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USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70)

​USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70)

The Carl Vinson (CVN-70) is a Nimitz-class, nuclear-powered supercarrier currently based in San Diego. The vessel, which was commissioned on 13 March 1983 under the command of Captain Richard Martin, is notable for having been named for a member of Congress rather than a military hero, president or a famous battle, and has appeared in two Hollywood films (Top Gun and Behind Enemy Lines).

Vinson is the third of ten Nimitz-class vessels built between 1975 and 2009.


Construction on the Vinson commenced on 11 October 1975 at the Newport News Shipbuilding Company yard near Norfolk, Virginia. The vessel was launched in March of 1980.

Repairs and Upgrades

A massive and highly complex vessel like a Nimitz-class carrier requires frequent maintenance and repairs as well as upgrades as combat and marine technology changes. Major refits were carried out at the Puget Sound Naval Yard in Bremerton, Washington between November 1990 and early 1993. In July of 1999, Vinson returned to Bremerton for another refit, which took over a year and cost $230 million.

After her deployment to the North Arabian Sea in the wake of 9-11, Vinson once again returned to Bremerton, undergoing maintenance from April until September of 2002.

In January 2005, Vinson was ordered to Norfolk, Virginia, where she spent almost five years undergoing upgrades to her nuclear reactors.

Wartime Service

Following extensive shakedown trials and flight deck certifications off the East Coast, Vinson departed for a circumnavigation of the globe, arriving at Alameda NAS, which would be her home port for several years.

Vinson's first deployment was to the Pacific in 1984 for an international naval exercise known as RIMPAC. Following this, she was deployed to the Indian Ocean, patrolling those waters for over three months during the first quarter of 1985. Later that year, the vessel and her air crew were featured extras in the film Top Gun. After taking part in RIMPAC 86, Vinson was again deployed to the Far East. Returning to Alameda in January 1987, the vessel became the first carrier to traverse the Bering Strait between Siberia and Alaska.

In 1988, Vinson was ordered to the Persian Gulf in order to provide aerial protection for oil tankers operated by United States corporations. Her next assignment, in September 1989, took her to the North Pacific, where her crew took part in a massive battle exercise designated as PACEX 89; during the operation, she led a three-carrier group in the Bering Sea.

From February until October of 1990, Vinson made a circuit of several Pacific ports, visiting Pearl Harbor, Sasebo, Subic Bay, Diego Garcia, Perth, Singapore and Hong Kong. Upon her return to the States, she remained close to home for two years while maintenance and repairs were carried out.

As the twentieth century came to a close, Vinson was deployed to the Persian Gulf two more times, taking part in battle exercises in the Pacific between deployments. In April 1997, the Alameda NAS was closed down and Vinson was transferred to her new home port of Bremerton, Washington.

Vinson was again featured in a film in 2000, Behind Enemy Lines. In the summer of 2001, Vinson was ordered to the Persian Gulf. Departing in July, she had reached India on 11 September when she was ordered to the North Arabian Sea. Over the next two months, her airmen carried out more than 4000 missions against Al-Qaeda bases reported to be in Afghanistan.

Vinson returned to base in January 2002. She remained there for three years before she was ordered to Norfolk for upgrades.

The Vinson is currently based at the North Island Naval Base in San Diego. Her most recent mission was Operation Unified Response, which was part of the relief effort in the wake of the earthquake in Haiti of April 2010. As of this writing, the Vinson is still in active service.

Asbestos Risk on the USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70)

The use of asbestos-containing materials in the design of naval vessels was required by law in the United States in the early 1930s, after a fire at sea aboard a cruise ship resulted in great loss of life. Although all of the services made use of asbestos-containing products in various buildings and environments, exposure was much more frequent on ships and in drydock, and thus there are far more navy mesothelioma victims than in the other service branches. The Vinson was built after the navy stopped using asbestos insulation, and so crew or dockworkers on this ship were not likely exposed to high levels of asbestos fibers while aboard.

If asbestos insulation is damaged it becomes friable, meaning that the fibers can break off and escape into the air, and then can be inhaled or ingested by naval personnel or shipfitters, increasing the chances of contracting mesothelioma. Asbestos has been known for centuries for its fireproofing properties, but it was also proven to be the primary cause of serious conditions such as asbestosis and pleural mesothelioma. Sadly, the prognosis for mesothelioma cases is almost never positive; typically mesothelioma victims survive for less than two years after the disease is detected. With current medical technology medicine has not found a mesothelioma cure, however, there are supportive treatments that lengthen survival time and make patients more comfortable. Asbestos-caused diseases such as peritoneal mesothelioma are fairly uncommon, and accordingly mesothelioma clinics are also generally uncommon.

If you or a family member has developed mesothelioma, you should be aware that you have legal remedies available to you and finding a good mesothelioma attorney can help you decide your course of action. Trustworthy information about malignant mesothelioma isn't easy to unearth, so to help we've created a mesothelioma information package with up-to-date information concerning legal options and treatment options, as well as a list of clinical trials all over the US. Simply submit the form on this page and we'll get you your free package.

Author: Linda Molinari

Editor in Chief, Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance

Linda Molinari


Mooney, James. Dictionary of American Fighting Ships. (Washington DC; Department of the Navy, 1991).