The Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group (HST CSG) passed the approximate midway point of its 2013-2014 deployment Dec. 6.
HST CSG deployed from Norfolk, Va., and Mayport, Fla., in late July and after transiting the Atlantic Ocean and U.S. 6th Fleet area of responsibility (AOR), entered the U.S. 5th Fleet AOR Aug. 18 to conduct maritime security operations, support theater security cooperation efforts and support Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF).
HST CSG is currently the only continental U.S.-based carrier strike group forward-deployed.
“I could not be more proud of the performance of our Sailors and Marines,” said Rear Adm. Kevin Sweeney, commander, HST CSG. “Their efforts in supporting coalition warfighters on the ground in Afghanistan and maritime operations throughout the region have been the key to building trust and confidence with our partner nations.”
HST CSG includes the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75), the guided-missile cruisers USS Gettysburg (CG 64) and USS San Jacinto (CG 57), the guided-missile destroyers USS Bulkeley (DDG 84) and USS Mason (DDG 87); Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 3; and embarked Carrier Strike Group 10 and 1st Combined Destroyer Squadron staffs.
Harry S. Truman, the strike group’s flagship, has teamed up with CVW-3 to launch more than 7,000 sorties, amassing more than 19,700 flight hours, since departing for deployment. Nine days after entering the 5th Fleet AOR, an F/A-18C Hornet, assigned to the “Checkerboards” of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 312, piloted by Marine Lt. Col. Joseph Reedy, commanding officer of VMFA-312, launched from Harry S. Truman in support of OEF Aug. 27. Since that time, CVW-3 squadrons have flown more than 8,900 hours and 1,500 sorties in support of OEF.
Squadrons assigned to CVW-3 include the “Seahawks” of Airborne Early Warning Squadron 126, the “Zappers” of Electronic Attack Squadron 130, the “Ragin’ Bulls” of Strike Fighter Squadron 37, the “Gunslingers” of Strike Fighter Squadron 105, the “Swordsmen” of Strike Fighter Squadron 32, the “Dusty Dogs” of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 7 and the “Swamp Foxes” of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 74.
“Its inspiring to watch the young men and women of Truman and Carrier Air Wing 3 work so closely together,” said Capt. Bob Roth, Harry S. Truman’s commanding officer. “It’s their hard work and tireless dedication to the mission that keep the jets launching, in the air, and supporting the warfighters on the ground in Afghanistan.”
Capt. Sara Joyner, commander, CVW-3, also spoke of the teamwork that makes HST CSG’s support of OEF a success.
“Whether from the air wing or from Truman, every Sailor and Marine understands the importance of what we’re doing out here and how vital teamwork is to our success,” she said. “The ship and air wing team work side by side, every day for hours on end, in all sorts of conditions, to make sure we can get support to those who need it on the ground.”
Each ship in the strike group has made an impact on regional security and safety by providing assistance and medical support to fishermen and merchants on multiple occasions, and by participating in theater security cooperation exercises.
Other major highlights of the deployment thus far include port visits to Marseille, France; Manama, Bahrain; and Jebel Ali, United Arab Emirates; a Thanksgiving Day visit by the Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert and Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Mike Stevens; and the advancement of approximately 350 Sailors.
During the first 136 days of the deployment, Sailors and Marines consumed more than 15,175 gallons of milk, 52,718 lbs. of beef, 134,203 lbs. of chicken, 5,560 lbs. of hot dogs, 108,435 lbs. of fresh vegetables and 10,975 dozens of eggs.
“I’m proud of my Ney Award-winning Sailors for being able to feed a crew of over 5,000 Sailors and Marines four times a day, seven days a week,” said Chief Warrant Officer 4 Brian Armstrong, Harry S. Truman’s food service officer. “They work long hours to prepare enjoyable meals while keeping the galleys to the highest standard of cleanliness to ensure the good health of the crew and maintain the Truman standard. They’ve done an incredible job for the first half of this deployment and I know they’ll continue their stellar performance till the end.”
To date, Harry S. Truman has completed 16 underway replenishments (UNREP), during which more than 11.4 million gallons of JP-5 fuel was received, 9.5 million gallons of which was issued to aircraft for flight operations.
UNREPs also supplied the ship with essential food and repair parts required for daily operations of an aircraft carrier. Harry S. Truman also processed a combined 259,051 lbs. of incoming and outgoing mail.
“Over the past four-and-a-half months, this ship has done amazing things from supporting OEF, completing a physical readiness test while on a combat deployment, had numerous Sailors advanced, Sailors getting multiple warfare qualifications, and Sailors continuing their education,” said Harry S. Truman Sailor of the Year Aviation Ordnanceman 1st Class Ryan Smith. “We still have a long road ahead of us with much more to accomplish before the end of deployment, but we’ll ensure we remain vigilant and we’ll keep meeting every challenge safely until we return safely to our loved ones.”
Press Release, December 09, 2013; Image: US Navy