NNS1504. USS Carl Vinson CVBG wraps up in Arabian Gulf Navy News Service 15/99 (March 31, 1999) by JOCS(SW) David M. Butts and JO3 Brian Hess, USS Carl Vinson Public Affairs ABOARD USS CARL VINSON (NNS) -- The USS Carl Vinson Battle Group (CVBG), led by USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) and Carrier Air Wing (CVW) ELEVEN departed the Arabian Gulf recently after spending three intense months supporting Operations Southern Watch and Desert Fox in Southern Iraq. The ship began its transit south for a long voyage home and is expected to arrive at her homeport of Bremerton, Wash., in early May. The Carl Vinson Battle Group includes five ships homeported in San Diego: USS Antietam (CG 54), USS Princeton (CG 59), USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62), USS Oldendorf (DD 972) and USS McClusky (FFG 41); as well as USS Columbus (SSN 762) homeported in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, and USS Rainier (AOE 7) homeported in Bremerton, Wash. Just days before departing the Gulf and embarking on the downward side of its operational schedule, Carl Vinson's crew learned that the ship earned the Naval Air Forces Pacific Battle Efficiency award for 1998. "This is acknowledgment of facts that this awesome crew already knows," said Capt. David M. Crocker, commanding officer. "The Gold Eagle is the best carrier afloat and that is no accident. Our Sailors are hard-charging, professional warriors. They, along with Air Wing ELEVEN, have trained for many months to bring this formidable, complex fighting machine together. "Each person is here because they bring a specialty with them," continued Crocker. "It doesn't matter if they fix aircraft, cook fresh eggs in the morning, convert reactor power to steam to drive the ship at 30 knots or work overtime to make sure their shipmates can take the next advancement exam - each is essential to this ship's mission and success. We cannot move this ship without any one of them." The carrier departed Bremerton Nov. 6, 1998, embarking on a six-month deployment to the Western Pacific Ocean, Indian Ocean and Arabian Gulf. The deployment began with two liberty visits to Australia being postponed due to heightened tensions in the Arabian Gulf. Instead, the ship made a more direct transit westward, making port calls in Hong Kong and Singapore. Just out of Singapore, Carl Vinson got orders to make "best speed" toward the Gulf in support of the impending Operation Desert Fox. "Cohesion and discipline and training were never more important," Crocker said. "We went through the Strait of Hormuz in the middle of the night, got on station and our first aircraft launches in the Gulf were for the closing strike in the operation. We like to brag about being ready on arrival - and this deployment proved that decisively." Carl Vinson steamed more than 17,000 nautical miles while conducting operations in the Arabian Gulf. F/14D Tomcats from CVW-11 participated in air strikes against Iraq Dec. 19 by launching a successful attack that brought rave reviews from aircrews for the new attack role of the venerable, air-supremacy fighter. "Aircraft carrier battle groups bring tremendous flexibility, mobility and strength to the scene of action," said Rear Adm. Alfred G. Harms Jr., Commander, Carrier Group THREE, from aboard flagship Carl Vinson. "The Carl Vinson Battle Group also brings an awesome array of operational capability, including long-term sustainability, in-depth defenses, immense power projection and incredible excellence in all areas. There is no parallel anywhere in the world for this multi-role capability." -USN-