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Carrier Air Wing Eleven
Carrier Air Wing 11 logo (2011).jpg
CVW-11 Insignia
Active 27 October 1942 - Present
Country United States
Branch United States Navy Seal United States Navy
Type Carrier Air Wing
Part of United States Pacific Fleet
Garrison/HQ NAS Lemoore
USS Nimitz
Nickname(s) "Barbwire"
Tail Code NH
Engagements World War II
Korean War
Vietnam War
Operation Desert Shield
Operation Desert Storm
Operation Southern Watch
Operation Restore Hope
Operation Desert Fox
Operation Enduring Freedom
Operation Iraqi Freedom
Decorations Presidential Unit Citation (2)
Navy Unit Commendation (2)

Carrier Air Wing Eleven (CVW-11) is a United States Navy aircraft carrier air wing based at Naval Air Station Lemoore, California. The air wing is attached to the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz.[1]


To conduct carrier air warfare operations and assist in the planning, control, coordination and integration of seven air wing squadrons in support of carrier air warfare including; Interception and destruction of enemy aircraft and missiles in all-weather conditions to establish and maintain local air superiority. All-weather offensive air-to-surface attacks, Detection, localization, and destruction of enemy ships and submarines to establish and maintain local sea control. Aerial photographic, sighting, and electronic intelligence for naval and joint operations. Airborne early warning service to fleet forces and shore warning nets. Airborne electronic countermeasures. In-flight refueling operations to extend the range and the endurance of air wing aircraft and Search and rescue operations.[2]

Subordinate units[]

CVW-11 consists of 9 Squadrons [3]

Code Insignia Squadron Nickname Assigned Aircraft
VFA-146 40px Strike Fighter Squadron 146 Blue Diamonds F/A-18C Hornet
VFA-147 VFA-147 Argonauts.jpg Strike Fighter Squadron 147 Argonauts F/A-18E Super Hornet
VFA-154 40px Strike Fighter Squadron 154 Black Knights F/A-18F Super Hornet
VMFA-323 VMFA-323 insignia.png Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 323 Death Rattlers F/A-18C Hornet
VAW-117 Vaw-117.jpg Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron 117 The Wallbangers E-2C Hawkeye
VAQ-142 VAQ142 new logo.gif Electronic Attack Squadron 142 Gray Wolves EA-6B Prowler
VRC-30 40px Fleet Logistics Support Squadron 30, Detachment 3 Providers C-2A Greyhound
HSC-6 40px Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 6 Indians MH-60S Knighthawk
HSM-75 HSM-75 Squadron Logo.jpg Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 75 Wolfpack MH-60R Seahawk


World War II[]

Carrier Air Wing Eleven was commissioned on Navy Day, 1942 as Carrier Air Group Eleven. CVW-11 recorded a large number of “firsts”, establishing its place as the US Navy’s top fighting Air Wings. In June 1943, pilots from CVW-11 conducted the first daylight raids during the fighting in the Solomon Islands and New Georgia operations during World War II. CVW-11 also participated in operations over Leyte Gulf, Indochina, Formosa Island (Japanese occupied Taiwan) and China. For these operations, CVW-11 was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation.[4] Carrier Air Wing Eleven was previously known as Air Group eleven circa 1947.

Korean War[]

During the Korean War, CVW-11 was the first Air Wing to shoot down MiG’s, and was instrumental in keeping the Pusan Perimeter from collapsing during the early stages of the war, and participated in various other significant operations such as the Inchon Invasion, the Wonsan landing and the highly successful movement from the Chosin Reservoir.

Vietnam War and the 1970s[]

CAG-11 deployed on board the [USS Kitty Hawk (CVA-63) with the Seventh Fleet) in October 1963 commanded by CDR Warren H. O'Neil, USN. CAG 11 flew the first Offensive Missions against North Vietnam in the spring of 1964, also experiencing the first losses of U.S Navy aircraft; LT Charles Klusman was later rescued in August 1964 and returned to San Diego in September. In 1965, CVW-11 attached squadrons received new aircraft, such as the RA-5C Vigilante, A-6 Intruder and the E-2 Hawkeye. With these new additions, between December 1965 and May 1966, CVW-11 conducted air strikes against targets during the Vietnam War and delivered more ordnance then any air wing in the navy. In November 1966, CVW-11 and USS Kitty Hawk were awarded the Navy Unit Commendation for their actions during they deployment to the region. CVW-11 deployed for a 1966 to 1967 cruise to Asia, which earned them another Navy Unit Commendation in August 1967. The Kitty Hawk and CVW-11 became the first battle group to be awarded the Presidential Unit Citation for performance during the Vietnam War, the citation was approved during operations between December 1966 through June 1968.

CVW-11 set numerous records for the Vietnam War, including a 61-day line period, which was the longest for the war. Prior to the limited bombing announcement, CVW-11 bombed targets in North Vietnam, striking enemy power plants, rail yards and lines of transports and communications. CVW-11’s sustained presence in the region was instrumental in the defense of Khe Sanh. CVW-11 broke all records for combat sorties flown and ordnance dropped during its sixth WESTPAC deployment during November 1970 and July 1971, although it was short lived as the air wing broke its own record during the following deployment in 1972, as they were deployed due to the Communist offensive, where CVW-11 deployed 107 aircraft under command of CAPT Doug McCrimmon, the largest Air Wing ever under the new Air Wing concept, which included tactical aircraft and anti-submarine aircraft on the same carrier. The 1972-1973 deployment was high lighted by an air power demonstration for the Shah of Iran and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff while deployed to the Indian Ocean.

During the 1975 deployment, CVW-11 and Kitty Hawk deployed for their first non-combat cruise in nine years, which followed with two more deployments in 1975 and 1977. The 1977 cruise was the first with the F-14 Tomcat, S-3 Viking, the A-6E version of the Intruder and the E-2C version of the Hawkeye. The air wing made one last deployment of the decade in 1979 with the USS America (CV-66).


In 1982 the Air Wing deployed once more on board the America before CVW-11 switched carriers once again and deployed four times with USS Enterprise (CVN-65) between 1982 and 1990. With highlights such as the deployment to the Northern Pacific during FLEETEX ‘84, a three-carrier operation, and the 1986 cruise saw the Air Wing deploy to the Indian Ocean, where F-14s often intercepted Soviet and Indian aircraft. Due to operations against Libya in the spring of 1986, it was decided that the battle group would head for the Mediterranean Sea and the “Line of Death”, where CVW-11 aircraft would fly patrols for two months, although encounters with Libyan jets were rare. The carrier group got to visit Naples and Toulon, and instead of returning through the Suez Canal which they had used to transit to the Mediterranean, USS Enterprise transited through the Strait of Gibraltar and cruised the southern cape of Africa before venturing across the Indian Ocean and the Pacific back home.

The 1988 cruise saw action in the Persian Gulf in support of Operation Praying Mantis where CVW-11 conducted strikes against Iranian naval vessels and oil platforms. CVW-11 repelled a Boghammer fast attack boat raid on the Mubarak Oil Platform, sunk the Iranian frigate Sahand and severely damaged the frigate Sabalan, and F-14s scared away a section of Iranian F-4 Phantoms.[5] CVW-11 was awarded the Joint Meritorious Unit Award for its actions.

The Air Wing made its final deployment with the Enterprise from September 1989 to March 1990, which included several exercises with Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force, Republic of Korea Naval and Air Forces, USAF and USMC and the largest assemblage of US Naval air and sea power since WW2 with three carrier groups, composed of the Enterprise, USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70) and USS Constellation (CV-64). The Air Wing also supported Operation Classic Resolve in December 1989 near Manila Bay. The mission was to support US interests following the 1989 Philippine Coup d' état. The cruise ended with the USS Enterprise switching from the Pacific Fleet to the Atlantic Fleet.


The 1990s followed with major changes to the air wing. The A-7E’s were replaced by F/A-18 Hornets, and the SH-3 Sea Kings were replaced with SH-60’s while the E-2Cs and the A-6Es received major upgrades. CVW-11’s first deployment was USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72)’s maiden voyage, cruising around South America to its new home in California. The 1991 Gulf War accelerated CVW-11s training schedule and a deployment began in May 1991. En route to the Persian Gulf, CVW-11 participated in Operation Fiery Vigil, the evacuation from Subic Bay during the Mt Pinatubo eruptions in the Philippines.

The 1993 deployment saw VF-213 as the sole F-14 squadron as the air wing supported Operation Southern Watch and Operation Restore Hope. Another deployment followed on board the Lincoln for the 1995 cruise, supporting OSW once again. CVW-11 switched to the USS Kitty Hawk for a 1997 cruise, another OSW deployment and supporting United Nations Security Council Resolution 986, the Oil for Food program. After the 1997 cruise, CVW-11 switched to the USS Carl Vinson and VF-213 transitioned to the F-14D Super Tomcat.

CVW-11 supported Operation Desert Fox during the 1998-1999 cruise. The Air Wing participated in strikes during the last day of the operation, VF-213 delivered four GBU-24’s with 100% accuracy (first combat use of the F-14D), VFA-22 and VFA-94 F/A-18s scored direct hits with eight GBU-16', while EA-6B’s from VAQ-135 and F/A-18s from VFA-97 provided AGM-88 support during the strike.[6]

During the following three months, CVW-11 supported Operation Southern Watch, conducting 15 strikes during this period. On 5 January 1999, two F-14Ds launched two AIM-54 Phoenix missiles against two Iraqi MiG-25’s that violated the no-fly zone, as soon as the missiles were launched, the MiGs escaped home and the missiles failed to hit their targets, this was the first use of the missile in combat. On 25 January, three aircraft from VFA-22 and VFA-94 employed the JSOW against a surface-to-air-missile complex which had plagued Coalition aircraft for nine years since the Gulf War, a total of 17 were dropped during missions over Iraq.[6] During the deployment, VFA-22, VFA-94, VFA-97 and VF-213 dropped a total of 41,000 pounds of ordnance on SAM sites and communication sites, and additionally F/A-18s and EA-6Bs fired 20 HARMs.[6] The Air Wing returned home safely in May 1999.


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.

1000th arrested landing (11 June 2012)

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.[7] 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.[8] CVN-68/CVW-11 made a port visit to Busan, South Korea on 28 February in conjunction with military exercises Key Resolve/Foal Eagle.[9] 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).[10]

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.[11]

On 28 July it was announced that CVW-11 and the Nimitz Strike Group was to depart for a seven-month deployment on 31 July.[12]

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 21 September.[13]

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).[14]

Current force[]

Fixed-wing aircraft[]

Rotary wing aircraft[]

See also[]


  1. Carrier Air Wing Eight (CVW 11) - Global - Access Date 1 January 2007
  2. Carrier Air Wing 11 Command History - CVW-11 - U.S. Navy - Access Date 1 January 2007
  3. Carrier Air Wing Eleven Squadron Composition - CVW-11 - U.S. Navy - Access Date 1 January 2007
  4. CVW-11 Command History - CVW-11 - U.S. Navy
  5. According to a post from author Tom Cooper - Tomcat Sunset
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Rausa, Zeno. Vinson CVW-11 Report: - "Wings of Gold" - Association of Naval Aviation - (c/o FindArticles-BNET) - Summer 1999
  7. "Nimitz Carrier Strike Group Set to Deploy" - U.S. Navy - (c/o - 1/18/2008
  8. "Russian bomber buzzes U.S. aircraft carrier" - CNN - 11 February 2008
  9. "Nimitz CSG Ships Arrive in South Korea for Port Visits" - U.S. Navy - (c/o - 2/29/2008
  10. "Russian bomber again intercepted near U.S. Navy ship" - Reuters - 3 March 2008
  11. Scutro, Andrew, "3 confirmed dead in nighttime Seahawk crash", Military Times, 20 May 2009.
  12. Nimitz Strike Group Set To Deploy
  13. [1]
  14. Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SW) Robert Winn, USN (19 June 2012). "CVW 11 Commander Reaches 1,000 Traps". NNS120619-01. USS Nimitz Public Affairs. Retrieved 2011-07-14. 

External links[]

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