Kitty Hawk Battle Group leaves Arabian Gulf
Aircraft carrier returns to Japan after 6-month deployment

Navy Journalist Mike Morley, USS Kiity Hawk Public Affairs

Arabian Gulf - After three months supporting Operation Southern Watch, USS Kitty Hawk (CV-63) and embarked Carrier Air Wing FIVE, departed the Arabian Gulf July 15 after being relieved by USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71).

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 Watch.

"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 Hawk’s successes in the Gulf weren’t 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 carrier’s 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.  "You’ve 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 Japan.

"We came out here motivated, glad to be out here doing what we’re supposed to do," said Pahala, Hawaii native Aviation Electrician’s 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.


Editor's note: USS Kitty Hawk, America’s only forward-deployed aircraft carrier, operates from Yokosuka, Japan.   The ship is currently deployed to the Arabian Gulf with Carrier Air Wing FIVE from Atsugi, Japan, supporting Operation Southern Watch.  Hawk departed Yokosuka March 2, accompanied by USS Chancellorsville (CG-62) and USS Curtis Wilbur (DDG-53).