Friday, August 21, 2009

GW CSG Participates In Indonesian International Fleet Review

The guided missle cruiser USS Cowpens (CG 63), the guided missle destroyers USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) and USS Mustin (DDG 89) are underway in formation behind the aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73) during the Indonesian International Fleet Review. The fleet review commemorates the 64th anniversary of Indonesian independence. George Washington is underway supporting security and stability in the western Pacific Ocean. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class John M. Hageman/Released)

USS GEORGE WASHINGTON, at sea (NNS) -- The George Washington Carrier Strike Group participated in the Indonesia International Fleet Review (IFR), a parade of ships from 33 different countries taking place in Bitung and Manado in North Sulawesi, Indonesia Aug. 19.

The strike group flagship, USS George Washington (CVN 73), was joined by the guided-missile destroyers USS Mustin (DDG 89), USS McCampbell (DDG 85) and USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) of Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 15 and the guided-missile cruiser USS Cowpens (CG 63).

"We consider participation in this fleet review important to our relationship with Indonesia, and it is an enormous honor to be invited to be part of such a large international event," said Rear Adm. Kevin M. Donegan, commander, George Washington Carrier Strike Group. "These events offer us the opportunity to work closely with our Indonesian Navy counterparts and at the same time help us prepare for a wide range of operations including maritime security and humanitarian assistance and disaster response as the USS Abraham Lincoln did here following the tragic Indonesian tsunami in 2004."

The Indonesia IFR commemorates the 64th anniversary of the country's independence from the Netherlands. Kenefick said participating in this type of event helps strengthen relationships throughout the Pacific region.

"We do events like these to show our support for other seafaring nations and to honor their heritage," said Cmdr. Chris Kenefick, GW strike operations officer.
"It's a celebration of Indonesian naval history, and GW wants to be here to show our support."

Cmdr. Greg Maguire, GW's navigator, said U.S. 7th Fleet was invited to send ships in appreciation for all the U.S. Navy has done to help Indonesia in the past, including tsunami relief efforts in 2004.

"Indonesia asked us to send a large-deck ship, so 7th Fleet designed GW's deployment schedule to accommodate the request," said Maguire.

Important planning also took place in the ship's chartroom, where quartermasters pored over maps to ensure a safe transit for the ship through Manado Bay.

The exercise started for GW at daybreak and ended at late in the afternoon, but planning the event took months of preparation, said Senior Chief Quartermaster (SW/AW) Anthony Bastidas, Navigation department's leading chief petty officer.

"A lot goes into transiting a bay that people might not think about," Bastidas said. "GW is 1,092 feet long, which means we are deeper in the water than most vessels."

He said every detail of the ship's actions had to be planned and the proper charts ordered to plot a proper course.

GW served as the lead ship to vessels from around the world as they steamed in a straight-line formation through Manado Bay. After the ship's pass-in-review, embarked aircraft from Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 5 provided a formation flyover for the president of Indonesia and other dignitaries.

"As the lead ship in the formation, all eyes were going to be on GW," said Bastidas. "But due to planning and preparation, GW performed flawlessly."

The strike group includes CVW-5, Destroyer Squadron 15 and the guided-missile cruisers USS Shiloh (CG 67) and USS Cowpens (CG 63).

USS George Washington, commanded by Capt. David A. Lausman, is making its inaugural deployment from Fleet Activities Yokosuka, Japan in support of stability and security in the Western Pacific region. The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier replaced USS Kitty Hawk last year as the Navy's forward-deployed carrier presence. The ship and crew departed Yokosuka June 10.