USS Carl Vinson En Route to Persian Gulf to Relieve USS George H.W. Bush


By RICHARD R. BURGESS, Managing Editor

ARLINGTON, Va. — A carrier strike battle group (CSG) has departed the U.S. West Coast en route to the Persian Gulf, but it remains to be seen whether the CSG on station will return home as planned because of the demand for strike and surveillance missions over Iraq.

The CSG centered on the carrier USS Carl Vinson departed on Aug. 22 with Carrier Air Wing 17 embarked to relieve USS George H.W. Bush CSG and Carrier Air Wing Eight, which has been flying strike and surveillance missions in support of U.S. advisers and Iraqi and Iraqi Kurd forces against Islamic insurgents in northern Iraq.

Carrier Air Wing Eight squadrons have been participating in strikes in Iraq since Aug 8. At the request of governments in the region, the Defense Department has ceased identifying the bases from which aircraft have been flying the combat sorties, so the total number of strikes launched from the carrier as opposed to land bases no longer is available. As of Aug. 23, U.S. aircraft have flown 94 strikes in Iraq, of which 61 have been in support of Iraqi forces near the Mosul Dam, according to the Defense Department.

USS George H.W. Bush was pulled off of duty supporting operations in Afghanistan to support the missions over Iraq. No operation name for the recent missions over Iraq has been announced.

Carrier Air Wing 17 includes Strike Fighter Squadron 94, deploying on a carrier after several years as a land-based squadron on rotation to Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan. The wing also includes Electronic Attack Squadron 139, which is deploying for the first time since its transition from the EA-6B Prowler to the EA-18G Growler.

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