SINGAPORE: It’s seen as a symbol of the US presence in the Asia Pacific region and the close ties between the United States and Singapore.
The USS George Washington, one of 11 aircraft carriers of the US, arrived in Singapore on Thursday for a port visit.
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 supercarrier, 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.
It’s a custodian of the waterways – to ensure they are safe.
Captain David Lausman, Commander of the USS George Washington, said: “The more stable these waterways are against piracy, insurance rates go down and we don’t have to worry about cargo being transported. Every citizen of every country benefits from this stability and that’s kind of what we are trying to do. Every country in this area is working against piracy, every country is focussed on (this) one thing – to stop it as it affects all of our country.”
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 supercarrier will carry on with its scheduled lifespan of 50 years until 2042.