The Kitty Hawk Battle Group, consisting of Kitty Hawk, USS
Chancellorsville (CG-62) and USS Curtis Wilbur
(DDG-53), departed Yokosuka, Japan, March 2 for three months of routine operations and
exercises in the Western Pacific. Events in Kosovo called for the Roosevelt to delay
its deployment to the Arabian Gulf and remain in the Adriatic Sea to support Operation
Allied Force, so Kitty Hawk was ordered to the Arabian Gulf to fill the gap, and its
deployment was extended to six months.
The USS Kitty Hawk Battle Group is
scheduled to return to Yokosuka on August 25.
The Hawk/FIVE team began flying sorties in
support of Operation Southern Watch within 24 hours of arriving in the Arabian Gulf April
20. Over the following 11 weeks, Carrier Air Wing FIVE flew a total of 5,426
sorties, including 1,300 combat sorties over Southern Iraq, and dropped more than 20 tons
of ordnance during five strikes against Iraqi air defense and military sites.
Capt. Rick McHarg, Commander, Carrier Air
Wing FIVE, said technology played a big role in preparing pilots for Operation Southern
"Using IT-21 (a computer network used
aboard the ship), we were able to quickly get everyone up to speed. We did some
pretty intense preparation, and we came into the area knowing what to expect," McHarg
said. "We were ready to drop on targets every day. When we were called to
do that, we did it with success every time," he added.
But Kitty Hawks successes in the
Gulf werent limited to air strikes. While in the Gulf, the ship made three
port visits to the United Arab Emirates and one visit to Bahrain. Vice Adm. Charles
Moore, Commander, U.S. 5th Fleet, visited the ship July 11 to congratulate the crew on
their performance in the Gulf, saying the aircraft carriers presence helped
strengthen U.S. relationships with its Arabian allies.
"They see thousands of sailors coming
to visit them on liberty, and they see you behaving in a manner that is kind, polite,
honorable and respectful," Moore said. "From that, they decide whether
America is a country they want to continue to be allies with, or whether they would rather
invest in a relationship with someone else," he said. "Youve
represented your country very well."
While sailors enjoyed the real-world
mission aspect of their deployment, many are ready return to family and friends back in
"We came out here motivated, glad to
be out here doing what were supposed to do," said Pahala, Hawaii native
Aviation Electricians Mate 3rd Class Geno Ramo, from Fighter Attack Squadron 27.
On the return transit, the ship will make
much-anticipated port visits to Perth, Australia, and Phattaya, Thailand.
The deployment marked the second time the forward-deployed
carrier had been to the Arabian Gulf in the past year.