USS ABRAHAM LINCOLN, At Sea (NNS) -- The Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group (ALCSG) launched its first combat sorties this deployment in support of Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF), Feb. 16.
The ALCSG, which was last in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility (AOR) in March 2011, is comprised of the most effective collection of assets in the Navy, said Capt. David Silkey, commander, Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 2.
"Having been deployed out here twice in a year and a half, we've played a huge role in the Navy's persistent presence in the AOR over the last couple of years," Silkey said. "Another trip out here is just business as usual for our guys. U.S. Navy assets have been in this region for more than 60 years, and we'll be here for decades to come, even long after the OEF mission is complete."
Lt. Troy Teasdale, a pilot assigned to the Bounty Hunters of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 2, said the OEF mission suits the professionals of CVW 2 quite well.
"We train our entire careers to properly execute what is asked of us," Teasdale said. "All of our aircrew are prepared to support coalition forces working hard to ensure security and stability throughout the region. We have the best maintenance team and aviators in the world to ensure we accomplish this demanding mission."
Rear Adm. Mike Shoemaker, commander, Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 9, said the strike group is well-equipped to assume the challenges of the OEF mission.
"The strike group's surface ships and aircraft squadrons are all manned, trained and ready," Shoemaker said. "We've done the preparation, now it's time to get to work."
CSG 9 consists of Lincoln, CVW 2, guided-missile cruiser USS Cape St. George (CG 71) and embarked Destroyer Squadron 9, comprised of guided-missile destroyers USS Momsen (DDG 92) and USS Sterett (DDG 104). The CVW 2 squadrons are the Bounty Hunters of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 2; the Vigilantes of VFA-151; the Kestrels of VFA-137; the Blue Blasters of VFA-34; the Sun Kings of Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron 116; the Lancers of Electronic Attack Squadron 131; the Golden Falcons of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 12; the Saberhawks of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 77; and the Providers of Carrier Logistics Support Squadron 30.
The ALCSG deployed Dec. 7, 2011, and is operating in the 5th Fleet AOR conducting maritime security operations, theater security cooperation efforts and support missions as part of Operation Enduring Freedom. Following deployment, Lincoln will change homeports from Everett, Wash., to Norfolk, Va., for a periodic refueling complex overhaul.