak, GW's combat direction center officer.

Walczak said the opportunity to conduct joint-carrier operations doesn't present itself often, which is why GW planned part of its summer deployment schedule around it.

"It's unique for any aircraft carrier to get the chance to work with another," Walczak said. "Having another aircraft carrier near GW is not something we can always count on because of the crucial role carriers play in maintaining maritime security throughout the world."

Commander CVW-5, Capt. Ross Myers said the exercise will increase interoperability between both carrier strike groups while also preparing Nimitz Sailors and CVW-11 aviators for future combat missions in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

"This is an invaluable opportunity for CVW-5 to conduct air-to-ground and air-to-air training with Nimitz, and we are capitalizing on it by flying together as much as we can," Myers said.

Walczak added that dual operations with Nimitz will present a variety of new challenges to the Sailors of GW's Operations Department.

"Successful training with Nimitz is all about proper planning," he said. "Among other things, each strike group requires a certain mileage of water and airspace, and we'll have to coordinate so our aircraft and ships don't encroach upon each other."

During the exercise, CVW-5 aviators will conduct strike training on Okino Daiti Jima's advanced range, according to Lt. Cmdr. Jerry Bartee, GW's ordnance handling officer.

The George Washington Carrier Strike Group is commanded by Rear Adm. Kevin M. Donegan. The strike group includes CVW-5, Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 15 and the guided-missile cruisers USS Shiloh (CG 67) and USS Cowpens (CG 63).

GW, commanded by Capt. David A. Lausman, is making its inaugural deployment from Fleet Activities Yokosuka, Japan in support of stability and security in the Western Pacific region. The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier replaced USS Kitty Hawk last year as the Navy's forward-deployed carrier presence. The ship and crew departed Yokosuka June 10.