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YOKOSUKA, Japan - The U.S. Navy's only forward-deployed aircraft carrier returned to Fleet Activities Yokosuka Nov. 20, following the second half of its 2012 patrol.
USS George Washington (CVN 73) and its embarked air wing Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 5 participated in three joint training exercises with regional partners, visited three Asia-Pacific nations to practice interoperability, and conducted dual carrier operations with USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74).
"The crew's performance throughout the entire 2012 patrol has been nothing short of amazing," said Capt. G.J. Fenton, George Washington's commanding officer. "From a phenomenal start with our sea trials and carrier qualifications, to the final leg of the cruise with our air wing and ordnance offload, I could not be more pleased with the George Washington team."
George Washington participated in the 12-day exercise Keen Sword, which consisted of joint-bilateral operations with nearly 10,000 personnel from U.S. and Japanese Self Defense forces. The exercise allowed the United States and Japan to train together and strengthen interoperability in the Asia-Pacific region.
The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier also took part in Valiant Shield, a week-long U.S.-only exercise that provided high-level joint training among all U.S. Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps; this type of exercise ensures that the U.S. remains vigilant in the 7th Fleet area of operations.
"We conduct these exercises to practice operational interoperability in a real-time war fighting scenario, keeping everybody sharp and prepared for possible real events," said Fenton. "There is a reason George Washington is the forward-deployed aircraft carrier; the 7th fleet area of operations presents a number of unique obstacles not present in other operational theatres and we are the first line of defense."
George Washington participated in dual carrier operations with John C. Stennis and its carrier strike group. The carriers conducted integrated flight operations and practiced surface and anti-submarine drills. The two carrier strike groups conducted these operations near Guam, the Andaman Sea, and the East and South China Seas. The dual carrier operations helped to improve readiness to respond to a full range of military operations.
George Washington and its crew conducted three port visits to Guam; Port Klang, Malaysia; and Manila, Republic of the Philippines during the second half of its 2012 patrol. The ship's crew coordinated and attended more than 20 community service projects and also competed in sporting events with the local nationals during their visits.
The aircraft carrier also hosted more than 200 distinguished visitors from Guam, Japan, Malaysia, Republic of Korea, Republic of the Philippines and Vietnam while the ship was underway to allow the visitors a first-hand view of the day-to-day operations of an underway aircraft carrier.
Ships of the George Washington Carrier Strike Group included: USS Cowpens (CG 63), USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62), USS John S. McCain (DDG 56) and USS McCampbell (DDG 85).