SOUTH OF HONSHU, Japan - Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 5 embarked aboard the U.S. Navy’s forward-deployed aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73) at the commencement of its 2014 patrol, May 25.
CVW-5 is the nation’s only “911” air wing and is a critical combat strike element of 7th Fleet, the only forward-deployed carrier strike group in the U.S. Navy.
“CVW-5 is the visible, flexible, agile, and long reaching strike power in 7th Fleet,” said Capt. William Koyama, commander, CVW-5. “Unlike any other fleet in the world, CVW-5 is present 24/7/365, ready for tasking, and owned full-time by the operational chain of command in the Pacific. We never go home and we never stand down; we are virtually always on deployment.”
CVW-5 is comprised of nine squadrons with approximately 2,000 Sailors and 80 aircraft, which complete the full capacity of operations and manning for George Washington.
Many of the pilots were excited to join the carrier and begin flight operations.
“Starting a Patrol and having the opportunity to get back on the ship is always very exciting for the air wing,” said Lt. Kevin Guldner, a pilot assigned to the ‘Dambusters’ of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 195. “When the air wing and the ship come together, and when all the moving parts combine to accomplish the mission - it’s an amazing thing to be a part of.”
After recently completing field carrier landing practice operations at Iwo To, CVW-5 commenced their next phase of carrier qualifications on board George Washington.
“CQ is just the opening act for the Air Wing,” said Koyama. “Unlike the ship, who somewhat has to be at 100% operational ability to launch and recover us from day one, our CQ operations are a bit of food prep, and we haven’t even started cooking yet. Our [area of responsibility] is currently both in the spotlight and under the heat lamp, so what we do on this cruise is incredibly important globally, for deterrence, de-escalation and decisive action if needed. Being part of [forward-deployed naval forces] is always interesting. I anticipate this cruise will be even more interesting than the last.”
CVW-5 is a collection of aircraft designed to perform various functions and missions. The aircraft are attached to: the “Diamondbacks” of VFA-102 flying the F/A-18F Super Hornet; the “Royal Maces” of VFA-27, the “Eagles” of VFA-115 and the “Dambusters” of VFA-195 each flying the F/A-18E Super Hornet; the “Shadowhawks” of Electronic Attack Squadron 141 flying the EA-18G Growler; the “Liberty Bells” of VAW-115 flying the E-2C Hawkeye; the “Providers” of Fleet Logistics Support Squadron 30, Detachment 5, flying the C-2A Greyhound; the “Golden Falcons” of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 12 flying the MH-60S Seahawk; and the “Saberhawks” of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 77 flying the MH-60R Seahawk.
“The rest of the air wing and I are always excited to have the chance to work out here in this area of responsibility,” said Guldner. “This is where we love to fly, and do what we are trained to do.”
George Washington and CVW-5 provide a combat-ready force that protects the collective maritime interests of the U.S. and its allies in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.