In this file photo, an E-2C Hawkeye approaches the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73) in the Timor Sea July 18, 2011, during exercise Talisman Sabre with Australia. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Andrew Ryan Smith)

YOKOSUKA, Japan - The U.S. Navy's forward-deployed aircraft carrier, USS George Washington (CVN 73), departed Fleet Activities Yokosuka May 26 for its 2012 patrol.

This patrol marks USS George Washington's (CVN 73) fourth in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations since relieving the now decommissioned carrier, USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63), in 2008.

George Washington and its embarked air wing, Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 5, will provide a combat-ready force that will protect and defend the collective maritime interests of the U.S. and its allies and partners in the Asia-Pacific region.

"By being here, forward deployed and engaged in mutually beneficial relationships with our regional partners, we will promote frameworks that enhance stability and promotes maritime security and freedom of the seas," said Capt. David A. Lausman, George Washington's commanding officer.

During this patrol, George Washington will participate in joint, military-training exercises with international partners, which will strengthen its alliances and partnerships to promote a collective security.

"Trust and cooperation are fundamental to our ability to promote peace and respond to taskings," added Lausman. "We seek to build true partnerships based on mutual understanding and respect."

George Washington was commissioned on July 4, 1992 and is the fifth of the Nimitz-class aircraft carriers. Aircraft carriers exercise the Navy core capabilities of power projection, forward presence, humanitarian assistance, deterrence, sea control and maritime security.