The carrier Carl Vinson and her escorts, along with 7,500 sailors, are set to deploy late next week for a Western Pacific cruise.
The group will be in the 7th Fleet area of operations but will remain under the control of 3rd Fleet commander Vice Adm. Nora Tyson, similar to the Pacific Surface Action Group that deployed to the region over the summer. It is not expected to operate in the Persian Gulf, which is without a carrier until Bush arrives early next year.
The group, which includes the destroyers Wayne E. Meyer and Michael Murphy, and the cruiser Lake Champlain. It will be the second deployment for the Pearl Harbor-based Michael Murphy, which returned from her maiden deployment in the spring of 2015.
Joining Vinson is Carrier Air Wing 2, which is composed of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 4; Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 78; Strike Fighter Squadrons 2, 34, 137, and 192; Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron 113; Electronic Attack Squadron 136; and Fleet Logistic Support Squadron 30.
Pacific Fleet commander Adm. Scott Swift has been using 3rd Fleet as an operational command during his tenure. In November, a three-ship Pacific Surface Action Group commanded by 3rd Fleet returned after operating primarily in and around the South China Sea.
During their deployment the destroyers Decatur, Momsen and Spruance ducked in and out of the South China Sea, played cat and mouse with the Chinese fleet and surveilled China's man-made islands.
Traditionally, 3rd Fleet’s area of responsibility extends from the West Coast of the United States all the way to the International Date Line, where ships would then chop into 7th Fleet control. That relegated 3rd Fleet to a training and equipping role, rather than an operational role. The fleet was formed during World War II, was based out of Pearl Harbor and was commanded by Adm. William Halsey.
David B. Larter was the naval warfare reporter for Defense News.