Kitty Hawk returns to 7th Fleet
5th Fleet commander sends message to carrier expressing gratitude

Navy Journalist Mike Morley, Kitty Hawk Public Affairs

Western Pacific - USS Kitty Hawk (CV-63), accompanied by USS Chancellorsville (CG-62) and USS Curtis Wilbur (DDG-53), recently departed the 5th Fleet Area of Responsibility.  The forward deployed carrier is scheduled to return to Yokosuka, Japan Aug. 25.

The Kitty Hawk Battle Group received accolades from several commanders since departing the Arabian Gulf, including the Joint Task Force commander in Southwest Asia and the Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) Battle Group commander.

With the second deployment of a forward deployed carrier within 12 months now complete, Vice Adm. Charles Moore, U.S. 5th Fleet commander, sent a message to all Kitty Hawk crewmembers and its embarked air wing Sailors for their performance in Operation Southern Watch.

"Congratulations to (everyone) of the USS Kitty Hawk Battle Group for your exemplary performance and superb support as you conclude an exceptional deployment to 5th Fleet.  Due to your commitment, dedication, combat readiness and hard work, your support of our national interests was second to none.

"The Navy and our nation are indebted to you for the sacrifices all of you have made -- and those sacrifices were indeed monumental.  Your unscheduled deployment to the region certainly challenged each of you personally, but to the rest of the world you made it appear it was business as usual.   You have clearly demonstrated the capability and readiness of a forward deployed battle group to meet any tasking.

"Whether it was Operation Southern Watch, maritime interception operations or exercises with our Gulf partners, you consistently delivered phenomenal results.

"The demands of Operation Southern Watch were met head-on and with the overshadowing ‘Don’t Tread On Me’ spirit of the ship's crew and embarked Sailors.  In just over three months, you launched over 5,400 sorties, nearly 1,400 of them in the always challenging and ever changing environment of Operation Southern Watch.  In addition, your interaction with our Gulf partners during various exercises enhanced and evolved our engagement strategy in the region. Above all, you conducted all your operations safely.

"It has not been an easy deployment for you, and the pace was made more grueling because port visits were practically non-existent.  I salute your selfless service.  Whether going in harms way, responding to short-notice tasking, or making guests feel welcomed, you exemplified our ideals of service and upheld our core values -- honor, courage, and commitment.  You also sustained the tenet that ours is the best Navy in the world.  Each of you can take personal pride in knowing that you made a significant contribution to ensuring peace and stability in this vital region.  It has been an honor and a pleasure serving beside the professionals of the USS Kitty Hawk Battle Group.  As you steam to a well-deserved reunion with family and friends, please take with you our best wishes and sincere thanks for a job exceptionally well done," Moore wrote.

Kitty Hawk, America’s only permanently forward-deployed aircraft carrier, operates from Yokosuka, Japan.  Hawk is scheduled to make port visits to Perth, Australia, and Phattaya, Thailand before returning to Yokosuka on August 25.