INDIAN OCEAN (NNS) -- USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) and embarked Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 17 Sailors learned Jan. 19, they had been awarded the 2010 Community Service Health, Safety, and Fitness Flagship Award.
Annually, the Navy recognizes six categories of commands whose Sailors exemplify outstanding service to their communities. Vinson earned the award for the large sea command platform, and joins a selection of 12 winners and honorable mentions.
From July 2009 to June 2010, Carl Vinson Sailors participated in a wide array of community service activities spanning multiple continents. Vinson's principle assistant chaplain, Lt. Cmdr. James West, emphasized the importance of teamwork to accomplish the goal.
"The events were in North and South America, and were all command-sponsored," said West. "It wasn't a collection of many people doing great things, but a coordination across all departments and divisions, in both the air wing and the ship."
Notable events include a blood drive from December 2009 to January 2010, to support the Haitian humanitarian relief effort, drawing 84 donors and affecting approximately 3,000 people; 30 volunteers contributing five hours each to a half-marathon in Virginia Beach, affecting 20,000 individuals; a Marine Corps marathon with 30 volunteers working 12 hours each, affecting 1,175 people; and the Temecula annual vineyard run with 12 Sailors volunteering seven hours each to affect 800 people.
The grand total of all the events, said West, came to 171 people contributing 1,500 hours of community service to make a positive impact for approximately 30,000 people.
West said the impressive numbers speak volumes for the power of teamwork.
"We can accomplish a lot when we pull together as the Carl Vinson team," said West. "Through great work and the good heart of people working together across command lines, we can use off-duty hours to do great things."
Capitalizing on the ship's operational status also played a key factor into earning the award, said West. The ship's Refueling Complex Overhaul (RCOH) and mission demands provided the chance to make a positive impact.
"It amounts to seizing opportunity along the way," said West. "The ship wasn't going anywhere during RCOH, so we used our time to build a rapport with the community where the ship was. We got underway for what was supposed to be a quick homeport change, and the events of Haiti happened. The team responded by promoting health through our medical department, and got the word out about occupational health. We had teams of runners engage with the local population of Brazil, Chile, and Peru, and engage with people in San Diego."
In addition to the Health, Safety and Fitness award, the Navy's Flagship Award program also includes the Personal Excellence Partnership, Project Good Neighbor, Campaign Drug Free, and Environmental Stewardship awards. Vinson is working to ensure a presence in these classes as well, said West.
"We're collecting data to stay competitive in all the Flagship Award categories. We want to score well in all five and go for the USS Bainbridge Award, which is for overall excellence. That's what we're going for now," West said.
The Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Group is deployed supporting maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility.
For more news from USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70), visit www.navy.mil/local/cvn70/.