Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Handling) 1st Class Katrina directs an F/A-18E Super Hornet from the Dambusters of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 195 on the flight deck of USS George Washington (CVN 73) as the squadron flies off to return to Atsugi, Japan. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Paolo Bayas)

PHILIPPINE SEA - The U.S. Navy's forward-deployed aircraft carrier USS George Washington's (CVN 73) embarked air wing flew off the ship Aug. 22 after two months at sea.

Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 5, based at Naval Air Facility Atsugi, accumulated 5,800 flight hours, 3,003 sorties, and 2,500 successful traps during the first half of its 2013 patrol.

"I'm very pleased with the air wing's performance during the first half of the patrol," said Command Master Chief Jason Eckard, CVW 5's command master chief. "We accomplished a lot of good training for both aircrew and maintainers. I'm grateful for the outstanding support that George Washington has provided the air wing."

CVW5 participated in exercise Talisman Saber (TS), a biennial training exercise aimed to improve Australian Defence Force (ADF) and U.S. combat readiness and interoperability as a Combined Joint Task Force.

"Working with the Australians was extremely productive and it gave us an opportunity to operate in areas that are new to us," said Lt. Cmdr. Adam Klein, a pilot assigned to the "Diamondbacks" of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 102. "We usually operate in the islands of Guam or Okinawa where there isn't a lot built up. Working in an unknown area gave us some challenges but it allows us to employ our latest and greatest tactics."

This patrol also marked the first time the "Golden Falcons" of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 12 and the "Saberhawks" of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 77 have gone underway with the strike group since joining CVW 5.

"It's been great coordinating with the new air wing," said Lt. Michael Feay, a pilot and the personnel officer from HSC 12. "We got a great amount of training done. We've been able to assist the fixed-wing squadron in their bombing runs, and strafing runs and we've trained our pilots and aircrew to be fully mission-capable."

CVW 5 consists of HSC 12, HSM 77, VFA 102, the "Royal Maces" of VFA 27, the "Eagles" of VFA 115, the "Dambusters" of VFA 195, the "Shadowhawks" of Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 141, the "Liberty Bells" of Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 115, and the "Providers" of Fleet Logistics Support Squadron (VRC) 30, Detachment 5.

"It's been a very successful patrol thus far and I'm looking forward to the second half," said Eckard. "There's definitely going to be a lot going on during the upcoming months and we're going to have some great training opportunities."

George Washington and CVW 5 provide a combat-ready force that protects and defends the collective maritime interest of the U.S. and its allies and partners in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.