Sunday, March 22, 2009

Eisenhower Launches OEF Sorties

USS DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER, At Sea (NNS) -- The Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group launched its first sorties in support of Operation Enduring Freedom today, and assumed duties as Commander, Task Force (CTF) 50.

Aircraft from Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 7 departed the decks of the strike group's flagship, the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) bound for the skies over Afghanistan to support coalition ground forces.

"Over the last several months, the men and women of this strike group have drilled relentlessly in realistic training scenarios to prepare for the full spectrum of maritime security operations," said Rear Adm. Kurt W. Tidd, commander of the Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group.

Eisenhower relieved USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) in the Gulf of Oman as part of a normal rotation of forces and marked the end of the Theodore Roosevelt Strike Group's deployment to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations (AOO). Theodore Roosevelt operated in theater since October supporting Coalition forces operating on the ground in Afghanistan.

"We have received amazing support from Theodore Roosevelt which will enable us to provide seamless support to coalition forces operating on the ground in Afghanistan," said Capt. Dee L. Mewbourne, commanding officer, USS Dwight D. Eisenhower.

During the Theodore Roosevelt's deployment to the region, Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 8 flew more than 3,100 sorties into Afghanistan and has dropped more than 59,500 pounds of ordnance providing vital close air support to coalition forces operating as part of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).

"Our Strike Group Sailors did a great job over the past five months of combat operations: projecting airpower to support our troops on the ground in Afghanistan, extending maritime security in the Arabian Gulf by working with coalition partners, and deterring piracy off Africa alongside international forces," said Rear Adm. Frank C. Pandolfe, Commander, Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group. "Thanks to their tireless efforts, security and stability have been strengthened in this critical region of the world."

USS Theodore Roosevelt Commanding Officer, Capt. Ladd Wheeler, praised the team for their work during the five-plus months in this AOR.

"The TR/Air Wing EIGHT team has performed superbly," said Capt. Wheeler. "I could not be more proud of the men and women who serve our country in this critical operation. This crew has consistently demonstrated the execution excellence our Navy strives for daily around the world. We wish the crew of IKE the smoothest of seas and continued success as they assume the OEF watch."

The Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group is on a routine deployment to the region and will conduct Maritime Security Operations (MSO) along with providing support to Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom.

"Like the Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group before us, our presence here is a visible message to allies that we are committed to enhancing security across the maritime environment, which promotes regional stability," said Tidd.

CSG-8 ships including USS Bainbridge (DDG 96) and USS Halyburton (FFG 40); the fast attack submarine USS Scranton (SSN 576); and the Mayport, Florida-based ships USS Vicksburg (CG 69) and USS Gettysburg (CG 64) will help deter destabilizing activities and ensure a lawful maritime order in the Arabian Gulf, Arabian Sea, Gulf of Oman and Gulf of Aden.

The squadrons of CVW-7, led by Capt. Calvin Craig, include the "Jolly Rogers" of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 103, the "Pukin' Dogs" of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 143, the "Rampagers" or Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 83, the "Wildcats" of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 131, the "Patriots" of Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 140, the "Bluetails" of Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 121, and the "Nightdippers" of Helicopter Anti-submarine Squadron (HS) 5.

Eisenhower is supporting Maritime Security Operations (MSO) in the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet area of operations. MSO help develop security in the maritime environment. From security arises stability that results in global economic prosperity. MSO complements the counterterrorism and security efforts of regional nations and seek to disrupt violent extremists' use of the maritime environment as a venue for attack or to transport personnel, weapons or other material.