USS RONALD REAGAN, At Sea (NNS) - USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) and embarked Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 14 completed a successful Composite Training Unit Exercise (COMPTUEX) in the Pacific Ocean Nov. 14, following three weeks of drills and exercises in preparation for an upcoming deployment.
COMPTUEX is the intermediate phase of the Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group (CSG) Inter-Deployment Training Cycle (IDTC), designed to hone warfare skills with the rest of the strike group while maintaining unit proficiency.
"It's the final exercise to prepare a ship to be ready for deployment," said Capt. Thom Burke, USS Ronald Reagan commanding officer. "We're working with the full strike group conducting combat exercises across battle spaces in the air, surface and sub-surface."
COMPTUEX is designed to bring every intricate part of a strike group together to effectively and efficiently work as one cohesive unit.
"This is the first time we've all been together since Rim of the Pacific," said Cmdr. Doug Carpenter, USS Ronald Reagan operations officer. "Our teamwork wasn't fully developed initially, but we were all pressing for the same goal. We saw great improvement and exceeded our requirements for our combat operational efficiency."
The successful completion of COMPTUEX was the result of a team effort from Ronald Reagan, the embarked air wing and the more than 4,500 Sailors and Marines involved. Every department, division and work center, and every Sailor and Marine aboard Ronald Reagan, from the bilge up to Primary Flight Control, played a vital role in the exercise.
"It doesn't matter what your job is on the ship—we need you, and we need you doing it right," said Burke. "I'm proud of my crew, and the way they came together to operate as a team."
Flight operations were nearly continuous as Ronald Reagan simulated combat conditions to ensure CVW-14 pilots gained the necessary qualifications to launch from and return to Ronald Reagan's flight deck.
"Wednesday (Nov. 10) we launched 33 aircraft in one cycle and, nearly two hours later in the next cycle, we landed 33 aircraft," said Carpenter. "That's something I've never seen in my 20 years. That really speaks volumes to Air department moving birds efficiently and the pilots getting their procedures done quickly."
"We tested our limits during this underway period," said Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Handling) 3rd Class Zach T. Nance. "We ran drills during the days and moved aircraft through the nights. It's tough being away from family as the holidays approach, but we know this exercise is mission essential and we're here to get the job done."
Ronald Reagan also simulated a straits transit with four ships from the strike group, participated in three opposed replenishments at sea, a vertical replenishment, and also ran many general quarters and man overboard proficiency drills.
"We came a long way in these three weeks," said Burke. "We learned a lot. We had a bunch of folks out here eager to turn to and make things happen."
Burke said he was extremely proud of his crew and all the Sailors and Marines in the embarked units.
"This crew did a terrific job," said Burke. "This ship is ready to go to the other side of the world during times of uncertainty, perhaps a time with quite a bit of tension."
The more than 4,500 Sailors and Marines that make up Ronald Reagan, CVW-14 and Destroyer Squadron Seven will now begin preparations for the advanced stage of IDTC, Joint Task Force Exercise, which is geared toward command and control across a broader field.
Ronald Reagan is preparing for a regularly scheduled 2011 Western Pacific deployment — it's fifth deployment in six years.
The Ronald Reagan CSG is comprised of USS Ronald Reagan, the guided-missile cruiser USS Chancellorsville (CG 62), and the ships of Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 7, which include the guided missile destroyers USS Preble (DDG 88) and USS Howard (DDG 83), and the guided missile frigate USS Thach (FFG 43).
CVW-14 includes the "Black Knights" of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 154, the "Argonauts" of VFA-147, the "Blue Diamonds" of VFA-146, the "Death Rattlers" of VMFA-323, the "Black Eagles" of Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 113, the "Cougars" of Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron (VAQ) 139, the "Providers" of Carrier Logistics Support (VRC) 30, and the "Black Knights" of Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron (HS) 4.
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