ABOARD USS JOHN C. STENNIS (NNS) -- More than 8,000 crew members of USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) Strike Group (JCSSG), operating in the Pacific Ocean, wrapped up Composite Training Unit Exercise (COMPTUEX), Oct. 12.
The purpose of the three-week exercise was to demonstrate that JCSSG Sailors could operate in unison through surface warfare, anti-submarine warfare and air warfare scenarios in preparation for deployment. The JCSSG consists of John C. Stennis, Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 9, Destroyer Squadron 21, and strike group air defense commander, USS Antietam (CG 54).
"Working together as a team, that was the most important aspect of COMPTUEX," said Commander, John C. Stennis Strike Group, Rear Adm. Kevin Quinn. "In my view, we did very well. Right now, we're the number one strike group on the West Coast of the United States. If anything happens that requires a carrier to be surged on the West Coast, it's going to be the John C. Stennis Strike Group that deploys."
JCSSG's performance during COMPTUEX was graded by embarked Strike Force Training Pacific mentors on a readiness scale. Quinn said JCSSG is at the readiness level it needs to be at this stage in planning for deployment.
"They evaluate every single warfare area that we have, so there's no way to hide a weakness," said Quinn. "Every area was evaluated at the fleet standard or better, with many of our processes considered best practices for other strike groups to follow. I'm proud of everybody in the John C. Stennis Strike Group for the hard work they put into making a successful COMPTUEX and improving our combat readiness."
Some highlights of the exercise included USS Paul Hamilton (DDG 60) and USS O'Kane (DDG 77) Sailors defending a simulated oil platform from terrorist organizations, suicide bombers and hijackers. O'Kane also conducted expanded maritime intercept operations, an exercise involving boarding and searching suspected vessels for terrorist contraband.
"When we get over to the Persian Gulf, we will all have to be prepared for terrorist activities," said Capt. Brad Johanson, commanding officer of Stennis.
Stennis strike group units will be supporting Maritime Security Operations (MSO) and could be assigned to defend oil platforms and conduct visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS) operations against people who may be trying to smuggle terrorist items.
Additionally, flight operations were increased by 65 percent for two days to display the crew could handle an emergency situation in battle. CVW-9 also completed blue water certification, an exercise that tests the air wing's ability to sustain aircraft in combat for as long as required in an unfriendly environment without a diversion location.
Quinn said another top priority of COMPTUEX was training the strike group Sailors to be more than capable of completing their combat mission.
"The John C. Stennis Strike Group has jelled as a team," said Johanson. "Our watch standers have gained tremendous proficiency, not just within their own warfare areas, but also in the information exchanged across the different warfare areas."
Other units that participated in COMPTUEX were USS Preble (DDG 88), the Los Angeles-class submarine USS Key West (SSN 772), the Military Sealift Command's fast-combat support ship USNS Bridge (T AOE 10) and Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit 11, Det. 11.
The final exercise JCSSG is scheduled to complete prior to deployment is Joint Task Force Exercise (JTFEX). JTFEX will test JCSSG's ability to work in collaboration with another strike group, as well as joint military forces.
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