Monday, May 07, 2012

Enterprise, CVW-1 Support Operation Enduring Freedom

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Steve Smith, Enterprise Carrier Strike Group Public Affairs

USS ENTERPRISE, At Sea (NNS) -- Aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CVN 65) and Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 1 began flying combat missions in support of Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF), May 1.

Through these missions, the Navy and Marine Corps squadrons aboard Enterprise are providing direct support to coalition forces on the ground in Afghanistan.

The missions include close-air support, electronic warfare, reconnaissance, and airborne command and control.

In Afghanistan, these missions degrade terrorist activities, diminish Taliban influence and improve security, which leads to stability and economic prosperity.

CVW-1 spent months preparing for these missions, and is ready to join coalition forces in the region.

Enterprise joins the USS Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group in the region. Thus far, Abraham Lincoln has flown more than 1,400 sorties, totaling more than 8,700 flight hours in support of coalition efforts in Afghanistan, according to the Lincoln's Public Affairs Office.

Over the course of May 1, their first day supporting OEF, CVW-1 aircraft flew 29 sorties.

According to Capt. Jeffrey Trent, commander, CVW-1, the number of sorties flown on the first day will be the standard throughout much of the time CVW-1 is supporting OEF.

"That will be a very standard number," said Trent. "This is a marathon. We're going to be here for a number of months, and we're in it for the long haul, and getting jets on and off the deck is no easy task."

Accomplishing this task falls on the shoulders of the Sailors and Marines working aboard Enterprise every day.

"It's not just the airplanes flying. It's the Sailors and Marines working on the flight deck; it's the men and women working in the engineering plant, and those working everywhere in between, that support this mission," said Trent.

Enterprise should fly approximately 170 OEF sorties per week.

Commander U.S. 5th Fleet reported U.S. Navy aircraft have averaged about 5,000 close-air support missions per year in support of OEF, since 2009. As they did in 2011, Enterprise and CVW-1 will directly contribute to that total in 2012. During last year's deployment to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility, Enterprise and CVW-1 supported OEF with a total of 1,450 combat sorties.

"During this deployment we get to capitalize on all the experience gained last year," said Trent. "However, training is happening every flight and every event improves overall readiness."

Enterprise and CVW-1 will not be the only Navy assets supporting operations in Afghanistan during the carrier's final deployment. Sailors serve throughout all 34 Afghan provinces and in the six Navy-led Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs), promoting governance, enhancing security and aiding in reconstruction efforts.

CVW-1 is comprised of the "Red Rippers" of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 11, the "Checkmates" of VFA 211, the "Knighthawks" of VFA 136, the "Thunderbolts" of Marine Attack Fighter Squadron (VMFA) 251, the "Rooks" of Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 137, the "Screwtops" of Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 123, and the "Dragonslayers" of Helicopter Anti-submarine Squadron (HS) 11.

Enterprise is deployed on its 22nd and final deployment to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility, conducting maritime security operation efforts and support missions for Operation Enduring Freedom.