As with any Nimitz class carrier, the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) doesn't deploy alone. Instead she sails with a number of other support vessels composing a "Carrier Strike Group." Within the Eisenhower's traditional strike group (Carrier Strike Group Eight) are:
Command Destroyer Squadron Two Eight, composed of 8300 ton Arleigh Burke class guided missile destroyers focused on antiair, antisubmarine, antisurface, and strike operations using the AN/SPY-1D Phased Array Radar, an AEGIS upgrade, and the best-in-class AN/SQQ-89 integrated ASW Suite. Originally designed to deal with former Soviet air threats (like Iran's Su-25, MiG-29A (Fulcrum) and MiG-29UB aircraft?):
The USS Bainbridge (DDG 96)
The USS Barry (DDG 52)
The USS Laboon (DDG 58)
The USS Mitscher (DDG 57)
The USS Ramage (DDG 61)
Arleigh Burke class guided missile destroyers:
The USS Carney (DDG 64)
The USS McFaul (DDG 74)
The USS Farragut (DDG 99)
...and 9600 ton Ticonderoga class guided missile cruisers:
The USS Hue City (CG 66)
The USS Anzio (CG 68)
The USS Vicksburg (CG 69)
Generally, Carrier Strike Groups are also escorted by two or three attack submarines as well. Those aren't talked about much.
Carrier Strike Group Ten, built around the USS Harry S. Truman, is composed of a substantially similar group. It will, however, replace Command Destroyer Squadron Two Eight with Command Destroyer Squadron Two Six:
USS Hawes (FFG 53)
USS James E. Williams (DDG 95)
USS Kaufman (FFG 59)
USS Ross (DDG 71)
USS Oscar Austin (DDG 79)
USS Winston S. Churchill (DDG 81)
USS Elrod (FFG 55)
The presence of three Oliver Hazard Perry class frigates (FFG 53, FFG 59, FFG 55) is interesting. Zero Hedge readers may remember the Oliver Hazard Perry class by its most famous member, the USS Stark (FFG 31) which was struck by not one but two Exocet anti-ship missiles launched from an Iraqi plane in 1987 and somehow managed to limp to Bahrain and was eventually repaired and returned to service. Less famous, but more dramatic, the USS Samuel B. Roberts struck an Iranian mine, which blew a 6 meter hole in the vessel, flooded the engine room, and actually broke the keel. For the unwashed, the end of the keel is typically the end of a warship. Despite this, the Samuel B. Roberts was not only salvaged, but repaired and returned to action.
The USS Stark (FFG 31) lists to port after being
struck by Iraqi Exocet missiles in 1987
For comparison, the only real action the Arleigh Burke class has seen is via the USS Cole (DDG 67) which was attacked while in port by suicide bombers.
Though the Eisenhower and Carrier Strike Group Eight are due to rotate out of the area after a six month deployment in July, two things are interesting with respect to this rotation.
Firstly, the arrival of Carrier Strike Group Ten with the Harry S. Truman puts two anti-air and anti-cruise missile groups in the U.S. Fifth Fleet AOR ("Area of Responsibility," Persian Gulf, Red Sea, Arabian Sea and East African Coast) at the same time. Also, this is the first time the Harry S. Truman has been in the Fifth Fleet AOR. (The Eisenhower relieved the USS Nimitz, which is now sitting patiently in San Diego, back in January).
Sailors aboard the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) render honors
to the USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) (Arabian Sea, June 26, 2010)
Second, the outgoing Carrier Strike Group Eight is commanded by Rear Admiral Phillip S. Davidson. Of course, one does not manage to command a Carrier Strike Group without active and combat deployment, but Davidson's background is far more weighted to strategy and policy accomplishments. To wit:
Adm. Davidson’s initial sea service assignments were in frigates and destroyers in both the Atlantic and Pacific Fleets and he has made deployments to the Persian Gulf, Western Pacific, Mediterranean, Indian Ocean, Red Sea, Eastern Pacific and Baltic Sea areas of operation. He was also the Commanding Officer in two warships, commanding USS Taylor (FFG 50) from August 1998 to June 2000 and USS Gettysburg (CG 64) from October 2004 to June 2006. He deployed and earned Battle Efficiency “E” awards in both of those ships.
Ashore, he has served in a variety of operations, planning and policy billets on the U.S. Pacific Fleet staff, the Navy staff and the Joint Staff; as the Navy’s Military Aide to the Vice President of the United States; and as a Special Assistant to the Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Pacific Fleet, the Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Pacific Command, and later, to the Chief of Naval Operations. He was the Deputy Director for Strategy and Policy in the Joint Staff/J-5 in his first flag officer assignment.
Rear Admiral Davidson is a distinguished graduate of the U.S. Naval War College. His decorations include the Defense Superior Service Medal, the Legion of Merit, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Navy Commendation Medal with Combat “V” and other personal, unit and campaign awards. He has a Master of Arts in National Security and Strategic Studies and is a Joint Specialty Officer.[fn]U.S. Navy Biography of Rear Admiral Phillip S. Davidson.[/fn]
His replacement, Rear Admiral Patrick Driscoll, Commander of Carrier Strike Group Ten, has enjoyed a career with a decidedly different focus, specifically: A combat hardened strike fighter pilot and commander with significant experience in the Iraq-Iran theater. Notice:
Driscoll's initial fleet assignment was with the 1983 Battle "E" winning VS-32 “Maulers," where he completed two Indian Ocean deployments and was selected as the Atlantic Fleet Sea Strike Pilot of the Year. Following transition training in the A-7E CORSAIR II, Driscoll deployed with the VA-105 "Gunslingers" to the Mediterranean Sea and Indian Ocean, which included participation in tanker escort operations during Operation Earnest Will.
His next sea assignment was with the "Clansmen" of VA-46, where he deployed aboard the USS John F. Kennedy (CV 67) to the Red Sea in support of Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. Driscoll then attended the Naval War College, with a follow-on joint assignment with the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency in July of 1993.
In 1996, Driscoll reported once again to the "Gunslingers" of VFA-105 deploying aboard USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) and participated in Operation Deliberate Guard over Bosnia and Operation Southern Watch in Iraq. Driscoll's next assignment was the commanding officer and flight leader of the Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron (The Blue Angels) for the 1999 and 2000 show seasons.
In April of 2001, Driscoll reported to Carrier Air Wing 5 based in Atsugi, Japan. During Operation Enduring Freedom, he led the TACAIR strike element aboard the USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63), which served as an Afloat Forward Staging Base during combat operations in Afghanistan. He deployed again in 2003 and led his air wing in combat during Operation Iraqi Freedom. In 2008 he served in Baghdad, Iraq as Director of Communication and spokesman for Multi-National Force-Iraq (MNF-I). He is currently serving as Commander, Carrier Strike Group TEN.
Driscoll’s staff assignments include: Deputy Director, Deep Blue; EA to the Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Information, Plans and Strategy; EA to the Vice Chief of Naval Operations and the Chairman’s Joint Strategic Working Group.
Personal awards include the Legion of Merit with two gold stars, the Distinguished Flying Cross with Combat V, three Bronze Stars, and the Defense Meritorious Service Medal. He is a distinguished graduate of the Naval War College and holds a Masters degree in National Security and Strategic Studies.[fn]U.S. Navy Biography of Rear Admiral Patrick Driscoll.[/fn]
Driscoll relieved Rear Admiral Mark Fox in May of last year.
Even in the event Carrier Strike Group Eight rotates out immediately, in Carrier Strike Group Ten the Arabian Sea has a group of vessels battle proven in this theater and against a similar foe commanded by an experienced air combat officer and filled with freshly deployed fighting men and women.
New moon on July 12th.