Wednesday, August 22, 2007

JCSCSG Arrives in Pearl Harbor

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Ron Reeves, USS John C. Stennis Public Affairs

Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) prepares to pull into Pearl Harbor. Stennis returns to the United States after a 7.5-month-long deployment to promote peace, regional cooperation and stability while supporting the global war on terrorism. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Ron Reeves

John C. Stennis Carrier Strike Group (JCSCSG) arrived in Pearl Harbor Aug. 20, marking the strike group’s first port call to the United States after being deployed for more than seven months.

While deployed, JCSCSG supported Operations Enduring Freedom (OEF) and Iraqi Freedom (OIF), maritime operations, coalition operations in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of Responsibility (AOR), Expeditionary Strike Force (ESF) training and most recently, Exercise Valiant Shield 2007.

“The performance of the John C. Stennis Carrier Strike Group has been magnificent,” said Commander, Carrier Strike Group 3, Rear Adm. Kevin M. Quinn. “I couldn’t be more proud of them. Contributing to security and stability in the Middle East, as well as the Pacific, is one of the most important missions of the United States Navy.”

JCSCSG spent five months deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet AOR. While there, USS John C. Stennis and embarked Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 9 flew more than 7,900 sorties providing more than 22,000 flight hours and dropping nearly 90,000 pounds of ordnance in support of coalition forces operating on the ground in Afghanistan and Iraq.

“Our air wing set records for combat support for troops in Afghanistan,” said Quinn. “Their precision bombing in support of troops on the ground helped achieve our national objectives in the area, and more importantly, they helped save the lives of our troops who were in direct contact with the enemy.”

JCSCSG also participated in ESF training in the 5th Fleet AOR while simultaneously providing close-air support to coalition ground forces in support of OEF and OIF. ESF training brought together JCSCSG, Nimitz Carrier Strike Group (CSG) and Bonhomme Richard Expeditionary Strike Group to test their ability to plan and conduct multi-task force operations across a broad spectrum of naval disciplines.

“The purpose of the Expeditionary Strike Force operations was to refresh our skills in completing complex missions that required capabilities even broader in scope than Stennis can provide alone,” said Stennis’ Commanding Officer Capt. Brad Johanson. “From the delivery of emergency medical response from Stennis, to the movement of humanitarian supplies from Bonhomme Richard via LCAC [landing craft air cushion], and the repair capability of our Engineering Department and logistical capability of our Supply Department—the exercise was a complete success.”

After successfully completing operations in the 5th Fleet AOR, July 11, JCSCSG sailed to the U.S 7th Fleet AOR where Sailors and Marines enjoyed port visits in Singapore and Hong Kong and participated in more than 20 community relations projects.

Following the visit to Hong Kong, JCSCSG participated in Exercise Valiant Shield 2007 off the coast of Guam Aug. 7-14. The joint military exercise brought together more than 30 ships, including the USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63) and Nimitz CSGs; 280 aircraft; and more than 20,000 service members from the Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard. Valiant Shield tested the military’s ability to rapidly bring together joint forces in response to any regional contingency, demonstrating the United States’ commitment to ensuring peace and stability throughout the Asia-Pacific region.

“All the strike groups in Valiant Shield performed extremely well,” said Quinn. “What we found in Valiant Shield is that we can come together at sea, working in a joint military environment, having not worked with each other a lot before and fall into a strike force construct to conduct integrated combat operations.”

JCSCSG wrapped up the operational requirement of its 2007 deployment with the conclusion of Valiant Shield and sailed to the U.S. 3rd Fleet AOR and into Pearl Harbor.

For two ships in the strike group, USS Paul Hamilton (DDG 60) and USS O’Kane (DDG 77), Pearl Harbor is their homeport. The rest of JCSCSG will continue heading east to San Diego and finally, Bremerton, Wash., to complete the 2007 deployment.

“When I look back on this great adventure of ours, the thing I’m most proud of is the performance of our young Sailors and Marines,” said Quinn. “They’ve left the comforts of their homes; they’ve left their families; they’ve gone forward into the combat zone to fight for our country, and their performance in that combat zone has been outstanding.”

Johanson echoed similar thoughts.

"Throughout this deployment Stennis has set a new standard for the performance of carriers in a combat zone,” said Johanson. “The missions we sent into Afghanistan and Iraq and the strong presence we established in the Arabian Gulf made a very significant difference in providing security and stability to the entire region.”

The Arabian Gulf is a body of water commonly known as the Persian Gulf.

JCSCSG includes the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier Stennis; embarked CVW-9, Destroyer Squadron 21; the guided-missile cruiser USS Antietam (CG 54); the guided-missile destroyers O’Kane, USS Preble (DDG 88) and Paul Hamilton; and the fast combat support ship USNS Bridge (T-AOE 10). More than 6,500 Sailors and Marines are assigned to JCSCSG.

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