ABOARD USS CARL VINSON (NNS) -- Sailors and Marines from USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) and Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 9 welcomed more than 450 Australian friends aboard the mighty carrier July 15, marking the fourth and largest reception of the deployment.
The anchorage off west Australia's coast allowed Rear Adm. Marty Chanik, commander, Carrier Group (CCG) 3, and Capt. Rick Wren, Vinson's commanding officer, to show their appreciation for Australia's ongoing hospitality.
Speaking on behalf of the 6,000-strong strike-group family, Chanik expressed his deep gratitude for Australia's warm welcome and said the night was but "a small token of appreciation for allowing our stay. Stops to Australia have always been the crown jewel of overseas deployments."
In the past year, 43,000 servicemembers enjoyed the opportunity to see firsthand what it's like to live in Australia.
Bradley Woods, executive director of the Australian Hotels Association, followed Chanik's speech by presenting him with an aboriginal boomerang painting. Woods said the painting symbolically showed his hopes that the "Gold Eagle" would return very soon.
The reception allowed Sailors and Marines from the Carl Vinson Strike Group to return the favor by providing information about life aboard a ship.
"They kept asking how we do it month after month," said Chief Boatswain's Mate (EOD/SW) Thomas Spoerer. "I explained how it just becomes your home, and the crew becomes your family. They were amazed by how we get things done."
Putting the reception together involved teamwork from more than 100 Sailors and Marines from almost every department. Together, they transformed Carl Vinson's 25,000 square-foot hangar bay into a banquet hall - complete with two ice sculptures, silver punch fountains and tuxedo-clad Sailors. Mess management specialists created a 12-item menu and served nearly 1,200 pounds of food.
Marking the first time ever playing on any Navy vessel, The Royal Australian Navy West Coast Detachment Band pleased the crowd with an extended set.
With a mix of happy guests, great food and smooth music, Wren extended the reception for an extra hour-and-a-half, giving minglers time for more conversation and tours of the ship.
Passing on thanks from the Australian guests, Cmdr. Craig Tilghman, event coordinator, said it was "a well-received reception ... best in western Australia in a long time for certain!"
The Carl Vinson Strike Group was ordered to the western Pacific Feb. 7 in an effort to maintain America's standing commitment to peace, stability and theater security cooperation in coordination with allies and friends in the region.
For related news, visit the USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) Navy NewsStand page at www.news.navy.mil/local/cvn70.