Aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70) shifted its homeport back to San Diego, after spending a year and a half undergoing maintenance in Washington to prepare for its first deployment with the F-35C Joint Strike Fighter.
Vinson had previously been homeported at Naval Air Station North Island in San Diego but officially shifted homeports to Naval Base Kitsap-Bremerton in January 2019. The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier spent 17 months in maintenance at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility in Bremerton.
The carrier arrived back at NAS North Island on Sept. 2.
“On behalf of the strike group and our flagship, USS Carl Vinson, I want to say thank you to the city of San Diego for its continued support,” Rear Adm. Timothy Kott, commander of Carrier Strike Group One, said in a Navy news release.
“Our strike group has been a part of the community for more than a decade, and as ‘America’s Favorite Carrier’ returns to the San Diego, we look forward to continuing our positive relationship with ‘America’s Finest City.’”
Vinson’s docking planned incremental availability was formally completed on Aug. 27, at the end of the carrier’s sea trials. In following the Navy’s COVID-19 mitigation practices, the Vinson crew completed a restriction of movement period or COVID testing before boarding the ship for its sea trials and transit from Washington to California.
“I just can’t say thank you enough to our wonderful families who supported us and cheered us on through the successful completion of this maintenance period,” Vinson commander Capt. Matthew Paradise said in the news release.
“And to the Vinson crew, the work you did was beyond impressive. Not only did you successfully carry us through this unprecedented maintenance, you did it as a team, operating in this new normal of COVID-19 mitigation and prevention.”
During the maintenance period, “Vinson underwent scheduled, periodic maintenance on major components like rudders, shafts and tanks, as well as upgrades to crew living spaces. The ship also received work to preserve its hull, upgrades to the electrical system, upgrades to combat systems, and it underwent a complete restoration and a system retrofit to accommodate F-35C Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter mission capabilities. The overall cost of the work totaled about $367 million,” according to a second Navy news release on the completion of the maintenance period.
Mathew VanRavenhorst, deputy project superintendent for the availability, said in the news release that there was some unplanned work during the availability – the ship’s distilling units needed structural work – and some members of the maintenance team needed to stay home from work as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, leaving some gaps on the team.
“Adjustments to our standard operations were needed to ensure we minimized the spread of this virus,” VanRavenhorst said. “These changes will allow us to be more agile in the future. This pandemic showed how important it is, and what it means to be a civil servant. Words cannot fully express how proud I am of the ship’s force, our contractor partners, and shipyard team for their work on this project.”
Vinson is expected to conduct a history-making deployment next year. Not only would it be the Navy’s first carrier deployment of the F-35C, it would also be the first deployment of the CMV-22 Osprey serving as the carrier onboard delivery aircraft. The V-22 variant is replacing the C-2A Greyhound as the carrier fleet’s COD, chiefly because the aging C-2 is not able to carry an F-35 engine if one were needed. The V-22 will bring that capability, along with the agility of being able to land on cruisers and destroyers if needed instead of only landing on the carrier’s flight deck.
With Vinson back in San Diego, the carrier, its escorts and air wing will be able to start training for the upcoming deployment.