ABOARD USS JOHN C. STENNIS (NNS) -- The USS John C. Stennis (JCS) (CVN 74) and USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63) Carrier Strike Groups (CSG) completed the Joint Air and Sea Exercise 2004 (JASEX 04) Aug. 15 in the Western Pacific.
The second annual joint exercise involved air and sea training events focused on integrating joint training, and improving interoperability and teamwork between the two carrier strike groups, as well as with land-based Air Force and Marine Corps units forward deployed to the region.
"Of particular note for the Navy is our unique opportunity to have had Kitty Hawk and Stennis carrier strike groups work together in the exercise," said Capt. David Buss, commanding officer of Stennis. "We have not had many opportunities for the Kitty Hawk CSG, our Navy's only strike group forward deployed outside of the continental United States, to train side-by-side with a deployed strike group."
Stennis is currently on a routine deployment to the Western Pacific after completing a series of exercises in Alaska and Hawaii. The latest exercise, JASEX, represents one of many milestones in operational readiness Stennis has completed, said Buss.
"Just as with previous exercises that Stennis strike group has participated in during this deployment (Northern Edge and Rim of the Pacific Exercise), JASEX afforded us the opportunity to iron out many command-and-control, as well as interoperability issues at many levels throughout the exercise," said Buss.
Buss explained that Kitty Hawk and Stennis strike groups supported each other in multiple warfare areas, and on a larger scale, engaged in valuable joint training exercises with U.S. Air Force and Marine Corps forces.
"Joint and coalition warfare is the way we will fight in the future," said Buss. "That fact alone makes the training we conduct and the lessons we learn during JASEX all the more important."
Forces of nature also provided real-world challenges for the strike groups to overcome when a tropical cyclone moved through the operating area.
"Certainly the emergence of typhoon Rananim caused us to re-think how we would make the most of this valuable opportunity of bringing joint forces together to train," said Capt. Joe Kuzmick, Stennis' executive officer.
According to weather experts aboard Stennis, summer time in the Pacific, especially the month of August, is the high season for storms and, worse, tropical cyclones.
As Stennis and Kitty Hawk evaded the storm by heading roughly 600 nautical miles east to the Iwo Jima operating area, planners rewrote JASEX to take the relocation into account. As the storm tracked westward and cleared Okinawa, making landfall on mainland China, both Kitty Hawk and Stennis were able to return to the operating areas near Japan to complete the exercise and bring it to a successful completion.
John C. Stennis, a Nimitz-class carrier, is the flagship for the Stennis Strike Group. Embarked commands include Commander, Carrier Group 7; Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 14; Commander, Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 21; and Commander, Carrier Group (CCG) 7. CCG 7 directs the entire strike group's activity through CVW-14 and DESRON 21.
The strike group includes five support ships: the guided-missile cruiser USS Lake Champlain (CG 57), the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Howard (DDG 83), guided-missile frigate USS Ford (FFG 54), Los Angeles-class attack submarine USS Salt Lake City (SSN 716) and the replenishment ship USNS Rainier (T-AOE 7).
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