USS George H.W. Bush Returns from Historic Deployment
23 April 2023
NORFOLK, Va. --
The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) returned to Naval Station Norfolk, April 23, after being deployed for more than eight months.
The ships, staffs and carrier air wing departed their homeports in August 2022.
“Since taking command before deployment, I have had the privilege and honor to serve with the finest warriors, teachers, leaders, and ambassadors in the U.S. Navy,” said Capt. Dave Pollard, commanding officer of George H.W. Bush. “Our Sailors serve our great nation honorably, exemplifying the service, grit, humility and resilience our namesake, President George Herbert Walker Bush, displayed throughout his life of service to family and country.”
George H.W. Bush is the flagship of Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 10 and spent the entirety of its 2022-2023 deployment in the U.S. Naval Forces Europe –U.S. Naval Forces Africa area of operations.
“I am extremely proud of Capt. Pollard and the teamwork, professionalism, and grit the Avengers brought to the strike group team,” said Rear Adm. Dennis Velez, commander, CSG-10, George H.W. Bush CSG. “They excelled during a very challenging deployment where we demonstrated the awesome power of a U.S. Navy carrier strike group to our Allies and partners, while messaging our adversaries that we were ready to defend every inch of NATO territory.”
While in the Mediterranean, the ship participated in and supported a multitude of multinational exercises to increase NATO capability and deter aggression in the region. The ship also completed port visits in Croatia, Italy, France, and Greece.
Some of ship’s highlights from deployment include participation in the NATO-led vigilance activity Neptune Strike (NEST) 22.3 and NEST 23.1 and exercise Juniper Oak 23-2, the largest bi-lateral U.S.-Israeli exercise in history.
The ship supported combined operations with key NATO Allies, including integrating with the Italian Navy aircraft carrier ITS Cavour (C 550), the Spanish Expeditionary Strike Group, and the French Carrier Strike Group. While operating with the French Carrier Strike Group, French Rafale aircraft launched and recovered from the ship’s flight deck.
Notable visitors included NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, the Chief of Israeli Defense Forces, and the commanders of U.S. European Command, U.S. Central Command, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa, U.S. 6th Fleet, and U.S. 5th Fleet.
A major focus of the deployment for George H.W. Bush was the deliberate development of safety culture. Aircraft carriers are one of the world’s most dangerous working environments, and it was critical for the ship to make a focused effort to engage Sailors to minimize unnecessary risk to the maximum extent possible. As a result, the ship earned the annual Afloat Safety Award and the Vice Admiral Bulkeley Award for Afloat Safety Culture for 2022.
The ship also placed significant effort into Sailor health and well-being, using every tool at its disposal. Services and support such as chaplain support, a deployment resiliency counselor and educator, a shipboard Avenger TV program and daily Avenger newspaper, homegrown associations and clubs, and United Through Reading were widely used as opportunities to build connectedness and community. Beyond developing an active culture for Sailors to engage, the ship hosted a few morale boosting events. First, the ship hosted the star of Top Gun: Maverick Tom Cruise, writer and producer Christopher McQuarrie, editor Eddie Hamilton, and Ted Lasso star Hannah Waddingham. Later, hit maker Blanco Brown visited the ship as part of a USO tour.
The integration and teamwork displayed during George H.W. Bush’s time in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of operations created opportunities for high-end maritime integration, pursuing mutual interests in maintaining free and open access for all in international waters, and improving collective proficiency and interoperability among allies.
U.S. 6th Fleet, headquartered in Naples, Italy, conducts the full spectrum of joint and naval operations, often in concert with allied and interagency partners, in order to advance U.S. national interests and security and stability in Europe and Africa.
CSG-10 is comprised of George H.W. Bush, Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 7, Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 26, the Information Warfare Commander, and Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Leyte Gulf (CG 55).
USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) earned the 2022 Commander, Naval Air Forces Atlantic Battle “E” Effectiveness Award; Chief of Naval Operations Afloat Safety Award; the VADM Bulkeley Award; 2022 Navy Public Affairs Awards including the Navy Media Excellence Award for best overall products in the Fleet, Navy Public Affairs Campaign awards and recognition for Community Outreach, Special Events and Projects, and Internal Communication; the Carl Scheufele Award for most outstanding Chief Petty Officer Food Service Operation; the Disbursing Excellence Award; and the 2022 Navy Surgeon General’s Health Promotion and Wellness Award (Blue “H”).
George H.W. Bush is the flagship of CSG-10, George H.W. Bush CSG. CSG-10 is comprised of George H.W. Bush, CVW-7, Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 26, the Information Warfare Commander, and the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Leyte Gulf (CG 55).
The ships of DESRON-26 completing deployment with CSG-10 are the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers USS Nitze (DDG 94), USS Truxtun (DDG 103), and USS Delbert D. Black (DDG 119).
The squadrons of CVW-7 embarked aboard the George H.W. Bush are the "Sidewinders" of VFA-86, the "Jolly Rogers" of VFA-103, the "Knighthawks" of VFA-136, the "Pukin Dogs" of VFA-143, the "Bluetails" of Airborne Command and Control Squadron (VAW) 121, the "Patriots" of Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 140, the "Nightdippers" of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 5, and the "Grandmasters" of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 46.