USS ENTERPRISE, At Sea (NNS) -- USS Enterprise (CVN 65), Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 2 and Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 1 successfully completed the first operational portion of their deployment, July 6. The carrier now heads to the Western Pacific to begin operations with U.S. Navy's 7th Fleet.
While in U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet area of operations (AOO), the nearly 6,000 Sailors assigned to the strike group supported Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom, as well as conducted maritime security operations (MSO).
Coalition maritime forces continue to conduct MSO in the region to help set the conditions for security and stability in the maritime environment, as well as complement the counter-terrorism and security efforts of regional nations. The focus of these operations is to prevent international terrorist organizations from using the maritime environment as a venue from which to launch attacks, move people, weapons or other material.
Since arriving in the Persian Gulf June 6, Enterprise and CVW-1 launched 781 sorties and amassed 3,832 flight hours in direct support of troops participating in Operation Iraqi Freedom; and an additional 237 sorties and 455 flight hours in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
"During hundreds of sorties and thousands of hours of support to forces on the ground in Iraq, the air wing and the strike group consistently performed above and beyond all expectations," said Capt. Greg Nosal, commander of CVW-1. "We've demonstrated the speed, agility and persistence of the Enterprise Strike Group."
Rear Adm. Ray Spicer, commander, Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 12, said the carrier's crew played a key role in carrying out operations throughout the U.S. Central Command's (CENTCOM) area of responsibility.
"Along with our coalition partners, Enterprise Strike Group has contributed significantly to ongoing operations in this crucial region," said Rear Adm. Spicer. "The men and women of this strike group have made Enterprise's motto, 'Ready on Arrival,' a reality."
In addition to her other missions, Enterprise also hosted a number of distinguished visitors, including Vice Adm. Patrick Walsh, commander, Naval Forces Central Command/U.S. 5th Fleet; Brig. Gen. William L. Holland, CENTCOM's deputy combined forces air component commander; Pakistani Rear Adm. Shahid Iqbal, commander, Combined Task Force 150; and Royal Air Force Air Commodore Mark Swan, as well as many other senior military and civilian guests. The ship also hosted more than a dozen visiting media from Europe and the Gulf region.
Enterprise's commanding officer believes the ship had a large impact on operations throughout the region.
"After months of training and focusing on our mission, this ship and its crew have excelled in providing support to our troops, and in contributing to the stability of the area," said Capt. Larry Rice, Enterprise's commanding officer.
"The crew is very proud of Enterprise and committed to the mission," said Enterprise's Command Master Chief, CMDCM Paul DeClerq. "These shared experiences with the Soldiers and Marines in Iraq and elsewhere built mutual camaraderie and improved everyone's appreciation for this fantastic team, both afloat and ashore."
The squadrons of CVW-1 include the "Sidewinders" of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 86, the "Checkmates" of VFA-211, the "Knighthawks" of VFA-136, he "Thunderbolts" of Marine Strike Fighter Squadron (VMFA) 251, the "Screwtops" of Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 123, the "Rooks" of Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron (VAQ) 137, the "Maulers" of Sea Control Squadron (VS) 32, the "Rawhides" of Carrier Logistics Support (VRC) 40, and the "Dragonslayers" of Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron (HS) 11.
The U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet AOO encompasses about 2.5 million square miles of water and includes the Persian Gulf, Red Sea, Gulf of Oman and parts of the Indian Ocean. This expanse,which includes approximately 6,000 miles of coastline, includes three critical chokepoints at the Suez Canal, the Strait of Hormuz, and the Strait of Bab al Mandeb at the southern tip of Yemen.
For related news, visit the Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command/Commander, U.S. 5th Fleet Navy NewsStand page at www.news.navy.mil/local/cusnc/.