Tuesday, November 24, 2009

GW CSG Returns from Fall Deployment

Lt. Cmdr. Jason Bartholomew and Lt. Louis Krueper give the signal to launch an F/A-18E Super Hornet assigned to the Royal Maces of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 27, from the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73). George Washington is underway supporting security and stability in the western Pacific Ocean. (U.S. Navy photo by Lt. Reann Mommsen/Released)

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Carlos Gomez, USS George Washington Public Affairs

USS GEORGE WASHINGTON, At Sea (NNS) -- The George Washington Carrier Strike Group (GW CSG) returned to Fleet Activities Yokosuka, Japan, Nov. 23, completing its second fall deployment since joining the Forward-Deployed Naval Forces last year.

During the deployment, the carrier strike group participated in two major bilateral exercises with forces from the Republic of Korea (ROK) and Japan.

The first, a bilateral exercise with the ROK Navy, focused on advanced combined training to build cooperation and interoperability between both navies in the event of a crisis. Embarked ROK Navy liaison officers and Sailors worked alongside GW Sailors on board focusing on enhancing coordination to expand and improve future readiness. Personnel from the ROK Navy's Task Force 51 were also able to work with their counterparts from the GW CSG's Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 15. Also during that exercise, GW hosted members of the ROK National Defence Committee and Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jung Ok-Keun for a visit during flight operations.

The GW CSG also participated in Annual Exercise 21G (ANNUALEX) November 10-17. ANNUALEX is the largest annual bilateral exercise between Japanese and U.S. forces.

"The 5,000 men and women that comprise the George Washington/Carrier Air Wing 5 team are extremely excited to return to our respective homes of Yokosuka and Atsugi," said GW's Commanding Officer Capt. David A. Lausman. "During the fall patrol, we continued to exercise and hone our warfighting skills to remain the Navy's Permanently Forward Deployed Carrier Strike Group.

"Additionally, during this patrol we participated in ANNUALEX 21G with the Joint Maritime Self Defense Force where we exercised our communications and equipment interoperability with our command units. The high degree of interoperability and professionalism we share continues to make this alliance strong and ready to respond to any situation."

The Commander of Carrier Airwing 5, Capt Ross Myers echoed that sentiment when discussing CVW-5 participation in ANNUALEX 21 G.

"We learn valuable lessons working with each other, which allows us to operate at our full potential during a time of conflict," said Myers. "Having Japan Air Self Defense Force pilots on board helps us gain a greater understanding of each other's capabilities."

Embarked Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 5 completed nearly 500 aircraft launch and recovery cycles during the seven-day event alone, a tempo that was nearly a hundred sorties more than a typical week of flying. In total, the carrier flew more than 1,000 sorties in the last month of the deployment.

"One of the reasons GW operates from Japan is to aid in their defense," said GW's Operations Officer Cmdr. Anthony Calandra. "Through exercises like ANNUALEX, our countries can learn from each other and operate better as a team."

While fostering cultural and working relations with other countries, GW continued maintaining mission readiness with 26 simulated fire, emergency and medical drills.

As part of the GW Engineering Department's Repair division, Hull Maintenance Technician Fireman Apprentice Sara Bingham participated in every drill as a member of a fire party hose team during her first deployment.

"I like the fast pace. It's exciting to me," said Bingham regarding GW's high operational tempo.
Though she has only been in the Navy since January, Bingham feels honored to share in the GW's responsibility as "America's 911" force.

GW steamed nearly 14,500 nautical miles, prepared more than 825,000 meals, flew more than 2,000 sorties and expended 154.2 tons of ordnance during its 48-day fall patrol in support of the nation's maritime strategy.

Also during the deployment, the carrier and made its first visit to Hong Kong. More than 300 Sailors participated in 14 community service projects ranging from visits to disabled and retirement homes to volunteering at distribution centers and schools.

The GW CSG, commanded by Rear Adm. Kevin M. Donegan, is comprised of GW, CVW-5, Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 15, and the guided-missile cruisers USS Shiloh (CG 67) and USS Cowpens (CG 63). GW, commanded by Capt. David A. Lausman, is scheduled to begin its second Selected Restricted Availability (SRA) in Yokosuka, Japan, this winter.