USS GEORGE WASHINGTON, At Sea (NNS) -- USS George Washington (GW) (CVN 73) Strike Group found itself at the tip of the spear in the Navy's largest deployment evolution June 2, when the Navy simultaneously deployed seven aircraft carrier strike groups to five different theatres around the world in "Summer Pulse '04."
This is the first operational implementation of the Fleet Response Plan, which seeks to not only maximize training, manning and combat readiness, but also prove to coalition allies and enemy forces that the U.S. Navy can provide a powerful and credible presence anywhere at any time, which GW has personified since departing Norfolk Jan. 20.
Currently the only Pulse carrier deployed in the Arabian Gulf providing air support for ground troops fighting in Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) the past four months, GW has carried the ball for Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Vern Clark's vision of presence with a purpose. It is a task proudly undertaken by GW's Commanding Officer, Capt. Martin Erdossy.
"We're proud to be a part of the world's greatest Navy, and the fact that we can put aircraft carriers in so many different places is a great testimony to how great we really are," Erdossy said. "Thinking about the fact that here we are at the tip of the spear saving lives day in and day out in support of the efforts in Iraq, makes me particularly proud to be the captain of the ship out here on the front line."
That pride has been well-earned over the last four months, as GW and embarked Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 7 have conducted more than 7,000 sorties, 1,500 of which were directly engaged in OIF. The strike group ships USS Vella Gulf (CG 72), USS Bulkeley (DDG 84) and HMCS Toronto (FFH 333) have initiated or been involved in more than 200 boardings of merchant vessels during maritime intervention operations, and logged more than 12,000 surface contacts in the Arabian Gulf.
"It is important work not only for the Navy and our nation, but for the world," he said. "That is what has kept the crew pumped up for going on six months now. The morale on this ship has never been better, and it's because people are proud of their accomplishments out here."
GW Strike Group will continue to participate in Summer Pulse '04, even after they are relieved by USS John F. Kennedy (CV 67) some time next month. As excited as Erdossy is about bringing his ship and her Sailors home to a hero's welcome, he is still infused with enthusiasm over the sheer magnitude of this operation, and what it means for the Navy's and the world's future.
"We are touching almost every continent and hitting all of the major oceans and seas. That's a testament to how strong our Navy is logistically," he said. "We are 101 percent manned out here at the tip of the spear, and the other carriers are similarly manned. The aircraft carrier is that one piece of America that can go anywhere in the world and influence people, and this surge proves it."
Joining the GW and Kennedy Strike Groups in Summer Pulse '04 are the strike groups of USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74), USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63), USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75), USS Enterprise (CVN 65) and USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76).
For more information about Summer Pulse '04 visit, the CFFC Web site at www.cffc.navy.mil/summerpulse04.htm.
For related news, visit the USS George Washington (CVN 73) Navy NewsStand page at www.news.navy.mil/local/cvn73.