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USS Carl Vinson to Return Home After Historic Deployment, Burying bin Laden's Body

The aircraft carrier that was given the mission of burying Osama bin Laden’s body at sea returns to San Diego.

The USS Carl Vinson is scheduled to pull into its home port on Wednesday morning. The Coronado-based aircraft carrier and its nearly 6,000 sailors have been in the U.S. Seventh Fleet area of responsibility in Asia and the Fifth Fleet area in the Persian Gulf, where they executed numerous missions, including the burial of Osama bin Laden’s body at sea.    

News outlets around that bin Laden’s corpse was taken to the Vinson after shot and killed the known terrorist on May 1. But the Navy will not discuss the details of what it refers to as “The Mission” because of security reasons.

“When we’re given a mission, we execute it to the fullest extent, and I’m pretty sure we executed ‘that mission’ very well,” Capt. Bruce Lindsey said in a conference call on Monday.

The commanding officer talked a lot about patriotism and the overwhelming feeling of pride among the crew. For about 75 percent of the sailors on board, this was their first deployment.

In addition to “The Mission,” the carrier’s crew made headlines following a . On April 11, an F/A-18C Hornet experienced an engine fire during a touch-and-go landing. No one was injured. The jet’s pilot was able to land the plane safely, and the flight deck crew extinguished the blaze within seconds.

The captain highlighted the crew’s expert training, noting their efficiency and the pilot’s ability to remain “cool and collected” in a high-pressure scenario.

“It was textbook,” Lindsey said. “The skill that the pilot showed was just phenomenal.”

The carrier’s air wing spent 87 days and executed 1,515 sorties in direct support of coalition forces for Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation New Dawn.

“We should always think about those sailors, Marines and soldiers on the ground,” the commanding officer said. “They are in close contact with the enemy every day.”

On occasion, the sailors viewed videos of what their jobs accomplished. The footage showed the crew that they “did their part,” because, as the captain stressed, “it is a team effort.”

The Vinson and Carrier Strike Group One also disrupted two maritime piracy attempts on civilian boaters. One of these events occurred on the ship’s first day in the Fifth Fleet area in the Persian Gulf, where the crew successfully destroyed the pirates’ skiff.   

“I am extremely proud,” Lindsey said. “These sailors have done an incredible job. They are top-notch, the best of the best.”

After sailing more than 60,206 nautical miles and conducting port visits and community service projects in Malaysia, the Republic of Korea, the United Arab Emirates, the Philippines and Hong Kong, the crew is looking forward to coming home, the captain said.

“I’m very happy to have been given the opportunity to lead this fine group of sailors,” he added.

Much has been made of the Vinson’s deployment and its recent role in history. But the captain declined to take any credit for that.

“Every day, sailors around the world are making history,” Lindsey said. “So they ‘all’ make history—one day at a time.”

The USS Carl Vinson left from on Nov. 30 and is set to return on Wednesday morning. Navy officials estimate that the carrier will deploy again sometime later this year.

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