Carrier Group On "Routine Deployment" To The Region
The Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group relieved the Eisenhower
Carrier Strike Group today in command of Task Force 50 and launched
its first sorties in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in
Aircraft from Carrier Air Wing 14 departed the decks of the
strike group's flagship, the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS
Ronald Reagan, bound for Afghanistan to support coalition ground
"I'm excited to get this started, because in essence, what we're
doing is saving American and coalition lives," said Navy Capt.
Kenneth Norton, Ronald Reagan's commanding officer. "The Eisenhower
strike group did a fantastic job in theater, and we're ready to
continue that level of support. We have a lot of experience on
board Ronald Reagan and with the air wing. Our crew knows how to
execute this mission effectively."
While Ronald Reagan and Carrier Air Wing 14 are returning to a
mission they performed a year ago, they understand that conditions
in Afghanistan have changed, officials said, with stricter
guidelines in place to minimize civilian casualties and collateral
damage in Afghanistan.
Navy Rear Adm. Scott Hebner, the strike group's commander, said
the group's more than 7,500 sailors are eager to carry out their
"Our sailors are focused and serious-minded about what is
ahead," he said. "They know the Navy and our country is counting on
them. They are ready to demonstrate their impressive capabilities
across the spectrum of our maritime strategy."
The Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group had operated in the U.S. 5th
Fleet area of operations since March.
"Our preparations last fall allowed us to deliver exactly what
the fleet commander asked for: persistent U.S. naval power in
perfect partnership with our joint and coalition partners [and]
delivering security and stability for the good of all mariners in
this vital area of the world," said Navy Rear Adm. Kurt W. Tidd,
commander of the Dwight D. Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group.
Eisenhower's embarked air wing, Carrier Air Wing 7, flew more
than 2,000 sorties in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Ships
of the Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group also were vital in
counter-piracy operations, including the USS Bainbridge's direct
role in the rescue of Richard Phillips, captain of the cargo ship
"I am extremely proud of the 4,500 men and women on USS Dwight
D. Eisenhower. They have performed magnificently this entire
deployment," said Navy Capt. Dee L. Mewbourne, Eisenhower's
commanding officer. "They supported coalition forces on the ground
in Afghanistan with utmost professionalism while providing regional
security and stability. Without question, their service made a