The Nimitz Carrier Strike Group left San Diego, Calif., on Saturday for a Western Pacific deployment, USNI News has learned.
USS Nimitz (CVN-68) left its pier at Naval Station North Island at around 8 a.m. Saturday local time, according to ship spotters and headed out into the Pacific.
In a Saturday statement to USNI News, U.S. 3rd Fleet acknowledged Nimitz left San Diego but did not provide additional details.
“USS Nimitz (CVN-68) departed San Diego, Calif. to conduct operations in U.S. 3rd Fleet,” reads the statement.
“Nimitz is the flagship for Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 11 and is ready to answer the nation’s call and deliver combat-ready naval forces to deter, and if necessary, win conflicts through sustained and forward naval presence.”
The carrier left its Bremerton, Wash., homeport on Nov. 28 and sailed to San Diego to pick up the carrier strike group leadership before leaving California, Navy officials confirmed to USNI News. The carrier left Naval Base Kitsap, Wash., with 2,500 sailors aboard, according to the Kitsap Sun.
“The sailors assigned to Carrier Strike Group 11 are manned, trained and certified to deliver combat-ready naval forces to deter, and if necessary, win conflicts through sustained and forward naval presence,” Rear Adm. Christopher Sweeney, commander of CSG 11, said in a statement to the paper last week.
Nimitz, the oldest aircraft carrier in the fleet, its escorts and Carrier Air Wing 17 completed their Composite Unit Training Exercise (COMPTUEX) in October ahead of the deployment. The carrier was sidelined for two weeks in late September after the crew discovered potable water tanks aboard Nimitz were contaminated with jet fuel.
The carrier is deploying with USS Bunker Hill (CG-52), the oldest cruiser in the fleet, the staff of Destroyer Squadron 9 and five guided-missile destroyers USS Decatur (DDG-73), USS Paul Hamilton (DDG-60), USS Chung-Hoon (DDG-93), USS Wayne E. Meyer (DDG-108) and USS Shoup (DDG-86).
Nimitz‘s last deployment was at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Western Pacific deployment was preceded with a quarantine period for the crew that began in April 1, 2020. The deployment ran from June 8, 2020 to March 4, 2021 – meaning the carrier crew was deployed eight months and 28 days, and away from home for 11 months and seven days.
The following is the compostiion of the Nimitz Carrier Strike Group:
Carrier Strike Group 11
- USS Nimitz (CVN-68), homeported in Bremerton, Wash.
Carrier Air Wing 17
Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 17, based at Naval Air Station Lemoore, Calif., will be embarked aboard Nimitz for COMPTUEX and includes a total of nine squadrons and detachments:
- The “Fighting Redcocks” of VFA-22 Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) flying F/A-18Fs from Naval Air Station Lemoore, Calif.
- The “Mighty Shrikes” of VFA-94 – F/A-18F – from Naval Air Station Lemoore.
- The “Kestrels” of VFA-137 – F/A-18E – from Naval Air Station Lemoore.
- The “Blue Diamonds” of VFA 146 – F/A-18E – from Naval Air Station Lemoore.
- The “Cougars” of VAQ-139 – EA-18G – Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) – from Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Wash.
- The “Sun Kings” of VAW-116 – E-2D – Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) – from Naval Air Station Point Mugu, Calif.
- The “Providers” of VRC-30 – C-2A – Fleet Logistics Support Squadron (VRC) – from Naval Air Station North Island, Calif.
- The “Indians” of HSC-6 – MH-60S – Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) – from Naval Air Station North Island.
- The “Battle Cats” of HSM-73 – MH-60R – Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) – from Naval Air Station North Island.
- USS Bunker Hill (CG-52), homeported at Naval Station San Diego, Calif.
Destroyer Squadron 9
Destroyer Squadron 9 is based in Everett, Wash., and is embarked on Nimitz.
- USS Wayne E. Meyer (DDG- 108), homeported at Naval Station Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
- USS Chung-Hoon (DDG-93) homeported at Naval Station Pearl Harbor.
- USS Decatur (DDG-73) homeported at Naval Station San Diego, Calif.
- USS Paul Hamilton (DDG-60) homeported at Naval Station San Diego.
- USS Shoup (DDG-86) homeported at Naval Station San Diego.