RIO DE JANEIRO (NNS) -- USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) became the largest tourist attraction in Rio de Janeiro Feb. 28, when 80 midshipmen from the Brazilian Naval Academy toured the Nimitz-class nuclear-powered aircraft carrier.
For Carl Vinson, the port visit was part of Southern Seas 2010, a major component of Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command (COMUSNAVSO) Partnership of the Americas maritime engagement strategy and theater security cooperation activities. For some of the midshipmen, the visit capped a life-long goal.
"I have had a dream since I was 8-years old, a dream to see a Nimitz-class carrier," said Midshipman Tullio Mozart, a Rio de Janeiro native. "It's an honor and privilege to come aboard Carl Vinson - a ship I've only seen in pictures in magazines. I had a poster of this ship on my wall when I was little."
For Midshipman Felipe Ferreira Marques, also a Rio de Janeiro native, the tour helped strengthen the existing bond between U.S. and Brazilian sailors.
"I feel it's important to know those we serve with around the globe," said Ferreira Marques. "I want to know all about the U.S. Navy culture and everyone has been very receptive to that. I have wanted to see this ship for a very long time and it's an experience I won't forget."
Embracing the theme of international cooperation is high on the Brazilian Naval Academy's agenda as well, as they have several exchange students who made the tour. Midshipman Tangeni Haimbala, originally from Windhoek, Namibia, welcomed the opportunity to come face-to-face with his American counterparts and see things from a fresh perspective.
"Everything is so new. This is a new experience, a new feeling. There's new technology I only see in magazines," said Haimbala.
For Lt. Chris Cortez, a U.S. foreign exchange officer who teaches navigation at the Brazilian Naval Academy, the tour provided an opportunity for the future of the Brazilian Navy to meet and interact with professional Sailors.
"For these guys it's a chance of a lifetime," said Cortez. "They don't get to see or interact with chief petty officers or other enlisted Sailors or very often. Here they get to see the beating heart of the Navy and experience some of that culture."
The tours were part of a three-day port visit in support of U.S. Southern Command's goals of ensuring theater security, enhancing regional stability, strengthening relationships among regional partners and promoting regional partnerships through interoperability. Carl Vinson is underway in support of Southern Seas 2010 during a scheduled homeport shift from Norfolk to San Diego.
For more news from USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70), visit www.navy.mil/local/cvn70/.