Kitty Hawk/CVW-5 complete six-month deployment

Release Date: 24 August 1999

Story By: USS Kitty Hawk Public Affairs

USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63) recently completed a 170-day deployment, which took the ship and over 5,000 Sailors on a 48,330 nautical mile trip throughout the Western Pacific, Indian Ocean and Arabian Gulf.

Kitty Hawk, America’s only permanently forward-deployed aircraft carrier, along with embarked Carrier Air Wing FIVE (CVW-5), operating from Naval Air Facility Atsugi, Japan, began the journey March 2. Departing Yokosuka, Japan for a planned three-month deployment that would have taken the ship to several ports in the region, including Singapore and Hong Kong, Kitty Hawk completed Exercise Tandem Thrust and a three-day port visit to Guam in April. The ship was ordered to the Arabian Gulf after the USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71), scheduled to be in the Gulf, was ordered to the Adriatic Sea for operations off of Yugoslavia. Hawk’s deployment was subsequently extended to nearly six months, 143 days of which were spent at sea.

Kitty Hawk spent nearly three months of the deployment in the Arabian Gulf, enforcing the no-fly zone over Southern Iraq. During this period, CVW-5 flew 1,300 combat sorties over Iraq, and dropped more than 20 tons of ordnance during five strikes against Iraqi air defense and military sites.

"We were ready to drop (ordnance) on targets every day," said Capt. Richard McHarg, Commander, Carrier Air Wing FIVE. "When we were called on to do that, we did it with success every time."

While underway, CVW-5 pilots flew over 8,800 sorties in 116 days, which set the pace for a very busy schedule for the rest of the ship.

Keeping the 38-year old, 86,000-ton warship moving requires tremendous effort from each department on board. The numbers only tell part of the tale: the ship consumed more than 34,000,000 gallons of fuel, while CVW-5 jets burned nearly 16,000,000 gallons more; Hawk’s Deck, Air and Supply Departments coordinated 78 underway replenishment evolutions, each involving hundreds of Sailors; Hawk’s engineers filtered over 28,000,000 gallons of fresh water, while Hawk’s galleys served more than 2,500,000 meals and ship’s stores sold more than $3,500,000 in goods.

But Hawk’s deployment, like that of any Navy ship, was not only about flying or steaming. Hawk/FIVE team got its fill of several popular ports, including Jebel Ali and Dubai, United Arab Emirates; Bahrain; Perth, Australia, and Pattaya, Thailand. For many of the Sailors, the deployment was the first time they’d ventured to foreign lands outside of Japan. But each ended the deployment with a different favorite.

"Guam was the best," said Boatswain’s Mate Third Class (Surface Warfare) Ricardo Valverde, from Hawk’s Deck Department and a native of Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. "The weather and beaches were the nicest, and it was just like being back in the states or in Hawaii."

For Machinist’s Mate Fireman Stacey Webb, from Burlington, N.C., working in Hawk’s Engineering Department, visiting Thailand was the highlight of the deployment.

"Australia was fun, but in Thailand I got the chance to see my godmother and her seven children," Webb said. While in Thailand, Webb visited Bangkok’s famous Golden Buddha, and bought hand-carved wooden souveniers to commemorate his trip.

Of all the impressive facts and numbers of this deployment, one stands out in particular; Hawk’s crewmembers safely responded to several casualties, including two large fires, ensuring the ship was able to carry out it’s mission.

"I don’t think there’s another carrier or air wing that could do what we do," said Capt. Matthew Tuohy, Hawk’s commanding officer. "With no notice we went from a three-month exercise deployment to a six-month real-world tasking. We exceeded every tasking afloat while being superb ambassadors of the U.S. and the U.S. Navy ashore."