The USS Carl Vinson departed for a routine deployment from Naval Air Station North Island Tuesday. Vinson crew members will first conduct a training exercise followed by deployment to the 7th Fleet area of responsibility in Asia and then to the 5th Fleet area in the Persian Gulf.
The aircraft carrier is the flagship of Carrier Strike Group 1 and will be joined by smaller vessels, including the USS Bunker Hill, USS Gridley and USS Stockdale, while on deployment.
"This will be the Stockdale's maiden deployment," said Cmdr. Jeffrey Bennett, the commanding officer. "Our team of awesome war fighters are ready to deploy, executing missions across all warfare areas."
The mission of the Vinson Strike Group is to focus on maritime defense, ensure regional stability and support U.S. allies, according to a Navy press release.
But despite the call of duty, is always hard.
Bill O'Brien waved goodbye to his son Chief Petty Officer Brandon David O'Brien, who deployed on the Vinson. O'Brien leaves behind sons Dilon, 8, and Kyle, 7, putting them in the care of their grandfather Bill.
"Brandon has been in the Navy for 13 years. It's tough saying goodbye to him each time," Bill said. "Six months is a long time, and we are really going to miss him."
This is O'Brien's first deployment on the Vinson. While he's away, he will be managing three different shops on the ship.
Chelsea Cortez and her 2-year-old daughter, Kayleigh, jumped up and down, waving and holding a big sign that read "I love you AO Cortez."
"Jordan just joined the Navy and has a bachelor's degree but decided to enlist and do his time," Chelsea said.
Chelsea's father is also in the military, with 23 years of service to date. He recently came home from Iraq. "It looks like for the next couple of years I will only have one man in my life at a time," she added.
Kimberly Eden was near tears as she exchanged a cell phone conversation with her fiancé, Petty Officer 1st Class James Cyr. "We are not happy about this, but it's what he has to do and we're here to support him," Eden said.
Cyr leaves behind Eden, sister Janet Moore and other family and friends.
During a media briefing, Carrier Strike Group 1 Rear Adm. Samuel Perez said, "This [deployment] has been planned for a l0ng time, and we are ready. This is important because our forces send a powerful signal to our allies. When we show up, they know they can count on us."
Perez also said the Vinson recently experienced an overhaul, including replacement of the uranium fuel supply. The carrier is 1,092 feet long, with a weight of 95,000 tons. It can hold about 6,000 sailors.
The deployment is scheduled for between six to eight months. Check out more info about the USS Carl Vinson on Facebook. Click here for its official page.