USS JOHN C. STENNIS, At Sea (NNS) -- USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) completed month-long operations with the French nuclear powered aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle (R 91) in the North Arabian Sea on April 16.
Since Charles de Gaulle's arrival in the region March 16, the two nuclear-powered aircraft carriers have been operating together in support of Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF). Both ships are providing support to the International Security Assistance Forces (ISAF) on the ground in Afghanistan as well as conducting bilateral exercises at sea and personnel exchanges between the strike group ships.
"Our interaction with the French task force has been spectacular," said Rear Adm. Kevin Quinn, Commander, Carrier Strike Group 3.
Although this marks the end of coalition operations between the two carriers in the region, Stennis will continue to operate in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations in support of OEF and conduct maritime security operations (MSO).
"The opportunity to do that side by side with another nuclear powered aircraft carrier from a coalition nation shows that the mission is essential and that it is universally recognized as one of the very highest priorities for security and stability," Stennis Commanding Officer Capt. Bradley Johanson said.
"Working with the French in support of OEF strengthens the coalition as a whole and helps further our relationship with the French military," said Lt. Joe Capalbo, a pilot with Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 146, embarked aboard Stennis.
Capalbo conducted touch-and-go landings on Charles de Gaulle on April 13. The previous day, two French Super-Etendards, two Rafales and an E-2C Hawkeye conducted touch-and-go landings on board Stennis.
For Stennis, this was the first opportunity to work with coalition forces in a maritime environment during the ship's current deployment.
Up to six Sailors from each ship cross-decked each day to see what the daily routine is like on the other ship, totaling more than 200 people. Stennis Training Officer Lt. Cmdr. Andrea Cameron is in charge of coordinating the personnel exchanges aboard Stennis. Cameron said there are several reasons the ship took advantage of this opportunity.
"One is to learn how the French navy works in general," said Cameron. "The other is to learn how another navy might do each of their jobs differently. It's a learning experience and professional development."
Quinn said the John C. Stennis Carrier Strike Group has gained invaluable experience and insight during its operations with Charles de Gaulle.
"Through the exchange of personnel between Charles de Gaulle and Stennis, the people-to-people interaction has strengthened our strong ties between the two countries," said Quinn.
"I have been incredibly impressed by the professionalism, dedication and level of cooperation experienced during our interaction with the entire French task force," said Johanson. "They are our teammates and we are honored to have served with them here in the North Arabian Sea."
Stennis and its strike group entered the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations Feb. 19 to provide support for ground forces operating in Afghanistan as well as conduct MSO in regional waters.
MSO help set the conditions for security and stability in the maritime environment, as well as complement the counter-terrorism and security efforts of regional nations. These operations deny international terrorists use of the maritime environment.
For more news from the Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command/Commander, U.S. 5th Fleet, visit www.news.navy.mil/local/cusnc/.