Wednesday, November 04, 2009

GW Carrier Strike Group Departs Hong Kong Following First Visit

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SW) John J. Mike, USS George Washington Public Affairs

HONG KONG (NNS) -- The George Washington Carrier Strike Group (GW CSG) departed Kowloon Bay Nov. 3 following a five-day port visit to Hong Kong.

Joining the more than 5,000 USS George Washington (CVN 73) and embarked Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 5 Sailors in the visit were the crews of the guided-missile cruiser USS Cowpens (CG 63), the guided-missile destroyer USS O'Kane (DDG 77), and the guided-missile frigate USS Crommelin (FFG 37).

The port visit was a first for GW, the flagship of Task Force 70, which operates from Fleet Activities Yokosuka, Japan (CFAY).

"Being permanently forward-deployed to the Pacific region, hopefully this is one of many visits for not only GW, but the rest of the strike group," said Commander, GW CSG, Rear Adm. Kevin M. Donegan.

Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Handling) 3rd Class Ashley Jones-Lutz was one of many GW Sailors who enjoyed the culture Hong Kong had to offer.

"I particularly enjoyed the shopping," Jones-Lutz said. "The street markets are interesting, and I bought a lot of souvenirs for my family at them."

The visit also provided Sailors a chance to strengthen relations with their host city.

During its stay, GW held a reception and multiple tours for local officials and citizens to help build an understanding of the Navy's role in maintaining maritime security in the Pacific region.

The strike group also gave back to local communities by sending more than 300 Sailors ashore to participate in 17 community service projects.

"Hong Kong is a strategic partner with the U.S. and by getting involved with their communities, we create a spirit of goodwill between our countries," said GW Command Chaplain Cmdr. Dennis Young.

Commanded by Capt. David A. Lausman, GW is currently on routine patrol in 7th Fleet area of responsibility after completing a short maintenance and repair period in September. The ship's visit to Hong Kong is part of GW's second fall deployment since taking over as the Navy's only permanently forward-deployed aircraft carrier in 2008.