NEWPORT NEWS, Va (NNS) -- USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) Sailors enjoyed their first meal served aboard the aircraft carrier and marked the initiation of the crew move aboard (CMA) evolution Aug. 18 after more than three years in overhaul.
The first meal ceremony, held in the ship's newly refurbished aft mess deck facility, highlighted festivities on the first day of the ship's CMA evolution, a major shipyard milestone for the aircraft carrier in her 40-month refueling complex overhaul (RCOH) period.
"We've waited a long time for this day to come," said Command Master Chief (AW/SW) Glenn Mallo. "For our Sailors, especially our junior Sailors who have never been to sea, this meal marks the turning point from the shipyard experience to living and working aboard ship."
Sailors watched as Commanding Officer Capt. Ted Carter and other members of Team Carl Vinson marked the event by cutting a ribbon and a specially prepared
eight-foot cake, made in the form of a Nimitz-class aircraft carrier.
"There are an awful lot of people who put forth a lot of work to make this day happen," said Carter. "This ship is coming through one of the most complex industrial efforts in the world, and we're bringing the pride and ownership of this ship right back to the deck plates where it belongs."
Project team leaders credited the dedication, teamwork, and "can do" attitude of Sailors and shipyard employees for the success leading up to CMA.
"Everybody rolled up their sleeves and said 'we're going to make this happen,'" said Jim Chapman, Navy supervisor of shipbuilding team lead for the Carl Vinson project. "This is a huge day for Team Carl Vinson."
Chris Miner, the RCOH program director for Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding, agreed.
"What you see today represents the pride of our entire team," said Miner. "Until the crew is actually eating and sleeping on board, the ship really isn't coming back to life. Our work here is the springboard for the next 25 years in the life of this ship."
For many Sailors who have served aboard Carl Vinson during the RCOH period, eating aboard the ship was a new and refreshing experience, and signaled the aircraft carrier's eventual return to operational status.
"This meal is important for both the Sailors eating it and the Sailors who prepared it," said Culinary Specialist Seaman Jessica McNair. "It is an important milestone in adjusting and preparing for life at sea. Preparing more than 800 meals is just the beginning of what we will be producing underway. It takes a lot of work, but everybody does their part to get it done."
Master Chief Culinary Specialist (SW/AW) Pedro Padilla, leading chief petty officer for Supply department's S-2, S-5, and S-11 divisions, said preparation for CMA required significant contributions from every member of his team. In recent weeks, all new galley refrigerators and equipment have been installed, dry store rooms have been fully stocked, and more than 200 pallets of food have been brought aboard.
"Feeding the crew on board is symbolic in bringing the ship back to life," said Padilla. "Everybody worked really, really hard to make our first day of crew move aboard a real success."
USS Carl Vinson is currently undergoing her 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 one of the most technologically advanced aircraft carriers in the fleet and prepare for another 25 years or more of service.
For more news from USS Carl Vinson, visit www.navy.mil/local/cvn70/.