USS GEORGE WASHINGTON, At Sea—USS
George Washington (CVN 73) began its participation in joint aircraft
carrier operations with USS Nimitz (CVN 68) in the Western Pacific
Ocean August 30.
The goal of the joint operation is to practice integrating the
operations of embarked Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 5 with Nimitz’s
embarked CVW-11, said Cmdr. Pete Walczak, GW’s combat direction
Walczak said the opportunity to conduct joint-carrier operations
doesn’t present itself often, which is why GW planned part of its
summer deployment schedule around it.
“It’s unique for any aircraft carrier to get the chance to work with
another,” Walczak said. “Having another aircraft carrier near GW is
not something we can always count on because of the crucial role
carriers play in maintaining maritime security throughout the
Commander CVW-5, Capt. Ross Myers said the exercise will increase
interoperability between both carrier strike groups while also
preparing Nimitz Sailors and CVW-11 aviators for future combat
missions in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
“This is an invaluable opportunity for CVW-5 to conduct
air-to-ground and air-to-air training with Nimitz, and we are
capitalizing on it by flying together as much as we can,” Myers
Walczak added that dual operations with Nimitz will present a
variety of new challenges to the Sailors of GW’s Operations
“Successful training with Nimitz is all about proper planning,” he
said. “Among other things, each strike group requires a certain
mileage of water and airspace, and we’ll have to coordinate so our
aircraft and ships don’t encroach upon each other.”
During the exercise, CVW-5 aviators will conduct strike training on
Okino Daiti Jima’s advanced range, according to Lt. Cmdr. Jerry
Bartee, GW’s ordnance handling officer.
“Normally, Weapons Department assembles, transfers and loads
ordnance that can be dropped on small areas of land in the ocean,”
said Bartee. “With the training range available to us we’ll be able
to use some of our higher-yield weapons.”
Bartee said he expects ordnance usage to be about ten times greater
than normal due to the increased tempo of flight operations and a
surplus of ordnance already earmarked for training.
The George Washington Carrier Strike Group is commanded by Rear Adm.
Kevin M. Donegan. The strike group includes CVW-5, Destroyer
Squadron (DESRON) 15 and the guided-missile cruisers USS Shiloh (CG
67) and USS Cowpens (CG 63).
GW, commanded by Capt. David A. Lausman, is making its inaugural
deployment from Fleet Activities Yokosuka, Japan in support of
stability and security in the Western Pacific region. The Nimitz-class
aircraft carrier replaced USS Kitty Hawk last year as the Navy’s
forward-deployed carrier presence. The ship and crew departed
Yokosuka June 10.