AT SEA –
The third of 10 Nimitz-class aircraft carriers active in the fleet, Vinson commissioned in Newport News, Virginia, on March 13, 1982, after over seven years of construction. The ship is named for the late senator Carl Vinson of Georgia, who served in Congress for more than 50 years and sponsored two bills that played a significant role in the build-up of the Navy prior to World War II. For these accomplishments, Carl Vinson is now known as the “Father of the Two-Ocean Navy.”
Since commissioning, Vinson has deployed many times overseas in support of American operations abroad, including Operation Southern Watch, Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. Most notably, the ship was underway during the Sept. 11th terrorist attacks and later launched the first airstrikes in the Global War on Terrorism. Four years later, Vinson became the third Nimitz-class carrier to undergo a mid-life Refueling and Complex Overhaul (RCOH), which took place from 2005-2009. In January 2010, Vinson provided humanitarian aid after the devastating 2010 earthquake in Haiti. Most recently, the ship returned from an Indo-Pacific deployment in February. The successful completion of deployment marked the debut of the “Air Wing of the Future,” including the first incorporating of the F-35C Lightning II and the CMV-22B Osprey in a carrier strike group. For all of the above and more, Vinson has earned 15 unit commendations during its distinguished career.
While looking forward to many more years in service, Vinson honored its storied past by hosting nine members of the ship’s original crew for a tour on March 13 followed by a cake-cutting ceremony in the ship’s wardroom.
Otherwise known as “plank owners,” the former crew members visited key areas of the ship, to include the flight deck, navigation bridge, hangar bay, captain’s in-port cabin, fo’c’sle and wardroom. They were joined by the ship’s commanding officer, Capt. P. Scott Miller, who cut the anniversary cake with Kurt Webber, of Peoria, Arizona, the oldest plank owner in attendance.
“This ship has a deep history of service over the last 40 years. The accomplishments of multiple generations of Sailors has truly earned USS Carl Vinson the title of ‘Americas Favorite Carrier,’” Miller said. “It is fitting that some of the first Sailors to serve aboard Vinson are represented here today, standing next to Sailors who have furthered Vinson’s legacy of service with a recent deployment to the Indo-Pacific. We are proud to see the ship turn 40 as we continue to train and maintain readiness in the coming years.”
A plank owner is Navy jargon for an original member of the crew who was present for the ship’s commissioning. The nine plank owners in attendance represented thousands of the original crew that served on “America’s Favorite Carrier” in 1982.