USS Nimitz Relieves USS Ronald Reagan, Launches 1st Sorties in Support of Troops in Afghanistan
Dispatches from the Front:
GULF OF OMAN, Sept. 17, 2009 -- The Nimitz Carrier Strike Group (CSG) relieved the Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group as Commander, Task Force 50 September 18 (local date), and launched its first sorties in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.
Aircraft from Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 11 departed the decks of the strike group’s flagship, the USS Nimitz (CVN 68) en route to Afghanistan in support of U.S. and coalition ground forces. Nimitz, like Reagan, will provide 30 percent of all coalition close air support in Afghanistan.
“The Nimitz – Carrier Air Wing 11 team is ready to deliver,” said Capt. Paul O. Monger, Nimitz’s commanding officer. “The Ronald Reagan strike group excelled across the spectrum of operations in the region. Now it’s our turn. Our crew and air wing are poised to carry the fight to the enemy.”
According to Rear Adm. John W. Miller, the strike group commander, the group’s more than 6,000 Sailors are eager to carry out their mission. “The Nimitz Strike Group is looking forward to joining 5th fleet operations, working closely with coalition forces to help bring security and stability to the people of Afghanistan,” Miller said. “We also expect to enhance, through operations and training, cooperative relationships with our regional partners who are key to the maritime strategy.”
The Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group had operated in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations since early July.
“From infrastructure protection in the North Arabian Gulf, air combat operations over Afghanistan, to counter-piracy operations off Somalia and the Horn of Africa, our Sailors performed with distinction,” said Rear Adm. Scott Hebner, Commander, Ronald Reagan Strike Group. “I’m proud of every command and Sailor in the strike group. Their performance across the board has been impressive!”
Ronald Reagan’s embarked air wing, CVW-14, flew more than 1,600 sorties in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Ships of the Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group were also vital in counter piracy operations off of Somalia and the Horn of Africa and Maritime Security Operations to include protecting vital Iraqi infrastructure in the North Arabian Gulf.
“Once again, the Ronald Reagan-Carrier Air Wing 14 team performed brilliantly supporting our troops in contact,” said Capt. Kenneth J. Norton, Ronald Reagan’s commanding officer. “With a high operational tempo, these Sailors woke up every morning and got to work, mindful of the troops on the ground who needed their support. They worked long hours, nonstop, for weeks at a time, and they did it with a smile on their face. This is what they joined the Navy to do—support the mission. I couldn’t be more proud.”
Nimitz CSG, commanded by Rear Adm. John W. Miller, is comprised of USS Nimitz (CVN 68), embarked Carrier Air Wing (CVW 11), embarked Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 23, and the Ticonderoga-class cruiser USS Chosin (CG 65). Ships assigned to DESRON 23 include the destroyers USS Pinckney (DDG 91), USS Sampson (DDG 102) and the frigate USS Rentz (FFG 46).
Squadrons from CVW 11 include the “Black Aces” of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 41, the “Tophatters” of VFA 14, the “Warhawks” of VFA 97, the “Sidewinders” of VFA 86, the “Indians” of Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron (HS) 6, the “Black Ravens” of Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 135, the “Providers” of Fleet Logistics Support Squadron (VRC) 30 and the “Wallbangers” of Carrier Airborne Command and Control Squadron (VAW) 117.
Helicopter detachments include the “Easy Riders” of Helicopter Anti-submarine Squadron Light (HSL) 37, the “Battle Cats” of HSL 43, the “Wolfpack” of HSL 45, the “Scorpions” of HSL 49 and the “Wildcards” of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 23. Also accompanying the Nimitz CSG are Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit (EODMU) 11 and the USNS Bridge (T-AOE-10).
The Nimitz Carrier Strike Group is on a routine deployment to the region. Operations in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations are focused on reassuring regional partners of the United States’ commitment to security, which promotes stability and global prosperity.
(Report from a USS Nimitz and USS Ronald Reagan Public Affairs news release.)
Related: Combat Camera: Aboard USS Nimitz, Sept. 19, 2009
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