Super Hornets strike in Southern Watch; Navy command ship deploys to Djibouti
Burgess, Richard R
The Navy’s newest carrier-based aircraft has been used in combat action for the first time. The F/A18E Super Hornet participated in strikes against air-defense sites inside Iraq last month in support of Operation Southern Watch.
The Super Hornets-flown by pilots assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron 115 (VFA-115) from the Nimitz-class nuclearpowered aircraft carrier (CVN) USS Abraham Lincoln-launched precision-guided Joint Direct-Attack Munitions (JDAMs) to strike two surface-to-air missile sites and a command-and-control facility near Al Kut, approximately 100 miles southeast of Baghdad. The strikes were launched in response to hostile fire directed at coalition aircraft enforcing the no-fly zone over southern Iraq.
Although the Abraham Lincoln-with Carrier Air Wing 14 (CVW-14) embarked-has been deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom since June and her aircraft had flown numerous patrols over Afghanistan, the intensity of combat in that country had declined to such a low level that the squadron’s Super Hornets were not required to fire weapons.
VFA-115 is the first squadron equipped with Super Hornets-which are built by Boeing-to deploy with the new strike fighter.
Although combat inside Afghanistan has been light in recent months, the United States has continued to deploy forces in the region to counter al Qaeda terrorist activity and to pressure Iraq to comply with U.N. resolutions. The Kitty Hawk-class aircraft carrier USS Constellation-with CVW-2 embarked-departed the U.S. West Coast with her battle group in early November to relieve the Abraham Lincoln Battle Group on station in the Middle East.
This deployment is the last scheduled for the Constellation;, the 41 -year-old carrier is scheduled to be decommissioned next year and replaced by the Nimitzclass CVN Ronald Reagan. The Nimitzclass CVN USS Harry S. Truman-with CVW-3 embarked-is scheduled to deploy in early December to relieve the Nimitz-class CVN USS George Washington.
In other OEF (Operation Enduring Freedom) Developments:
Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that coalition maritime operations enforcing U.N. sanctions against Iraq have been extremely successful in recent months. Department of Defense officials estimated that, as of early November, coalition naval forces had cut off up to 60 percent of Iraq’s smuggling activities. The Canadian-led multinational task force now serving in the Middle East is scheduled to be joined by the Royal New Zealand Navy Anzac-class frigate Te Kaha and a Royal New Zealand Air Force P-3K Orion.
U.S. Marine Corps attack aircraft have been staged to Bagram air base– near Kabul, Afghanistan-for the first time to provide close air support for coalition forces in the country. Marine Attack Squadron 513 has deployed six AV-8B Harrier Its to supplement the Air Force A-10A Thunderbolt Its already based at Bagram.
In an unusual development, the Blue Ridge-class command ship USS Mount Whitney has deployed to the Middle East from its homeport in Norfolk, Va. The Mount Whitney normally serves as the flagship for the commander of the U.S. Second Fleet and, as such, rarely ventures into waters outside the Atlantic Ocean. Approximately 400 Marines assigned to the headquarters of the 2nd Marine Division also deployed on the Mount Whitney, which will be used as a command ship off Djibouti to support OEF operations in the area, which includes countries such as Yemen, Sudan, and Somalia, all of which are reported to have supported al Qaeda activities in the past.
Army Gen. Tommy Franks, commander of the U.S. Central Command, has announced that more than 700 Marines have been deployed to Djibouti to support the global war on terrorism. The Marines are serving as a component of Combined Joint Task Force Horn of Africa at Camp Lemonier in Djibouti.
The USS Nassau Amphibious Ready Group (ARG)-with the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit embarked-transited the Suez Canal from the Mediterranean in late October to join other U.S. and coalition forces in the U.S. Central Command region. The USS Tarawa ARG is scheduled to deploy from the U.S. West Coast in December; the USCGC Boutwell–a Hamilton-class high-endurance cutter– will be assigned to the ARG, marking the first time since 1999 that any of the Coast Guard’s 378-foot cutters has deployed with a Navy battle group.
In the Philippines, 80 Marines-joining more than 220 other U.S. troops– have been deployed to provide security for Operation Bayanihan, a joint Filipino– U.S. humanitarian effort in Zamboanga and Basilan that is being closely coordinated with the Filipino government’s counterterrorism efforts.
Sea-service reservists mobilized for active duty as of 30 October 2002 included 5,594 Navy, 3,718 Marine Corps, and 698 Coast Guard reservists.
Preble Commissioned in Boston With Constitution Bow-to-Bow
The Navy’s oldest commissioned ship, the three-masted USS Constitution, was a special guest of honor at the commissioning ceremonies for a warship named for her most famous commanding officer.
The Flight IIA Arleigh Burke-class Aegis guided-missile destroyer (DDG) USS Preble (DDG 88) joined the fleet in ceremonies held at the World Trade Center Pier in Boston, Mass. The 509.5foot DDG is named for Commodore Edward Preble, commanding officer of the Constitution during combat action against the Barbary pirates in 1803. Preble, a pioneer in U.S. naval and merchant marine service, also served in the American Revolution. The new DDG is the sixth U.S. Navy ship named for Preble.
Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) was the principal speaker at the commissioning ceremonies for the Preble. Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Vern Clark-whose wife, Connie Rae Clark, is the ship’s sponsor-also spoke at the 9 November ceremonies. Mrs. Clark gave the traditional order to “man our ship and bring her to life.” The commissioning ceremonies-chaired by Ivan R. Samuels– were sponsored by the Massachusetts Bay Council of the Navy League.
“Commodore Preble would be honored that his fighting legacy will live on in yet another namesake ship with a special place in the battle line for the pirates of old who have their own successors in the terrorists of today, who are within reach of this ship even when they hide 700 miles inland,” said Philip A. Dur, president of Northrop Grumman Ship Systems (NGSS).
The Constitution, based at the Charlestown Navy Yard in Boston as a tourist attraction, was towed to the World Trade Center pier for the commissioning ceremonies.
The Preble is the 38th Arleigh Burke DDG of 62 planned to enter service in the fleet. DDG 88 is the 17th Arleigh Burkeclass DDG to be built by the NGSS Ingalls Operations yard in Pascagoula, Miss.
Cdr. Timothy Batzler is the first commanding officer of the 383 crew members of the 9,300-ton Preble, which is homeported at Naval Station San Diego, Calif.
CINC Designation Reserved For Presidential Use
Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld has directed that the term “commander in chief (CINC) will apply only to the President of the United States. The CINC designation therefore will be replaced by the term “commander” when referring to the chiefs of the U.S. joint combatant commands. The Chief of Naval Operations, Adm. Vern Clark, has directed that the heads of the Atlantic and Pacific Fleets and of U.S. Naval Forces Europe also be designated “commanders” rather than “commanders in chief.”
Sea Service Notes
The Navy’s last tank landing ship (LST), the Newport-class LST USS Frederick, has been decommissioned at Naval Station Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The Naval Reserve Force ship-retired on 5 October–completed more than 13 major deployments in her 33 years of service, which included deployments during the Vietnam War and Operation Desert Storm.
Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Vern Clark has directed that U.S. Fleet Forces Command-headquartered in Norfolk, Va., serve as the Navy’s executive agent for all fleet experimentation. Under the new Sea Trial concept, Fleet Forces Command will play an increasingly important role in shaping Navy force structure and technology acquisition requirements.
The Navy has authorized a new rank– Chief Warrant Officer 5-beginning in fiscal year 2004. The new rank-with its associated pay raise-is intended to retain highly skilled technical personnel in the Navy.
By RICHARD R. BURGESS Managing Editor
Copyright Navy League of the United States Dec 2002
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