America's Favorite Carrier

July 14, 2023  •  Leave a Comment

boeing ea-18g growlerboeing ea-18g growlerElectronic Attack Squadron 129 (VAQ-129) "Vikings"
USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70)

On July 6, 2023, I was able to take part in a 24-hour, Distinguished Visitor (DV)/media embark aboard the US Navy aircraft carrier, USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70). I boarded the ship pierside in San Diego at Naval Air Station North Island, and flew off the next day onboard a Bell/Boeing CMV-22B Osprey. I was able to see much of the ship, and also spend many hours taking photos on their active flight deck. It was an amazing experience that I will never forget!

The USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) has a rich and eventful history. Launched in 1980 and commissioned in 1982, it has served in several major conflicts, including Operation Desert Strike, Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Southern Watch, and Operation Enduring Freedom. Over its 40-year career, it has become an important part of U.S. naval history.  The USS Carl Vinson's Commanding Officer is Captain P. Scott Miller.  Capt. Miller graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1994 and earned his wings in 1997, he completed Fleet Replacement Squadron training in the F/A-18C with Strike Fighter Squadron 106 (VFA-106).  Capt. Miller assumed command of the USS Carl Vinson in January 2021.

The aircraft that were working aboard the USS Carl Vinson while I was embarked were all there for their pilots to work on their Fleet Replacement Squadron (FRS) Carrier Qualifications (CQ).  Qualifying pilots with the knowledge and skills to safely operate carrier-based aircraft is essential for success on a flight deck.  CQs offer an invaluable opportunity for fixed-wing pilots of all experience levels to develop important fundamentals during their training, ensuring proficiency across launch and recovery operations that may not be available during cyclic operations due to lower numbers of aircraft in the air at any given moment.  The CQ process is facilitated by a lower number of aircraft on deck than during standard flight cycles; thus enabling simultaneous launches and recoveries without needing waist catapults.

CQ is an essential procedure for pilots, both new and experienced, to maintain proficiency in arrested landings.  Appropriate CQ requirements are tailored depending on the individual's flight experience and time elapsed since their last landing.

  •     Undergraduate CQ is for student naval aviators, currently completed in the T-45 Goshawk and consisting of 14 day landings (10 arrested; up to four can be "touch-and-go").
  •     Initial CQ (FRS CQ) is flown in a newly designated aviator's first fleet aircraft (F/A-18, EA-18G, F-35C, or E-2/C-2A), consisting of 12 day (minimum 10 arrested) and eight night landings (minimum 6 arrested).
  •     Transition CQ is for experienced pilots transitioning from one type of aircraft to another, consisting of 12 day landings (minimum 10 arrested) and six night arrested landings.
  •     Requalification CQ is for experienced pilots who have not flown from the carrier within the previous six months, consisting of six day arrested landings and four night arrested landings.

Since the inception of the United States Navy, there has been a long-standing tradition of pride, dignity, honor and professionalism exhibited by Officers and Sailors.  From protecting merchant vessels from pirates during the Revolutionary War, to Maritime Security and providing Humanitarian Aid Relief around the world today, these individuals have exhibited an unparalleled willingness to put themselves in harm’s way for their country.

Maritime Security is a united, global effort to combat common threats of proliferation, smuggling and piracy, as well as terrorism.  Naval Aviation assets are essential in providing long-range protection against these dangers; safeguarding vessels all over the world by patrolling and escorting them on their journeys.

Humanitarian Aid Relief is an invaluable resource for those affected by disasters, as it provides swift and life-saving aid. Capable of delivering much-needed provisions such as water, food and survival supplies within days in a situation of need, CVNs and LHDs enable rapid response efforts before support from relief organizations can reach the region.  The USS Carl Vinson plays a crucial role in delivering Humanitarian Assistance/Disaster Relief (HA/DR) to those in need. Humanitarian assistance/disaster relief refers to the provision of aid and support to people affected by natural disasters, conflicts, or other emergencies. In times of crisis, the USS Carl Vinson stands ready to provide relief, hope, and support to those affected.  Aircraft carriers like the USS Carl Vinson are highly versatile platforms that can swiftly respond to humanitarian crises. These massive ships have the ability to transport large amounts of equipment, supplies, and personnel to disaster-stricken areas. The USS Carl Vinson serves as a command and control center, coordinating the efforts of various organizations involved in the humanitarian mission. It can also provide a secure base for conducting medical operations and offering temporary shelter to displaced individuals.  One notable mission was its response to the 2010 Haiti earthquake.  With Operation Unified Response the USS Carl Vinson was deployed to Haiti and arrived off the coast of Port-au-Prince to provide humanitarian aid with its trained personnel, emergency supplies, and helicopters on deck.  The USS Carl Vinson's involvement in humanitarian missions goes beyond providing immediate relief. The aircraft carrier also contributes to long-term recovery efforts by supporting initiatives that promote sustainable development in affected areas. These initiatives may include infrastructure reconstruction, capacity building, and education programs. By investing in long-term recovery, the USS Carl Vinson helps communities rebuild their lives and become more resilient to future disasters.

Operation Neptune Spear was "a kill-or-capture" mission for Osama bin Laden, the mastermind behind the 9/11 attacks.  After the mission, the body of Osama bin Laden was flown to the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson in a V-22 Osprey escorted by two US Navy F/A-18s.  The padeye, that was closest to where the Osprey landed on the flight deck, was later painted red as a reminder of the USS Carl Vinson's role that night in what was a historic mission.

the red padeyethe red padeyeUSS Carl Vinson (CVN 70)

The Red Padeye

The burial at sea of Osama bin Laden garnered international attention.  The decision to bury Osama bin Laden at sea was made to adhere to Islamic tradition, which requires a swift burial.  Considering the logistical challenges of transporting Osama bin Laden's body to land and the potential security risks, burying at sea was deemed the most appropriate option.  The decision was also influenced by the desire to prevent bin Laden's grave from becoming a site of pilgrimage or a symbol for extremists.  The US government consulted with Islamic scholars and religious leaders to ensure that the burial at sea was conducted in accordance with Islamic customs.  Religious rites were carried out on the deck of the USS Carl Vinson.  Osama bin Laden's body, shrouded in a white sheet and placed in a weighted bag, was then positioned on a flat board, tipped up, and eased into the Arabian Sea.  This occurred at 06:00 GMT, approximately 12 hours after the firefight during which Osama bin Laden was killed.

Some of my previous embarks included a flight to and from the ship on a Navy Grumman C-2A Greyhound, which included an arrested landing and a catapult launch.  The USS Carl Vinson has transitioned from the C-2A to the Bell/Boeing CMV-22B Osprey.  For this embark, our flight back to NAS North Island was on a Bell/Boeing CMV-22B Osprey from Fleet Logistics Multi-Mission Squadron 30 (VRM-30) "Titans."  Based at NAS North Island, San Diego, California, Fleet Logistics Multi-Mission Squadron 30 (VRM-30) "Titans" is the U. S. Navy’s first CMV-22B Osprey squadron.  The "Titans" were established to usher in a new era of logistics support for aircraft carriers.  The Navy is embarking on a new chapter in its history, transitioning from the C-2A Greyhound to an aircraft capable of providing efficient and effective logistics support for their many aircraft carriers.  The Navy's new CMV-22B utilizes the V-22 Osprey, a revolutionary tiltrotor aircraft combining a multi-engine design with vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) capabilities to provide improved operational range while also enabling faster cargo loading/unloading compared to their existing C-2As.  Furthermore, it offers enhanced survivability as well as improved beyond line of sight communications from its predecessor, this powerful combination offers reliability for military operations around the globe.

A few Pop Culture fun facts about the USS Carl Vinson; movie crews have embarked for filming of sequences for 1988's The Presidio, 2001's Behind Enemy Lines, 2005's Stealth, and 2017's Transformers: The Last knight.  In 1985, Anthony "Tony" Scott, the director of the motion picture "Top Gun," embarked with an eight-man crew to obtain flight deck and aerial footage for the film.

The USS Carl Vinson is a proud symbol of America's naval might over four decades since its launch back in 1980.  From providing air support during Operation Desert Strike, Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Southern Watch, and Operation Enduring Freedom, there is no denying that this aircraft carrier has played an important role in protecting our nation against threats both foreign and domestic throughout its long service life.  Let's always remember what this ship has done to honor those who have proudly served aboard her since her maiden voyage all those years ago.

7070USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70)

CVN 70



the bubblethe bubbleUSS Carl Vinson (CVN 70)

The Bubble




boeing ea-18g growlerboeing ea-18g growlerElectronic Attack Squadron 129 (VAQ-129) "Vikings"
USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70)

VAQ-129 "Vikings" Growler


lockheed martin f-35c lightning IIlockheed martin f-35c lightning IIStrike Fighter Squadron 125 (VFA-125) "Rough Raiders"
USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70)

VFA-125 "Rough Raiders" F-35C



boeing ea-18g growlerboeing ea-18g growlerElectronic Attack Squadron 129 (VAQ-129) "Vikings"
USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70)

Growler on the Cat


frs cqfrs cqUSS Carl Vinson (CVN 70)

Vulture's Row

Level 03Level 03USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70)

Level 03 Passageway



7070USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70)

The Art of War



bell/boeing cmv-22b ospreybell/boeing cmv-22b ospreyFleet Logistics Multi-Mission Squadron 30 (VRM-30) "Titans"
USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70)

VRM-30 "Titans" Osprey

"The COD Father""The COD Father"USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70)

"The COD Father"


Day Flight Operations


Night Flight Operations


The Distinguished Visitors


If you want to see the entire collection of photos from this embark, they are available here:

"America's Favorite Carrier"


A huge THANK YOU to all the men and women who helped make this such an amazing embark, especially the CNAF PAO and the USS Carl Vinson's PAO.  Thank you again, I really appreciate working with you.


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