USS CARL VINSON (NNS) -- USS Carl Vinson's (CVN 70) force protection team was nominated by Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet (COMPACFLT) for the 2006 Department of Defense (DOD) best anti-terrorism/force protection (AT/FP) program (operational unit category) June 9.
Carl Vinson was chosen from among the ships, squadrons, battalions and brigades in Pacific Fleet to be their nominee to the DOD-wide competition.
"It was our pleasure to select the USS Carl Vinson as COMPACFLT's nominee to USPACOM (U.S. Pacific Command) for the 2005 Department of Defense Best Anti-Terrorism/Force Protection Program Operational Unit," said Capt. James Scola, commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet director for force protection.
The Pacific Fleet nomination vaults Carl Vinson into DOD-wide competition after being recognized as Commander, U.S. 3rd Fleet's best AT/FP program.
Carl Vinson earned the nomination after successfully preparing the ship to safely deploy from the West Coast for her 2005 global combat deployment and operate around the world, to include four months of operations in the Persian Gulf in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. During this time, the ship transited some of the highest-threat straits in the world and visited eight foreign ports before arriving in the ship's new homeport of Norfolk, Va., to begin preparation for Vinson's refueling complex overhaul (RCOH) at Northrop Grumman Newport News shipyard.
"Based on exemplary AT/FP performance during work-ups, Carl Vinson was designated as the Strike Group's Force Protection Warfare Commander," said Scola. "In that assignment, Carl Vinson's force protection team was exemplary in leading innovative and aggressive training that integrated all the strike group assets and preserved combat readiness. Following a highly successful deployment, the ship returned to a new East Coast homeport, followed by a move to the Newport News shipyard for a Refueling Complex Overhaul. The FP team never missed a beat in anticipating vulnerabilities and responding to these dynamic changes to the ship's operating environment."
Being recognized as Pacific Fleet's best AT/FP Program and being nominated for DOD honors is the result of the hard work and dedication by the entire force protection team, according to Carl Vinson's Security Division Officer, Lt. j.g. Chris Breckenridge.
"This nomination reflects our mission to protect 90,000 tons of steel and 6,000 Sailors [and Marines] around the world without incident," said Breckenridge.
Vinson's force protection team stood watch around the clock during deployment, completing more than 78,000 total man-hours, and set precedents in the way a nuclear-powered warship is employed to aid the global war on terrorism.
In their down time, Carl Vinson's force protection team kept their reflexes sharp by conducting roughly 950 hours of attack craft and fast inshore attack craft live-fire exercises, honing their marksmanship skills. Small-boat swarm attack drills practiced 24/7 improved the force protection team accuracy in identifying bearing, range and speed of approaching craft.
Minimizing the reaction to waterborne threats was a constant issue for the force protection team, who were faced with countless small fishing vessels known as dhows. With no way of knowing which, if any, of the more than 250,000 surface contacts spotted each day could pose a threat to Carl Vinson and her crew, it was vital to keep each one at a safe distance to effectively protect the crew from potential terrorists bent on attacking a U.S. warship.
Vinson's force protection team excelled on shore as well, assigning force protection advance teams to work with friendly forces in Bahrain, Jebel Ali, Singapore, Greece and Portugal to increase the host nations' capabilities to maintain security zones and pier protection during liberty and fleet landing operations.
Carl Vinson is currently undergoing its scheduled RCOH at Northrop Grumman Newport News shipyard. The RCOH is an extensive yard period that all Nimitz-class aircraft carriers go through near the mid-point of their 50-year life cycle.
During RCOH, Carl Vinson's nuclear fuel will be replenished and the ship's services and infrastructure will be upgraded to make her the most state-of-the-art aircraft carrier in the fleet and prepare her for another 25 years or more of service.
For related news, visit the USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) Navy NewsStand page at www.news.navy.mil/local/cvn70/.