Sailors and Marines from Carrier Air Wing 1 (CVW-1) departed aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CVN 65) after successfully completing a 30-day underway period in the Atlantic Ocean Feb. 9.
CVW-1 and Enterprise spent the past month participating in a Composite Training Unit Exercise, a joint task force exercise and Bold Alligator 2012 (BA12) in preparation for the 50 year-old ship’s upcoming 22nd and final deployment.
During these exercises, the ship and air wing team were presented with a variety of scenarios that could potentially occur during a regular deployment, including launching aircraft in support of ground operations and protecting the strike group from surface, submarine and air threats. These scenarios required expert coordination between all elements of Enterprise Carrier Strike Group to achieve mission success.
“This is the only chance we get as a strike group to work and train together,” said Capt. Robert D. Boyer, deputy commander of CVW-1. “This was a big deal because it’s a tough and constant scenario and everybody across the board pulled together and made it come off really well.”
During this intense training period, CVW-1 completed 3,830 flight hours, 2,052 arrested landings and received a 96 percent sortie completion rate. During portions of their most recent underway, CVW-1 averaged nearly 60 sorties a day, an accomplishment that led directly to both Enterprise and CVW-1 earning their qualifications and reaching their training goals.
CVW-1 Command Master Chief John T. Lery, along with the 48 other CVW-1 staff members, focused their efforts on making sure the individual squadrons and Enterprise integrated effectively and worked together as a cohesive unit.
“The carrier and the air wing are dependent on one another,” said Lery. “It is a one-hundred percent team effort and everyone works together toward the successful execution of the overall mission.”
Sailors and Marines worked day and night training, practicing interoperability procedures and completing necessary certifications for deployment. They learned how to safely operate aboard the ship and work together toward a common goal.
The ongoing scenario provided CVW-1 with a rigorous flight schedule that, on three separate occasions, required the air wing to surge to more than 100 sorties in a day.
This robust air plan provided CVW-1 the opportunity to train approximately 175 aircrew personnel in air wing operations. Despite training so many new personnel, the CVW-1 team was consistently able to maintain a high operational tempo throughout the exercises.
“None of this effort would have been possible without the dedicated support of over 1,500 air wing maintenance and administrative personnel,” said Cmdr. Daniel Orchard-Hays, operations officer for CVW-1. “They performed exceptionally well and received very high marks from Commander, Strike Force Training, Atlantic on strike operations.”
In the brief deployment turnaround since their return July 15, 2011, CVW-1 and Enterprise were able to successfully reintegrate and work toward new accomplishments. They took the embarkation to the next level by participating in BA12, the largest naval amphibious exercise in the past 10 years.
“Bold Alligator 2012 was an excellent opportunity for us to integrate command and staff relationships between the Carrier Strike Group and the Expeditionary Strike Group to ensure we can operate as an effective fighting force,” said Orchard-Hays.
“The amphibious assets involved in Bold Alligator are geared more to offensive operations with the helos, harriers and some Marine Corps fixed-wing assets from the shore,” said Boyer. “So, to be able to come in here and be part of their overall task force and protect them from the sea as they go ashore, and go with them as they go ashore, is really important. It’s unique to us as a naval service and something that the armed forces in other nations can’t do.”
During CVW-1’s BA12 support to the ESG, 75 percent of their sorties were flown in support of the combined force and ESG. The air wing flew strike, close air support, defensive counter-air, and surface patrol missions to protect the ships at sea and the Marines going ashore.
CVW-1, based at Naval Air Station Oceana, Va., has served aboard 20 different aircraft carriers, made 42 major deployments and has been in commission since July 1, 1938.
CVW-1 is comprised of Strike Fighter Squadron 11, Strike Fighter Squadron 211, Strike Fighter Squadron 136, Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 251, Electronic Attack Squadron 137, Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron 123 and Helicopter Anti-submarine Squadron 11 and VRC 40 Det 1.
Naval Today Staff , February 13, 2012; Image: navy