Carrier Strike Group Three

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Carrier Strike Group Three
Carrier Strike Group Three Crest.png
Carrier Strike Group Three crest
Active 1 October 2004 to date.[1]
Country United States of America
Branch United States Navy Seal United States Navy
Type Carrier Strike Group
Role Naval air/surface warfare
Part of U.S. Third Fleet
Garrison/HQ Naval Base Kitsap, Washington
Nickname John C. Stennis Carrier Strike Group
Motto In Mundo Optimum (The Best in the World)
Engagements Operation Enduring Freedom
Iraq War
War in Afghanistan
Website Official Website
Commanders
Commander Rear Admiral Michael Smith[2][3]
Chief of Staff Captain William C. Minter[4]
Command Master Chief ITCM (IDW/SW/AW) Marion H. Shawbell [5]
Notable
commanders
Bruce W. Clingan[6]
Aircraft flown
Electronic
warfare
EA-6B Prowler[7]
E-2C Hawkeye[7]
Fighter F/A-18E/F Super Hornet[7]
F/A-18C Hornet[7]
Helicopter MH-60R Seahawk[7]
MH-60S Knighthawk[7]
Transport Grumman C-2 Greyhound[7]

Carrier Strike Group Three (CSG-3 or CARSTRKGRU 3) is one of five U.S. Navy carrier strike groups currently assigned to the U.S. Pacific Fleet. Carrier strike groups gain and maintain sea control as well as project naval airpower ashore.[8][9]

The aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN-74) is the strike group's current flagship, and as of 2012, other units assigned to Carrier Strike Group Three include Carrier Air Wing Nine; the guided-missile cruisers USS Mobile Bay (CG-53) and USS Antietam (CG-54); and the ships of Destroyer Squadron 21, the guided-missile destroyers USS Wayne E. Meyer (DDG-108), USS Dewey (DDG-105), USS Kidd (DDG-100), and USS Milius (DDG-69).[10][11]

The group traces its history to the establishment of Carrier Division 3 in 1940 or earlier. In 1941 the division took part in the Neutrality Patrol in the Atlantic. The division later operated off Korea and Vietnam. It took part in many exercises during the Cold War and during the initial months of Operation Desert Shield in 1990 served as the U.S. Navy's representative in the Riyadh headquarters of U.S. Central Command. Carrier Group Three formed the core of the naval power during the initial phase of Operation Enduring Freedom in 2001. On 18 December 2011, aircraft from Carrier Strike Group Three flew the final carrier-based air mission over Iraq, effectively ending U.S. naval support for Operation New Dawn.[12]

Historical background[edit]

Carrier Division Three[edit]

The aircraft carrier Wasp was assigned to Carrier Division Three from November 1940. In April 1941 a Central Atlantic Neutrality Patrol was established under Admiral A.B. Cook, based at Bermuda. It comprised Carrier Division Three, the cruisers Quincy and Vincennes, and Destroyer Squadron 11.[13] On 7 December 1941, in the Atlantic Fleet, Carrier Division Three comprises Wasp and Ranger under Rear Admiral A.B. Cook.[14] Commander Carrier Division Three served as Commander Task Force 77 during the Korean War. In 1966, Carrier Division Three was embarked aboard USS Enterprise flying missions in the Gulf of Tonkin off Vietnam.

Carrier Group Three[edit]

On 30 June 1973, Carrier Division Three was redesignated Carrier Group Three. U.S. Navy carrier battle groups have since the mid Cold War period maintained a pattern of deployments to trouble spots, beginning with an overhaul, individual ship training, battle group training, group preparation exercise, and then the deployment. On returning home, the cycle begins once more. As part of these deployments, the Carl Vinson carrier battle group participated in Exercise RIMPAC '84, RIMPAC '86, RIMPAC '98, PACEX '89, Exercise Rugged Nautilus, Operation Southern Watch, Operation Desert Strike, Operation Desert Fox, and Operation Iraqi Freedom.[15] From 1989–91, USS Carl Vinson served as the flagship for Carrier Group Three. During this period, Carrier Group Three was one of three battle groups that took part in PACEX '89.

In August 1990, Commander, U.S. Seventh Fleet was deployed to Bahrain in order to serve as Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command (ComUSNAVCENT) following the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. Since ComUSNAVCENT operated from onboard ship, he established NAVCENT-Riyadh as a staff organization to provide continuous Navy representation at United States Central Command headquarters.[16] This mission was assigned initially to Commander, Carrier Group Three. During succeeding months, the NAVCENT-Riyadh staff was augmented substantially but remained small, relative to the United States Army Central and CENTAF staffs. In November, the NAVCENT-Riyadh command was transferred from COMCARGRU 3 to Commander, Cruiser-Destroyer Group 5. This change resulted in the Navy flag officer at NAVCENT Riyadh's remaining relatively junior to other Service representatives, particularly the Air Force.

In the middle of 1992, the U.S. Navy instituted a concept which mandated greater task group integration of naval air and surface warfare assets into a more permanent carrier battle group structure. Instead of routinely changing the cruisers, destroyers, and frigates assigned to each carrier battle group, there was an attempt made to affiliate certain escorts more permanently with the carriers they escorted. Each of the Navy's 12 existing carrier battle groups was planned to consist of an aircraft carrier; an embarked carrier air wing; cruiser, destroyer, and frigate units; and two nuclear-powered attack submarines.[17] For details regarding this re-alignments as it pertained to Carrier Group Three, see the chart below.[18]

Carrier Group Three, late 1992[18]
Guided-Missile Cruisers Destroyer Squadron 21 Carrier Air Wing 11 squadrons embarked aboard USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72)
USS Shiloh (CG-67) USS Fitzgerald (DDG-62) Fighter Squadron 213: F-14A Airborne Early Warning Squadron 117: E-2C
USS Princeton (CG-59) USS John Paul Jones (DDG-53) Fighter Squadron 114: F-14A Sea Control Squadron 29: S-3B
USS Texas (CGN-39) USS Ingersoll (DD-990) Strike Fighter Squadron 94: F/A-18C Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron 6: SH-60F, HH-60H
USS California (CGN-36) USS John Young (DD-973) Strike Fighter Squadron 22: F/A-18C ——
USS Sterett (CG-31) USS Ingraham (FFG-61) Attack Squadron 95: A-6E, KA-6D ——
—— USS Gary (FFG-51) Electronic Warfare Squadron 135: EA-6B ——

From June 1993, Commander Carrier Group Three had his flag aboard Abraham Lincoln. In 1993, the battle group provided support to the multinational military forces assigned to Operation Restore Hope in Somalia, and the group subsequently made three Western Pacific/Persian Gulf deployments for Operation Southern Watch and Operation Vigilant Sentinel. On 13 May 1997 Carrier Air Wing Eleven was reassigned to Commander, Carrier Group Three and the USS Carl Vinson.[19]

Carrier Group Three formed the core of the naval power during the initial phase of Operation Enduring Freedom in 2001. At the time the group comprised USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70), Destroyer Squadron 9 and Carrier Air Wing Eleven. Commander, Carrier Group Three (Rear Admiral Thomas E. Zelibor) arrived in the Arabian Sea on 12 September 2001 and was subsequently designated Commander Task Force 50 (CTF 50), commanding multiple Carrier Strike Groups and coalition forces. The Task Force conducted strikes against Al Quida and Taliban forces in Afghanistan. Task Force 50 comprised over 59 ships from six nations including six aircraft carriers, stretching over 800 nautical miles.[20]

Rear Admiral Evan M. Chanik was the last commander of Carrier Group Three. During his tenure, Admiral Chanik led the group through a reorganized Inter-Deployment Training Cycle which greatly compressed the training required for overseas deployment.[6] On 1 October 2004, Carrier Group Three was redesignated as Carrier Strike Group Three.[1]

Command structure[edit]

Commander Carrier Strike Group Three (COMCARSTRKGRU 3 or CCSG 3) is responsible for unit-level training, integrated training, and material readiness for the ships and aviation squadrons assigned to the group. When it is not deployed, Carrier Strike Group Three comes under the authority of the Commander, U.S. Third Fleet which directs the group's pre-deployment training and certifications including its Composite Training Unit Exercises. When deployed beyond U.S. coastal waters, Carrier Strike Group Eleven comes under the command authority of the numbered fleet commander in the area in which it is operating – either Third, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, or Seventh Fleets. When deployed in this fashion, the group utilizes a task force or task group designator, for example, Task Group 50.1 in the Fifth Fleet area.

Group commanders since 2004 have included:

    • Rear Admiral Bruce W. Clingan   (June 2004 – September 2005)[21]
    • Captain Scott A. Berg   (September 2005 – November 2005)[21]
    • Rear Admiral Kevin M. Quinn   (November 2005 – September 2007)[21]
    • Rear Admiral Stewart O’Bryan   (September 2007 – September 2008)[21]
    • Rear Admiral Mark A. Vance   (September 2008 – September 2009)[21]
    • Rear Admiral Joseph P. Aucoin   (September 2009 – May 2011)[22]
    • Rear Admiral Craig S. Faller   (May 2011 – April 2012[23][24]
    • Rear Admiral Charles M. Gaouette   (April 2012 – October 2012[2][23][24]
    • Rear Admiral Troy Shoemaker   (October 2012 – Present[2]

Operational history[edit]

2005 deployment[edit]

On 17 January 2005, Carl Vinson departed Bremerton, Washington, with Carrier Air Wing Nine embarked for a six-month deployment, which included several months in the Persian Gulf supporting U.S. forces fighting the War in Iraq.[25][26] On 30 January 2005, the group departed San Diego following the completion of its 22-day pre-deployment Joint Task Force Exercise.[27]

F/A-18C from VFA-147 over Iraq (27 March 2005)

In total, the group launched more than 6,500 sorties, totaling more than 20,000 flight hours, in support of Multi-National Force - Iraq troops and various maritime interdiction operations, including 2,600 flight hours logged by its four F/A-18 strike-fighter squadrons.[28][29] Destroyer Squadron 31 conducted more than 80 boardings in conjunction with British, Italian, Australian, Canadian and regional forces.[30]

On 11 June 2005, Mustin rendered assistance in response to a distress call from the Iranian fishing dhow Henif. A boat transported an ill Iranian fisherman to Mustin, where he was subsequently transferred to Vinson by helicopter. Once aboard Vinson, the fisherman was taken to the ship’s infirmary where he underwent tests. The fisherman was apparently suffering from a severe allergic reaction. He was treated, and after a short recovery period, he was returned to the Henif via one of the carrier’s boats.[31]

The group completed its 2005 deployment at Naval Station Norfolk on 31 July 2005. Vinson then began a scheduled 36-month Refueling and Complex Overhaul, prior to becoming flagship for Carrier Strike Group One.[29] The new group flagship, the aircraft carrier John C. Stennis, changed its homeport to Bremerton in January 2005, and once there, underwent an 11-month Docking Planned Incremental Availability overhaul period.[32] Reflecting the reduced responsibilities while the ships were undergoing overhauls, Rear Admiral Clingan was succeeded by Captain Scott A. Berg in September 2005 as Commander Carrier Strike Group Three. Rear Admiral Kevin M. Quinn subsequently relieved Captain Berg in November 2005.[21]

2005 deployment force composition[25][26][33]
CARSTRKGRU 3 Warships/Units Carrier Air Wing Nine (CVW-9) squadrons embarked aboard flagship USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70)
USS Antietam (CG-54) Marine Fighter Squadron 323 (VMFA-323): FA-18C(N) Hornet Sea Control Squadron 33 (VS-33): S-3B Viking
USS O'Kane (DDG-77) Fighter Squadron 154 (VVFA-154): F-18F Super Hornet Helicopter Squadron 8 (HS-8): HH-60H/SH-60F Seahawk
USS Mustin (DDG-89) Strike Fighter Squadron 147 (VFA-147): FA-18C(N) Hornet Fleet Logistics Support Squadron 40 (VRC-40), Det. 4: C-2A Greyhound
USS Camden (AOE-2) Strike Fighter Squadron 146 (VFA-146): FA-18C Hornet ——
USS Olympia (SSN-717) Electronic Attack Squadron 138 (VAQ-138): EA-6B Prowler ——
EOD Mobile Unit 11, Detach. 9 Carrier Airborne Early Warning 112 (VAW-112): E-2C Hawkeye ——

2007 deployment[edit]

Stennis departed from its homeport in Bremerton, Washington, on 16 January 2007, spent one day in port on-loading Carrier Air Wing Nine onto the carrier, and Carrier Strike Group Three departed San Diego on 20 January 2006 for its 2007 deployment.[34] Carrier Air Wing Nine flew more than 7,900 sorties providing more than 22,000 flight hours and dropping nearly 90,000 pounds of ordnance in support of the International Security Assistance Force operating on the ground in Afghanistan and Iraq.[35] The guided-missile destroyers O'Kane and Preble were primarily responsible for carrying out Maritime Security Operations, Maritime Interdiction Operations, and Visit, Board, Search and Seizure operations for the strike group during the deployment.[36]

John C. Stennis, Bonhomme Richard, and Nimtz in Gulf of Oman (22 May 2007)

\

On 23 May 2007, Stennis, along with eight other warships including the aircraft carrier Nimitz and amphibious assault ship Bonhomme Richard, passed through the Strait of Hormuz into the Persian Gulf (pictured). US Navy officials said it was the largest such move of warships since 2003.[37] The group subsequently participated in Expeditionary Strike Force (ESF) training while simultaneously providing close-air support to coalition ground forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. The ESF training brought together Carrier Strike Group Three, the Carrier Strike Group Eleven led by Nimitz, and Bonhomme Richard Expeditionary Strike Group to test their ability to plan and conduct multi-task force operations across a broad spectrum of naval disciplines.[35] Thereafter, the group participated in Exercise Valiant Shield off the coast of Guam between 7–14 August 2007. The joint military exercise brought together more than 30 ships, including carrier strike groups led by the Kitty Hawk and Nimitz; 280 aircraft; and more than 20,000 service members from the U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force, U.S. Marine Corps, and U.S. Coast Guard. Valiant Shield 2007 tested the military’s ability to rapidly bring together joint forces in response to any regional contingency.[35][38][39] Valiant Shield was the last operational portion of the group's 2007 deployment.

The group entered Pearl Harbor on 20 August 2007.[35] The strike group returned to San Diego on 27 August 2007, and the carrier John C. Stennis returned to its homeport on 31 August 2007.[40][41]

2007 deployment force composition[34][42]
CARSTRKGRU 3 Warships/Units Carrier Air Wing Nine (CVW-9) squadrons embarked aboard flagship USS John C. Stennis (CVN-74)
USS Antietam (CG-54) Marine Attack Fighter Squadron 323 (VMFA-323): FA-18C(N) Hornet Sea Control Squadron 31 (VS-31): 8 S-3B Viking
USS Preble (DDG-88) Strike Fighter Squadron 154 (VFA-154): 12 FA-18F Super Hornet Helicopter Squadron 8 (HS-8): 2 HH-60H Seahawk & 4 SH-60F Seahawk
USS O'Kane (DDG-77) Strike Fighter Squadron 147 (VFA-147): 12 FA-18C(N) Hornet Fleet Logistics Support Squadron 40 (VRC-40), Det. 4: 4 C-2A Greyhound
USS Paul Hamilton (DDG-60) Strike Fighter Squadron 143 (VF-143): 12 FA-18C Hornet ——
USNS Bridge (T-AOE-10) Electronic Attack Squadron 138 (VAQ-138): 4 EA-6B Prowler ——
EOD Unit 11, Det. 11 Carrier Airborne Early Warning 112 (VAW-112): 4 E-2C Hawkeye NP ——
2007 deployment exercises and port visits
Number Regional exercises Port visits Notes
Duration US force Bilateral or multilateral partners Operating area Location Dates
1st: —— Carrier Strike Group Three —— —— Singapore 19–23 Jul 2007 [43]
2nd: —— Carrier Strike Group Three —— —— Hong Kong 28 Jul – 1 Aug 2007 [44]
3rd: 7–14 Aug 2007 Carrier Strike Group Three Valiant Shield 2007 Guam operating area Pearl Harbor 20 August. 2007 [35][38][39]

2009 deployment[edit]

John C. Stennis departed Bremerton on 13 January 2009, and the group departed Naval Air Station North Island on 17 January 2009 after embarking Carrier Air Wing Nine.[45] Carrier Air Wing Nine flew more than 7250 sorties, consisting of approximately 12,747 flight hours with a sortie completion rate of 97 percent during its 2009 deployment.[46]

MH-60R Sea Hawk from HSM-71

Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 71 (HSM-71), a new component to Carrier Air Wing Nine, was the first squadron of its kind to embark on board a carrier as part of a carrier air wing (pictured).[47] The squadron flew more than 4,690 hours with a 95 percent sortie completion rate and earned the right to fly the Enlisted Aviation Warfare Pennant. The highlight for the squadron occurred during the undersea warfare exercise when HSM-71 deployed multiple aircraft to practice engagements on U.S. and Japanese submarines. The squadron kept three helicopters aloft throughout the entire four-day exercise for a total of 222 flight hours and conducted 28 simulated attacks on two U.S. and two Japanese submarines.[48]

Carrier Strike Group Three participated in the Key Resolve/Foal Eagle 2009 exercises which began on 28 February 2009.[49] Key Resolve/Foal Eagle was held in the aftermath of the sinking of the ROK corvette Cheonan and the shelling of Yeonpyeong Island by North Korea.[50] During the exercise, the aircraft carrier Stennis was overflown by two Russian Ilyushin Il-38 maritime patrol aircraft on 16 March and two Tupolev Tu-95 long-range bombers on 17 March. Both time the Russian aircraft were intercepted and escorted by F/A-18 Hornets until the Russian aircraft left the exercise area.[51]

The strike group then split. Both Kidd and Preble returned to port on 16 June 2009. John C. Stennis and Antietam sailed north to the Gulf of Alaska to participate in Operation Northern Edge, held between 15–26 June 2009.[52] Stennis returned to port on 10 July 2009.[53]

2009 deployment force composition[48][54]
CARSTRKGRU 3 Warships Carrier Air Wing Nine (CVW-9) squadrons embarked aboard flagship USS John C. Stennis (CVN-74)
USS Antietam (CG-54) Marine Attack Fighter Squadron 323 (VMFA-323): 10 FA-18C(N) Hornet Electronic Attack Squadron 138 (VAQ-138): 4 EA-6B Prowler
USS Kidd (DDG-100) Strike Fighter Squadron 192 (VFA-192): 10 FA-18C Hornet Carrier Airborne Early Warning 112 (VAW-112): 4 E-2C Hawkeye NP
USS Preble (DDG-88) Strike Fighter Squadron 154 (VFA-154): 12 FA-18F Super Hornet Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 71 (HSM-71): 2 MH-60S Seahawk
—— Strike Fighter Squadron 147 (VFA-147): 12 FA-18F Super Hornet Helicopter Sea Control Squadron 8 (HSC-8): 4 MH-60R Seahawk
—— Strike Fighter Squadron 143 (VFA-143): 10 FA-18C Hornet Fleet Logistics Support Squadron 40 (VRC-40), Det. 4: 4 C-2A Greyhound
2009 deployment exercises and port visits
Number Regional exercises Port visits Notes
Duration U.S. Force Bilateral/Joint Partner(s) Operating Area Location Dates
1st: 10 Feb 2009 Carrier Strike Group Three Undersea Warfare Exercise: JMSDF Western Pacific Hong Kong 17 Feb 2009 [48][55]
2nd: Carrier Strike Group Three Sasebo, Japan 27 Feb 2009 [55]
3rd: 28 Feb – 30 Apr 2009 Carrier Strike Group Three Key Resolve/Foal Eagle: South Korea Korean Theater of Operations Busan, RKO 11 Mar 2009 [49][55]
4th: Carrier Strike Group Three Laem Chabang, Thailand 9–13 Apr 2009 [47][55]
5th: Carrier Strike Group Three Singapore 24 April. 2009 [55]
6th: 15–26 Jun 2009 Stennis, Antietam Northern Edge: Alaskan Command Gulf of Alaska Pearl Harbor 27 May – 10 Jun 2009 [52][55]

2011–2012 deployment[edit]

Flinal fight over Iraq (18 December 2011)
Anti-piracy boarding (19 December 2011)
Al Molai rescue (5 Jan 2012)
Al Mamsoor rescue (18 January 2012)

On 25 July 2011, the aircraft carrier John C. Stennis departed from its homeport of Naval Base Kitsap-Bremerton, Washington. Stennis was subsequently joined by Carrier Air Wing Nine, Destroyer Squadron Twenty-one, and the guided-missile cruiser Mobile Bay.[56] On 29 July 2011, Carrier Strike Group Three departed from Naval Air Station San Diego near San Diego, California, for its 2011–2012 deployment.[57]

The first port-of-call for Carrier Strike Group Three was to have been Manila, the Philippines, but that port-call was cancelled because of Typhoon Mina.[58] On 13 October 2011, the guided-missile destroyer Kidd was directed to join Carrier Strike Group Five, led by the aircraft carrier George Washington, to provide humanitarian assistance/disaster relief to flood-ravaged Thailand.[59][60]

During the deployment, the strike group and Carrier Air Wing Nine launched a combined total of 13,389 sorties in support of Operation New Dawn and Operation Enduring Freedom – Afghanistan.[61] On 18 December 2011, Carrier Strike Group Three flew the final carrier-based air sortie over Iraq, effectively ending U.S. naval support for Operation New Dawn. The final command-and-control mission for U.S. forces over Iraq was flown by an E-2C Hawkeye (pictured) From Airborne Early Warning Squadron 112, catapulting off the carrier Stennis at 7:32 am and returning at 11:04 a.m, both local time.[12]

While operating with Combined Task Force 151, on 13 December 2011, the guided-missile destroyer Pinckney disrupted a group of suspected pirates south of Yemen near the Internationally Recommended Transit Corridor. At approximately 8:40 am local time, the merchant vessel M/V Nordic Apollo reported to the United Kingdom Maritime Trade Organization of being fired upon by pirates in a skiff. At approximately 11:00 am, the M/V Heather, operating 30 nautical miles from Nordic Apollo, reported suspicious activity by a skiff. CTF-151commander Rear Admiral Kaleem Shaukat, Pakistan Navy, ordered Pinckney to investigate.[62] Pinckney got underway and launched its MH-60R helicopter which located a suspicious skiff. Once under observation, the helicopter reported that the skiff had nine suspected pirates aboard, as well as several ladders, weapons and fuel containers that the suspected pirates attempted to cover up or throw overboard. As Pinckney closed, the skiff stopped and the suspected pirates threw their weapons overboard, which were identified as five AK-47 rifles, one rocket propelled grenade (RPG) launcher. and three RPG rounds. Pinckney conduct a boarding using their visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS) team (pictured), and once aboard, the VBSS team confirmed that there were nine suspected pirates, one grappling hook, 36 barrels of fuel, and 75 and 45 horsepower outboard engines. The VBSS team scuttled one outboard motor and left the skiff with enough fuel and water to return to shore.[62]

On 5 January 2012, at approximately 12:30 p.m local time, an SH-60S Seahawk helicopter from guided-missile destroyer Kidd detected a suspected pirate skiff alongside the Iranian-flagged fishing dhow Al Molai operating in the northern Arabian Sea. Simultaneously, the Kidd received a distress call was from the master of the Al Molai claiming to be held captive by pirates.[63] The Kidd dispatched a visit, board, search and seizure team that boarded the Al Molai (pictured) and subsequently detained 15 suspected pirates who had been holding a 13-member Iranian crew hostage for several weeks. The pirates did not resist the boarding, quickly surrendered, and were detained on the Al Molai by the Kidd boarding party until the next morning, 6 January 2012, when they were transferred to the aircraft carrier John C. Stennis where the incident was reviewed for potential prosecution.[63] According to the Iranian vessel's crew, the Al Molai had been pirated and used as a "mother ship" for pirate operations throughout the Persian Gulf during the preceding 40–45 days. The pirates forced the Al Molai crew to live in harsh conditions under the constant threat of violence with limited supplies and medical aid. The Kidd VSBB team provided the Al Molai crew with food, water, and medical care, and the Al Molai master thanked the VBSS team for their assistance.[63]

On 18 January 2012, at 7:53 am local time, an MH-60R Seahawk helicopter from the squadron HSM-71 spotted the Iranian fishing vessel Al Mamsoor disabled in the Arabian Sea. The vessel was in a sinking condition, and the helicopter alerted the guided-missile drestroyer Dewey which rendered assistance. Dewey dispatched a visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS) team (pictured) which discovered that the Al Mamsoor was in a sinking condition for the previous three days. The VBSS team provided food, water, medical, and hygienic supplies to the Iranian mariners, and after confirming Iranian nationals' safety, departed the scene.[64]

On 27 December 2011, the carrier John C. Stennis concluded a four-day port visit to Jebel Ali, United Arab Emirates and transited through the Strait of Hormuz to the North Arabian Sea to provide combat air support to coalition ground forces in Afghanistan.[61][65] On 3 January 2012, following the end of Velayat 90, a 10-day Iranian military exercise in international waters near the Strait of Hormuz, the Iranian Army chief of staff, General Ataollah Salehi, was quoted by the state news agency IRNA as warning the United States to not deploy the Stennis back to the Persian Gulf. This initiated a major dispute between the United States and the Islamic Republic of Iran over access to the Strait of Hormuz.[61][65]

On 27 February 2012, Carrier Strike Group Three completed its seven-month deployment to the western Pacific and Middle East, with the cruiser Mobile Bay and destroyers Pinckney, Kidd, Dewey, and Wayne E. Meyer returning to their homebase of Naval Base San Diego. Stennis stopped in San Diego before returning to its homeport of Naval Base Kitsap, Washington, on 28 February 2012.[66]

2011–2012 deployment force composition[7][56][67]
CARSTRKGRU 3 Warships Carrier Air Wing Nine (CVW-9) squadrons embarked aboard flagship USS John C. Stennis (CVN-74)
USS Mobile Bay (CG-53) Strike Fighter Squadron 192 (VFA-192): 10 F/A-18C Carrier Airborne Early Warning 112 (VAW-112): 4 E-2C
USS Wayne E. Meyer (DDG-108) Strike Fighter Squadron 97 (VFA-97): 10 F/A-18C Fleet Logistics Support Squadron 40 (VRC-40), Det. 1: 2 C-2A
USS Dewey (DDG-105) Strike Fighter Squadron 41 (VFA-41): 12 F/A-18F Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron Squadron 8 (HSC-8): 7 MH-60S
USS Kidd (DDG-100) Strike Fighter Squadron 14 (VFA-14): 12 F/A-18E Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 71 (HSM-71): 11 MH-60R
USS Pinckney (DDG-91) Electronic Attack Squadron 133 (VAQ-133): 4 EA-6B ——
2011–2012 deployment exercises and port visits
Number Regional Exercises Port Visits Notes
Duration U.S. Forces Bilateral/Multilateral Partner(s) Operating Area Location Dates
1st: —— Kidd —— —— Apra Harbor, Guam 27 Aug 2011 [59]
2nd: 9 Aug Carrier Strike Group Three Undersea Warfare Exercise Hawaiian operating area Port Klang, Malaysia 4–8 Sep 2011 [68][69][70]
3rd: —— Pinckney —— —— Singapore 7 Sep 2011 [71]
4th: —— Kidd —— —— Phuket, Thailand 8–11 Sep 2011 [59]
5th: —— John C. Stennis —— —— Al Hidd, Bahrain 21–24 Sep 2011 [61]
6th: —— Kidd —— —— Sihanoukville, Cambodia 20–25 Sep 2011 [59]
7th: Various Kidd, Pinckney CARAT 2011 Various Muara, Brunei 29 Sep to 2 Oct 2011 [59][71]
8th: —— Wayne E. Meyer —— —— Singapore 13–17 Oct 2011 [72]
9th: —— Pinckney —— —— Incheon, ROK 17 Oct [71]
10th: —— Pinckney —— —— Yokosuka, Japan 27 Oct 2011 [71]
11th: —— Wayne E. Meyer, Dewey, Pinckney —— —— Phuket, Thailand 11–14 Nov 2011 [71][72][73]
12th: —— John C. Stennis —— —— Jebel Ali, UAE 14 Nov 2011 [61]
13th: —— John C. Stennis —— —— Jebel Ali, UAE 23–27 Dec 2011 [61]
14th: —— John C. Stennis, Mobile Bay, Dewey, Pinckney —— —— Singapore 26–30 Jan 2012 [74][75]
15th: —— Kidd —— —— Port Klang, Malaysia 26 Jan 2012 [59]
16th: —— Wayne E. Meyer —— —— Manila, Philippines 29 Jan 2012 [76]
17th: —— Carrier Strike Group Three —— —— Pearl Harbor 17 Feb 2012 [61]

2012–2013 deployment[edit]

Valiant Shield 2012 (20 September 2012)
Andaman Sea (12 October 2012)
Combat air operations (1 January 2013)

Between 29 June and 17 July 2012, Stennis conducted Fleet Replacement Squadron Carrier Qualifications and Sustainment Exercises off the coast of southern California. On 27 August 2012, four months ahead of schedule, the group departed for an eight-month U.S. Fifth Fleet deployment under the command of Rear Admiral Charles M. Gaouette.[77][78] On 30 August 2012, Stennis arrived at Naval Air Station North Island, California, to embark Carrier Air Wing Nine, departing on 1 September 2012 with the guided-missile cruiser Mobile Bay.[79] On 31 August 2012, the carrier Stennis embarked additional Carrier Air Wing Nine personnel during a port visit to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, departing on 1 September 2012, with the guided-missile Paul Hamilton joining the strike group.[80][81]

On 11 September 2012, the group came under U.S. Seventh Fleet command and soon began taking part in Exercise Valiant Shield 2012 off Guam (pictured).[82][83] The deployment of two carrier strike groups for this exercise coincided with the ongoing Senkaku Islands dispute between China and Japan.[84] After four weeks underway, the first port call of the deployment followed at Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia, the first such visit by a U.S. aircraft carrier to that port.[85] Following its port visit to Phuket, Thailand, Carrier Strike Group Three participated in joint operations with Carrier Strike Group Five in the Andaman Sea (pictured).[86]

On 17 October 2012, Carrier Strike Group Three entered the Fifth Fleet area, relieving the recently departed Carrier Strike Group Twelve while joining Carrier Strike Group Eight in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, maritime security operations, and theater security cooperation missions.[87] On 21 October 2012, Carrier Air Wing Nine began strikes supporting the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan.[80] On 22 March 2013, Carrier Strike Group Three concluded combat air support to Afghanistan, with its aircraft flying around 1,200 sorties totaling over 7,400 flight hours.[88]

On 27 October 2012, Fifth Fleet commander Vice Admiral John W. Miller ordered the temporary re-assignment of Rear Admiral Gaouette pending the results of an investigation by the Naval Inspector General. Gaouette's chief of staff, Captain William C. Minter, led the strike group until the arrival of Rear Admiral Troy Shoemaker as Gaouette's replacement. Shoemaker had previously commanded Carrier Strike Group Nine during its 2011–2012 deployment.[89]

On 6 February 2013, the U.S. Department of Defense announced that the upcoming deployment of the carrier Harry S. Truman and the cruiser Gettysburg will be postponed pending the resolution of the upcoming budget sequestration, leaving Carrier Strike Group Three as the only carrier force operating in the Persian Gulf region.[90]

In an March 2013 interview, group commander Rear Admiral Troy Shoemaker noted that the shortfall of U.S. escort ships was being off-set by the assignment of the British destroyer Diamond and the French frigate Chevalier Paul, to operate with Carrier Strike Group Three.[91] Additionally, two destroyers from Carrier Strike Group Eight, the Winston S. Churchill and Farragut, operated temporarily with Carrier Strike Group Three.[92][93] In that capacity, on 2 March 2013, the Farragut joined the guided-missile frigate Nicholas is aiding distressed mariners aboard a dhow in the Gulf of Aden.[94] Both Farragut and Churchill left the U.S. Fifth Fleet via the Suez Canal on 8 March 2013.[92][93] On 1 March 2013, the destroyer William P. Lawrence from Carrier Strike Group Eleven entered the Persian Gulf for operations with Carrier Strike Group Three.[95]

On 26 March 2013, Carrier Strike Group Three departed the Fifth Fleet. During over five months of operations, the strike force's embarked Carrier Air Wing Nine flew a grand total of more than 9,000 sorties and more than 23,000 flight hours in support of coalition forces in Afghanistan.[96] Also on that date, the carrier Stennis and Carrier Air Wing Nine received the 2012 Ramage Award for carrier/air wing operational excellence during this 2012–2013 deployment of Carrier Strike Group Three.[97]

On 29 April 2013, the carrier Vinson and the cruiser Mobile Bay arrived at Naval Station San Diego, California, marking the end of the 2013 deployment of Carrier Strike Group Three. In total, the strike group steamed over 66,000 nautical miles (122,000 km; 76,000 mi) and aircraft assigned to Carrier Air Wing Nine flew 10,000 sorties totaling 30,400 flight hours during this eight-month-long deployment.[98]

2012-2012 deployment force composition[7][77][79][81][91][91][92][93][95][99][100]
Surface Warships Carrier Air Wing Nine (CVW-9) squadrons embarked aboard flagship USS John C. Stennis (CVN-74)
USS Mobile Bay (CG-53) HMS Diamond (D34) Strike Fighter Squadron 192 (VFA-192): 10 F/A-18C Carrier Airborne Early Warning 112 (VAW-112): 4 E-2C
USS Paul Hamilton (DDG-60) HMS Daring (D32) Strike Fighter Squadron 97 (VFA-97): 10 F/A-18C Fleet Logistics Support Squadron 30 (VRC-30), Det. 4: 2 C-2A
USS Farragut (DDG-99) FS Chevalier Paul (D621) Strike Fighter Squadron 41 (VFA-41): 12 F/A-18F Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron Squadron 8 (HSC-8): 12 MH-60S
USS Winston S. Churchill (DDG-81) —— Strike Fighter Squadron 14 (VFA-14): 12 F/A-18E Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 71 (HSM-71): 11 MH-60R
USS William P. Lawrence (DDG-110) —— Electronic Attack Squadron 133 (VAQ-133): 4 EA-6B ——
2012–2013 deployment exercises and port visits
Number Regional exercises/operations Port visits Notes
Duration US force Bilateral/multilateral partners Operating area Location Dates
1st: 20 Sep 2012 Carrier Strike Group Three Valiant Shield 2012: USPACOM Guam operating area Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam 31 Aug to 1 Sep 2012 [82][83]
2nd: —— Carrier Strike Group Three —— —— Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia 30 Sep to 4 Oct 2012 [79][80][81][82][85][101]
3rd: 12 Oct 2012 Carrier Strike Group Three Carrier Strike Group Five Andaman Sea Phuket, Thailand 7 – 11 Oct 2012 [79][80][81][102]
3rd: 21 Oct to 17 Nov 2012 Carrier Strike Group Three OEF – Afghanistan: ISAF North Arabian Sea Manama, Bahrain 20 – 24 Nov 2012 [79][80][82][103]
4th: 28 Jan. to 19 Feb. 2013 Mobile Bay Chevalier Paul Arabian Sea Manama, Bahrain 8 Dec 2012 [79][100]
5th: —— Paul Hamilton —— —— Manama, Bahrain 20 Dec 2012 [81]
6th: —— John C. Stennis —— —— Jebel Ali, U.A.E. 23–28 Dec 2012 [80]
6th: 15 Jan 2013 Carrier Strike Group Three PASSEX: HMS Monmouth North Arabian Sea Jebel Ali, U.A.E. 1–5 Feb 2013 [79][80][81][104]
7th: —— Paul Hamilton —— —— Manama, Bahrain 26 Feb 2013 [81]
8th: —— John C. Stennis, Mobile Bay —— —— Jebel Ali, Dubai 13–17 Mar 2013 [79][105]
9th: 4–7 Apr 2013 Carrier Strike Group Three PASSEX[Note 1] South China Sea Singapore 1–3 Apr 2013 [79][80][106]
10th: 17–18 Apr. 2013 Carrier Strike Group Three Munitions off-load: Richard E. Byrd Mid-Pacific Ocean Naval Station Pearl Harbor 21–24 Apr 2013 [80][107]

2013–2014 operations & upkeep[edit]

USS Carl Vinson at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard (June 27, 2013)

On 27 June 2013, the carrier John C. Stennis began its scheduled 14-month-long Docking Planned Incremental Availability (DPIA) overhaul when it entered drydock the at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility at Bremerton, Washington (pictured).[108][109] On 19 August 2013, the destroyer Milius completed its Extended Drydocking Selected Restricted Availability (E-DSRA) overhaul.[110] On 23 September 2013, the destroyer Wayne E. Meyer completed its Mid-Cycle Inspection (MCI) assessment with the Board of Inspection and Survey.[111]

Between 7–11 October 2013, the cruiser Mobile Bay and destroyer Dewey participated with other U.S. and Canadian warships in a Task Group Exercise (TGEX) maneuvers.[112][113] Following this exercise, the Mobile Bay began its Selected Restricted Availability (SRA) overhaul at the BAE Systems ship repair facility in San Diego, California, with a completion date of May 2014.[112]

In November 2013, the destroyer Kidd completed its two-week Independent Deployer Certification (IDCERT) exercises.[114] Also, during that month, the Wayne E. Meyer underwent its own IDCERT exercises in the southern California operating area, as well as participating Group Sail maneuvers with Carrier Strike Group Nine, as part of Wayne E. Meyer's work-up for its upcoming 2014 deployment.[111]

At the start of 2014, Carrier Strike Group Three was in port and not underway.[115]

Notes[edit]

Footnotes
Citations
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  101. ^ Amy Dangin (1 October 2012). "US aircraft carrier visits KK". Borneo Post. Retrieved 2012-10-01.  and Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Lex T. Wenberg, USN (5 October 2012). "Stennis Strike Group departs Malaysia". John C. Stennis Strike Group Public Affairs. DVIDS. Retrieved 2012-10-05. 
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  108. ^ Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Daniel Schumacher, USN (29 June 2013). "Stennis Enters Dry Dock". NNS130629-04. USS John C. Stennis Public Affairs. Retrieved 12 July 2012. 
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