Mighty 'Gold Eagle' Arrives at New Nest
Story Number: NNS050803-07
Release Date: 8/3/2005 10:38:00 AM
By Journalist 2nd Class (SW/AW) Chris Fahey, USS Carl Vinson Public Affairs
USS CARL VINSON (NNS) -- Friends, family and loved ones packed Naval Station Norfolk’s Pier 14 July 31 to witness USS Carl Vinson’s (CVN 70) arrival, bringing to an end its more than six-month global combat deployment. "The Gold Eagle" departed its former homeport of Bremerton, Wash., Jan. 13.
Carl Vinson’s transition to Virginia comes in anticipation of its upcoming Reactor Refuel and Complex Overhaul (RCOH), slated to begin shortly after Vinson Sailors return from their post-deployment 30-day standdown period.
Vinson Commanding Officer Capt. Kevin Donegan said he is pleased with everything the aircraft carrier accomplished over the past six months.
“We consider the deployment a win-win,” said Donegan. “Operationally, we completed all the objectives set forth, including spending four months in the [Persian] Gulf, in the heat of summer. Our job was to provide air support to U.S. and coalition forces, while at the same time pressurizing the maritime environment so terrorist organizations couldn’t use the waters to transport drugs, weapons or personnel, and at that job, the team did superbly.
“Now, I say win-win because outside the operational stuff, our Sailors set records in warfare qualifications, advancement and reenlistment," he added. "We qualified for both the enlisted surface and aviation warfare pennants, meaning all the enlisted Sailors eligible to earn their primary warfare pin did so...and as far as we know, we’re the first aircraft carrier to accomplish that before returning from deployment."
"During the deployment, we became the biggest underway schoolhouse in the fleet," continued Donegan, "with roughly 650 Sailors completing 1,250 [Navy College Program for Afloat College Education] classes - some even earning their degrees. So, an all around superb job by the whole team.”
The transition to Virginia was a three-stage progression for Vinson Sailors. Some families moved prior to the ship deploying from Bremerton, Wash., in mid-January. Many performed the move while the ship was deployed, and several more will complete their homeport change now that the ship has arrived at its new East Coast address.
“I don’t see any big obstacles, but rather, huge opportunities for the crew as we transition to Virginia,” said Vinson Executive Officer Capt. Chip Miller. “This whole Tidewater Area (Norfolk) is a huge Navy town with a lot of support and programs that will benefit our Sailors. I’m sure as the families start to settle, they will be excited about the change and the new opportunities this area has to offer.”
Following Vinson’s 30-day standdown, the team will begin stripping the ship of all items not permanently attached to the deck before making the final tug to Newport News, Va., where the RCOH process will begin. Although the ship will be deemed uninhabitable, ship’s company will still progress forward with their career and educational goals.
“We’ve got a great training program lined out for when we are in the yards,” said Donegan. “We’ve been approved to teach classes, and the warfare program will be cooking at full steam. We want to ensure all our Sailors can keep up with rating progression and continue to advance. Hopefully, we can hit the shipyards and get out as quick as possible, so we can provide this great national asset back to the world...with the newest state-of-the-art technology.”
The Navy’s third Nimitz-class aircraft carrier, Carl Vinson was commissioned March 13, 1982. Displacing more than 95,000 tons, Carl Vinson, with the embarked Carrier Air Wing 9, was home to more than 5,000 Sailors and Marines, as well as more than 60 combat and support aircraft during deployment. From its 4.5-acre flight deck, the carrier crew could quickly launch and recover the world’s most modern military aircraft to operate with other elements of the U.S. Armed Forces, as well as those of allied nations.
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