US Navy aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68) got underway from its Naval Base Kitsap on April 27 to start the final rounds of training before deploying.
While underway, Nimitz will participate in a composite training unit exercise (COMPTUEX), which is designed to fully integrate units of a carrier strike group (CSG), while testing a strike group’s ability as a whole to carry out sustained combat operations from the sea.
Ships, squadrons and staffs will be tested across every core warfare area within their mission sets through a variety of simulated and live events, including air warfare, strait transits, and responses to surface and subsurface contacts and electronic attacks.
The navy said the Nimitz completed a 27-day quarantine period and tested all hands for COVID-19 prior to departure to ensure the crew was healthy and ready to conduct operations at sea.
“Dealing with the challenges of the COVID pandemic has been difficult, so I’m very pleased that our mitigation efforts have put us in a position to get underway,” said Captain Max Clark, commanding officer. “We are all looking forward to training and operating again. I give the crew all the credit. From the beginning, they have done all that I and navy leadership have asked them to do — face coverings, social distancing, continuous ship sanitization, testing and periods of quarantine; all executed with precision and professionalism.”
In addition to Nimitz, Nimitz carrier strike group ships and units scheduled to conduct COMPTUEX are guided-missile cruisers USS Princeton (CG 59), homeported in San Diego, Calif.; guided-missile destroyers USS John Paul Jones (DDG 53), homeported at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii; USS Sterett (DDG 104), homeported in San Diego, Calif., and USS Ralph Johnson (DDG 114), homeported in Everett, Wash.; Destroyer Squadron 9 based in Bremerton, Wash.; and Carrier Air Wing 17 and it associated squadrons and personnel from Naval Air Station (NAS) Whidbey Island, Wash., NAS Lemoore, Calif., NAS North Island, Calif., and Naval Base Ventura County, Calif.
All Nimitz CSG units will complete COVID-19 testing prior to getting underway or embarking in addition to having completed a fast cruise or quarantine of at least 14 days.
It is not clear whether the navy will accelerate the deployment of the Nimitz CSG as a replacement for the Theodore Roosevelt CSG which has been sidelined in Guam following a COVID-19 outbreak onboard. The navy is keeping another carrier at sea, the USS Harry S. Truman, in a bid to prevent the virus from reaching the crew and have the ship ready for operational tasking.