Thousands of sailors deploy with USS Carl Vinson strike group

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) – The nuclear-powered supercarrier USS Carl Vinson and its strike group left San Diego Monday, marking the first time a carrier strike group has deployed with the F-35C Lightning II fighter jet and Navy CMV- 22B Osprey.

The strike group will begin its deployment by taking part in Large Scale Exercise 2021, which spans multiple fleets and is designed to refine synchronized maritime operations based on a progression of scenarios that will assess modern warfare concepts in support of the joint force.

The Osprey is replacing the C-2A Greyhound for the carrier’s mission, which is to “support of global maritime security operations,” according to a Navy statement.

“Vinson is the first carrier to accommodate a mix of 4th- and 5th- generation strike fighters, providing unprecedented lethality and survivability and ensuring the Navy team can operate and win in contested battlespace now and well into the future,” said Capt. Tommy Locke, commander of Carrier Air Wing 2.

“Integrating the new aircraft has truly been a team effort and using these new tools and technology — new sets of multispectral sensors and the information they provide — will increase lethality and survivability of the air wing and strike group,” Locked said. “We plan on leveraging recently established tactics, techniques and procedures and developing innovative ways to use the new technologies to enhance our combined warfighting efforts.”

The Carl Vinson returned to its home port of Naval Air Station North Island last September, following 17 months of retrofitting at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard at a cost of $367 million.

The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier was docked in Bremerton, Washington, while undergoing a complete system retrofit to accommodate the F-35C Lightning II stealth fighters. Additional efforts while in Washington included upgrades to crew living spaces and maintenance on the ship’s hull, rudders and shafts.

Vinson, the strike group’s flagship, on-loaded more than 1,000 tons of ordnance and embarked personnel and aircraft as part of final preparations for deployment. With more than 5,000 crew embarked, and more than 70 aircraft, Vinson is capable of sustaining around-the-clock maritime operations.

“There is no substitute for a fully trained, equipped and integrated team,” said Capt. P. Scott Miller, Vinson’s commanding officer.

“A modern aircraft carrier has the speed, agility and maneuverability to travel with its embarked air wing more than 5,000 miles in less than seven days, and to arrive on station ready to fight, defend or assist as directed,” he said. “No other weapons system has the responsiveness, endurance, multi-dimensional might, inherent battlespace awareness, or command and control capabilities of a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier and its embarked air wing.”

The Vinson was launched in 1980 and in 2009 became the flagship of Carrier Strike Group One, based out of San Diego. The supercarrier gained notoriety for transporting Osama bin Laden’s body to be buried at sea in 2011.

The strike group which departed Monday is a multiplatform team of ships, aircraft and more than 7,000 sailors. Deploying ships and aircraft of the strike group besides the Vinson include nine squadrons of Carrier Air Wing 2, staffs of CSG 1 and Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 1; Ticonderoga-class guided- missile cruiser USS Lake Champlain and Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers of DESRON 1 the Chafee, Dewey, Higgins, Michael Murphy, O’Kane and USS Stockdale.

U.S. 3rd Fleet leads naval forces in the Indo-Pacific.

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