PACIFIC OCEAN (NNS) -- USS Carl Vinson, responding to positive feedback from family members at the conclusion of the Nimitz-class carrier's last combat deployment in June, announced the expansion of its social media footprint Dec. 12.
Families and friends of Vinson and embarked Carrier Air Wing 17 Sailors, have new resources to stay informed during the carrier's current Western Pacific deployment that began Nov. 30.
Podcast interviews with Sailors and blogs posted to Tumblr are augmenting the existing Facebook page and Twitter account, keeping an audience of thousands up to date.
What appears to be nameless Vinson Sailors, blogging under pen names on the ship's Tumblr page (www.cvn70blogspot.tumblr.com) on subjects relating to their lives aboard the ship, are actually Sailors who have routed their blog through the ship's public affairs office where the blog is checked for professionalism and adherence to military order before being posted by public affairs staff.
The first blog, written by "2ndChanceSailor", detailed the challenges of staying Navy and converting to an undermanned rating. It was posted to the site Dec. 7, then consequently linked from Vinson's Facebook page and finally re-purposed through the Vinson Twitter account.
2ndChanceSailor has been pleasantly surprised by the positive reception she's received since her first blog post.
"The response that stuck out to me the most was from a mother who said it was a great message and asked if I could go tell her son because he needs to hear it from someone other than his mom," said 2ndChanceSailor. "I have never blogged on my own or ever had a diary, so this is a first for me."
2ndChanceSailor plans to explore the concerns facing many Sailors being forced to convert into new ratings from her personal experience.
"I felt like a new kid coming out of boot camp again," said 2ndChanceSailor, who converted to the Navy counselor rate after spending more than ten years as a nuclear electrician's mate. "It's a completely different world, and it's challenging to learn something new this late in my career."
2ndChanceSailor also identifies with those whose conversion intersects with another milestone in their careers - chief petty officer exams.
"For some people this is really scary because they're worried they're not as competitive for chief or they're going to get selected and be expected to train junior personnel who have probably worked in the rate longer than they have. It's a little nerve-wracking."
She praised Vinson's social media efforts to reach out to Sailors and their families, emphasizing the importance of reaching a large audience.
"We need to keep up with the times, and this is what people are doing. For our friends and family at home it gives a little peace of mind to see what's going on and we're okay. Not everyone has the time to write home," 2ndChanceSailor said.
Blogger "RadioHead" has been aboard Vinson for one year and welcomed the opportunity to provide a junior Sailor's perspective on day-to-day life to the ship's Facebook fans and Twitter followers.
"They see the photos, all the cool stuff we do, but they don't get an idea of what it's like everyday for a random Sailor. It's a different perspective on how things work," RadioHead said. "You see commercials for joining the Navy, and they're all epic shots of aircraft carriers and hyped-up action, but no one gets an idea from those ads of what it's like to be a Sailor missing your family and the sacrifices we make."
RadioHead would like to see the blogging effort grow aboard Vinson and gain a wider variety of viewpoints.
"There are so many aspects to people's lives on this ship, and there's definitely room for expansion," RadioHead said.
The second new addition to Vinson's social media offerings comes in the form of two-minute podcasts. These audio interviews with Sailors offer an insight into both their personal and professional lives, and are accessible on the ship's Tumblr page and the Vinson ombudsman's website at www.vinsonombudsman.org.
Personnel Specialist 3rd Class (SW/AW) Luis Cano, from Salt Lake City and an education service office clerk for Administration Department's X-1 Division, enjoyed the opportunity to speak to a global audience.
"It gives you the chance to let people know what you do," Cano said. "You're putting yourself out there, and you have an opportunity to say hi to people back home. I have family in California and in Utah, and they could all hear me. I said something in Spanish to my mom, and I loved it."
The podcasts and blogs are linked to an active Facebook page (www.facebook.com/USSVinson) where nearly 40, 000 fans have a central location to view Sailors' activities and a "Division of the Day" photo selection. Fans can download PDF copies of the command's newspaper "Vinson Voice", and stream "The 70", Vinson's newscast highlighting the top stories around the ship.
More than 7,800 people follow Vinson on Twitter @CVN70 with the current Western Pacific deployment marked #Vinson. The daily tweets provide up-to-the-minute information and preview upcoming content for Vinson's Facebook page. Carl Vinson was the 2010 Chief of Information Merit Award winner for Social Media Presence.
For more information, visit www.navy.mil, www.facebook.com/usnavy, or www.twitter.com/usnavy.
For more news from USS Carl Vinson, visit www.navy.mil/local/cvn70/.