Carrier Strike Group Six
Carrier Strike Group 6 was a United States Navy carrier strike group. Its last homeport was Naval Station Mayport at the mouth of the St. Johns River near Jacksonville, Florida. Commander Carrier Division 6 was formed as an aircraft carrier centered command in the Pacific theater during the Second World War. Arthur W. Radford commanded the division in 1944. Fifty-one Rear Admirals served as Commander, Carrier Division/Group/Strike Group 6 from August 1944 until the command was deactivated in April 2007.
On 2 June 1952, USS Wasp (CV-18) relieved Tarawa at Gibraltar and joined Carrier Division 6 in the Mediterranean Sea. After conducting strenuous flight operations between goodwill visits to many Mediterranean ports, Wasp was relieved at Gibraltar on 5 September by Leyte.
In June 1970 then Rear Admiral James L. Holloway III reported aboard Saratoga as Commander, Carrier Division 6. Saratoga was, at the time, in port in Naples, Italy. Holloway served as commander, Carrier Division 6 as well as Task Force 60 from June 1970 throughout the Black September crisis in Jordan. Carrier Division 4 relieved Carrier Division 6 on 22 November 1970, and Holloway and the staff returned to Mayport aboard Saratoga.
Carrier Division 6 was redesignated a carrier group, along with all similar formations, on 30 June 1973.
After a brief stop in Palma (24–28 August 1978), USS Forrestal (CV-59) left the Mediterranean en route to the Atlantic and the North and Norwegian Seas to take part in the huge NATO exercise Northern Wedding (4–18 September). En route she put into Rota to allow RADM Norman K. Green, Commander, Carrier Group 6, to embark, and for RADM Smedberg to disembark and transfer his flag to guided missile cruiser USS Harry E. Yarnell (CG-17). Northern Wedding involved over 40,000 men and women, 22 submarines and 800 aircraft from nine NATO countries. Planners geared the exercise to simulate allied abilities to reinforce Western Europe in the event of an East Bloc attack. Forrestal and HMS Ark Royal led separate task groups that steamed in a two-carrier formation to gain sea control and deploy their aircraft to support amphibious landings in the Shetland Islands and the Jutland Peninsula in Denmark. Heavy seas and high winds, however, curtailed flight operations during the first phase of the exercises, but conditions improved just barely enough in the harsh northern climes to permit the ship and her embarked air wing to support the planned objectives. The professionalism and dedication to completing their tasks which the British and Canadians displayed especially impressed crewmembers, who noted these specific allies’ pride in more than one report. Vice Admiral Wesley L. McDonald, Commander, United States Second Fleet, gave a news conference to a group of U. S. and international journalists in the carrier’s ‘War Room’ on the 9th, describing in some detail the significance of the exercise – normally held every four years – in preparing the allies to resist a Soviet-led attack against the West. After completing the exercise the ship returned to the Mediterranean, pausing in the Spanish port of Malaga (22–27 September).
USS Forrestal (CV-59) and her task force, commanded by Commander, Carrier Group Six commenced her 21st and final operational deployment on 30 May 1991. During this period she provided air power presence and airborne intelligence support (the airwing flew over 900 sorties over Iraq) to the Combined Joint Task Forces of Operation Provide Comfort enforcing the northern "no-fly zone" in Iraq. During this last deployment FORRESTAL served in a number of new and innovative battle group and carrier roles. She completed this deployment on 23 December 1991.
In October 1993, after several weeks supporting United Nations peacekeeping efforts over Bosnia, orders came on four hours notice for Carrier Group Six, under Rear Admiral (L) Arthur Cebrowski, to move quickly. The group was to transit the Suez Canal and relieve USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) on Groundhog Station 90 miles north of the equator in the Indian Ocean, supporting UNOSOM II in Somalia. The flagship USS America (CV-66) transited the Suez on 29 October 1993. She was followed, on 1 November by members of her battle group, USS Simpson (FFG 56) and the replenished oiler USS Savannah (AOR 4). The transit took America over 2,500 miles in a week. The turnover with Abraham Lincoln permitted the west coast carrier to return to Alameda, Calif., thereby ending a scheduled six-month deployment on time. Upon arrival, Rear Adm. Cebrowski as carrier group commander took command of Naval Battle Force Somalia (CTF 156), supporting efforts to restore some order. Other elements of the force included USS Simpson, USS New Orleans (LPH-11), USS Denver (LPD 9), USS Comstock (LSD 45), USS Cayuga (LST-1186) and the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit.
USS John F. Kennedy (CV-67) appears to have become the group flagship after America retired in 1996.
It appears that Carrier Group 6 became Carrier Strike Group 6 on 1 October 2004, in common with all other Carrier Group redesignations.
On April 20, 2005, it was announced that:
- Rear Admiral (lower half) Bernard J. McCullough would leave Carrier Strike Group 6 to be assigned as Deputy Director, Surface Warfare Division, N76B, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, Washington, D.C.
- Rear Adm. (lower half) Richard W. Hunt is being assigned as Commander, Carrier Strike Group Six, Mayport, Fla. Hunt is currently Deputy Director for Strategy and Policy, J5, Joint Staff, Washington, D.C.
The group's final operation was a special shore duty deployment as Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) in Djibouti, East Africa under Rear Admiral Michael Hunt. Hunt was reassigned as N80 16 March 2007.
"More than 60 sailors returned home Thursday [February 22, 2007] after a 12-month assignment with the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa. The staff of Carrier Strike Group 6, led by Rear Admiral Richard W. Hunt, deployed to Djibouti on February 21, 2006, to fight terrorism and enhance diplomatic ties in the region. Relieving a Marine Corps staff, Carrier Strike Group 6 was the first Navy unit to lead a ground-based task force in the war on terror, Navy officials said."
During its nearly 63 years history at least four division Rear Admirals were eventually promoted to Chief of Naval Operations, the most recent being Admiral James L. Holloway III. For most of its history operated as a Task Force Command under the Second or Sixth Fleet’s operational control. Famous attack aircraft carriers assigned to the command include the USS Shangri-La (CVA-38), USS Franklin D. Roosevelt (CVA-42), USS Forrestal (CVA-59), and USS Independence (CV-62).'
- Naval Aeronautical Organization OPNAV NOTICE 05400 for Fiscal Year 1956 dated 1 August 1955, 14
- James L. Holloway III, 'Aircraft Carriers at War: A Personal Retrospective of Korea, Vietnam, and the Soviet Confrontation,' Naval Institute Press, Annapolis, Maryland, 2007, 272-3, 285.
- Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships, USS Forrestal
- Norman Polmar, 'The Ships and Aircraft of the U.S. Fleet,' 1984 edition.
- Nixon's Trident: Naval Power in Southeast Asia 1968-72, p.63
- Department of Defense, General/Flag Officer Worldwide Roster, December 1993, 39
- Further reading: see My Clan Against the World: US and Coalition Forces in Somalia, 1992-1994, 180, 182
- Hue City Command History 2002, pg 17 of 18
- 'A First for the Navy,' The Florida Times-Union, Friday, February 23, 2007
- http://www.comcardivsix.org/history.html, accessed May 2012.