NORFOLK, Va. (NNS) -- USS Harry S. Truman returned to its homeport of Norfolk, Va., July 25 after helping to validate the U.S. Navy's Fleet Response Plan to the world.
The aircraft carrier left Naval Station Norfolk June 2 to participate in Summer Pulse '04, an exercise that surged seven carrier strike groups from their homeports to various theaters across the globe.
Truman and embarked Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 3 spent the first two weeks of Summer Pulse off the U.S. coast, completing the ship's Composite Training Unit Exercise. After accomplishing this intermediate level training with high marks, the crew received its combat operations efficiency certification, formerly known as blue water certification. This milestone allowed the ship to depart from its ties to land and head east toward the Mediterranean Sea.
While in the Western Mediterranean, Truman participated in a first of its kind multinational exercise known as Majestic Eagle. The exercise, which took place off the coast of Morocco, reinforced and enhanced the interoperability of U.S. and allied maritime forces by bringing together more than 20 ships, submarines, numerous aircraft, and more than 20,000 men and women from the 10 participating nations.
"The purpose of the Navy's Fleet Response Plan is to allow increased flexibility in the fleet. This exercise gave Truman and Carrier Air Wing 3 an opportunity to put this concept into action...not just with other U.S. Navy ships, but also with our partners in the global war on terrorism," said Truman Commanding Officer Capt. Michael R. Groothousen. "We will all benefit from this familiarization with new and different training areas, operations and situations."
The Secretary General of NATO, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer of The Netherlands, along with numerous permanent ambassadors to the alliance, visited Truman in conjunction with the exercise. He commended the ship's crew for its enthusiasm and perseverance.
"I was most impressed by the dedication and professionalism of the men and women serving aboard the USS Harry S. Truman. In performing their important tasks and duty, one can only conclude that in a certain way, 'the buck stops there' every single day for the entire crew of the USS Harry S. Truman," Scheffer lauded.
During Majestic Eagle, the Truman Strike Group had a unique opportunity to play the bad guy. The ships in the strike group acted as the opposition force, while other U.S. and allied ships combined to act as the NATO force under NATO command and control procedures.
The commander of all military forces participating in the exercise, Vice Adm. H.G. Ulrich, who serves as Commander, Striking Forces NATO and Commander, U.S. 6th Fleet, visited Truman near the end of the exercise and had high praise for the entire strike group.
"It's an honor for me to be out here and watch all these folks work so well together," he said.
Rear Adm. Michael Tracy, commander, Cruiser Destroyer Group (CCDG) 2, said the entire strike group performed magnificently throughout Summer Pulse '04.
"It was superb," Tracy said. "The men and women who make up the Harry S. Truman Strike Group have been role models for future deployers under the Fleet Response Plan construct. Their sense of teamwork and mission accomplishment has been vividly demonstrated at home and abroad in this exercise. They define ready, capable and flexible."
During Summer Pulse '04, Truman had the opportunity to enjoy a foreign port visit. The ship anchored out in the bay of Naples, Italy, July 2 through 7. Sailors and Marines took advantage of the many historic and cultural sites in the city and surrounding areas.
Several Truman Sailors also spent some of their time in port strengthening the bonds of goodwill, by participating in a community relations project sponsored by the ship's Command Religious Ministries Department.
"It was just a bunch of people coming together to help and serve someone else," said Chaplain (Lt.) LeRoy Mack III.
The group of Sailors, including Commander, Destroyer Squadron 26 Capt. David Thomas Jr., performed routine maintenance and aesthetic upgrades on a child care center adjacent to the rustic 17th Century Aurore Carmelitane Missionarie.
With the first ever pulse exercise successfully completed, the Truman team returned to Norfolk confident in its ability to lead the way in the Navy's more flexible, FRP-driven fleet, and ready to surge into action whenever called upon to fight the global war on terror.
Summer Pulse '04 is the simultaneous deployment of seven aircraft carrier strike groups (CSGs), demonstrating the ability of the Navy to provide credible combat power across the globe, in five theaters, with other U.S., allied and coalition military forces. Summer Pulse is the Navy's first deployment under its new Fleet Response Plan (FRP).
For more information about Summer Pulse '04, visit the CFFC Web site at www.cffc.navy.mil/summerpulse04.htm or visit the Summer Pulse '04 Navy NewsStand site at www.news.navy.mil/local/pulse04.
For related news, visit the USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) Navy NewsStand page at www.news.navy.mil/local/cvn75.