USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70)
Aircraft “Supercarrier” | Nimitz Class
USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70) is the third United States Navy Nimitz-class supercarrier and is named after Carl Vinson, a Congressman from Georgia, in recognition of his contributions to the US Navy. The ship was launched in 1980, undertook its maiden voyage in 1983, and underwent Refueling and Overhaul between 2005 and 2009. Carl Vinson’s callsign is “Gold Eagle”.
Besides deployments in Operation Desert Strike, Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Southern Watch, and Operation Enduring Freedom, the USS Carl Vinson was involved in a number of notable events. The body of Osama bin Laden was buried at sea in 2011 from the deck of the USS Carl Vinson, and that same year, on Veterans Day, it played host to the first NCAA basketball game on an aircraft carrier, between North Carolina and Michigan State.
General and specialized information
|USS Carl Vinson||Carl Vinson||April 5, 1974||N/A||Northrop Grumman Newport|
|Cost||Laid down||Sponsored by||Christened||Launched|
|$4.5 billion||October 11, 1975||N/A||N/A||March 15, 1980|
|March 13, 1982||NAS North Island San Diego, CA||Vis Per Mare||N/A||Active – January 2017|
|Class and type:||Nimitz-class aircraft carrier|
|Displacement:||101,300 long tons (113,500 short tons)|
|Speed:||30+ knots (56+ km/h; 35+ mph)|
|Range:||Unlimited distance; 20–25 years|
Systems and Armament
|Aircraft carried:||90 fixed wing and helicopters|
Namesake “Carl Vinson”
A member of the United States House of Representatives for fifty years, Carl Vinson was, for twenty-nine years, the Chairman of the House Naval Affairs and Armed Services Committee; Vinson was the principal sponsor of the so-called “Vinson Acts,” culminating in the Two-Ocean Navy Act of 1940, which provided for the massive Naval shipbuilding effort in World War II.
The seal of USS Carl Vinson shows an eagle, wings spread and talons extended, carrying a banner in its beak. The eagle is emblematic of the nation and the ship’s motto, and also represents the power that resides in the ship’s aircraft. The eagle flies in the form of a stylized letter “V,” the initial of the ship’s namesake, Congressman Carl Vinson. The “V” also represents the ship’s hull when viewed bow-on. Inscribed on the banner that the eagle carries is the Latin phrase “Vis Per Mare” which means “Strength through the Sea.”
Carrier Strike Group 1
In October 2009, the US Navy announced that Carl Vinson would be the flagship of the newly established Carrier Strike Group 1, based in San Diego. The ship, under the command of Captain Bruce H. Lindsey, departed Norfolk for San Diego on 12 January 2010. Accompanying the carrier was Carrier Air Wing Seventeen, Destroyer Squadron 1 and the guided missile cruiser Bunker Hill. As of May 2015, the ship is under the command of Captain Douglas C. Verissimo.
Design and construction
The keel was laid at Newport News Shipbuilding on 11 October 1975, and on 15 March 1980 the ship was launched/christened. Congressman Carl Vinson became the first person in the history of the United States Navy to witness a ship’s launching in his honor. After builder sea trials, it was delivered to the Navy on 26 February 1982.
- August 1982 to December 1982 – Post Shakedown Availability
- October 1983 to January 1984 – Selected Restricted Availability
- January 1986 to March 1986 – Selected Restricted Availability – forward port sponson changed/enlarged.
- March 1987 to August 1987 – Selected Restricted Availability
- September 1990 to April 1993 – Complex Overhaul – aft boarding dock added.
- October 1994 to February 1995 – Selected Restricted Availability
- March 1997 to September 1997 – Planned Incremental Availability – bridle catcher removed.
- October 1999 to September 2000 – Planned Incremental Availability
- March 2002 to September 2002 – Planned Incremental Availability
- November 2005 to July 2009 – Refueling and Complex Overhaul – top two levels of island replaced; new antenna mast; new radar tower; 2 RAM replace 1 CIWS/1 Mk-29 at forward port sponson/aft starboard sponson; 2 aft CIWS removed.
- September 2009 to December 2009 – Post Shakedown Availability
- July 2012 to February 2013 – Planned Incremental Availability – CIWS replaced on aft port sponson.
USS Carl Vinson was commissioned on 13 March 1982 at Newport News, Virginia, with Captain Richard Martin commanding. Present were the Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Thomas B. Hayward, Secretary of the Navy John F. Lehman, Keynote speaker Senator John Tower, and ship’s sponsor Molly Snead. After commissioning, Carl Vinson put to sea to conduct flight deck certifications, an evaluation designed to test the ship’s ability to conduct Modern US Navy carrier air operations. That was followed by numerous at sea periods for various training evolutions along the East Coast.
Carl Vinson departed Norfolk on 1 March 1983 with Carrier Air Wing 15 embarked for its maiden deployment, an eight-month around the world cruise that saw them operate in the Mediterranean Sea, Atlantic Ocean, Indian Ocean, Arabian Sea, South China Sea, and Pacific Ocean in a multitude of exercises and with port visits in Monte Carlo, Monaco, Casablanca, Morocco, Abidjan, Ivory Coast, Perth, Australia, Subic Bay, Philippines, Hong Kong, Sasebo, Japan, Pusan, Republic of Korea, and Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, before arriving in its to its new homeport of Naval Air Station Alameda, California, arriving on 28 Oct 1983.
Carl Vinson participated in RIMPAC ’84 before departing on 14 October 1984 for an overseas deployment in the Western Pacific. Carrier Air Wing 15 was embarked. From January until April 1985, Carl Vinson was in the Indian Ocean for 107 consecutive days. The WESTPAC deployment included Sea of Japan operations while pursuing a Soviet Charlie I class submarine in the Indian Ocean.
The carrier received its first Meritorious Unit Commendation for operations conducted from November 1984 to May 1985. In February, the Chief of Naval Operations named Carl Vinson the winner of the Admiral James H. Flatley Memorial Award for operational readiness and aviation safety for 1984.
On 12 August 1986 the ship departed Alameda for a western Pacific deployment, again with CVW-15 aboard, and in the process became the first modern U.S. aircraft carrier to operate in the Bering Sea. In January 1987, after operating extensively in the Indian Ocean and North Arabian Sea, Carl Vinson transited the Bering Sea once more while returning to NAS Alameda.
Carl Vinson and CVW-15 departed for the ship’s fourth overseas deployment on 15 June 1988. While on station the carrier supported Operation Earnest Will, the escort of U.S. flagged tankers in the Persian Gulf. The carrier returned to the States on 16 December 1988 and was awarded the Admiral Flatley Memorial Award for aviation safety for 1988.
On 18 September 1989 the carrier departed Alameda to participate in PACEX ’89, the largest peacetime naval exercise since the Second World War. During the exercise Carl Vinson operated in the Bering Sea and the Aleutian Islands, eventually leading a three carrier battle group operation in the Sea of Japan and the Pacific Ocean. Carl Vinson had a port call in Pusan, South Korea and then returned to its home port of Alameda shortly after the devastating 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake.
Vinson departed on its fifth deployment (again with CVW-15) on 1 February 1990, the last deployment for the A-7 Corsair. The ship returned to Alameda on 30 July 1990. On 22 September 1990, Vinson entered the yards at Bremerton Naval Station, Washington for a 28-month complex overhaul (COH). The carrier received her first COMNAVAIRPAC Battle “E” award for 1990.
On 17 February 1994 the carrier, with Carrier Air Wing Fourteen embarked, departed for the Persian Gulf in support of Operation Southern Watch. The carrier returned to Alameda on 17 August 1994, receiving its third Admiral Flatley Award for aviation safety.
In 1995, a documentary entitled “Carrier: Fortress at Sea” was aired on the Discovery Channel, which chronicled the carrier’s six-month-long voyage to and from the Persian Gulf.
From 26 August until 3 September 1995, Vinson participated in Exercise Ke Koa, as well as ceremonies to commemorate the end of World War II in the Pacific. During these ceremonies, President Bill Clinton visited the ship in Hawaii. As part of the commemoration ceremonies, Vinson launched 11 WWII era planes.
The ship departed for its seventh deployment 14 May 1996, heading for the Persian Gulf with CVW-14 in support for Operation Southern Watch and Operation Desert Strike. The ship also participated in Exercise Rugged Nautilus before returning to Alameda on 14 November 1996.
With the closing of Naval Air Station Alameda, the ship was transferred to Bremerton, Washington, arriving at its new homeport on 17 January 1997, where it played host to the last carrier launch and recovery operations for the A-6E Intruder.
In 1998 with Carrier Air Wing Eleven (CVW-11) embarked, the ship participated in RIMPAC ’98. During the exercise on the morning of 10 August, the Australian diesel-electric submarine HMAS Onslow located the ‘enemy’ carrier and ‘sank’ her. Onslow closed to within 300 meters (980 ft) without being detected, then released green flares to indicate its location, ‘sinking’ the super-carrier.Vinson then departed for the Persian Gulf, launching airstrikes on 19 December 1998 in support of Operation Desert Fox and Operation Southern Watch. These strikes continued into March 1999. In July 1999, Vinson was drydocked in the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard for 13 months as the Navy spent more than $230 million to upgrade the ship. Post refit shakedowns continued into 2000.
In February, 2001, Carl Vinson hosted Gene Hackman, David Keith, Owen Wilson, and others for filming of the carrier scenes for the movie Behind Enemy Lines during intermediate pre-deployment underway workups. During this two-week period, Vinson crewmembers and CVW 11 crews took part in the filming along with the actors and film crews. Later, prior to commencement of Operation Enduring Freedom, David Keith returned to Vinson on station in the North Arabian Sea to present the first international viewing of Behind Enemy Lines to the combined ship and air wing crew.
On 23 July 2001, again with CVW-11 embarked, Carl Vinson steamed from Bremerton, Washington, bound for the Persian Gulf to support Operation Southern Watch. This changed abruptly on 11 September 2001, as the ship was rounding the tip of India. In response to the terror attacks on U.S. soil, Vinson changed course and sped toward the North Arabian Sea, where on 7 October 2001, Vinson launched the first airstrikes in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. For 72 days, Vinson, along with Carrier Wing 11, launched over 4,000 combat sorties in the War on Terror, earning the ship the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal. Vinson earned the Battle E and Navy Unit Commendation during this deployment. In mid December, Vinson began the return trip home, briefly stopping in Pearl Harbor Hawaii to commence a “Tiger Cruise” allowing crew member family members the opportunity to ride the ship to Vinson’s homeport of Bremerton Wa. reaching the U.S. on 23 January 2002. In April, the ship was overhauled, setting sail in September for a post-refit shakedown. During this time several new operational systems were installed, and the ship’s flight deck and catapults were completely renovated. Numerous other spaces and crew living areas were also entirely restored, drastically improving working and living conditions for the crew. Completing its maintenance / overhaul period in record-setting time, USS Carl Vinson and crew got underway in September to conduct sea trials.
In January 2003 it was set for a one month work up for Flight Deck Quals with Carrier Air Wing Nine (CVW-9) embarked. Due to the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom the ship was extended at sea indefinitely. After 9 months (Sept 2003) Carl Vinson finally returned to Bremerton on 15 September 2003. From January 2003 until September 2003, she made port calls in Hawaii, Guam, South Korea, Japan, Australia, Hong Kong, and Singapore. USS Carl Vinson’s participation in Foal Eagle, an annually scheduled joint and combined training exercise conducted in the Korean theatre.
In competition year 2004, it won the Marjorie Sterrett Battleship Fund Award, awarded to the most battle-ready ship in the U.S. Pacific Fleet.
In January 2005, Carl Vinson departed Bremerton, Washington with CVW-9 embarked for a six-month deployment, including several months in the Persian Gulf in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom & Operation Enduring Freedon. Highlights of the cruise included port calls to Singapore, Guam, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Rhodes, Greece and Lisbon, Portugal. Vinson completed this deployment at Naval Station Norfolk on 31 July 2005.
Refueling and Complex Overhaul 2005
In November 2005, Carl Vinson became the third Nimitz class carrier to undergo a mid-life Refueling and Complex Overhaul (RCOH), which was scheduled to last 36 months. The ship moved out of dry dock to pier side berth at Northrop Grumman Newport News shipyard in May 2007.
It commenced post-refueling sea trials on 28 June 2009 and returned to Naval Station Norfolk on 1 July 2009. The Navy accepted it back into the fleet on 11 July 2009, after successful completion of its sea trials.
In October 2009, Carl Vinson entered a four-month shipyard maintenance period at Northrop Grumman Newport News in preparation for its upcoming transit to the Pacific in the spring. The ship was scheduled to transit around South America to its new home of NAS North Island (San Diego), joining Nimitz (CVN-68) and Ronald Reagan (CVN-76), by early 2010.
On 12 January 2010, just hours after the 2010 Haiti earthquake, Carl Vinson was ordered to redirect from its current deployment in the North Atlantic Ocean to Haiti to contribute to the relief effort as part of Operation Unified Response. Upon receiving orders from USSOUTHCOM, the Carl Vinson battle group proceeded to Mayport, Florida where the ships loitered offshore to receive additional supplies and helicopters. The ships arrived off Port au Prince on 15 January 2010 to commence operations. CNN medical correspondent and neurosurgeon Sanjay Gupta, pediatric surgeon Henri Ford, and two Navy doctors removed a piece of concrete from the skull of a 12-year-old earthquake victim in an operation performed aboard Carl Vinson on 18 January. In addition to providing medical relief, CVN-70’s excess desalination capacity was critical to providing water to Haiti’s population during the earthquake relief.
On March 2010, during its transit around South America performed Gringo-Gaucho / Southern Seas 2010 maneuvers with the Argentine Navy
On 12 April 2010 the carrier arrived at its new home port of Naval Station North Island, San Diego California.
On 30 November 2010, with Carrier Air Wing Seventeen embarked, Carl Vinson departed Naval Air Station North Island for a three-week composite training unit exercise (COMPTUEX) and its 2010–2011 deployment to the U.S. Seventh Fleet Area of Responsibility (AOR) in the Western Pacific and U.S. Fifth Fleet Areas of Responsibility in the Indian Ocean and Persian Gulf as part of Carrier Strike Group One. This is the first Western Pacific deployment for Vinson in more than five years since the ship entered its Refueling Complex Overhaul (RCOH) in the fall of 2005.
On 11 April 2011 while operating in the Arabian Sea, an F/A-18 Hornet suffered an engine fire immediately after launch from the carrier. The aircraft returned to the carrier with one engine and the fire was extinguished without any damage to the ship or any injuries to the pilot or ship crew members.
On 2 May 2011, following the death of Osama bin Laden, his body was brought aboard Carl Vinson, which was operating in the Northern Arabian Sea, and buried at sea following religious rites.
The ship docked in Manila Bay in the Philippines from 15 to 18 May 2011 for a “routine port call and goodwill visit” meant to “highlight the strong historic, community, and military connections between the United States and the Republic of the Philippines.” Among those given a special tour of this aircraft carrier were Philippine President Benigno Aquino III and U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines Harry K. Thomas, Jr. This brief visit was criticized by cause-oriented group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan as well as Filipino youth leader Raymond Palatino and University of the Philippines political science professor Clarita Carlos.
The ship docked in Hong Kong in the Peoples Republic of China on Sunday, 22 May 2011 to take on supplies for its return to homeport San Diego, and to provide photo opportunities to the Chinese press. The ship returned to San Diego on 15 June 2011.
On 21 June 2011, it was announced that the Michigan State Spartans would play a regular season men’s basketball game against the North Carolina Tar Heels on the flight deck of Carl Vinson on Veterans Day. On 11 November 2011, the inaugural Carrier Classic took place at the Naval Air Station North Island on San Diego Bay in Coronado, California. U.S. President Barack Obama was one of 8,111 people in attendance as the Tar Heels defeated the Spartans by a score of 67–55.
On 30 November 2011, Carl Vinson departed Naval Air Station North Island, California, on its scheduled Western Pacific (WESTPAC) deployment.
During January 2012, Carl Vinson began its patrol of the Arabian Sea.
On 23 May 2012, Carl Vinson returned to Naval Air Station North Island, California, to end its November 2011 deployment. It had stopped earlier in Hawaii to pick up approximately 900 “Tigers” – friends and family of the sailors aboard the ship who traveled with the ship from Hawaii to San Diego.
On 5 July 2012, Carl Vinson began preparations for a Planned Incremental Availability (PIA) period. PIA is a major maintenance phase that all American naval vessels must go through multiple times throughout their lifetime to be able to sustain underway operations. PIA 2012-2013 for Carl Vinson included overhauls of over 40 crew living spaces, 30 heads and hundreds of workspaces throughout the ship. It also included upgrades to many of the electronics and defense systems that the ship uses during deployments, to include an upgrade from the Global Command and Control System-Maritime (GCCS-M) to the Distributed Common Ground System-Navy (DCGS-N).
On 30 January 2013, Carl Vinson commenced sea trials, marking its first time underway in seven months, since its ammo offload which ended on 29 June 2012. Upon returning from this underway period, the ship’s commanding officer, Captain Kent Whalen, announced on 2 February 2013 that PIA had officially ended, marking the first on-time PIA completion since 1999. Since February 2013, the ship has been underway multiple times conducting carrier qualifications with Carrier Air Wing Seventeen as well as multiple crew certification exercises. The most recent accomplishment for Carl Vinson was the completion of its evaluation of nuclear reactor operation. During this evaluation, the Naval Sea Systems Command embarks a team of proctors who put the ship’s engineering department through a multitude of drills and exercises to test their ability to safely operate a nuclear reactor and to contain any casualty of the reactor as it occurs. This was completed on 1 July 2013.
On 22 August 2014, Carl Vinson and assigned CVW-17 began a scheduled deployment to the U.S. 5th and 7th Fleet areas of responsibility. USS Bunker Hill (CG-52), Destroyer Squadron 1 and its ships USS Gridley (DDG-101), USS Sterett (DDG-104), and USS Dewey (DDG-105) deployed with the carrier as part of the Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Group. The carrier was deployed to the Persian Gulf to relieve USS George H. W. Bush in fighting the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.
On 11 September 2014 at 17:40 hrs local time, two F/A-18C’s from CVW-17 crashed in the western Pacific Ocean whilst operating from Carl Vinson. The carrier was in its area of operations in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. The planes where attached to Strike Squadron 94 and Strike Fighter Squadron 113 and collided 7 miles from the carrier, an area approximately 290 miles west of Wake Island. USS Bunker Hill, USS Gridley, USS Sterett, USS Dewey, and helicopters assigned to Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 15 (HSC 15) and Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 73 (HSM 73) assisted in the search for the pilots. Whilst one pilot was recovered alive soon after the crash, the second pilot could not be located. The Navy continued its search for the second pilot until 13 September 2014, when the search was abandoned.
Carl Vinson returned to San Diego on 4 June 2015. Over the course of the deployment, supporting strike operations in Iraq and Syria, CVW-17 successfully flew 12,300 sorties, including 2,382 combat missions and dropped more than half a million pounds (230 tons) of ordnance against ISIS.
On 14 August 2015, Carl Vinson began a planned incremental availability (PIA) period at Naval Air Station North Island. The ship is receiving more than $300 million worth of improvements over the next six months during this modernisation, including the first UAV command center installed aboard an aircraft carrier.
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The Associated Press is reporting that the San Diego-based aircraft carrier Carl Vinson, now on deployment in the North Arabian Sea, held the burial at sea of Osama bin Laden.
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USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) Carrier Strike Group in Action
USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) is deployed during composite training unit exercise (COMPTUEX) 2016 off the coast of Southern California.
Composite Training Unit Exercise, is a rehearsal each US Navy Carrier Strike Group performs before departing for deployment. Each ship and aircraft in the battle group trains in its specialty; COMPTUEX brings ships together to project force as a battle group. COMPTUEX is an intermediate-level battle group exercise designed to forge together the battle group and its components into a fully functional fighting team. COMPTUEX is a critical part in the pre-deployment training cycle, and a prerequisite for the battle group’s Joint Task Force Exercise.
COMPTUEX is normally conducted during a two-week to three-week period six to eight weeks before deployment. Successfully completion of COMTPUEX certifies the carrier and its air wing as qualified for open ocean operations. COMPTUEX consists of an 18-day schedule of event driven exercise which the follows with a three-day Final Battle Problem. It is conducted and directed by the training carrier group commander and the focus is to bring together the carrier and its air wing as a working team that can operate in a combat environment, as well as integrating with other assets of the battle group.