The US Navy’s first-in-class aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78), flagship of the Gerald R. Ford Carrier Strike Group (GRFCSG), departed from Naval Station Norfolk on its first deployment to conduct operations and training exercises alongside NATO allies and partners throughout the Atlantic Ocean on 4 October.
“This deployment is an opportunity to further advance the operational capabilities of the Ford and demonstrate the advantages that Ford and Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 8 bring to the future of naval aviation, to the region and to our allies and partners,” said Rear Adm. Greg Huffman, commander of Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 12.
“Now more than ever, it is increasingly important for the United States Navy to reinforce our relationships with our allies and partners as we contribute to promote a peaceful, stable, and conflict-free Atlantic region.”
Innovation and interoperability are said to be the key focal points of the GRFCSG’s deployment, allowing allied and partner nations to strengthen the collective defense of the Atlantic as well as to mature integration for future operations.
“USS Gerald R. Ford is going to sail on the high seas with our partners,” said Capt. Paul Lanzilotta, Ford’s commanding officer.
“We want interoperability, we want interchangeability with our partners. Our NATO partners that are sailing with us – we’re going to work with them every day, every night. That’s what it means to operate on the high seas. Air defense exercises. Long-range maritime strike. We’re going to be doing pretty much every mission set that’s in the portfolio for naval aviation, and we’re excited about that.”
While deployed, GRFCSG will operate with air, maritime and ground assets from several NATO allies and partner nations to strengthen deterrence and defense efforts and improve effectiveness and interoperability. Together, GRFCSG, allies, and partner nations will participate in training events, including long-range maritime strike, air defense, anti-subsurface warfare and distributed maritime operations.
The U.S. commands and units participating in the Gerald R. Ford Carrier Strike Group (GRFCSG) deployment include Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 12, Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 8, Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 2, USS Normandy (CG 60), USS Ramage (DDG 61), USS McFaul (DDG 74), USS Thomas Hudner (DDG 116), USNS Joshua Humpreys (T-AO 188), USNS Robert E. Peary (T-AKE 5), and USCGC Hamilton (WHEC 715).
Aircraft squadrons participating in the GRFCSG deployment are:
- Strike fighter squadrons VFA 213, VFA 31, VFA 37 and VFA 87.
- Tactical electronics warfare squadron VAQ 142.
- Carrier airborne early warning squadron VAW 124.
- Fleet logistics support squadron VRC 40.
- Helicopter maritime strike squadron HSM 70.
- Helicopter sea combat squadron HSC 9.
“It’s an exciting time to lead the aviators of Carrier Air Wing Eight as we embark on Ford’s first deployment,” commented Capt. Daryl Trent, Commander, Carrier Air Wing Eight.
“This group of individuals have worked so hard to prepare every aspect of the air wing to integrate with Ford’s new technologies and have done so with excellence. It’s also fitting that when USS Nimitz deployed for the first time in 1976, it was CVW-8 who was embarked. Now, in 2022, CVW-8 is again the first air wing to embark on this newest class of aircraft carriers.”
The nine participating nations are: U.S, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, and Sweden. The deployment involves approximately 9,000 personnel from nine nations, 20 ships and 60 aircraft.