Sailors direct the pilot of an F/A-18E Super Hornet on the flight deck of USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70), Nov. 21. (U.S. Navy/PO2 Sean M. Castellano)

SAN DIEGO - The Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Group returned to its homeport of San Diego after completing Composite Unit Training Exercise and Joint Task Force Exercise (COMPTUEX/JTFEX), Nov. 21.

During their time at sea, the unit conducted various exercises and completed evaluations to certify their ships as deployment ready.

COMPTUEX/JTFEX combined the strike group's entire assets through complex, scenario-based training exercises. The dynamic nature of COMPTUEX/JTFEX brought Sailors as close to the real world as is possible within a training environment.

Speaking about the exercise, Commander, Carrier Strike Group 1 Rear Adm. James Kilby said COMPTUEX/JTFEX is the "graduation exercise" for a carrier strike group to deploy overseas.

COMPTUEX/JTFEX was a three-stage event, explained Kilby. During the first phase, which he labeled the "crawl" stage, the events were scheduled. Next, the exercise moved into the "walk" phase, in which he said the scenario-based training started.

"Finally, [in stage three,] we were challenged with an advanced threat in which we had to react and use our resources we had at hand," said Kilby. "We really challenged the strike group in this exercise. It's all about reaction and having to live with the decisions made during the evolution. The battle changes with the decisions we make."

Team Vinson Sailors went through many evolutions during COMPTUEX/JTFEX. Emissions control environments, countless propulsion plant drills, live-fire exercises, and inspections were just some of the challenges COMPTUEX/JTFEX brought. Kilby went on to say the exercise utilized the strike group's anti-surface, anti-subsurface, anti-air, and electronic warfare capabilities.

Assets involved in COMPTUEX/JTFEX were Commander, CSG 1 embarked aboard Carl Vinson; Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 2; the "Black Knights" of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 4; the "Blue Hawks" of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 78; the "Blue Blasters" of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 34; the "Bounty Hunters" of VFA 137; the "Golden Dragons" of VFA 192; the "Black Eagles" of Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 113; the "Gauntlets" of Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 136; Commander, Destroyer Squadron 1; guided-missile destroyers USS Michael Murphy (DDG 112), USS Wayne E. Meyer (DDG 108), USS Dewey (DDG 105), USS Sterett (DDG 104), and USS O'Kane (DDG 77); and guided-missile cruiser USS Lake Champlain (CG 57).