USS CARL VINSON (NNS) -- U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) Commander, Army Gen. John Abizaid, visited the USS Nimitz-class nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) in the Persian Gulf May 5 as it conducted its dual mission of providing air support to multinational forces on the ground in Iraq and conducting maritime security operations (MSO).
The visit allowed Abizaid the opportunity to tour the 95,000-ton warship and witness the hard work displayed by Sailors and Marines as they conducted both missions in support of regional security efforts.
"The carrier [strike] group with all the Marines and all the Sailors on board doing their duty out here in the middle of the [Persian] Gulf is extremely impressive," said Abizaid. "I mean, this ship and this [strike] group represent the power and might of the United States of America, and what they do out here to exert their influence on the maritime highways and byways, flying in support of our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, is absolutely essential in getting the job done.
"Whenever I see young Marines and young Sailors at work where they are doing what their country's asking them to do in a hard place, I can only come away thankful and impressed," he added.
During his visit, Abizaid touched base with senior leadership guiding the Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Group, to further express his gratitude and the importance of the Navy and Marine Corps team's mission while stationed on point.
"The Navy and Marine Corps team has to do everything that we are engaged in in the CENTCOM theater of operations," said Abizaid. "They have to fly in support of operations on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan. They've got to patrol the sea lanes against potential smuggling of terrorists and [weapons of mass destruction]. They have got to be able to ensure the flow of oil moves through the [Persian] Gulf to the rest of the world. These missions are absolutely essential to not only peace and stability in the region, but for the successful accomplishment of combat operations in the Central Command area of operations. When people at sea see the United States Navy, they know they're safe. That fact in itself is worth more than I could tell you."
The Carl Vinson Strike Group is comprised of Carrier Strike Group 3, Carrier Air Wing 9, Destroyer Squadron 31, Carl Vinson, the guided-missile destroyers USS O'Kane (DDG 77) and USS Mustin (DDG 89), the fast combat support ship USS Camden (AOE 2), the fast-attack submarine USS Olympia (SSN 717), and a detachment from Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit 11.
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