36 years ago, today. Me and about 2,500 of my best friends put the USS Carl Vinson into commission. The shipyard officially handed over the keys to a shiny new aircraft carrier to the Navy and told us to have fun but not to ruin the paint job. Since then, the Chucky V has been kicking ass, taking names, and looking fabulous doing it.
Damn, that was a looong time ago. I had almost forgotten. I served aboard Vinson from June 1981 to January 1984. I made her maiden world cruise in 1983 from Norfolk, VA to Alameda, CA. I was in the hangar bay when the command went out to 'bring the ship to life.'
I got to work hard, play hard and go to places a lot of people couldn't find on a map. It is a rare distinction to be called a plankowner. That is, a sailor who was a member of a ship's crew when she was put into commission.
We were the first crew. We set the initial standard. We were in many ways, the guinea pigs. It was our job to man the new ship and get her ready for service. It was our job to polish out the Vinson's rough spots. To establish the culture and reputation that would see her through her service life.
And I'd say we were largely successful. The Carl Vinson has established herself as one of the best carriers in the fleet. She has won many awards, positively represented the Navy in several newsworthy situations, and has garnered a sterling reputation.
And as she heads towards the closing years of her 50 year service life, she stands ready to go out as she came in. On top and looking fabulous. I'd love to be one of the rare sailors who could complete the circle. To be on her deck when she closes out her days, as I was when she started them.
To all who have served aboard her with pride and distinction from that commissioning day to this day, Fair Winds and Following Seas.
Vis Per Mare!!!