Kitty Hawk strike group setting standard
Stars and Stripes June 6, 2003
YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — The USS Kitty Hawk Strike Group’s Iraq campaign accomplishments likely will become the model on which U.S. Navy carrier groups operate for years to come, the commander of Carrier Group 5 said Wednesday.
“The strike group was ordered to participate at a moment’s notice and we were ready to go. Typically, it takes up to a year to get a full strike group together, trained and deployed,” said Capt. Dick Corpus, chief of staff and acting commander of the Kitty Hawk Strike Group.
“We were able to accomplish that immediately because of the regular training and availability that comes with being forward deployed. I think that is more of the model that the Navy will shift to: having the flexibility and readiness to deploy strike groups at a moment’s notice.”
It would be a major shift in philosophy for the Navy, which typically allows stateside ships to operate on a cycle of 6 months’ deployment followed by 12 months in maintenance, Corpus said.
“The Navy is looking at its forward deployed forces, especially in 7th Fleet, and asking how that model can be applied to ships back home.”
The concept fits with the change in nomenclature from “battle group” to “strike group,” a term that Navy brass feels is more fitting for a flexible force designed to project air and land power, not slug it out with other naval forces.
Corpus, who has served ten months as chief of staff, assumed the extra title and responsibilities of strike group commander from Rear Adm. Matthew Moffit.
Moffit was the temporary commander installed on the eve of the Iraq war, when Rear Adm. Steven Kunkle was removed for an alleged “improper relationship” with a junior officer.
When Kitty Hawk returned from its deployment, Moffit returned to his job as commander of the USS John C. Stennis Strike Group.
For now, Corpus is in charge of a strike group in numerous states of readiness: The Kitty Hawk is in dry dock until the end of the summer, two of its escorts are still deployed to the Gulf and at least one other is attached to the USS Carl Vinson.
But once Kitty Hawk comes out of dry dock, “things will go back to normal,” Corpus said. “We will conduct our normal operations and exercises in the Western Pacific, and we’ll fall right back into our normal underway periods.”
Having the ships operate without the carrier, he said, is another indication of the shift in abilities and responsibilities.
“The concept used to be that the strike group was centered around the carrier. But right now, what we are doing is not too much different from what we would normally do. The only thing missing is the carrier. We haven’t missed a beat.”
Corpus is in his 26th year of Navy service, having spent the bulk of that time in the submarine community.
His parents immigrated to Seattle from the Philippines when he was 13; he went on to the U.S. Naval Academy and most recently commanded the new squadron of submarines based in Guam.
The past five chiefs of staff for Battle Force 7th Fleet have been submariners, Corpus said.
“It’s because of the importance of the area, and it’s also because this is the fleet where the subs play the most important role,” he said.