NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (NNS) -- A USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) Sailor returned to ship life in October after volunteering for duty in the Middle East through the Navy's Individual Augmentation (IA) program.
Intelligence Specialist 2nd Class Ray McDaniel of Operations Department was one of 40 Vinson Sailors to participate in the IA program. This program places service members with specific skill sets into forward deployed billets in order to ensure the armed forces meet mission requirements.
McDaniel deployed as part of a 12-man team that was based out of Bahrain and assigned to U.S. Naval Central Command (NAVCENT).
"We were paired off in two-man teams initially," said McDaniel. "We were sent out to ships to help augment the VBSS [Visit, Board, Search and Seizure] teams already on the coalition ships. We never knew what day we were flying out to a ship or how long we would stay. The work changed constantly. You can go to bed thinking the next morning you were going to fly out to a ship and the next morning find out that the trip was cancelled."
McDaniel's versatility allowed him to work independently and aboard 20 different vessels while deployed in support of coalition forces.
"I was on British, Australian, and American ships," said McDaniel. "We would board [commerical or civilian]vessels...from merchant ships to small dhows. One of our primary missions was to improve relations between coalition forces and the local ship crews."
Although McDaniel never physically stepped foot in Iraq, he was able to spend time on the oil platforms, aboard many of the coalition ships in the area, and he met many Middle Eastern people. He said he would never forget the duty's positive experiences.
Carl Vinson is currently undergoing its scheduled refueling complex overhaul (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 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/.