NORFOLK (NNS) -- The aircraft carrier USS George Washington (GW) (CVN 73) with its crew of approximately 3,200 Sailors departed Norfolk, April 7, to begin its journey to Yokosuka, Japan to replace USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63) as the United States' only permanently forward-deployed aircraft carrier.
Commanded by Capt. Dave Dykhoff, the carrier will be the flagship for the George Washington Strike Group, commanded by Rear Adm. Phil Cullom and comprised of: Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 17; guided-missile frigate USS Kauffman (FFG 59); homeported in Norfolk, Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 40 and the guided-missile destroyer USS Farragut (DDG 99); homeported in Mayport, Fla.
"Our Sailors, our families and the Navy have put together a tremendous effort to prepare GW for all aspects of this transition, and while it is difficult to leave the Hampton Roads community, which has been so supportive of GW, we are excited about the vital importance of this new mission and the warm welcome we expect from the people of Yokosuka," said Dykhoff.
The George Washington Strike group will head to the U.S. Southern Command area of focus (AOF) to participate in Partnership of the Americas. After approximately two months, the ship will continue on its transit while Carrier Strike Group 8 and CVW-17 return to Norfolk. DESRON 40, Kauffman and Farragut will remain in the SOUTHCOM AOF to continue their participation in Partnership of the Americas for a six-month deployment. George Washington is scheduled to reach its destination in Japan in August.
George Washington's replacement of Kitty Hawk is part of the Navy's long-range effort to routinely replace older ships assigned to the Navy's forward deployed Naval forces with newer or more capable platforms, and is part of an ongoing effort to consider the nature of all forward deployed forces when looking at the unpredictable security environment in the Western Pacific. The Kitty Hawk is scheduled be decommissioned later this year.
For more news from USS George Washington, visit www.navy.mil/local/cvn73/.