Monday, November 24, 2008

Supercarrier USS John C. Stennis Ready for Deployment

Three F/A-18 strike fighters from various squadrons are secured on the flight deck of the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) before morning flight operations, November 2008. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Walter M. Wayman.)

Sailors and Marines work together to push an F/A-18C Hornet from the "Death Rattlers" of Marine Strike Fighter Squadron (VMFA) 323 into position on the flight deck of the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Kyle Steckler.)

Chief Aviation Boatswain's Mate Keith Miller, from St. Louis, Mo., organizes aircraft templates on the "Ouija Board" in flight deck control aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Walter M. Wayman.)

Focus on Defense:

USS JOHN C. STENNIS, Nov. 24, 2008 -- USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) returned to homeport in Bremerton, Wash. Nov. 21, deployment-ready after completing its final pre-deployment exercises.

During the underway period, Stennis united with the other components of its strike group, Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 9 and Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 21, to complete Composite Training Exercise (COMPTUEX) and Joint Task Force Exercise (JTFEX).

Both exercises focused on improving the strike group's ability to perform strike warfare, anti-submarine warfare and anti-air warfare, said Stennis Operations Officer Cmdr. Don Glatt.

"The first goal was to get through all these exercises safely," said Commander, Carrier Strike Group (GSG) 3 Rear. Adm. Mark Vance. "The second goal was to have combat-ready aircraft and ships and combat-ready crews. We've achieved all of those."

The John C. Stennis Carrier Strike Group (JCSCSG) completed the two-week COMPTUEX first to prepare the strike group's assets to work as a single unit.

"The air wing and the ship continued to fuse as a team, and we worked extremely well with the destroyer squadron," said Stennis Commanding Officer Capt. Joseph Kuzmick. "We all learned a great deal, and most of all, we learned to operate as a team."

Strike Force Training Pacific evaluators ran the strike group through a series unit-specific training exercises and tested the strike group's integrated operational capabilities with two unscripted scenarios called battle problems.

The strike group completed the objectives listed on the Navy Mission Essential Task List (NMETL) for carrier strike groups in COMPTUEX to demonstrate their operational readiness.

"This list consists of close to 1,000 individual tasks, and each task has a measure of performance and effectiveness associated with it," said Commander Strike Force Pacific Operations Officer Capt. George Fadok. "Throughout COMPTUEX the group's performance increased each and every day."

"As much as anything it is the confidence you get from doing this thing and seeing that you really can make it all come together," said Kuzmick. "We learned to push our equipment to the limits, and we learned how to deal with almost anything."

The strike group joined several Air Force squadrons and ships from Canada and Chile after COMPTUEX to simulate operating in a joint-force environment in JTFEX.

Commander, 3rd Fleet evaluated JCSCSG, on its ability to operate and communicate with multiple forces during the week-long, free-play scenario.

The exercises allowed JCSCSG adapt to the subtle differences between coalition forces and other military branches, so they can operate together in an actual conflict, said Glatt.

The unscripted simulations also allowed the strike group to practice reacting to realistic threats from each warfare area.

Each warfare commander got a chance to work through their tactics, techniques and procedures and got better each time, said Vance.

Stennis proved it is ready to deploy with its strike group by successfully completing the objectives in COMPTUEX and JTFEX.

"All the work we did out here over the summer, that was tailored ship's training. Each ship is basically out underway learning how to operate their own machine," said Kuzmick. "This underway was more about making us into a system of systems where we've got units working together to form a larger system, that being the deploying strike group."

JCSCSG is now certified as ready for major combat operations and prepared to deploy.

"Before, we had a whole lot of new people that haven't done this before, or we had people who haven't done it with this particular equipment," said Kuzmick. "We've all figured out how it's done now. We understand how we work, and we're ready to deploy."

Pre-deployment exercises give the Navy's strike groups operational experience so they are better prepared to safely and effectively further the goals of America's maritime strategy during their deployments.

(Report by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Elliott Fabrizio, USS John C. Stennis Public Affairs.)

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