Arabian Sea (NNS) -- Sailors on board the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) and embarked Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 17 welcomed Navy Chief of Chaplains Rear Adm. Mark L. Tidd Apr. 16-17 during the ship's conduction of maritime security operations in the 5th Fleet area of responsibility (AOR).
Tidd's visit with Vinson and the guided-missile cruiser USS Bunker Hill (CG 52) dovetailed with Palm Sunday April 17, an event celebrated one week before Easter.
"This is part of a wider visit to both 5th Fleet and Central Command," explained Cmdr. Keith Shuley, Vinson and Carrier Strike Group 1 command chaplain. "His goal is to get the pulse of the crew and the ship, and give a snapshot to the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO)."
To meet as many Sailors as possible, Tidd conducted several "walk abouts" to visit various workcenters. Vinson and CVW 17 Sailors also attended a meet-and-greet on the aft mess decks with Tidd warmly greeting Sailors and asking about their day-to-day lives aboard Vinson. Later, Sailors took part in an all-hands call with the Chief of Chaplains in Hangar Bay 3.
"I had an opportunity to visit Sailors, and I jumped on it. It's important for me to hear what's going on, to have contact and know what Sailors are doing and what they're excited about," said Tidd. "Folks who are committed and passionate are exciting to me, and that's a message I want to share with CNO."
Tidd emphasized the importance of recognizing Vinson and CVW 17's work. "For many years, this AOR has been very important and very dynamic. Now more than ever, so much going on. The ability to respond and be present is a tremendous ability we have," Tidd said. "But it doesn't happen without Sailors making it happen. I felt tremendously welcome, and appreciate the Carl Vinson hospitality."
Ship's Serviceman Seaman Amber Walker, assigned to Vinson's Supply Department S-2 Division, was excited to meet a Navy career role model. "I've been looking forward to this since I found out he was coming a couple of days ago," said Walker. "I want to be a chaplain, and meeting the Chief of Chaplains is an honor."
Walker encouraged Sailors to make the most of the opportunity to meet the Navy Chief of Chaplains. "People feel more open talking to a chaplain. If he can hear what's going on with us, he can bring that to the CNO's attention. He's someone who is out here to help us."
For Shuley, Tidd's visit was a welcome opportunity to reconnect with a mentor. "Our paths crossed back in 1995, and he has been a good mentor and pastor to me over the years. I was thrilled when he was confirmed by the Senate to be the Navy Chief of Chaplains," Shuley said.
Hosting the senior pastor in charge of all the naval services; the Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard and Merchant Marines; also gives Vinson's Religious Programs Department a valuable opportunity, Shuley added. "On board Vinson, we have about 15 different faith groups represented, and we are committed to this diversity," said Shuley. "He comes from a Christian background, and it's a great opportunity to reflect on how we all work together. This crew is so welcoming, and it's a great opportunity for our Sailors."
For more news from USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70), visit www.navy.mil/local/cvn70/.