Sailors man the rails as USS George Washington (CVN 73) departs Yokosuka, May 24. (U.S Navy/MC3 Paolo Bayas)

YOKOSUKA, Japan – The U.S. Navy's forward-deployed aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73) departed its forward-operating location of Fleet Activities Yokosuka, May 24, to patrol the Indo-Asia-Pacific as the flagship of the George Washington Carrier Strike Group (GWCSG).

George Washington has spent the last few months in port conducting its Selected Restricted Availability (SRA) after returning from its 2013 patrol in December.

"I am extremely proud of how successful the maintenance professionals of Puget Sound Naval Ship Yard, Ship's Repair Facility Yokosuka and our crew have been to prepare the ship for its 2014 patrol," said Capt. Greg Fenton, George Washington's commanding officer. "We've completed numerous evolutions and certifications during our in port period, and we hope to continue that high level of dedication toward mission readiness as we patrol the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations."

George Washington recently completed Crew Certification, Sea Trials and an at-sea ammunition on-load in preparation to return to sea.

"George Washington did a fantastic job completing the SRA and wrapping up a complex testing program to prepare the ship for sea," said Rear Adm. Mark Montgomery, commander, Battle Force Seventh Fleet. "No other aircraft carrier can do what the forward-deployed aircraft carrier can do, which is take a ship from a fast cruise completion to a deployment 96 hours later. It speaks volumes to the leadership of the ship, and the strength of the crew of George Washington that we're able to pull the ship through this challenging sustainment phase and get right into operations."

The GWCSG, along with regional allies and partners, will provide security and stability throughout the Indo-Asia-Pacific.

"It's a great opportunity for us to conduct exercises and operations with our partners, and to conduct meaningful theater security cooperation engagements throughout the Western Pacific," said Montgomery. "We'll also prepare for our major exercise scheduled later this year, and we'll continue to build our warfighting readiness across all the surface ships and aircraft in Battle Force 7th Fleet."

Joining GWCSG will be guided-missile cruisers USS Antietam (CG 54) and USS Lake Erie (CG 70), guided-missile destroyers USS John S. McCain (DDG 56) and USS Kidd (DDG 100); and Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 5, which consists of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 27; VFA 102; VFA 115; VFA 195; Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 136; Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 115; Fleet Logistics Support Squadron (VRC) 30, Detachment 5; Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 77; and Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 12.