NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (NNS) -- Twenty-one of USS Carl Vinson's (CVN 70) plank owners were afforded the opportunity to tour the ship while in its refueling complex overhaul (RCOH) June 9.
Some of the plank owners, members of the crew when the ship was first commissioned, hadn't seen the ship in more than 20 years.
One plank owner, however, was still on active duty. Cmdr. Jim Jones, USS Dwight D. Eisenhower's (CVN 69) chief engineering officer has served in the Navy for 29 years. According to him, his first and best seven years were aboard Carl Vinson.
"There's nothing compared to serving on your first aircraft carrier," said Jones. "I went from a 3rd class petty officer and worked my way to officer aboard USS Carl Vinson. In that time period, I gained a lot of great friends and memories. It appears refueling of Carl Vinson is coming along great thanks to the crew and the shipyard workers."
The distinguished visitors toured the quarterdeck, the hangar bay, the reactor's berthing space, and the flight deck.
Sailors from media, medical, reactor and the inport emergency team conducted the tour.
The plank owners noticed many changes to the "Gold Eagle" during the past 25 years, such as the addition of ATM machines. They also remarked on the unusual color of the island while in the shipyard.
"It's green!" one of the plank owners remarked while on the flight deck to get a picture taken.
One of the plank owners visiting was Scott Hassel, current employee at Supervisor of Shipbuilding, Conversion and Repair, and a previously enlisted Sailor who served in the Navy for 20 years.
"I enjoyed my time on Carl Vinson. I was one of the first Sailors fueling this ship. It's hard to believe 25 years later Carl Vinson is being refueled again," said Hassel.
Each plank owner received a ship's ball cap and gold coin from Carl Vinson's Commanding Officer, Capt. Ted Carter, along with a photo album including a group shot of the plank owners themselves.
Jim Reichert is the coordinator who brought all the plank owners together and also served aboard the ship for six years.
"One day I just looked up some Sailors that I recalled working with when serving on Carl Vinson and arranged to meet up with them," said Reichert. "Eventually, six led to nine, and so on. It was a great feeling to come back aboard Carl Vinson, and I can't wait to see the ship up and running again."
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 for another 25 years or more of service.
For more news from USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) visit www.news.navy.mil/local/cvn70/.