|YOKOSUKA, Japan -- The
USS Kitty Hawk (CV-63) Battle Group returned to Yokosuka Nov. 10 after completing nearly
three weeks of at-sea training, finishing with an annual bilateral military exercise with
the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force.
8,000 Sailors participated in Annualex 11G, which combines air, undersea and surface
warfare components of the U.S. Navy and JMSDF to improve cooperation and enhance combined
military relations. Various elements of the battle group and Carrier Air Wing Five
also participated in the exercise. The exercise focuses on honing the skills needed
for both countries to jointly defend Japan against external aggression.
Prior to the exercise, the battle group took part
in the military exercise Foal Eagle 99, which is a bilateral, combined exercise with the
Republic of Korea.
"In almost three weeks of flight operations
the ship and air wing safely completed nearly 1,200 sorties and 1,000 night
landings," said Lt. Cmdr. Mike Harber, the operations officer of the air wing.
"Weve had a very, very successful
three-week period," said Capt. Matthew Tuohy, Kitty Hawks commanding officer.
"Weve done a lot of stuff in three weeks and done it very well.
Everyone on the ship and air group should be proud of their accomplishments during
"We really went all out this year,"
Operations Specialist Chief Pat Rivers said of the ships attempts to evade detection
and attack by the exercises aggressor forces (which included a total of eight
submarines, numerous surface ships and P-3 Orion aircraft). "We didnt get
hit until 11:30 a.m. Tuesday - 30 minutes prior to the exercise ending."
But the Sailors in the operations department
werent the only ones kept busy during the underway period. One of the busiest
departments throughout both exercises was engineering, maintaining a close eye on
Hawks propulsion systems and machinery.
"We worked hard every day for three
weeks," said Machinist's Mate 3rd Class Nathan Rice, who works in number three main
machinery room. "We had to qualify a lot of new people in our space, plus we
worked hard keeping the plant on line. We also made repairs and conducted planned
maintenance on just about all the equipment down here. (Engineering Casualty) drills
kept us running hard, day and night."
According to Rice this at-sea period was the
perfect training ground for all new members.
"We had emergent tasks pop up nearly every
day and everyone worked to make sure the ship kept cruising," Rice said.
"New (people) got the best training imaginable. They couldnt get
all this hands-on training with the ship tied to the pier."
"Its been hard and sometimes
weve felt like the Energizer Bunny," said Machinist's Mate 1st Class Craig
Sevon. "Standing watches, getting qualifications, training new people and
making repairs; weve been busy since the minute we left the pier."
Sevon feels the long hours spent in the
engineering spaces have helped the plant in the long term. "All the hard work
our guys have put in is paying off. The general plant looks 100 percent better (than
when we left Yokosuka) and with our young guys getting qualified, our space and ship
systems work better."
Kitty Hawk is Americas only permanently
forward-deployed aircraft carrier, operating from Yokosuka, Japan.