Saturday, November 14, 2009

Stennis Strike Group Commences SUSTAINEX

The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) departs San Diego after a scheduled port visit to embark Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 9. John C. Stennis and CVW-9 are participating in a strike group sustainment exercise. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Josue L. Escobosa/Released)

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Elliott Fabrizio, USS John C. Stennis Public Affairs

USS JOHN C. STENNIS, At Sea (NNS) -- The John C. Stennis Carrier Strike Group departed San Diego to begin a sustainment exercise (SUSTAINEX) Nov. 6.

USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) will participate in the SUSTAINEX with embarked Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 9, guided-missile cruiser USS Antietam (CG 54), guided-missile destroyers USS Kidd (DDG 100) and USS Milius (DDG 69).

Strike group assets will integrate and train together in their main mission areas of maritime security operations, air defense and anti-submarine warfare for the first time since completing their western pacific deployment in July.

SUSTAINEX maintains the strike group's operational proficiencies, so the strike group can meet the Navy's need for available carrier presence.

"We keep certain carriers around that will respond to a crisis first," said Capt. Joseph Kuzmick, Stennis' commanding officer. "That's where John C. Stennis sits right now. Every few months during that time we have to refresh our readiness to respond around the world."
Sailors will work on qualifications and practice operations - many of which can't be performed in port or when the strike group assets are separated.

"You can't just bring an air wing out to a carrier and expect them to work perfectly together," said Kuzmick. "We're going to exercise our tactics, techniques and procedures to make sure that we all coordinate correctly. The strike group staff will exercise operational control over their assets, and the individual units will learn how to work tactically again with each other. We're basically honing the edge on the blade."

SUSTAINEX is scheduled for two weeks. Maintaining a combat ready strike group is part of America's maritime strategy to be prepared for a immediate response to safeguard America's interests.