PACIFIC OCEAN (May 6, 2011) An F/A-18C Hornet from the "Golden Dragons" of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 192 lands on the flight deck during flight operations aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74). John C. Stennis is participating in a composite training unit exercise off the coast of Southern California. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class (SW) Kenneth Abbate)

PACIFIC OCEAN — The John C. Stennis Carrier Strike Group (JCSCSG) began its composite training unit exercise (COMPTUEX) May 5 after pulling out of San Diego.

Passing COMPTUEX, a three-week evolution required of each carrier strike group before departing for a deployment overseas, will allow JCSCSG to deploy to any theater of operations in the world.

“COMPTUEX is the cornerstone of our workup cycle,” said Stennis’ Strike Operations Officer, Cmdr. Stevin Johnson. “It will be the first full integration with the strike group, in which we will train for operations that we might face on deployment.”

Stennis will work with embarked Carrier Air Wing Nine (CVW) 9, Destroyer Squadron Twenty One (DESRON 21), USS Mobile Bay and other independent Navy ships in combating different scenarios presented by Commander, Strike Force Training Forces Pacific (CSFTP).

“COMPTUEX really makes everyone come together as a team, said Electrician’s Mate 2nd Class (SW/AW) Patrick McKeever, who has participated in COMPTUEX with Stennis during its last deployment cycle. “On a large scale all the ships come together and train for deployment. Internally, the ship’s company trains with essentially everyone that will be on deployment. It really prepares the entire strike group for successful operations when we deploy.”

The scenarios led by CSFTP will challenge ships, the air wing and the entire strike group in their ability to handle a variety of circumstances the strike group could potentially encounter while deployed. CSFTP will then grade the strike group and present their findings to Commander, U.S. Third Fleet.

“We will be demonstrating the strike group’s combat efficiency,” said Stennis Executive Officer Capt. Michael Wettlaufer. “Everything on Stennis will be a key part to the success. From our communication links, satellites, launching aircraft, down to the propulsion plants, Stennis will act as a huge piece in this exercise.”

The cruiser and destroyers in the strike group will act as defense perimeters against air, submarine and surface threats, protecting Stennis so it can project its force.

“COMPTUEX is the final stone, and will bring us into joint task force exercise [JTFEX], where other branches of the military will work with the strike group and we can train as a joint service,” said Johnson.

JTFEX is the final exercise evaluation Stennis and its battle group must complete before deployment.

COMPTUEX will bring JCSCSG ships and aircraft together to prepare a force capable of protecting the nation’s interests and security anywhere in the world.