This post has been updated to correct the airwing that’s deploying aboard USS Dwight D. Eisenhower. Carrier Air Wing 3 is deploying with the carrier.
Carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69) left Naval Station Norfolk, Va., Tuesday morning for a training exercise ahead of a deployment, a Navy official confirmed to USNI News.
The carrier and its escorts are expected to complete a composite training unit exercise (COMPTUEX) off the East Coast ahead of a deployment – likely to the Middle East to relieve the Nimitz carrier strike group. A U.S. 2nd Fleet spokesperson would not confirm the destination of the IKE Strike Group, however, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday said earlier this week that the Navy will likely continue its constant carrier presence in U.S. Central Command for the foreseeable future. The IKE CSG is the most likely candidate to head to the region, USNI News understands.
“The Dwight D. Eisenhower Strike Group is underway in the Atlantic conducting operations, demonstrating the inherent flexibility of the naval force,” 2nd Fleet spokesperson Cmdr. Ashley Hockycko told USNI News on Tuesday. “IKECSG is conducting training to integrate all the assets of the strike group, test their ability to carry out maritime operations, and ensure they remain prepared and ready for any tasking.”
The start of the deployment is the second within a year for the carrier. Last month, the Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group left San Diego for its own second deployment within a year. Unlike the Theodore Roosevelt CSG, Eisenhower will deploy under the leadership of a different carrier strike group and an almost entirely new set of escorts, USNI News has learned.
Carrier Air Wing 3 will deploy on Eisenhower, along with Destroyer Squadron 22 all part of Carrier Strike Group 2. On its last deployment, Eisenhower deployed with DESRON 28, and CVW 3 as part of CSG 10.
The ships that will deploy with Eisenhower are guided-missile cruisers USS Monterey (CG-61) and USS Vella Gulf (CG-72). Norfolk-based guided-missile destroyers USS Mahan (DDG-72), USS Mitscher (DDG-57) and USS Laboon (DDG-58), and Mayport, Fla.,-based USS Thomas Hudner (DDG-116) will also deploy. Only Vella Gulf had deployed with Eisenhower last year.
Swapping the escorts and changing the units embarked on the carrier are designed to take some of the strain out of a double-pump deployment for the East Coast sailors, two Navy officials told USNI News. Eisenhower spent seven straight months at sea last year without touching land and primarily operating in the North Arabian Sea before returning to Norfolk, Va., in August.
The double-pump deployments of both TR and Eisenhower highlight the ongoing strain of the carrier force that saw deployments at a five-year high in 2020.
The following are the components of the Eisenhower CSG.
Carrier Strike Group 2
Norfolk-based CSG 2 commands the Dwight D. Eisenhower CSG and is embarked on the carrier.
USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69), homeported in Norfolk, Va.
Carrier Air Wing 3
Carrier Air Wing 3, based at Naval Air Station Oceana, Va., is embarked aboard Dwight D. Eisenhower and includes a total of nine squadrons and detachments:
- The “Fighting Swordsmen” of VFA-32 – Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) – from Naval Air Station Oceana, Va.
- The “Gunslingers” of VFA-105 from Naval Air Station Oceana, Va.
- The “Wildcats” of VFA-131 from Naval Air Station Oceana, Va.
- The “Rampagers” of VFA-83 from Naval Air Station Oceana, Va.
- The “Zappers” of VAQ-130 – Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) – from Naval Air Station Whidbey Island – Wash.
- The “Screwtops” of VAW-123 – Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) – from Naval Station Norfolk, Va.
- The “Rawhides” of VRC-40 – Detachment – Fleet Logistics Support Squadron (VRC) – from Naval Station Norfolk, Va.
- The “Dusty Dogs” of HSC-7 – Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) – from Naval Station Norfolk, Va.
- The “Swamp Foxes” of HSM-74 – Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) – from Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Fla.
USS Vella Gulf (CG-72), homeported in Norfolk, Va.
USS Monterey (CG-61), homeported in Norfolk, Va.
Destroyer Squadron 22
Destroyer Squadron 22 is based at Norfolk, and its leaders are embarked on Eisenhower.
- USS Thomas Hudner (DDG-116), homeported in Mayport, Fla.
- USS Laboon (DDG-58), homeported in Norfolk, Va.
- USS Mitscher (DDG-103), homeported in Norfolk, Va.
- USS Mahan (DDG-72), homeported in Norfolk, Va.