USS NIMITZ, At Sea (NNS) -- The chief of naval operations (CNO) visited the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68) Jan. 6.
CNO Adm. Gary Roughead, accompanied by Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (SS/SW) Rick West, spent the day on Nimitz to visit Sailors and observe day-to-day operations in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
"It's clear to me that what we're providing over Afghanistan, and what we're doing for our troops on the ground there, is extraordinarily important," said Roughead. "To be able to do that from the sea ... where you don't have to worry about basing ashore, yet have the amount of airpower that Nimitz can generate, is extraordinarily important."
Roughead also noted the professionalism and hard work he witnessed as Nimitz Sailors continue their fourth month of complex combat operations.
"This is a tough fight ... it's one where precision, awareness and an understanding of the circumstances on the ground is extraordinarily important," said Roughead. "That comes through loud and clear in the short time I've been on board, but I know it has been a Nimitz tradition for a long time."
During the visit Roughead and West spoke to Sailors in the ship's hangar bay during an all-hands call.
"It's important for me to visit Nimitz and the fleet as often as I can to get a sense of what we're doing and what's on the minds of our Sailors," said Roughead. "...if you're not out listening to our great Sailors around the world, especially here on Nimitz, you're not getting the full picture."
West spoke about the pride and professionalism aboard Nimitz.
"When you walk on board a ship like this you just get a feel right off the bat ... does the crew get it," asked West. "Do they have Hooyah? You [Nimitz crew] got your head held high, you're engaging and you're looking us in the eye ... that means a lot to me. That means this Nimitz crew has got it!"
Roughead and West were asked questions from Sailors on topics ranging from uniforms to the future of the Navy.
"It was a really good opportunity to get to ask our questions," said Personnel Specialist Seaman Mark Wilson, who asked a question about unmanned systems. "I admire that he took the time to come all the way out here and address many of the questions and concerns of the Sailors."
While on board, Roughead re-enlisted 34 Sailors from Nimitz Carrier Strike Group in the ship's forecastle and pinned enlisted air and surface warfare devices on 33 newly appointed warfare specialists. He also presented the Meritorious Unit Commendation to Capt. Paul Monger, commanding officer of the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68), and Nimitz Command Master Chief Charles Clarke at the conclusion of the all-hands call.
The leadership team also traveled to the Arleigh Burke-class destroyer USS Sampson (DDG-102) from Destroyer Squadron 23.
Since entering the U.S. 5th Fleet Area of Operations, Nimitz has flown more than 2,200 combat sorties providing close air support to the coalition forces in Afghanistan.
Nimitz CSG, commanded by Rear Adm. John W. Miller, is comprised of USS Nimitz, embarked Carrier Air Wing 11, embarked Destroyer Squadron 23, and the Ticonderoga-class cruiser USS Chosin. Ships assigned to DESRON 23 include the destroyers USS Pinckney, USS Sampson and the frigate USS Rentz.
Squadrons from CVW 11 include the "Black Aces" of Strike Fighter Squadron 41, the "Tophatters" of VFA 14, the "Warhawks" of VFA 97, the "Sidewinders" of VFA 86, the "Indians" of Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron 6, the "Black Ravens" of Electronic Attack Squadron 135, the "Providers" of Fleet Logistics Support Squadron 30 and the "Wallbangers" of Carrier Airborne Command and Control Squadron 117.
Helicopter detachments include the "Easy Riders" of Helicopter Anti-submarine Squadron Light 37, the "Battle Cats" of HSL 43, the "Wolfpack" of HSL 45, the "Scorpions" of HSL 49 and the "Wildcards" of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 23. Also accompanying the Nimitz CSG are Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit 11 and the USNS Bridge.
For more news from USS Nimitz (CVN 68), visit www.navy.mil/local/cvn68/.