On Aug. 10, the “Wizards” of Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 133 returned home to Naval Air Station Whidbey Island after a seven-month deployment in the Western Pacific on board USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74).
The Wizards departed Jan. 15 and conducted operations in the Pacific Ocean, Sea of Japan, Philippine Sea and South China Sea.
This deployment marked the Squadron’s first deployment utilizing the EA-18G Growler. The Growler and its aircrew proved successful in the electronic attack mission. VAQ-133 accumulated more than 2,400 hours and 750 arrested landings in support of Western Pacific operations. While deployed, VAQ-133 conducted unit-level training, large-force exercises and dual-carrier operations.
On April 4, they joined Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 3 and entered South China Sea. Operations in the South China Sea concluded June 18 when Stennis was relieved by USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76).
Prior to being relieved, the Wizards had the unique opportunity to conduct dual-carrier operations with Reagan off the coast of Okinawa, Japan. This opportunity allowed aircrewmen to participate in air-defense drills, defensive air combat training, long-range strikes, coordinated maneuvers and other exercises with Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 5 to hone their skills and promote interoperability. Additionally, top U.S. leaders took the time to visit sailors during the deployment including Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter, and numerous U.S. Ambassadors and foreign dignitaries from nations surrounding the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.
To conclude their deployment, the Wizards and CSG-3 joined forces with 26 countries from around the world, including China, Japan, Argentina, Chile, Canada, Italy and many others, to perform the largest maritime war-at-sea exercise in the world. The Rim of the Pacific Exercise (RIMPAC) offered sailors an opportunity to operate in a multi-national environment that seeks to build partnerships and promote cohesive operations between allies for future contingencies.