SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- The aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73) with her crew of approximately 5,500 Sailors departed San Diego Aug. 21, to begin her journey to Yokosuka, Japan to replace USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63) as the United States' only permanently forward-deployed aircraft carrier.
Commanded by Capt. John R. Haley, GW became the flagship for the Commander, Task Force 70 (CTF 70), Rear Adm. Richard B. Wren last week after he and his staff moved to GW from Kitty Hawk.
"The transition had been tremendously smooth and it's clear that we're passing an enormous milestone towards reaching USS George Washington's ultimate forward deployment assignment to the Western Pacific and Indian Oceans," said Wren. "We are particularly excited to foster a new era in our long-standing relationship with our host nation of Japan and the city of Yokosuka."
This will be the first time GW gets underway with CTF 70, Carrier Air Wing 5 (CVW 5) and Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 15. GW will be the permanent flagship for CTF 70 while GW is forward deployed to Yokosuka, Japan.
Task Force 70 is the Carrier Strike Group component of Battle Force Seventh Fleet, also led by Wren. In the past, the task force has been centered on USS Kitty Hawk (CV-63), which will soon head to Bremerton, Wash. to decommission from naval service next year after 48 years on active duty.
The security environment in the Western Pacific region requires the United States to station the most capable ships forward for deterrence and the best possible response times for maritime and joint force operations. The forward deployment of GW ensures the ability of Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet, to fulfill the U.S. Government's commitment to the defense of Japan, and the maintenance of international peace and security in the Far East in support of mutual cooperation and security. This posture also brings our most capable ships with the greatest amount of striking power and operational capability in the timeliest manner.
GW'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 forces with newer or more capable platforms.
For more news from USS George Washington, visit www.navy.mil/local/cvn73/.