Capt. Eric Anduze welcomed the crew to a cake cutting ceremony and spoke about the ship’s storied history, which includes numerous deployments since 1983 and the burial-at-sea of terrorist leader Osama bin Laden.
The ship is named for long-time Georgia Congressman Carl Vinson, whose visionary legislation began a major rebuilding of the Navy in the 1930s, ultimately creating the world’s most powerful maritime force and helping win World War II.
“The most expensive thing in the world is a cheap Army and Navy,” Vinson once said.
The nuclear-powered carrier named for him supports a crew of 6,000 and nearly 90 aircraft. It has been refueled once since it was launched.
It is currently patrolling the tense South China Sea, where China has built a series of artificial islands and is claiming widespread jurisdiction.
China has said it opposes such “freedom of navigation” patrols by the United States.
“We are consistently opposed to relevant countries threatening and damaging the sovereignty and security of littoral countries under the flag of freedom of navigation and overflight,” said foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang earlier this month.
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