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USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70)
The USS Carl Vinson
USS Carl Vinson underway in the Arabian Sea.
Career (United States)
Name: USS Carl Vinson
Namesake: Carl Vinson
Ordered: 5 April 1974
Builder: Newport News Shipbuilding
Laid down: 11 October 1975
Launched: 15 March 1980
Commissioned: 13 March 1982
Homeport: NAS North Island San Diego, California
Motto: Vis Per Mare
(Strength from the Sea)
Nickname: Starship Vinson,
The Battlestar,
The Gold Eagle,
San Francisco's Own,
America's Favorite Carrier,
Chuckie V,
U.S.S. Chuck Wagon,
The Carl Prison,
Cell Block 70
Status: in active service, as of 2022
Badge: USS Carl Vinson CVN-70 Emblem.png
General characteristics
Class & type: Nimitz-class aircraft carrier
Displacement: 101,300 long tons (113,500 short tons)[1]
  • Overall: 1,092 feet (332.8 m)
  • Waterline: 1,040 feet (317.0 m)
  • Overall: 252 ft (76.8 m)
  • Waterline: 134 ft (40.8 m)
  • Draft:
  • Maximum navigational: 37 feet (11.3 m)
  • Limit: 41 feet (12.5 m)
  • Propulsion:
  • 2 × Westinghouse A4W nuclear reactors
  • 4 × steam turbines
  • 4 × shafts
  • 260,000 shp (194 MW)
  • Speed: 30+ knots (56+ km/h; 35+ mph)
    Range: Unlimited distance; 20–25 years
    • Ship's company: 3,200
    • Air wing: 2,480
    Crew: 6062
    Sensors and
    processing systems:
    • AN/SPS-48E 3-D air search radar
    • AN/SPS-49(V)5 2-D air search radar
    • AN/SPQ-9B target acquisition radar
    • AN/SPN-46 air traffic control radars
    • AN/SPN-43C air traffic control radar
    • AN/SPN-41 landing aid radars
    • 4 × Mk 91 NSSM guidance systems
    • 4 × Mk 95 radars
    Electronic warfare
    & decoys:
  • SLQ-32A(V)4 Countermeasures suite
  • SLQ-25A Nixie torpedo countermeasures
  • Armament:
  • 2 × Mk 57 Mod3 Sea Sparrow
  • 2 × RIM-116 Rolling Airframe Missile
  • 3 × Phalanx CIWS
  • Aircraft carried: 90 fixed wing and helicopters

    The 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 her 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 Carl Vinson was involved in a number of notable events. The body of Osama bin Laden was disposed of in 2011 from the deck of the Carl Vinson, and that same year, on 11 November, she played host to the first NCAA basketball game on an aircraft carrier, between North Carolina and Michigan State.


    President Richard Nixon, Navy Secretary John Warner and Defense Secretary Melvin Laird present Congressman Vinson (third from left) with a model of the ship that will bear his name, 18 November 1973

    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.

    Ship Seal

    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 the eagle carries is the Latin Phrase "Vis Per Mare" which means "Strength through the Sea."[2]

    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.[3] 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 September 2012, the ship is under the command of Captain Kent Whalen.[4]

    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, she was delivered to the Navy on 26 February 1982.

    Ship history


    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, USS 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.[2]

    Carl Vinson departed Norfolk on 1 March 1983 with Carrier Air Wing 15 embarked for her maiden deployment, an eight-month around the world cruise to her new homeport of Naval Air Station Alameda, California, arriving on 28 Oct 1983.[2]

    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.[5]

    The carrier received her 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.[6]

    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 her home port of Alameda shortly after the devastating 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake.[7]


    Vinson departed on her 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, Carl 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.[8]

    CVW-14 aircraft over Vinson in 1994

    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 her 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.[9]

    The ship departed for her 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 her new homeport on 17 January 1997, where she played host to the last carrier launch and recovery operations for the A-6E Intruder.[10]

    Carl Vinson enters Pearl Harbor with CVW-11 aboard with a USS Missouri at background.

    In 1998 with Carrier Air Wing Eleven (CVW-11) embarked, the ship participated in RIMPAC '98, where on the morning of 10 August, HMAS Onslow located the 'enemy', closed to within 300 metres (980 ft) without being detected, then released green flares to indicate her location, 'sinking' the supercarrier, before departing 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, Carl 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.[11]


    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.[12] 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, stopping over at Changi Naval Base, Singapore for Christmas before 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 her maintenance / overhaul period in record-setting time, USS Carl Vinson and crew got underway in September to conduct sea trials.[13]

    In January 2003 she 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.[14] From January 2003 until September 2003, she made port calls in Hawaii, Guam, South Korea, Japan, Australia, Hong Kong, and Singapore.[15] 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, she 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.[16] Highlights of the cruise included port calls to Singapore, Guam, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Rhodes, Greece and Lisbon, Portugal.[17] Vinson completed this deployment at Naval Station Norfolk on 31 July 2005.[18]

    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.[19] The ship moved out of dry dock to pier side berth at Northrop Grumman Newport News shipyard in May 2007.[20]

    She commenced post-refueling sea trials on 28 June 2009 and returned to Naval Station Norfolk on 1 July 2009.[21] The Navy accepted her back into the fleet on 11 July 2009, after successful completion of her sea trials.[22]

    In October 2009, Carl Vinson entered a four-month shipyard maintenance period at Northrup Grumman Newport News in preparation for her upcoming transit to the Pacific in the spring.[23] The ship was scheduled to transit around South America[23] to her new home of NAS North Island (San Diego), joining the Nimitz (CVN-68) and Ronald Reagan (CVN-76), by early 2010.[24]


    Vinson off Haiti, to aid in earthquake relief; the ship carried 19 helicopters specially for this mission.

    The Carl Vinson in formation with the USS Bunker Hill and Argentine frigate ARA Gómez Roca during Southern Seas 2010

    Interior of USS Carl Vinson

    USS Carl Vinson in San Diego Bay, 2011

    On 12 January 2010, just hours after the 2010 Haiti earthquake, Carl Vinson was ordered to redirect from her 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.[25][26][27] 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.[28][29] 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.[30]

    On March 2010, during her transit around South America performed Gringo-Gaucho / Southern Seas 2010 maneuvers with the Argentine Navy video[31][32]

    On 12 April 2010 the carrier arrived at her new home port of Naval Station North Island, San Diego California.[33]

    On 30 November 2010, with Carrier Air Wing Seventeen embarked, the 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[Clarification needed] of 2005.[34][not in citation given]

    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.[35]

    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.[36][37]

    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.[38] 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.[39]

    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.[40]

    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 the USS Carl Vinson on Veterans Day.[41] 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.[42]

    Deck of the USS Vinson set up for the Michigan State-North Carolina basketball game in 2011

    On 30 November 2011, Carl Vinson departed Naval Air Station North Island, California, on its scheduled Western Pacific (WESTPAC) deployment.[43][44]

    During January 2012, Carl Vinson began to patrol the Arabian Sea.[citation needed]

    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, USS Carl Vinson began preparations for a Planned Incremental Availability (PIA) period. PIA is a major maintenance phase that all U.S. Naval vessels must go through multiple times throughout their lifetime to be able to sustain underway operations. PIA 2012-2013 for the 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, USS 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 Carl Vinson has been underway multiple times conducting carrier qualifications with Carrier Airwing Seventeen as well as multiple crew certification exercises. The most recent accomplishment for USS 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. Since then, the Carl Vinson has been pierside at Naval Air Station North Island receiving small maintenance upgrades.


    Carl Vinson has received numerous awards, including:

    See also


    1. Polmar, Norman (2004). The Naval Institute guide to the ships and aircraft of the U.S. fleet. Naval Institute Press. p. 112. ISBN 978-1-59114-685-8. 
    2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 "Welcome to USS Carl Vinson CVN 70 Public Site". Retrieved 19 May 2011. 
    3. "Navy Establishes Carrier Strike Group 1". Retrieved 8 October 2009. 
    4. Wilson, Patrick, "Carrier Carl Vinson To Leave Tuesday For San Diego", Norfolk Virginian-Pilot, 9 January 2010.
    5. G.D. O'Brien, Jr (30 November 1988). "1985 COMMAND HISTORY" (PDF). 
    9. page 12
    12. "USS Carl Vinson". CNN. 
    13. This story was written by Journalist 3rd Class Mat Sohl, USS Carl Vinson Public Affairs. "USS Carl Vinson: Back in Action Following a Record-Setting Yard Period". Retrieved 19 May 2011. 
    14. This story was written by Commander, 3rd Fleet Public Affairs. "Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Group Returns Home". Retrieved 19 May 2011. 
    15. "Deployments of USS CARL VINSON". Retrieved 3 July 2009. 
    16. This story was written by Carl Vinson Strike Group Public Affairs. "Carrier Air Wing 9 Aircraft Drop Bombs on Insurgents". Retrieved 19 May 2011. 
    17. This story was written by Journalist 3rd Class William Lopez, USS Carl Vinson Public Affairs. "Vinson Departs Bremerton for Exercise, Deployment". Retrieved 19 May 2011. 
    18. This story was written by Journalist 2nd Class (SW/AW) Chris Fahey, USS Carl Vinson Public Affairs. "Mighty ‘Gold Eagle’ Arrives at New Nest". Retrieved 19 May 2011. 
    19. "USS Carl Vinson Arrives in Norfolk". Retrieved 8 October 2009. 
    20. Communication, Mass. "Northrop Grumman Newport News, Carl Vinson Celebrate Move to Pierside". Retrieved 19 May 2011. 
    21. "USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) – History". Retrieved 3 July 2009. 
    22. "Navy Accepts Re-Delivery of USS Carl Vinson". Retrieved 8 October 2009. 
    23. 23.0 23.1 "New San Diego command preps for Vinson – Navy News , News from Afghanistan & Iraq". Navy Times. 1 October 2009. Retrieved 19 May 2011. 
    24. " News Release: USS Carl Vinson To Return To Pacific Fleet". 12 March 2009. Retrieved 19 May 2011. 
    25. "Carl Vinson, other ships headed to Haiti – Navy News , News from Afghanistan & Iraq". Navy Times. 13 January 2010. Retrieved 19 May 2011. 
    26. Communication, Mass. "Vinson Deploys to Respond to Haiti Earthquake". Retrieved 19 May 2011. 
    27. "BYM Marine & Maritime News". 15 January 2010. Retrieved 19 May 2011. 
    28. Thompson, Jason (18 January 2010). "Sanjay Gupta assists Vinson medical team". U.S. Navy. Retrieved 10 October 2011. 
    29. Agence France-Presse (20 January 2011). "TV neurosurgeon Sanjay Gupta saves girl". Retrieved 10 October 2011. 
    30. Padgett, Tim (19 January 2010). "The Post-Quake Water Crisis: Getting Seawater to the Haitians". Time Magazine. 
    31. "Argentina-United States in joint exercise". 18 March 2010. Retrieved 19 May 2011. 
    32. Communication, Mass. "Carl Vinson Unites with Argentina for Southern Seas 2010". Retrieved 19 May 2011. 
    33. Military Times, Carrier Carl Vinson home at North Island", 12 April 2010.
    34. "Carl Vinson Strike Group to Depart for Training, Deployment". NNS101130-01. U.S. 3rd Fleet Public Affairs. 30 November 2010. Retrieved 3 December 2010. 
    35. "Pilot Safe After Jet Catches Fire on Navy Carrier". 14 April 2011. Retrieved 3 May 2011. 
    36. Jim Garamone (2 May 2011). "Bin Laden Buried at Sea". NNS110502-22. American Forces Press Service. Retrieved 2 May 2011. 
    37. Jeanette Steele (2 May 2011). "Carl Vinson performs bin Laden burial at sea". Retrieved 4 May 2011. "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." 
    38. President Aquino Visits USS Carl Vinson Embassy of the United States in Manila website
    39. "US carrier which buried Osama coming to Manila" Philippine Daily Inquirer 14 May 2011
    40. Watson, Julie, Associated Press,"Navy capt. asks bin Laden burial crew to be safe", Stars and Stripes, 13 June 2011.
    41. Wilson, Bernie (21 June 2011). "Hoops on a flat top a daunting task to organizers of UNC-Michigan State aircraft carrier game". Retrieved 12 November 2011. 
    42. Pucin, Diane (11 November 2011). "Sloppy basketball is beside the point on aircraft carrier".,0,6935429.story. Retrieved 12 November 2011. 
    43. "USS Carl Vinson Strike Group Departs for Deployment". NNS111130-04. Commander, Naval Air Forces Pacific Public Affairs. 30 November 2011. Retrieved 2011-12-01. 
    44. Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class (SW) Luke B. Meineke, USN (1 December 2011). "Carl Vinson and CVW 17 Depart on Western Pacific Deployment". NNS111201-02. USS Carl Vinson Public Affairs. Retrieved 2011-12-01. 
    45. This story was written by Journalist 3rd Class (SW) Chris Fahey, USS Carl Vinson Public Affairs. "Carl Vinson Leads West Coast Carriers, Earns Battle ‘E’". Retrieved 19 May 2011. 

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