Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

2 NAS Squadrons Join Roosevelt as It Heads for the Middle East Both Deployments Already Schedued

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

2 NAS Squadrons Join Roosevelt as It Heads for the Middle East Both Deployments Already Schedued

Article excerpt

Byline: Rachel Davis, Times-Union staff writer

Two Jacksonville Naval Air Station squadrons were deployed this week to join the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt on a trip to the Middle East that could lead to combat.

Citing national security concerns, the Navy will not divulge the exact destination of the Roosevelt battle group or the movements of Mayport-based USS John F. Kennedy. The Kennedy was deployed last week for a routine training mission in the Caribbean and later rerouted to assist with air defense in New York and Washington.

The Jacksonville NAS deployment, along with the Roosevelt's departure from Norfolk, Va., was previously scheduled. The Nimitz-class carrier and its battle group, had orders to head to the Mediterranean Sea before the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. The Roosevelt had been scheduled to relieve the USS Enterprise battle group, which left in April for the Mediterranean. Because the Enterprise and the USS Carl Vinson have been ordered to stay, three aircraft carriers will be patrolling the Middle East.

The two Jacksonville squadrons were expected to fly onto the Roosevelt yesterday.

"This is nothing out of the ordinary at all," said Rick Crews, Jacksonville NAS spokesman. "These squadrons regularly deploy. When you have a carrier go out, whether it is one from Norfolk or the Kennedy in Jacksonville, you will have squadrons from all over fly out and join the battle group."

The two squadrons -- Sea Control Squadron 32 "Maulers" and Helicopter Squadron 11 "Dragonslayers" -- include 14 aircraft and more than 350 personnel. The Maulers fly the S-3 Viking antisubmarine jet, and the Dragonslayers fly the SH-60 and HH-60 Seahawk helicopters.

The Viking is a twin-engine aircraft used to hunt and destroy enemy submarines and provide surveillance of surface ships.

The Seahawk carrier-based helicopters are used primarily for antisubmarine warfare. The HH-60s also are used for search-and-rescue missions.

Although deployments are normal, the current climate of the United States calling for retaliation has drawn more attention to recent military movement and the likelihood that this mission is more than routine. …

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