By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Alonzo Archer, Task Force 70 Public Affairs
WATERS EAST OF JAPAN – The United States Navy’s only forward-deployed air wing Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 5 flew aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73) Sept. 3 to continue their 2014 patrol of U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations (AOR).
CVW-5 is composed of nine squadrons with approximately 1,900 Sailors and 67 aircraft, which complete the full capacity of operations and manning for George Washington.
“Carrier Air Wing 5 has been patrolling with the George Washington since 2008,” said Cmdr. Brian Downey, CVW-5 Operations officer. “I look forward to the reintegration of our commands each time we’re called upon. The respect we show each other during these patrols lends to the professionalism of both commands. They know their job, and we know ours, and we both trust each other to perform at the highest level.”
During the first half of their 2014 patrol CVW-5 and George Washington completed exercise Malabar 2014, a multinational maritime event including the Indian Navy and Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF), a bilateral operation with JMSDF, four goodwill port visits, and two air power demonstrations for Independence Day and a Tiger Cruise respectively.
“This is my first deployment with Carrier Air Wing 5 and the George Washington,” said Lt. Andrew Ginnetti, an EA-18G Growler pilot with the “Shadowhawks” of Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 141. “It’s great to finally be in the fleet, applying the skills I’ve learned in flight school. I personally feel I’m a part of the most mission-ready air wing in the Navy.”
The aircraft carrier-air wing relationship is symbiotic in more ways than one; both units need each other to complete vital carrier qualifications and maintain pilot currency.
“By instruction, all fixed wing carrier pilots have to maintain periodic currency,” said Cmdr. William Berryman, George Washington air operations officer. “We as a ship must also maintain certain qualifications by operating with aircraft. We work together to accomplish these qualifications across the board in order to keep the air wing-ship team combat ready.”
CVW-5’s squadrons are collection of aircraft designed to perform various functions and missions. The aircraft are attached to: the “Diamondbacks” of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 102 flying the F/A-18F Super Hornet; the “Royal Maces” of VFA-27, the “Eagles” of VFA-115 and the “Dambusters” VFA-195 each flying the F/A-18E Super Hornet; VAQ-141 flying the EA-18G Growler; VAW-115 flying the E-2C Hawkeye; the “Providers” of Fleet Logistics Support Squadron (VRC) 30, Detachment 5, flying the C-2A Greyhound; the “Golden Flacons” of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 12 flying the MH-60S Seahawk; and the “Saberhawks” of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 77 flying the MH-60R Seahawk.