YOKOSUKA, Japan (NNS) -- USS George Washington (CVN 73) returned to her forward-deployed base of Fleet Activities Yokosuka, Japan, July 3, after a three-week underway period on time to celebrate the 18th anniversary of her commissioning on Independence Day.
During underway period George Washington conducted Undersea Warfare Exercise (USWEX) 10 with the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF).
The Navy's only permanently forward-deployed aircraft carrier will also commemorate a special day in its service to the U.S. Navy. Commissioned July 4, 1992 in Newport News, Va., GW's return to Yokosuka will allow the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier to celebrate its 18th birthday in port. The United States, the country which the ship's namesake help found, turns 234 that same day.
"I am extremely proud and honored to be able to bring this great warship into the port of Yokosuka to celebrate one of the most significant days in our country's history and the day this great aircraft carrier was commissioned into our Navy," said Capt. David Lausman, GW's commanding officer. "I am very happy that the course of our summer patrol coincided with this very important day."
While conducting routine operations, the ship frocked 149 new petty officers. The ship also conducted a joint USWEX with the JMSDF and executed weeks of intense air wing and shipboard readiness that included more than 1,300 sorties, or flight missions, the onload of nearly 7 million gallons of jet fuel and serving more than 360,000 meals to the 5,500 Sailors of the GW and Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 5 team who tallied more than 1.2 million man-hours of work.
"We polished our skills underway and as always, we are honored to be the flagship of the forward-deployed naval force," Lausman said. "Being forward deployed, we are able to have constant interaction with many maritime partner countries throughout the Pacific Rim. With that interaction, we are able to promote stability through understanding and cooperation."
This interaction included USWEX 10, a joint submarine detection and engagement exercise with the JMSDF, further enhancing the 50-year alliance between the US and Japan.
"This year, we continued to strengthen our interoperability between the U.S. Navy and the JMSDF and trained against tactics, techniques and procedures to develop new concepts in [undersea warfare]," said Lt. Justin Santos, a surface operations officer with Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 15. "Throughout the exercise, I believe everyone involved had executed in a professional manner and to the best of their expertise."
The four-day exercise allowed the two allied navies to locate, track and complete simulated engagements with friendly submarines in the vicinity.
Though the exercise highlighted the 15,412 nautical mile journey, it's the return to Yokosuka that will drive most of the crew's joy, Lausman added.
"As always, it is a pleasure to be reunited with family and loved ones whenever service to our country permits," he said. "It is through their support that allows us to do our job deployed away from home protecting the freedoms we value."
"I'm excited that we're returning and have the opportunity to celebrate the U.S. and the GW's birthday in port," said Culinary Specialist Seaman Chao Ye, from the ship's supply department. "I'm going to call my mom as soon as we pull back into port and for the holiday. I'm looking forward to hanging out with my friends and relaxing."
GW is the fourth naval vessel to bear the name of our nation's first President. The ship's motto, the "Spirit of Freedom," was inspired by a letter George Washington wrote in 1774 describing the mood of the people before the start of the Revolutionary War.
In May 2008, the GW transitioned from Norfolk, Va. to the forward-deployed naval forces in Yokosuka, Japan and became the Navy's first permanently forward-deployed nuclear-powered aircraft carrier replacing USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63) as the only forward-deployed aircraft carrier in the world.
For more news from USS George Washington, visit www.navy.mil/cvn73.