USS CARL VINSON (NNS) -- After months of hard work and attention to detail from USS Carl Vinson's (CVN 70) crew, the Navy's Board of Inspection and Survey (INSURV) boarded the supercarrier March 7 to complete the congressionally mandated material inspection of the ship, and successful results confirmed the "Gold Eagle's" readiness.
"The crew's dedication, pride in ownership, self-sufficiency and implementation of a total-team concept has kept Carl Vinson operating at peak performance throughout our past deployment and during the global war on terror," said Rear Adm. Marty Chanik, commander of Carrier Group 3 and the Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Group. "All hands should be proud of their combined efforts in preparing for and executing the INSURV inspection."
The inspection team that evaluated the Gold Eagle was comprised of approximately 45 military and 120 civilian inspectors, tasked with evaluating everything from the ship's habitability to its engineering equipment. The board inspects every ship and submarine in the Navy on a periodic basis to ensure they're properly equipped for prompt, reliable and sustained mission readiness at sea.
"We inspected virtually 100 percent of the ship," said Capt. David Denis, Board of Inspection and Survey's senior inspector. "It was clear to us that Carl Vinson can perform sustained operations at sea and do the job it was meant to do."
Although inspectors were impressed with the mighty warship, preparing Vinson for INSURV proved to be a unique challenge for the crew.
Carl Vinson is the oldest Nimitz-class aircraft carrier that hasn't been through a Refueling and Complex Overhaul (RCOH), a process that prepares the ship for the second half of its lifetime of service to the nation. Vinson isn't scheduled for that overhaul until late next year.
The crew's ability to keep their 21-year-old ship battle ready directly contributed to INSURV success, and led to Vinson's Commanding Officer, Capt. Rick Wren referring to his team as "Carl Vinson shipyard."
"After PIA [Planned Incremental Availability] and two deployments, that was the hardest thing we've done, but the bottom line is we're a better war-fighting machine because of INSURV," said Wren.
Preparations for the inspection began following the ship's return to Bremerton, Wash., Sept. 19 from an eight-month western Pacific deployment.
"The depth of INSURV can be overwhelming unless you start months in advance with a plan that covers every base," said Wren. "Everyone has to develop an INSURV eye."
The teamwork of nearly 3,000 Sailors led Carl Vinson to be inspection ready, and the intense, five-day evaluation required not only sustained focus, but also coordination of many significant evolutions at once.
"Inspecting, reporting, repairing and constantly changing your plan to adjust for the unforeseen circumstances was the name of the game," said Machinist's Mate 1st Class (SW/AW) Aaron Horning, who acted as an escort and demonstrated some of the ship's air conditioning and refrigeration units. "I was impressed with everyone's refuse-to-fail attitude."
The attitude spread throughout the ship's crew. When they weren't cleaning and performing maintenance, they were keeping track of their carrier's progress.
"As I went around during the inspection, I couldn't walk 20 feet without a Sailor asking me how we were doing," said Vinson's Command Master Chief (AW/SW) Rick Rose. "Everyone was caught up in this."
Getting caught up in INSURV translated into inspectors getting caught up in what Wren describes as "Carl Vinson spirit."
"Pride and enthusiasm were characteristics throughout the ship," said Denis. "(The crew) was proud to display their equipment, enthusiastic about showing it to the inspectors, eager to learn and quick to fix. I was impressed by everyone's professionalism."
The spirit and high standards set during INSURV and its preparations won't be relaxed.
"We've developed a questioning attitude, and the level of knowledge is where it should be," said Wren. "Soon we'll start preparing for another deployment, and INSURV sets us up for that."
The 25-year Navy veteran, who took command of the Gold Eagle Oct. 6, 2001, learned of his ship's official INSURV success March 12, then thanked and praised the crew on the ship's announcing system for their incredible level of effort and extraordinary success.
Carl Vinson continues to stand ready as the Navy's surge carrier in its homeport of Bremerton.
For related news, visit the USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) Navy NewsStand page at www.news.navy.mil/local/cvn70.