SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- More than 6,000 Sailors assigned to Carl Vinson Strike Group ships and units departed the U.S. West Coast Jan. 4-5, for a regularly scheduled deployment to the Western Pacific.

The deployment marks the second time the Carl Vinson Strike Group will operate throughout the Indo- Pacific region under U.S. 3rd Fleet's command and control. The strike group became the first in recent history to demonstrate the command and control construct called 3rd Fleet Forward when units completed a six-month deployment last year.

Ships deploying from U.S. 3rd Fleet to the Western Pacific traditionally shifted to U.S. 7th Fleet after crossing the international dateline. The 3rd Fleet Forward construct expands U.S. 3rd Fleet's control of ships and aircraft across the Western Pacific and beyond the international dateline to India, enabling U.S. 3rd and 7th Fleet to operate together across a broad spectrum of maritime missions in region.

"I look forward to the strike group further demonstrating 3rd Fleet's evolving operational role across the Indo-Pacific region," said Rear Adm. John Fuller, the strike group commander. "We are trained and ready to execute our mission."

The strike group includes aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70), Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 2, guided-missile cruiser USS Lake Champlain (CG 57) and guided-missile destroyers USS Wayne E. Meyer (DDG 108) and USS Michael Murphy (DDG 112) from Destroyer Squadron 1.

Michael Murphy is based in Hawaii and will later join the strike group as it transits toward the Western Pacific.

In November, ships and units completed a three-week sustainment training exercise off the coast of Southern California. The strike group demonstrated readiness for executing missions across all warfare areas after successfully conducting a series of at-sea drills, missile shoots and strike operations using a variety of naval platforms and weapons.

Carrier Air Wing 2 includes more than 70 aircraft from the "Black Knights" of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 4, the "Blue Hawks" of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM 78), the "Bounty Hunters" of Strike Fighter Squadrons (VFA) 2, the "Blue Blasters" of VFA-34, the "Kestrels" of VFA-137, the "Golden Dragons" of VFA-192, the "Black Eagles" of Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 113, the "Gauntlets" of Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 136 and the "Providers" of Fleet Logistic Support Squadron (VRC) 30 Det. 2.

The Carl Vinson Strike Group is a premier naval force. It provides U.S. leaders capable and ready options for maintaining regional maritime security, stability and freedom of the seas in accordance with international law and customs.

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