NARRATIVE & IMAGES BY MARK ROURKE
October 7th 2018, Stokes Bay, near Portsmouth, United Kingdom, sits a behemoth of immense size and stature; this is ‘Lone Warrior’, more informally known as CVN-75, the Nimitz class aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman. As she sits off Gosport beach, she dominates the skyline for miles and Pixelsnipers has an exclusive visit to find out more about this powerful United States Navy (USN) asset.
First the facts, ‘Lone Warrior’ is the eighth of the Nitmitz class aircraft carriers built and ninth nuclear powered. She displaces 116, 400 small tons, her overall length is 1, 092 feet (332.8 meters) with an overall beam of 252 feet (76.8m). Her two Westinghouse A4W nuclear reactors power four steam turbines and four shafts at 194 mega-watts (260,000shp) which can move her along the water at over 30 knots. This kind of power gives her unlimited range for over 20 years, taking her crew of 3,200 personal, of which 2,480 are part of the air wing, anywhere on the globe. She is a truly impressive beast.
The commanding officer of all this power and military diplomacy is Captain Nicholas J. Dienna, a native of Drexel Hill, Pennsylvania. A true naval aviator for over 25 years, he has accumulated more than 2,975 flight hours with 800 arrested landings and was an instructor with the famous TOPGUN school, part of the Naval Strike and Air Warfare Centre at NAS Fallon, Nevada. The Truman Carrier Strike Group is comprised of Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 1 and Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 28 as well as CVN-75, to which ‘Lone Warrior’ is the flag ship. All these assets make up Carrier Strike Group 8 and are commanded by Rear Admiral Gene Black.
USS Harry S Truman was commissioned into United States Navy on July 25th 1998, nearly 5 years after the ship, named after the 33rd President of the United States, had its keel laid by Newport News Shipbuilding. Its latest mission began on April 11th 2018 when CVN-75 departed Norfolk Naval Shipyard (NNSY) for a routime deployment in support of national missions and maritime security in the U.S. 6th fleet area of operations.
The Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group (HSTCSG) returned to Norfolk on July 21st 2018 for an extended working port visit to conduct routine maintenance on ships, aircraft and equipment before departing on August 28th. Since then the HSTCSG joined the USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) for dual-carrier ops and bilateral maritime operations with Canada before heading across the North Atlantic for exercises with NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organisation) allies, which culminated into the port visit to Portsmouth.
Arriving of the coast of Portsmouth on October 6th, Rear Admiral Black said, “We value the opportunity to further strengthen our relationship with a trusted NATO partner and one of the U.S.’s oldest allies. For more than 70 years, the U.S. and like-minded nations of NATO have advanced freedom, peace and prosperity across a free and open European region, and partners like the United Kingdom are fundamental in the process. We will continue to operate closely with our European partners and allies as we work together toward achieving our common goals in the region”
To iterate this, on the Thursday before arrival to Portsmouth, eight of the ships Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet aircraft flew to RAF Lakenheath in Suffolk to exercise with the based USAF (United States Air Force) McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagles and deployed Lockheed F-22A Raptors, as well as other NATO air assets.
The eight aircraft deployed to RAF Lakenheath comprised two each from the carrier air wing combat units, F/A-18Fs from VFA-11 ‘Red Rippers’ and VFA-211 ‘Checkmates’, plus F/A-18Es from VFA-81 ‘Sunliners’ and VFA-136 ‘Knighthawks’.
CVW-1, commanded by Captain John Perrone, doesn’t just consist of these jet fighter squadrons. Embarked on CVN-75 are the Electronic Attack Squadron VAQ-137 ‘Rooks’ equipped with Boeing E/A-18G Growlers, Carrier Airborne early Warning squadron VAW-126 ‘Seahawks’ with Grumman E-2D Hawkeyes, Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron HSM-72 ‘Proud Warriors’ with Sikorsky MH-60S Knighthawks and Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron HSC-11 ‘Dragon Slayers’ with Sikosrky MH-60R Seahawk. Also on board are a detachment from the Fleet Logistics Support Squadron VRC-40 ‘Rawhides’ equipped with the Grumman C-2A Greyhound.
After leaving Portsmouth the ship was due to take part in exercises in Norway.