George Washington Strike Group Completes 2013 Patrol 
By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Ricky Guzman  
YOKOSUKA, Japan - The USS George Washington Strike Group (GWSG) returned to its forward-operating location of Commander, Fleet Activities Yokosuka, Japan, Dec. 5, to conclude the second half of its 2013 patrol.

The GWSG participated in three joint-training exercises with regional partners, conducted three goodwill port visits, and provided humanitarian assistance and disaster relief to the Republic of the Philippines.

"George Washington Sailors, embarked staffs and air wing all performed at a high level during the ship's 2013 patrol," said Capt. Greg Fenton, George Washington's commanding officer. "We completed numerous shipboard qualifications, performed multiple exercises to strengthen interoperability and most importantly, provided humanitarian assistance and disaster relief to the Republic of the Philippines."

The GWSG most recently finished Annual Exercise (Annual Ex) 13, designed to increase the defensive readiness and interoperability of Japanese and U.S. Naval forces through training in air and sea operations. The strike group also conducted exercises in Oct. with the Republic of Korea navy and Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) in the waters around the Korean peninsula.

"It's important for the U.S. Navy and JMSDF to train to continue to evolve, upgrade and compare tactics to increase our interoperability," said Rear Adm. Mark Montgomery, commander, Battle Force 7th Fleet.

The GWSG also conducted three goodwill port visits to Busan, Republic of Korea, Singapore, and Hong Kong, where the ship's crew conducted 39 community service events.

"We wanted to show that we're not just here to provide military support," said Aviation Boatswain's (Handling) 2nd Class Ricardo Lopez, from Caguas, Puerto Rico. "We also like to interact with the communities we visit, which allow us to have a better understanding of each other's cultures."

The GWSG departed Hong Kong Nov. 12 to assist the Republic of Philippine government in disaster relief efforts in the aftermath of super Typhoon Haiyan during Operation Damayan.

"Our Sailors did an outstanding job in answering the call of humanitarian assistance from the Philippine government," said Fenton. "Our ship refueled aircraft and provided a staging area for relief supplies to be airlifted ashore."

USS George Washington (CVN 73) also embarked more than 200 distinguished visitors from Republic of Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong and Japan to provide a first-hand look at the day-to-day operations of an underway aircraft carrier.

"I'm extremely proud of every milestone we've accomplished during this patrol," said Fenton. "I have no doubt that the Sailors aboard the ship will continue to excel throughout the inport period."

The GWSG consisted of the aircraft carrier George Washington; the embarked staffs of Battle Force 7th Fleet and Destroyer Squadron 15; Carrier Air Wing 5; Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruisers USS Antietam (CG 54) and USS Cowpens (CG 63); and Arleigh-burke class guided-missile destroyers USS Lassen (DDG 82), USS McCampbell (DDG 85) and USS Mustin (DDG 89).

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