Stennis, Nimitz and Bonhomme Richard Enter the Persian Gulf

Wednesday, May 23, 2007
Nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68) and amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) transit alongside Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) in the Gulf of Oman. All three ships are part of three different strike groups that are on scheduled deployments in support of maritime security operations. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Paul J. Perkins

From U.S. Naval Forces Central Command/U.S. 5th Fleet Public Affairs Office

The USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) and USS Nimitz (CVN 68) Carrier Strike Groups and USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) Expeditionary Strike Group entered the Persian Gulf May 23. While operating in the Persian Gulf, the carriers and amphibious strike groups and their associated forces will conduct missions in direct support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and will also perform Expeditionary Strike Force (ESF) training.

This marks the first time the Stennis (JCS), Nimitz (NIM) and Bonhomme Richard (BHR) strike groups have operated together in combined training while deployed to the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet. In March, Stennis and the USS Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group conducted a dual-carrier exercise in the Persian Gulf. The ESF training demonstrates the importance of the strike groups’ ability to plan and conduct multi-task force operations as part of the U.S.’s long-standing commitment to maintaining maritime security and stability in the region.

“We are conducting this training in order to gain valuable experience across a wide spectrum of naval disciplines. This training demonstrates our commitment to security and stability in the Gulf area, and our commitment to regional partners,” said Vice Adm. Kevin J. Cosgriff, Commander U.S. Naval Forces Central Command/U.S. 5th Fleet. The timing of this exercise is determined by the availability of forces, and is not connected to events in the region. The exercise is not directed against any nation. The air wings from the aircraft carriers and BHR will conduct air training while the surface components will conduct training in three general disciplines: anti-submarine, anti-surface and mine warfare.

JCS is the flagship for this training. JCS left its homeport of Bremerton, Wash., on Jan. 16 for a regularly scheduled deployment and began operating in the region Feb. 19. The Nimitz Strike Group left its homeport of San Diego on April 2 and entered the region May 8. The Bonhomme Richard Expeditionary Strike Group (BHR ESG) left its homeport of San Diego on April 10 and entered the 5th Fleet area of operations May 19. Along with JCS, other ships in its strike group which made the transit include the guided-missile cruiser USS Antietam (CG 54) and the guided-missile destroyer USS O’Kane (DDG 77). Stennis’ Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 9 squadrons include the “Black Knights” of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 154, “Blue Diamonds” of VFA-146, “Argonauts” of VFA-147, “Death Rattlers” of Marine Strike Fighter Squadron (VMFA) 323, “Yellowjackets” of Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron 138, “Golden Hawks” of Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron 112, “Topcats” of Sea Control Squadron 31, “Eightballers” of Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron (HS) 8, and “Providers” of Logistics Support Squadron 30. Accompanying NIM is guided-missile cruiser USS Princeton (CG 59) and guided-missile destroyer USS Higgins (DDG 76).

Nimitz's CVW-11 squadrons include VFA-14 “Tophatters,” VFA-41 “Black Aces,” VFA-81 “Sunliners,” Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 117 “Wallbangers,” VMFA-232 “Red Devils,” Electronic Warfare Squadron 135 “Black Ravens,” Logistics Support Squadron 30 “Providers,” and HS-6 “Indians.” Accompanying BHR is the amphibious transport dock ship USS Denver (LPD 9), amphibious dock landing ship USS Rushmore (LPD 47) and fast-attack submarine USS Scranton (SSN 756). Embarked aboard BHR is Amphibious Squadron 7. Also embarked aboard BHR, Denver and Rushmore are units from Beach Master Unit 1, Assault Craft Units 1 and 5, Tactical Air Control Squadron 12, Naval Beach Group 1, and Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 23. The 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) makes up the Marine force embarked with the ESG. Units of the 13th MEU include Combat Logistics Battalion 13; Battalion Landing Team, 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment; and Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 163 - Reinforced.

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