BREMERTON, Wash. (NNS) -- USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) Sailors said goodbye to their family members and friends Jan. 16, as the ship departed Naval Base Kitsap Bremerton for San Diego to onload Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 9. The carrier, with its embarked air wing, USS Antietam (CG 54), and USS Preble (DDG 88), will deploy from San Diego Saturday, Jan. 20.
USS O'Kane (DDG 77) and USS Paul Hamilton (DDG 60) will deploy from their homeport of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
Stennis is the flagship for Commander, Carrier Strike Group (CCSG) 3, headed by Rear Adm. Kevin M. Quinn.
"I'm ready for deployment," said Machinist's Mate Fireman Josh Layton. "They gave us a heads-up to get our stuff in order and they gave us plenty of time for leave to see our families."
Stennis' embarked air wing consists of the F/A-18C Hornet, F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, EA-6B Prowler, E-2C Hawkeye 2000, C-2A Greyhound and SH-60F/HH-60H Seahawk. The aircraft can be used to conduct strikes, support land battles, protect the CSG or other friendly ships, and implement a sea or air blockade.
The John C. Stennis Strike Group will operate in the Persian Gulf region with the Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group, already in the Central Command Area of Operations. The presence of two aircraft carriers, while not unprecedented, demonstrates U.S. resolve to bring security and stability to the region.
These strike groups will support Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom and Combined Joint Task Force Horn of Africa, and will conduct Maritime Security operations. They will also work closely with allies to build regional security and long-term stability.
Stennis has a flight deck of about 4.5 acres and towers nearly seven stories above the sea. The ship is capable of carrying a crew of about 5,600 sailors, more than 3.5 million gallons of fuel, 70 aircraft, and enough weapons and stores for extended operations without replenishment.
The ship's two nuclear reactors give it virtually unlimited range and endurance, and a top speed in excess of 30 knots. The ship's four catapults and four arresting gear engines enable it to launch and recover aircraft rapidly and simultaneously.
Some Stennis Sailors are looking forward to some of the challenges ahead as well as time to receive shipboard qualifications.
"The thing I'm looking forward to the most is just learning my rate," said Quartermaster Seaman Recruit Catherine J. Schools. "My dad who is a retired chief says the first time you get to see a sunset at sea, you will know why you joined the Navy."
For related news, visit the USS John C. Stennis Navy NewsStand page at www.news.navy.mil/local/cvn74/.