By Journalist 3rd Class (SW) William Lopez
Navy News Service
July 05, 2005
ABOARD USS CARL VINSON – The USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) Carrier Strike Group concluded operations in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and maritime security operations (MSO) in the Persian Gulf June 30. The USS Nimitz (CVN 68) Carrier Strike Group is scheduled to replace the Vinson Strike Group.
Carl Vinson and Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 9 launched more than 6,500 sorties, totaling more than 20,000 flight hours, in support of OIF and MSO since relieving USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) March 19.
“I couldn’t be more pleased with the performance of the Carl Vinson Strike Group during our time here in the Arabian Gulf,” said Rear Adm. Bruce Clingan, Commander of the Carl Vinson Strike Group.
“Our Sailors and Marines played a vital role in supporting the Iraqi and multinational troops that are working together to set the security and stability conditions that will provide the Iraqi people an opportunity for self determination.
“They’ve also helped make the Arabian Gulf a safer place for trade and commerce and a more difficult place for international terrorists to operate,” continued Clingan.
“The broad spectrum of effects the Carl Vinson Strike group has achieved in concert with those of other coalition and U.S. forces have contributed to the progress being made in the region,” he said.
Shortly after arriving in the Gulf, Carl Vinson Sailors learned they had earned the right to wear the Battle “E” ribbon for their work leading up to this deployment. The Battle “E” recognizes a command’s sustained superior performance in an operational environment through the previous calendar year.
Operating in the Gulf, the crew faced long, continuous days of flight operations, general quarters training, underway replenishments, and myriad other daily tasks.
The ship and air wing team met each challenge with their utmost attention and determination.
“The Vinson and Carrier Air Wing 9 team has simply done a superb job during our time in the Gulf,” said Carl Vinson Commanding Officer Capt. Kevin Donegan. “In the stifling heat of the Gulf in the summer they have performed flawlessly while working 13-and-a-half-hour fly days.
“This global-combat deployment has required us to do the full spectrum of operational missions, and each and every time, the crew has risen to the challenge,” he said.
Vinson also saw more than a year of inspirational leadership, dedication and hard work pay off when the ship earned the honor of flying both the Enlisted Air Warfare Specialist and Enlisted Surface Warfare Specialist Pennants.
The pennants signify that all Sailors E5-and-below with more than 18 months on board have earned their warfare qualification, a significant achievement that is rarely earned by an aircraft carrier.
“I couldn’t be more proud of the crew and what they have accomplished,” said Vinson’s Command Master Chief (AW/SW) Renall Evans. “In my twenty-five years of service, I have never heard of an aircraft carrier earning the right to fly both enlisted warfare pennants. It really says a lot, especially out here in the Gulf.”
The Sailors and Marines on board Carl Vinson made port visits to Manama, Bahrain, and two visits to Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Despite having worked long hours while underway, many lent a hand to the local communities by participating in various community relations events while in port. During their time in the Gulf, the crew participated in 13 events that helped schools, shelters, and churches by refurbishing buildings, repairing equipment, and spending quality time with disadvantaged children.
“Although ‘Gold Eagle’ Sailors donate huge amounts of their time, talent, and labor in foreign ports, they always receive back much more than they give,” said Carl Vinson Chaplain, Lt. Dan Berteau.
After Carl Vinson’s departure from the Gulf, the ship will transit to its new homeport in Norfolk, Va. Vinson’s home port change is in support of its refuel and complex overhaul (RCOH) shipyard period, scheduled to begin this fall in Newport News, Va.
The Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Group includes Carrier Strike Group 3, Carrier Air Wing 9, Destroyer Squadron 31, the guided-missile cruiser USS Antietam (CG 54), the guided-missile destroyers USS O’Kane (DDG 77) and USS Mustin (DDG 89), and the fast combat support ship USS Camden (AOE 2).
The squadrons of Carrier Air Wing 9 include the Blue Diamonds of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 146, the Argonauts of VFA-147, the Black Knights of VFA-154, the Death Rattlers of Marine Strike Fighter Squadron 323, the Screwbirds of Sea Control Squadron 33, the Golden Hawks of Airborne Early Warning Squadron 112, the Yellow Jackets of Electronic Attack Squadron 138, the Providers of Carrier Logistics Support Squadron 30, and the Eightballers of Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron 8.
MSO is aimed at setting the conditions for security and stability in the maritime environment. Illicit activity at sea has a global impact. MSO pressurizes the maritime environment and is the single most significant component of the conventional maritime effort against terrorism.