The U.S. Navy’s Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) and the ships of Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 9 have performed a vital role in Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR) and Operation Freedom’s Sentinel (OFS) since December within the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations.
“We have made it our priority to meet every tasking in support of counterterrorism operations and the defeat of ISIS,” said Rear Adm. Steve Koehler, commander, CSG 9. “The complex environment on the ground in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan and on the sea in the 5th Fleet AOO takes every ship and aircraft in the strike group to perform at the very best, and Sailors and Marines assigned to operate those to do the same. Every Sailor and Marine has done a fantastic job doing their part to contribute to the overall success of our deployment to 5th Fleet.”
CVW-17 has launched more than 1,000 sorties in support of OIR and OFS. Primary tasking includes close air support for coalition forces on the ground and defensive counter air patrols in addition to flying sorties in support of the strike group.
“Our time spent supporting combat operations has helped contribute to the progress being made in the defeat ISIS campaign,” said Capt. Chris Ford, commander of Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 17. “Through the safe and efficient launch and recovery of aircraft, precision strikes, and seamless integration with our coalition partners, CVW-17 provides a critical capability and capacity to the region.”
The Theodore Roosevelt Strike Group’s scheduled deployment to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations supports the commitment of the U.S. Navy to the region and the continued effort to defeat and destroy ISIS. Theodore Roosevelt was the first carrier to simultaneously launch missions in support of two different operations in separate geographic locations. On the same day, strike fighters flew missions over Iraq and Syria while also flying missions into Afghanistan.
“The same day support of OIR and OFS is a testament to the inherent flexibility and broad capacity for combat operations of a carrier-based air wing,” said Ford.
In addition to anti-ISIS missions, the strike group has conducted maritime security operations to reassure allies and partners, preserve freedom of navigation, and maintain the free flow of commerce. The ships of CSG 9 and Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 23, including Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers USS Preble (DDG 88), USS Halsey (DDG 97), USS Higgins (DDG 76), and USS Sampson (DDG 102) have conducted 51 transits through the Strait of Hormuz and Strait of Bab el-Mandeb and have also completed more than a hundred non-chokepoint escort events for high-value units in the AOO.
Further, CSG 9 has integrated with coalition navies while in U.S. 5th Fleet including the French Marine Nationale’s destroyer FS Jean De Vienne (D 643) and the Royal Australian Navy frigate HMAS Warramunga (152). In January, the French Marine Nationale’s destroyer FS Chevalier Paul (D621) integrated with TRCSG as the integrated air defense commander alongside guided-missile cruiser USS Bunker Hill (CG 52).
“We have worked very closely with our partners, in particular the Australians and the French,” said Koehler. “They were integrated fully and we placed a high amount of trust them as part of our team.”
Additionally, TR CSG has reinforced the U.S. commitment to regional partners during in-port bilateral engagements and underway distinguished visitor embarks. Theodore Roosevelt hosted more than 260 people of influence from numerous countries, including leaders from the Bahrain Defense Force, Qatari Emiri Naval Forces and the Royal Saudi Naval Forces.
“The Rough Riders are performing superbly in all aspects,” said Koehler. “Whether conducting complex operations at sea in support of the mission or representing the U.S. Navy in foreign ports, I am incredibly proud of this team.”
The carrier has made three scheduled port visits, visiting Manama, Bahrain, once and Jebel Ali, U.A.E., twice. Port visits allow for maintenance and routine repairs to the ships, liberty and foreign travel for the Sailors and Marines on board, as well as an opportunity to conduct bilateral engagements through community relations and in port tours. More than 160 Sailors and Marines have participated in various community service events to enhance their own cultural understanding and build on existing relationships between the U.S. and partner nations.
“Navies around the world continue to grow and challenge all aspects of the maritime, and so our training doesn’t stop on deployment,” said Koehler. “We will continue to maintain our tactical prowess and be ready for any tasking until we are safely at the pier in San Diego.”