By Rear Adm. Roy Kelley
Commander, Naval Air Force Atlantic
In the fall of 2018, quietly and with a purpose, USS John C. Stennis departed Bremerton, Washington, with little notice and less fanfare… Not an easy task for 100,000 tons of steel. This is the latest example of how the Navy is supporting the National Defense Strategy through dynamic, unpredictable operations.
Make no mistake, the world’s oceans are the forefront of a new great power competition. As our near-peer competitors and adversaries continue to push agendas predicated on global instability, we will do what we do best – operate as the world’s most maneuverable and lethal maritime force. And, we will do it as the John C. Stennis Carrier Strike Group (CSG) has done over the last seven months – anytime, anywhere.
Throughout the Third, Seventh, Fifth, Sixth and Second Fleets, the men and women of this strike group operated impeccably at the forefront, taking the fight to terror groups, securing vital international shipping lanes, and strengthening a global community of allies and partners. The strike group also flexed the Navy’s ability to conduct high-end, complex warfare, participating in the multinational exercise Intrepid Sentinel as well as integrating with the Essex Amphibious Readiness Group, the French Navy flag ship Charles De Gaulle, and the Ronald Reagan and Abraham Lincoln CSGs.
Proving their ability to operate seamlessly with various platforms across international boundaries, the strike group also continued the Navy’s tradition of aviation dominance. USS John C. Stennis and embarked Carrier Air Wing NINE amassed 23,592 flight hours, including 2282 hours of combat operations that expended more than 250,000 pounds of ordnance. All this while supporting Operations Inherent Resolve and Freedom’s Sentinel.
And as much as I relish highlighting this team’s combat acumen, they also shined as diplomats. Through five port visits with key allies and a number of multinational engagements, the strike group continued to foster partnerships that will help ensure global security and stability.
Across most of the world’s oceans and in ever-changing environments, the Sailors of the John C. Stennis CSG displayed an immense amount of courage and focus. They have truly demonstrated the intrinsic value of the Navy’s most important resource – the men and women in our ranks. This includes our dedicated family members whose strength and support are the catalyst for our success. To family and friends, I sincerely thank you for everything you do.