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Navy deploys 3 aircraft carriers to Europe for Summer Pulse ‘04

Three aircraft carriers and their escort ships and submarines are sailing in Mediterranean and Eastern Atlantic waters this summer as part of the Navy quick-response exercise Summer Pulse ’04.

The goal is to test the Navy’s ability to deploy six carrier strike groups, which include the carrier and its escorts, within a 30-day notice and two more strike groups within three months, a Navy news release said.

The exercise started in early June and runs through August.

Strike groups operating off Europe are the USS John F. Kennedy, USS Harry S. Truman and USS Enterprise, carrying a total of about 20,000 sailors.

Seven of the Navy’s 12 aircraft carriers are away from their home ports this summer on regularly scheduled deployments or are taking part in the exercise.

The Enterprise strike group commander, Rear Adm. Barry McCullough, said that Summer Pulse shows that the Navy can deploy “almost 67 percent of our [carrier strike group] capabilities on a short notice.”

“This is a demonstration of the Navy’s operational capability and demonstrates our nation’s commitment to respond to a potential global crisis,” he said.

Enterprise, he said, learned of the Summer Pulse deployment only 30 days before leaving its Norfolk, Va.-home port.

Summer Pulse not only tests the strike groups’ capability to go to sea, but their ability to deploy away from their home ports for an extended period of time.

Deploying East Coast carrier groups to Europe is “not normal, but not unheard of,” McCullough said, because of U.S. participation in NATO exercises.

Of the three carrier groups in the region, only the Kennedy is on a regularly scheduled deployment.

Enterprise’s strike group recently joined the British-run Joint Maritime Course exercise off Scotland, a 10-nation, 50-ship exercise that ran June 21 until Thursday.

The Enterprise and Truman strike groups will next be taking part in exercise Medshark/Majestic Eagle ’04 off Morocco July 11 to 16.

U.S. naval forces also will include the Gaeta, Italy-based 6th Fleet flagship USS La Salle, and La Maddalena, Sardinia-based USS Emory S. Land. The Italian aircraft carrier Garibaldi will also be participating.

The Truman completed an exercise on the East Coast before deploying to the Mediterranean in late June.

Not all of the ships’ time away from home port will be spent at sea. The Truman is spending the July 4th holiday weekend anchored off Naples, Italy; Enterprise crewmembers are spending their weekend in Portsmouth, England; and Kennedy recently completed a port visit to Valletta, Malta.

“We owe them a couple of days to relax,” said McCullough.


Participants

Several U.S. aircraft carriers are at sea for the Navy’s Summer Pulse ’04 exercise, which runs through August. Those taking part include:

• USS George Washington, deployed to the Persian Gulf in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
• USS John C. Stennis, Rim of the Pacific exercise off Hawaii.
• USS Kitty Hawk, in the western Pacific.
• USS Ronald Reagan, in the Atlantic, then shifting its home port from Norfolk, Va., to San Diego.
• USS John F. Kennedy, in the Mediterranean on a scheduled deployment.
• USS Enterprise, in the Mediterranean and eastern Atlantic.
• USS Harry S. Truman, in the Mediterranean and eastern Atlantic.

— Jason Chudy

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