The USS Carl Vinson underway in the Pacific Ocean on June 13. Navy photo

The recently-upgraded aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson and ships assigned to Carrier Strike Group 1 began training off the Hawaiian Islands this week, operating in conjunction with Army, Marine Corps, Air Force, and Coast Guard units.

“Operating in Hawaii provides unique opportunities for Vinson to train jointly while positioned to respond if called,” said Vice Adm. Steve Koehler, the new commander of the 3rd Fleet. “They train to a variety of missions, from long-range strikes to anti-submarine warfare, and can move anywhere on the globe on short notice.”

Ships and aircraft involved in the training include Carrier Air Wing 2 and the guided-missile destroyers of Destroyer Squadron 1, including the USS O’Kane, USS Howard, USS Chafee, USS Dewey and USS Michael Murphy, as well as two Coast Guard cutters.

Pilots flying their jets from the carrier will train with land-based Marine Corps and Air Force fighter squadrons, as well as Coast Guard C-130 transports.

In August the Vinson completed a 17-month maintenance period in the Puget Sound during which it was upgraded to support the new F-35C Lightning II stealth fighter. The carrier now has enhanced jet blast deflectors able to take the increased heat generated by the 5th-generation fighter as well as a new computer network to support it.

The nuclear-powered carrier also carries the F/A-18 Super Hornet strike jet, EA-18G Growler electronic warfare jet, E-2D Hawkeye command-and-control planes and various helicopters.

“Our strike group is prepared to carry out the full spectrum of missions, from humanitarian relief to combat operations,” said Rear Adm. Dan Martin, commander of the strike group. “When a carrier strike group gets underway, we have to be ready for any contingency.”

The carrier has long been based in San Diego, and is famous for being the ship from which the terrorist Osama Bin Laden was buried at sea in 2011.

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Chris Jennewein

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