The mission of Carrier Air Wing THREE (CVW 3) is to conduct carrier air warfare -- project power, as described in Forward.... From the Sea. The assigned naval warfare mission areas will be exercised principally in conducting operations in littoral areas in joint, allied, or combined scenarios. The air wing is also the primary weapon system (offensive and defensive) of the multipurpose aircraft carrier. The air wing staff assists the Air Wing Commander in the planning, control, coordination and integration of wing aircraft in support of carrier air warfare. Within the composite warfare (CWC) structure, the staff assists the Commander in his duties as Strike Warfare Commander (BP) when assigned - by planning and coordinating overland strikes in designated geographic areas. The staff additionally assists the Commander in his duties as Surface Warfare Commander (BS) - when assigned - by planning and coordinating the detection, identification, localization, tracking and attack of surface ship targets.
Established July 1, 1938, Carrier Air Wing THREE is one of the two oldest carrier air wings in continuous commission in the Navy. The Wing participated in major Fleet exercises prior to World War II. Throughout the war, Air Wing THREE served on board USS SARATOGA (CV 3), USS YORKTOWN (CV 5) and USS ENTERPRISE (CV 6), participating in actions in the Pacific theater, including battles at Midway, Guadalcanal, Philippine Sea and Iwo Jima.
CVG 3 flew strikes in Korea from October 1950 to January 1951. In 1962, during the Cuban Missile Crisis, CVG 3 squadrons were dispersed among fleet carriers and bases in southern Florida, poised for instant attack.
On Dec. 20, 1963, CVG 3 became CVW 3, Attack Air Wing THREE. In April 1972, CVW 3, on board USS SARATOGA (CV 60) sailed on an 11-month deployment during which CVW 3 flew strikes against North Vietnamese targets. Following its 16th Mediterranean deployment, CVW 3 joined USS JOHN F. KENNEDY (CV 67), making their first deployment together to the Mediterranean Sea and Indian Ocean, returning in July 1982. January 1983 saw CVW 3 and KENNEDY again in the Mediterranean. The Air Wing's capability was tested as they steamed towards the Middle East, participating in the December air strikes into Lebanon.
Returning to the United States in May 1984, CVW 3 embarked on JFK for a summer deployment to the Caribbean. CVW 3 changed homeports in 1985, moving north to its present location at Naval Air Station Oceana, Va. CVW 3 deployed for its nineteenth Mediterranean deployment in August 1988. During Jan. 4, 1989 operations in international waters, two CVW 3 F-14 Tomcats intercepted and destroyed two Libyan MiG-23 Floggers.
On Aug. 10, 1990, CVW 3 and JFK were given notice to deploy August 15. CVW 3 and JFK deployed to the Red Sea in support of Operation DESERT SHIELD. Coalition air strikes involving CVW 3 began Jan. 17, 1991. CVW 3 was the first naval air wing involved in the Gulf War when it conducted a night strike on Baghdad. The CVW 3/JFK team delivered more than 3,795,000 pounds of ordnance and flew 2,895 sorties.
Carrier Air Wing THREE completed its 21st Mediterranean cruise from October 1992 to April 1993, once again on JFK. During the deployment the air wing flew monitor missions in support of humanitarian relief air drops into Bosnia-Herzegovina. In July, the air wing transferred from the operational command of Commander, Carrier Group TWO to Commander, Cruiser Destroyer Group EIGHT.
The composition changed once again April 1, when Fighter Squadron 14 was transferred to the operational control of Commander Naval Air Force, U.S. Atlantic Fleet. In 1994 the air wing embarked in USS DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER (CVN 69). During the cruise, missions were flown in support of operations DENY FLIGHT in Bosnia-Herzegovina and SOUTHERN WATCH in the skies over Iraq.
In March 1996, VMFA 312 joined the air wing as the third F/A 18 Hornet squadron, and the air wing joined with USS THEODORE ROOSEVELT (CVN 71). On Nov. 25, 1996 the air wing left for its 23rd Mediterranean deployment. It included operations in DELIBERATE GUARD over Bosnia and SOUTHERN WATCH in Iraq.
Following its return May 22, 1997, CVW 3 chopped to operational control of CCDG-12 and the USS ENTERPRISE (CVN 65) Battle Group.
In November 1997, CVW-3, under operational control of Commander Cruiser Destroyer Group TWELVE, embarked onboard USS ENTERPRISE (CVN 65) and deployed to the Arabian Gulf and Mediterranean Sea. During this deployment, the air wing fired the opening salvo in OPERATION DESERT FOX, by striking targets in southern Iraq.
In November 2000, CVW-3 marked its twenty-fifth deployment by joining the USS HARRY S TRUMAN (CVN-75), under operational control of Commander, Carrier Group TWO. CVW-3/CVN-75 team spent 4 months on station in the Arabian Gulf conducting several Response Option (RO) strikes, to include the largest strike over Iraq since Operation DESERT FOX, in support of Operation SOUTHERN WATCH. This was the longest time any carrier had spent in the Gulf since Operation DESERT STORM. The Air Wing completed its twenty-fifth deployment and returned home on 23 May 2001.
During the period of October 2nd through October 5th, 2001, Landing Signal Officers (LSOs) from Carrier Air Wing THREE (CVW-3) qualified pilots from Marine Fighter Attack Squadron One-Fifteen (VMFA-115) onboard the USS GEORGE WASHINGTON (CVN-73). VMFA-115, the Silver Eagles, replace VMFA-312 and join CVW-3's other squadrons which include HS-7, VS-22, VF-32, VFA-37, VFA-105, VAW-126, and VAQ-130.
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