Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Enterprise Carrier Strike Group Completes JTFEX

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Alex R. Forster, USS Enterprise (CVN 65) Public Affairs

USS ENTERPRISE, At Sea (NNS) -- The Enterprise Carrier Strike Group (CSG) completed its Joint Task Force Exercise (JTFEX) Dec. 12, marking the final step in the carrier's preparation for its upcoming 21st deployment.

The culmination of months of training, the exercise presented scenarios and situations the strike group crew may face while deployed.

"If there was any day to be on top of our game, it was today," said Rear Adm. Terry B. Kraft, commander of the Enterprise CSG on the final day of the exercise.

On this last day of the scenario, Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 1 and USS Enterprise (CVN 65) launched 31 aircraft in 36 minutes and, within one hour, had 41 of the air wing's 54 aircraft airborne in support of two massive air strikes for a total of 106 sorties in one day.

"This was the biggest strike, under the worst conditions, against the most simultaneous targets that this air wing has ever accomplished, and it was all organic to Big 'E' (Enterprise) with no outside force support," said Capt. Kenneth Whitesell, commander of CVW 1.

Commander, U.S. 2nd Fleet, Vice Adm. Daniel P. Holloway embarked Enterprise during the exercise. U.S. 2nd Fleet is responsible for grading the strike group's performance.

"I couldn't be more proud of Enterprise Carrier Strike Group men, women, Sailors and Marines, as well as the CSFTL (Commander, Strike Force Training, Atlantic) team who put them through the intense training phases," said Holloway. "The name Enterprise resonates with millions of people around the world due to her storied history and the legacy of her namesakes."

CSFTL, who works for Holloway, is responsible for developing exercise scenarios, assessing strike group's performance and mentoring the strike group leadership to prepare them for deployment. The CSFTL team has worked closely with the Enterprise CSG, both in port and at sea, since the beginning of August 2010.

"We've put this strike group to the test. From anti-submarine warfare and anti-piracy training to air-to-air combat and strike missions, this group worked superbly as a team and is ready for any potential threat," said Rear Adm. Dennis E. FitzPatrick, commander, CSFTL.

The complex scenarios and missions require hard work and dedication from the most senior leadership in the strike group to the youngest Sailors on the deckplates who are experiencing being underway for the first time. The program is designed to involve every warfare area and ensure each Sailor knows his role.

"It was a great opportunity to see how smoothly we could operate in a deployment-like atmosphere," said Cryptologic Technician (Technical) 2nd Class Thomas P. Liddy, watch team supervisor for Enterprise's electronic warfare module. "I think we operated more smoothly and efficiently than we ever have before."

The scenarios also presented CVW 1 and Enterprise's Air Department Sailors more opportunities for training on the ship's 49-year-old flight deck.

"JTFEX allowed us to put our abilities to the test and to perform in the same fast-paced tempo we expect on deployment," said Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Handling) Airman Keenan J. Ealy, a member of Air Department's V-5 Division, which performs damage control on Air Department's equipment.

Upon return to her homeport of Norfolk, the Enterprise CSG Sailors will take an opportunity to spend time with their families before deploying.

The Enterprise CSG consists of Enterprise, the guided-missile cruiser USS Leyte Gulf (CG 55), the guided-missile destroyers USS Bulkeley (DDG 84), USS Barry (DDG 52) and USS Mason (DDG 87), USNS Arctic (T-AOE 8), CVW 1 and Destroyer Squadron 2.

The Enterprise CSG is conducting JTFEX as part of its work-ups in preparation for an upcoming deployment.