BREMERTON, Wash (NNS) -- USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) Sailors said goodbye to their family and friends July 25, as the ship departed Naval Base Kitsap for San Diego to embark Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 9.
The carrier, with its embarked air wing, USS Mobile Bay (CG 53), and Destroyer Squadron Twenty-one, which includes USS Pinckney (DDG 91), USS Kidd (DDG 100), USS Dewey (DDG 105) and USS Wayne E. Meyer (DDG 108), will deploy from San Diego Friday, July 29.
Stennis is the flagship for Commander, Carrier Strike Group (CCSG) 3, headed by Rear Adm. Craig S. Faller.
"It is great to have our families and friends with us today," said Rear Adm. Faller. "We are all family, and it's important to take time to honor that and ensure our families are 'connected' in a meaningful way as we deploy."
The strike group will support operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, counter-piracy and maritime security operations. They will also work closely with allies to build regional security, freedom of the seas and long-term stability.
"This carrier has 5,000 Sailors aboard, and today we welcome the families on board to share that special moment before we head underway and do our nation's bidding," said Stennis' Commanding Officer Capt. Ronald Reis. "The families are the core support to ensure that the Sailors are cared for while they're underway. Like all services, being separated from your families is extremely difficult, but the United States Navy has dealt with that since its conception and we have done it better than any other service."
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.
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 MH-60R/MH-60S. 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.
"We are a nation at war," said Faller. "That war is going on as we speak in Afghanistan. We will be joining that fight, and supporting those operations. Also, we are still involved and engaged in Iraq. We expect to be involved and supporting those operations as well."
During this seven month deployment, the John C. Stennis Carrier Strike Group is prepared to respond to any operational situation with flexibility and sustainable force on short notice in order to protect America's vital interests .