ABOARD USS JOHN C. STENNIS (NNS) -- USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) departed its homeport of San Diego for deployment to the Western Pacific, May 24.
Stennis is scheduled to spend the next several months performing various drills and flight operations while also visiting various ports in the Pacific.
"All the pieces are coming together," said Capt. Joseph Kuzmick, Stennis' executive officer. "The last couple of days have been hectic in the final preparation. We've finally got ourselves under way for deployment to the Eastern and Western Pacific."
Kuzmick said the ship is scheduled to deploy to Alaska to participate in Operation Northern Edge, an inter-service exercise, primarily with the Air Force, in the Alaskan Gulf.
After that and a trip to Hawaii for further training, Kuzmick said, "We're taking this mighty warship further west to help fight the war on terror, and anything else our nation calls us to do."
The crew of Stennis has spent the last year preparing for deployment. Countless flight hours and sea trials have been logged to get the ship ready for an extended leave of homeport.
"The air wing has had to come on board many times in the last year to get its day and night carrier landing qualifications," said Kuzmick. "This was through several different phases of shipboard-wide and strike group-wide exercises from COMPTUEX [Composite Training Unit Exercise] to JTFEX [Joint Task Force Exercise]."
Additionally, the air wing trained as a whole in an exercise in Fallon, Nev., in preparation for the deployment.
Embarked aboard Stennis are various squadrons from Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 14, including Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 113, Sea Control Squadron (VS) 35, and Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron (HS) 4. The Stennis strike group will also deploy with the carrier. The strike group includes USS Lake Champlain (CG 57), USS Howard (DDG 83) and USS Salt Lake City (SSN 716).
Many of the ship's company Sailors were both excited and sad to leave for the ship's first extended period out of homeport since 2002.
"This cruise looks to be better than the last (2001-2002 in support of Operation Enduring Freedom)," said Electronics Technician 2nd Class(SW) Reynaldo Trejo of Reactor Department. "I'm looking forward to this a lot." Trejo was particularly excited about many of the proposed port visits, including Hawaii and Singapore.
Stennis is scheduled to return to San Diego later this year, prior to a homeport change next year to Bremerton, Wash.
Stennis is the flagship for the strike group commander, Carrier Group 7, and is home to Commander, Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 21 and Commander, Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 14.
For related news, visit the USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) Navy NewsStand page at www.news.navy.mil/local/cvn74.