Thursday, May 21, 2009

GW, CVW 5 Get Underway for COE

YOKOSUKA, Japan (NNS) -- USS George Washington (CVN 73), with nearly 5,000 Sailors, departed its forward-deployed port of Commander, Fleet Activities Yokosuka May 20 to conduct its combat operations efficiency (COE) evaluation in the Western Pacific.

The ship and crew, along with Sailors from embarked Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 5, are now underway to conduct advanced cyclic flight operations to return the ship to full combat readiness following its first selective restricted availability which wrapped up earlier in May.

"COE measures our ability to land and recover aircraft with certain efficiency according to Navywide operational standards," said Cmdr. Vincent Aiello, CVW 5 operations officer.

COE certification is an important milestone because it proves that the ship and air wing team meets established criteria of efficiency and safety during aircraft launch and recovery operations. Successful completion of COE would allow CVW-5 and Washington to fly over open ocean without the requirement for a divert airfield if necessary.

The air wing also expects to conduct some air-to-ground strike training while at sea. This is a good test of the ship and air wing's ability to handle weapons, load them onto aircraft and employ them on over-land targets.

Commanded by Capt. David A. Lausman, George Washington is the flagship of the George Washington Carrier Strike Group, commanded by Rear Adm. Kevin M. Donegan and comprised of CVW 5, Destroyer Squadron 15 and guided missile cruisers USS Shiloh (CG 67) and USS Cowpens (CG 63).

CVW 5, commanded by Capt. Michael S. White, has operated from Naval Air Facility Atsugi, Japan, since 1973, and is the Navy's only forward-deployed, co-located air wing. CVW 5 has called George Washington home since the aircraft carrier's arrival in Japan last September when it replaced the recently decommissioned USS Kitty Hawk as the Navy's only permanently forward-deployed aircraft carrier.

Following the COE evaluation, George Washington expects to conduct its first summer deployment supporting security and stability in the Western Pacific region.