The aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (front), guided-missile destroyer USS Wayne E. Meyer and Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force helicopter destroyer JS Ise in the western Pacific in March. Navy photo

The aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson, it’s air wing and accompanying guided-missile destroyer USS Wayne E. Meyer will return to San Diego on Thursday, the Navy announced.

The carrier, its jet aircraft and helicopters will return to Naval Air Station North Island after a three-month deployment that included the first visit to Vietnam by a U.S. aircraft carrier in 40 years. The Meyer will dock at Naval Base San Diego.

The Vinson and its 5,000 sailors also visited Guam and the Philippines, while the Meyer and its crew of 320 stopped in Guam, Malaysia, Hawaii and Vietnam.

The returning carrier’s air wing includes the “Black Knights” of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 4, the “Blue Hawks” of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 78, the “Bounty Hunters” of Strike Fighter Squadrons (VFA) 2, the “Blue Blasters” of VFA-34, the “Kestrels” of VFA-137, the “Golden Dragons” of VFA-192, the “Black Eagles” of Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 113, the “Gauntlets” of Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 136, and the “Providers” of Fleet Logistics Support Squadron (VRC) 30, Det. 2.

As the carrier headed from Hawaii to San Diego, Capt. Doug Verissimo spoke to families and friends in a Facebook video about the ship’s upcoming arrival.

The Vinson, named for the Georgia Congressman who is considered the father of the modern Navy, was the carrier from which terrorist Osama bin Laden was buried at sea. They Meyer is named for the admiral who led development of the sophisticated Aegis weapons system used on the Navy’s destroyers and cruisers.

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Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.