The USS George Washington Strike Group departed early from a port visit in Singapore Oct. 16 to be better postured to provide humanitarian aid if needed in the wake of the worst flooding in many years in Thailand.
The carrier departed Singapore on Sunday, where it was conducting a scheduled port visit, according to the carrier’s official Facebook page. The ship is sailing with destroyers USS Dewey, USS Wayne E. Meyer and USS Kidd.
Thousands of Thai people have been displaced by the flooding, and town residents are struggling to survive in submerged towns, according to The Associated Press.
Bangkok, the nation’s capital with about 9 million residents, has survived the flooding so far unscathed, due to a complex system of flood-prevention measures.
The aircraft carrier is formidable with a flight deck of some 1,092 feet and 17 floors. It travels at 30 knots or nearly 56 kilometres, has 5,500 men and women on board with close to 18,000 meals served a day.
The super carrier, commissioned in 1992, operates out of Yokosuka, in Japan. It has logged some 25,000 nautical miles in the first half of this year and conducted exercises with a dozen countries.
The aircraft carrier has a strike group made up of of an air wing which consists of several striker fighter squadrons, an airborne early warning squadron, and a helicopter anti submarine squadron.
From its nerve centre, all operations are monitored and decisions are taken.
“We routinely do patrols in this part of the world. We will start out and sometimes do a six- to seven-month deployment, or like this year, where we have broken up into shorter deployments of three months. We primarily go throughout the Western Pacific, working with our partners throughout this area of responsibility,” said Captain Dane Cave, Air Wing Commander, USS George Washington.
The hangar of the USS George Washington aircraft carrier is about the size of about three football fields. It can hold 70 aircraft and the aircraft are maintained here and thereafter deployed off the South China Sea for exercises with neighbouring countries.
Amid reports that the USS George Washington could be decommissioned in five years over costs concerns, the captain maintains that this super carrier will carry on with its scheduled lifespan of 50 years until 2042.