Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Nimitz Strike Group Arrives in Hong Kong

By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Sarah E. Bitter, USS Nimitz Public Affairs

Six U.S. ships arrived in Hong Kong Aug. 20 for a scheduled port visit.

During the visit, Sailors and Marines will also have a chance to participate in friendship-building activities, meet local citizens, experience local customs and traditions, and enjoy the many recreational activities offered in Hong Kong.

“U.S. Navy port visits such as this one represent an important opportunity to promote peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region of the world,” said Rear Adm. Terry Blake, Nimitz Carrier Strike Group (CSG) commander. “Hong Kong is a favorite place for our deployed Sailors and Marines to visit. The crews always enjoy opportunities to visit the city and experience its culture.”

The Nimitz CSG includes the embarked Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 11 and embarked CSG 11 and Destroyer Squadron 23 staffs. The ships, all part of the Nimitz CSG consists of the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68); the guided-missile destroyers USS John Paul Jones (DDG 53), USS Chafee (DDG 90), USS Pinckney (DDG 91), and USS Higgins (DDG 76); and the guided-missile cruiser USS Princeton (CG 59).

The squadrons of CVW-11 include the “Tophatters” of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 14; the “Black Aces” of VFA-41; the “Sunliners” of VFA-81; the “Wallbangers” of Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 117; the “Red Devils” of Marine Corps Strike Fighter Squadron (VMFA) 232; the “Black Ravens” of Electronic Warfare Squadron (VAQ) 135; the “Providers” of Carrier Logistics Support Squadron (VRC) 30; the “Indians” of Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron (HS) 6; as well as the “Scorpions” of Helicopter Anti-submarine Squadron Light (HSL) 49; the “Easy Riders” of HSL-37; and Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit 11, Det. 3.

All six ships are operating as a part of the U.S. 7th Fleet and recently participated in Exercise Valiant Shield 2007, Aug. 7-14, along with the Kitty Hawk and John C. Stennis CSGs.

Valiant Shield 2007 was a joint U.S. exercise with a focus on integrated training among U.S. military forces. This training enables real-world proficiency in sustaining joint forces and in detecting, locating, tracking and engaging units at sea, in the air, on land, and in cyberspace in response to range of mission areas.

All of the ships, except Chafee, departed their homeport of San Diego April 2 on a regularly scheduled deployment. The Hawaii-based Chafee departed its homeport of Pearl Harbor April 9. Nimitz arrived in the U.S. 5th Fleet (C5F) area of operations (AOR) in May. While operating in C5F AOR, CVW-11 flew more than 2,600 sorties and 7,332 hours in support of ground forces participating in Operations Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan and Iraqi Freedom in Iraq before leaving the Persian Gulf in late July.

Operating in the Western Pacific and Indian Ocean, the U.S. 7th Fleet is the largest of the forward-deployed U.S. fleets covering 52 million square miles, with approximately 50 ships, 120 aircraft and more than 22,000 Sailors and Marines assigned at any given time.

These forces are tangible proof of America’s commitment to peace and stability, and they directly support U.S. national goals of strengthening alliances, defeating global terrorism, preventing future terrorist attacks, defusing regional conflicts and preserving the free flow of trade.