A third aircraft carrier, USS NIMITZ, departed from its homeport of San Diego on April 2 to join 5th fleet operating in the Persian Gulf. The Nimitz Carrier Strike Group (CSG) will relieve the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) CSG, currently operating in the area.
Nimitz’s arrival will continue the current two-carrier presence in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility. This is the Nimitz’s third deployment to the Central Command area of operations in four years. In mid-2005, the Nimitz CSG operated in the supported operations in Iraq and throughout the region. In 2003, the carrier flew combat missions over Iraq and supported combat operations during an eight-month deployment. The Nimitz CSG, commanded by Rear Adm. Terry Blake, is comprised of Commander, Carrier Strike Group (CCG) 11, Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 11 and Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 23. It includes the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier Nimitz; guided-missile cruiser USS Princeton (CG 59); guided-missile destroyers USS Higgins (DDG 76), USS Chafee (DDG 90), USS John Paul Jones (DDG 53), and USS Pinckney (DDG 91); two detachments from the Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron Light (HSL) 49 “Scorpions,” and Explosives Ordnance Disposal Unit 11, Det. 15.