Air wing returns to USS Stennis

Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 9 embarked USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) Monday, getting underway for the first time in almost a year to accomplish flight deck certifications and a tailored ship’s training availability off the coast of Southern California.

During the nine months Stennis and CVW-9 have been apart, Stennis has gone through a docking-planned incremental availability (dPIA) in its homeport of Bremerton, while the sailors from CVW-9 returned to their component squadrons. When CVW-9 checked aboard Monday, they were pleased with the welcome they received.

“This is the third air wing I’ve been in, and this is by far the best relationship I’ve ever seen between an air wing and the host ship,” said Cmdr. Jason Norris, CVW-9 operations officer. “We’ll walk around here and say, ‘Really glad to be out here,’ and it really is true because we’ve gotten a great reception from the ship.”

Now that each squadron has crews aboard, Stennis sailors will notice some changes to the makeup of CVW-9, including one entirely new squadron and two aircraft platform changes to existing squadrons.

“So far it’s been great, everyone’s really welcomed us with open arms from top to bottom,” said Cmdr. Jeff Dodge, Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 71 executive officer. HSM-71 is the first maritime strike squadron to embark a carrier. “When everyone sees the new hats they want to know who we are and what’s going on, so it’s been real good.”

Stennis was equally as happy to have CVW-9 back on board, ready to train and accomplish the mission.

“This is the most positively charged air wing I have had the pleasure to work with,” said Stennis’ Executive Officer, Cmdr. David Burnham. “From Commander, Carrier Air Wing 9 all the way down to the newest recruit, it’s hard to find one of them without a spring in their step or a smile on their face. There is no doubt in my mind that they will execute every task with precision, and we will provide all the support required to make it happen.”

Stennis and CVW-9 return to sea, where over the next few months the Stennis/CVW-9 team will work on integrating back into the cohesive unit that paved the path for a successful 2007 deployment.

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