PACIFIC OCEAN (NNS) -- Sailors, Marines and their guests aboard the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) marked the importance of naval aviation, May 3, while at sea in the Pacific Ocean, remembering over 107 years of innovation and achievement.
Theodore Roosevelt is currently scheduled to return to homeport at Naval Air Station North Island (NASNI), California, after a seven-month deployment. More than 600 family members and friends embarked aboard Theodore Roosevelt for a "Tiger Cruise" during a port call to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, April 27-May 1.
Capt. Carlos Sardiello, commanding officer of Theodore Roosevelt, and Capt. Gus Ford, commander, Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 17, spoke on the importance of naval aviation and how it relates to navies, both past and present, during the celebration hosted by the ship's Naval Heritage Committee in the hangar bay. Sardiello informed the audience of the foundation of naval aviation and how it correlates to the current presence of force shown by our Navy.
"Aircraft carriers have come a long way," said Sardiello. "The USS Pennsylvania (BB 38) started with a wooden deck with sandbags for arresting gear. Here we are a little over a century later with a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier."
Sardiello emphasized the necessity of today's aircraft and aircraft carriers in operations around the world.
"The importance of the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier to our nation's defense lies in the fact that it is the only platform that can deliver air power from the sea, in a sustainable fashion," said Sardiello.
Ford also spoke about the importance of the Navy and why embarked families and guests of the Sailors and Marines understand life aboard an aircraft carrier.
"Our Navy and the aviation aspect, together, is an essential part of our military," said Ford. "We keep the waters open for trade, have a strong projection of power throughout the world, and protect the interests of countries throughout the world."
Ford said that having the guests aboard allows them to gain an understanding of what their loved ones go through on a daily basis.
Additionally, CVW-17 hosted an air power demonstration, which displayed skills such as low-altitude passes and turns, high-speed fly-bys, combat maneuvers, and the detonation of live ordnance. The air power demonstration ended with 15 aircraft flying in formation over the flight deck.
Sailors, Marines and their guests watched as F/A-18F and F/A-18E Super Hornets, EA-18G Growlers, F/A-18C Hornets, MH-60S and MH-60R Sea Hawks and an E-2C Hawkeye performed in the skies above Theodore Roosevelt.
"It's really hard to understand what it's like to be in the Navy unless you come out here and experience it for yourself," said Ford. "When the family members and friends go home they will talk about this experience, and what we have accomplished on this deployment will add to the legacy of the Navy."
While embarked aboard Theodore Roosevelt, CVW-17 flew 1,164 combat sorties in support of Operation Inherent Resolve and Operation Freedom's Sentinel. Additionally, CVW-17 flew more than 8,319 hours and operated approximately 70 aircraft during its 2017-2018 deployment.
The legacy of the Navy continues to grow as Navy veterans in attendance like Jim Kooyer, a guest aboard Theodore Roosevelt and former petty officer who served aboard the Essex-class aircraft carrier USS Hancock (CV/CVA 19), shared his opinion on the importance of naval aviation.
"The same can be said about today's Navy, as the Navy back during the Vietnam War," said Kooyer. "An immediate line of defense and the ability to be any place at any time is critical to accomplish any mission. This carrier, other naval vessels, and the air wing all make that possible."
Naval aviation has played an integral part in supporting America's maritime strategy from the wooden decks of Pennsylvania to the unforgiving non-skid aboard Theodore Roosevelt during the crew and CVW-17's 2017-2018 deployment.
CVW-17 is comprised of the Lemoore, California-based "Fighting Redcocks" of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 22, the "Mighty Shrikes" of VFA-94, the "Stingers" of VFA-113; the Beaufort, South Carolina-based "Checkerboards" of Marine Strike Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 312; the Whidbey Island, Washington-based "Cougars" of Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 139; the Point Mugu, California-based "Sun Kings" of Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 116; the San Diego-based "Providers" of Fleet Logistics Support Squadron (VRC) 40, the "Indians" of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 6, and the "Battlecats" of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 73.
Theodore Roosevelt left its homeport of San Diego, Oct. 6, 2017 for a regularly-scheduled deployment to the U.S. 7th and 5th Fleet areas of responsibility.
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