Carrier Air Wing Eleven - History - 2000s


See also: Carrier Strike Group Eleven

In 2001 another deployment followed, which was planned to support OSW, but soon after 11 September 2001, the Vinson and CVW-11 departed for the Indian Ocean and aircraft from the air wing as among the first to launch strikes against Taliban and Al-Qaeda forces in Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

After returning home, CVW-11 was reassigned to Cruiser-Destroyer Group Five and the USS Nimitz (CVN-68) in January 2002. The Air Wing bid farewell to the F-14 Tomcat, as VF-213 changed air wings to Carrier Air Wing Eight. VFA-14 and VFA-41, who had been part of CVW-8, had transitioned to the F/A-18 Super Hornet and were attached to CVW-11, and VFA-22 was sent to CVW-9. CVW-11 made its first deployment with the Nimitz in March 2003 supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom, as only the second air wing to deploy Super Hornets. The Nimitz remained on-station until September before returning home in November 2003.

After its return, VFA-97 was replaced by VMFA-232 flying the F/A-18C Hornet, and VS-29 flying the S-3B Viking was decommissioned. CVW-11 was among the first air wings deploying as the new “all-Hornet” air wing of the future, which included a flight deck certification of USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76), during her maiden voyage from Norfolk, Virginia to San Diego, California. In May 2005, CVW-11 deployed on board the Nimitz supporting OIF and OEF and multinational exercises with Japan, Egypt and India until November 2005. This deployment was depicted in the documentary film Carrier.

In 2007 CVW-11 deployed on board the USS Nimitz for a WESTPAC cruise and participated in Operation Valiant Shield, a joint-force exercise in the vicinity of Guam.

On 18 January 2008, it was announced that CVW-11 would deploy on 24 January to the Pacific for a surge-deployment on board the Nimitz. On 11 February, during their 2008 WESTPAC cruise, a Russian Tu-95 bomber was intercepted by four F/A-18s as it flew 2,000 feet (610 m) over the USS Nimitz. CVN-68/CVW-11 made a port visit to Busan, South Korea on 28 February in conjunction with military exercises Key Resolve/Foal Eagle. On 5 March, it was again reported that a Russian bomber overflew the Nimitz off the Korean coast, two F/A-18s were sent up and intercepted the Russian aircraft as it was three to five nautical miles (9 km) from the carrier at an altitude of 2,000 feet (610 m).

On 19 May 2009 just before midnight, an HH-60H helicopter from the air wing crashed into the ocean 13 miles (21 km) south of San Diego and about 76 nautical miles (141 km) from Nimitz. As of 20 May, three crewmembers were confirmed dead with two more still missing.

On July 28 it was announced that CVW-11 and the Nimitz Strike Group was to depart for a seven month deployment on July 31.

Nimitz Strike Group, including CVW-11, departed the States for a scheduled Western Pacific deployment on 31 July 2009, and began to fly combat missions in support of Operation Enduring Freedom on September 21.

On 11 June 2012, during carrier qualifications, the air wing commander, Captain Greg Harris, completed his 1000th arrested landing when he flew his F/A-18F Super Hornet strike fighter from squadron VFA-154 on board the Nimitz (pictured).

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