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Marines with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 251 prepare jets to take off for a group sail exercise, Sept. 18. The three week exercise along the east coast will help Carrier Strike Group 12 increase efficiency and proficiency for an upcoming deployment.

Photo by Cpl. Sarah Cherry

Thunderbolts travel to CSG-12

26 Sep 2014 | Cpl. Sarah Cherry

Pilots with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 251, also known as the Thunderbolts, flew out to  join Carrier Strike Group 12 for a group sail exercise, Sept. 18. 
The exercise is scheduled to last approximately three weeks and takes place along the east coast of the United States. The purpose of the exercise is to permit the different units of CSG-12 to work together and gain familiarity for an upcoming deployment in early 2015. CSG-12 is currently commanded by Rear Adm. Andrew “Woody” Lewis.
“We haven’t been to the boat for two years,” said Capt. Lee Haight, a pilot with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 251 from Winfield, Iowa.
VMFA-251 previously joined Carrier Air Wing 1 as part of CSG-12 in a 2012 deployment from March to October in support of Arabian and Mediterranean Sea operations. During that deployment, the squadron was aboard the USS Enterprise, since replaced by the USS Roosevelt.
“We need to get used to the boat, and the boat needs to get used to launching and recovering airplanes,” said Haight.
USS Theodore Roosevelt completed carrier qualifications early this year for CSG-12 pre-deployment exercises like this group sail.
In addition to the Roosevelt, CSG-12 has a guided-missile cruiser, three guided-missile destroyers, a supply ship, and units Carrier Air Wing 1 and Destroyer Squadron 2.
Carrier Strike Groups are the largest operational Navy units and provide a flexible naval force which can operate in any condition.