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In This Issue: Sea Trials | You Are Not Forgotten | Chuckie’s Cafe | Superbowl XLVII

Vol 03 No 01 | February 4, 2013

PIA COMPLETE Ready For Sea and the Nation’s Tasking


MC3 (SW) Heather Roe| Carl Vinson Staff Writer

Photo By| MCSN Iain Stratton


apt. Kent Whalen, Carl Vinson’s commanding officer, officially commemorated Carl Vinson’s successful completion of a six-month Planned Incremental Availability (PIA) Feb. 3, 2013. “Today marked the culmination of this crew’s steadfast dedication and professionalism throughout a six-month Planned Incremental Availability (PIA) maintenance period. For more than 400,000 manhours, 2,800 Sailors worked alongside 900 shipyard workers and contractors to make this great warship once again ready for sea and for the nation’s tasking,” said Whalen. “I can’t tell you how proud I am of everyone who played a role during this maintenance period to return Carl Vinson to an operational status on time.” PIA, an extended period of deep maintenance and modernization, coordinated the efforts of the ship’s work force and the technical expertise of civilian workers to attain or supersede the fifty-year life expectancy of Carl Vinson. “It gave Carl Vinson an opportunity to do a lot of corrective maintenance for deficiencies we’ve identified over the years since our last availability and during our past operations,” said Lt. Cmdr. Wayne Oxendine, Carl Vinson’s assistant PIA coordinator. “PIA also provided us time to complete a lot of habitability work, which was a majority of what the ship’s force accomplished during the availability.” CONTINUE ‘PIA’ on PAGE 2


Vinson Voice


Carl Vinson’s crew and civilian shipyard contractors coordinated through extensive communications to plan and prepare for PIA 2012 a full calendar year before the maintenance period’s commencement Aug. 1, 2012. During the initial planning, Carl Vinson departed its homeport in San Diego for a six-month Western Pacific (WESTPAC) deployment to the 5th and 7th Fleet areas of responsibilities. As planning continued to develop, a small portion of the crew worked shore-side with contractors to further develop a work package encompassing the six-month availability. Meanwhile, shipyard contractors periodically flew aboard the warship to train the ship’s crew on upcoming responsibilities vital to completing the ambitious amount of work to be accomplished. The work package, consisting of 8,750 jobs and ranging from upgrading radar systems to improving the crew’s living quarters, was constructed to achieve the maximum amount of work while accounting for the incredibly complex web of requirements inherent to complete that many diverse jobs. Critical to PIA 2012’s successful completion, Carrier Availability Support Team (CAST) members were established and assigned to ship’s force zone manager – Sailors assigned to lead either a ship’s force team or ship’s department or division. CAST members liaised between the ship’s force and the shipyard contractors throughout PIA, providing guidance and lines of communication to precipitate the most effective and productive maintenance period. “With all the work that has to be done by all parties involved, you can’t just have ship’s force go out and do their thing or shipyard workers go out and do their thing,” said Robert Yates, the lead CAST member orchestrating Carl Vinson’s PIA. “We have to go out as one to define what their roles are and how we’re going to integrate everyone’s work. This is why we start planning 12 months prior to the actual availability.” Multiple daily meetings between ship’s force and shipyard contractors were necessary to effectively manage and conduct the complex and exhaustive work accomplished in a comparatively short six months. “We integrated project team development sessions to get everyone together to work as a team because we all

have one mission in mind: to get this ship out on time and to accomplish its mission,” Yates said. Further increasing the combined force’s effectiveness and to ultimately ensure PIA 2012 would be competed on time, ship’s force maintenance teams were formed to more evenly spread the workload. “For ship’s force, the brunt of the work comes from E-5 and below. That’s roughly around 1,350 Sailors that we’re able to identify during the availability,” Yates said. “They expended about 408,800 man hours. By using ship’s force, we saved $18,836,220.” A large portion of Carl Vinson’s PIA was rehabilitation of crew berthings and living areas. The berthing rehabilitation team, consisting of approximately 60 Sailors, overhauled 28 berthings, removing and reinstalling 904 sleeping racks shipwide. Each berthing took from six to eight weeks to complete, which required the team to overlap multiple berthings at once. “We did the removal of all racks, lockers, [floor] tile and the demolition of the berthing. We ripped it down to the bare minimum and then we built it back up,” said Chief Air-Traffic Controller (AW/SW) Shannon Lynch, the berthing rehab zone manager.

Although the berthing rehab team finished ahead of schedule on Dec. 13, 2012, the team still faced challenges, Lynch said. “The learning curve was part of the biggest challenge because we are operations department – we are air traffic controllers and operations specialists who don’t normally use these types of tools,” Lynch said. “The learning curve of operating power tools, learning how to build a rack and level it out – many of us didn’t have those skill sets. So in the beginning, not only were we on a time crunch, but it was also on-the-job training.” Despite the initial challenges to effectively change jobs and responsibilities and the difficulty to re-adjust to a completely different mission after two back-to-back WESTPAC deployments, Lynch and her Sailors kept the principle forefront. “Every aircraft carrier is a 50-year carrier. We hit our 30th birthday not too long ago, so we need 20 more years out of this ship,” Lynch said. “PIA is a way to fix the ship and keep it ready for our next mission or deployment no matter what we need to do. PIA keeps us going.” Improving the crew’s habitability further, the ship’s force head team,

February 4, 2013

comprised of approximately 90 Sailors from different departments throughout the ship, refurbished and preserved 62 different heads, or bathrooms, throughout the ship. Magnifying the palpable positive impact on the crew, contractors completely revamped 30 heads ship-wide. “The team’s responsibility was to go into enlisted and officer heads to complete the restoration and preservation of bulkheads, showers, and overheads,” said Chief Logistics Specialist (SW/AW) Noe Nesmith, the head team zone manager. The main thing is ship’s morale, Nesmith continued. Sailors use the heads day-to-day and can see the improvement now. It’s definitely more rewarding for the Sailors to have a clean place to maintain hygiene. “We came in with a plan and we accomplished what we set out to do. That is a feat in itself. Of all the PIAs I’ve been associated with, I feel that I’ve never worked with a more professional crew,” Yates said. “They were highly respective, highly adaptive to the shipyard environment. They were receptive to anything we had to provide. I would have to say that these are some of the strongest attributes in any ship’s force I’ve ever worked with.”



Vinson Voice MC2 (SW/AW) Timothy Hazel | MC3 (SW) George Bell MCSN (SW) Andrew Haller | MCSN Iain Stratton Carl Vinson Staff Photographers



February 4, 2013




Vinson Voice

Sea Trials STORY BY


MC3 Jacob Sisco| Carl Vinson Staff Writer


s it entered the final stages of a Planned Incremental Availability (PIA) – an extensive maintenance period designed to upgrade the ship’s systems and improve the quality of life for its crew – Carl Vinson departed Naval Air Station North Island (NASNI) Feb. 1 following more than seven months pier-side. After ship’s force and shipyard contractors expended more than 400,000 man-hours to complete the PIA’s 8,750job work package, Carl Vinson conducted

a two-day fast cruise, simulating the same procedures and operations executed while underway to ensure the ship and its crew were ready to go to sea once more. Upon the successful completion of its fast cruise, Carl Vinson was ready to begin sea trials, a multi-day evolution developed to gauge the ship’s performance and general seaworthiness by testing the ship’s speed, maneuverability, equipment and safety features, but also to test modifications made during in-port maintenance periods like

PIAs. “Navy maintenance instructions detail what testing and certification we need to be qualified to deploy,” said Cmdr. Jason Hammond, Carl Vinson’s operations officer. “We tested systems that were either upgraded, installed or had major maintenance performed on them during our PIA.” Carl Vinson’s reactor plants commanded much of the availability’s attention, and sea trials provided the opportunity to ensure the work was done correctly. “We had a very detailed sequence of testing that involved

Sailors participate in a flight deck scrubbing excercise to test the ship’s aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF) systems. Photo By MCSN Jacob Kaucher | Carl Vinson Staff Photographer

February 4, 2013

high speed runs, low speed runs and testing and monitoring of our reactor plants throughout the three-day at-sea period,” Hammond explained. Though the multitude of installations, upgrades and major maintenances performed on systems throughout the ship underwent extensive testing periods pierside, many systems can’t truly be evaluated unless the ship is at sea. “One key certification we will get is the navigation certification,” Hammond explained. “Any time you are in port for a long period of time, you need to recertify all of your navigation equipment. There are about 30 hours of testing that end in a very specific run where we run the ship at eight, 10, 28 and 30 knots and run certain turns where we check all of the navigation equipment.” Sea trials also allowed the crew to check the ship’s safety measures, both within the skin of the ship and outside on the weather decks. The aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF) firefighting system, used to combat flammable-liquid fires throughout the ship, monopolized the majority of the sea trials for Senior Chief Damage Controlman (SW/ AW) Jared Klink, engineering department’s DC division leading chief petty officer, and his Sailors. “The AFFF system is kind of like the veins of the ship; it goes everywhere,” Klink explained. “We went through the entire operation and tested the actual system itself to make sure not only do we provide an adequate flow of the solution to where it’s supposed to go, but to make sure the end result of solution is the adequate percentage of AFFF to sea water.” A successful test is incredibly important, added Senior Chief Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Handling) Scott Doty, the leading chief petty officer of air department’s V-3 division responsible for the hangar bays. “In order to be able to deploy, we have to get our AFFF certification,” he explained. “We have these emergency firefighting systems that people don’t get to operate all the time,” Klink added. “They do maintenance on them, but they don’t always get to push the button to see if they work, so the training aspect for the Sailors who work on the systems is huge.” To protect the outside of the ship, Carl Vinson installed a close-in weapons system (CIWS) during PIA, a system designed to be a last line of defense against anti-ship missiles and sea threats.


Photo By MC2 (SW/AW) Timothy Hazel

Photo By MC3 Giovanni Squadrito

The checks designed to ensure the CIWS was installed properly and all components were operating accurately were key during sea trials, Hammond said. “The CIWS has an automatic tracking system for air contacts inbound in order to defend the ship. We conducted an unloaded track exercise where we check how the barrels elevate and how it tracks an incoming Leer jet.” With the successful completion of sea trials, defined by Hammond as “the completion of all areas of testing, the identification of all discrepancies and a path engineered toward correction”, Carl Vinson is that much closer to a deployable state. “Sea trials are the very first step in the ladder to get ourselves up to a level of readiness so that our nation can use us as we were intended – answering the call to whatever is required,” Hammond said. “However, it can’t be overstated how excited the crew should be that we got this done. It has been several years since a ship has pulled out of PIA on time because the maintenance is so difficult. Our success really has to do with the incredible crew that we have.”

Photo By MC2 (SW/AW) Timothy Hazel

Photo By MCSN Iain Stratton

Photo By MCSN Iain Stratton

Photo By MC3 Giovanni Squadrito


Vinson Voice

orgotten You are not f You Are Not Forgotten One Sailor’s Mission to Find Missing Americans

MC3 (SW) Heather Roe| Carl Vinson Staff Writer



he chop of the blades and the buffeting wind drowned out everything. I could sing at the top of my lungs and no one would know, no one could hear. I was so happy, I did sing. Everything was so green. Green everywhere. Except for the blue, blue waterfall that cut the green like a tear in fabric. Every day I was given this. Every day we’d take this helo ride 30 minutes to the dig site; I’d get to see all this beauty, then spend the rest of my day searching.” These are the impressions left on Carl Vinson’s Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Handling) 3rd Class (AW) Elizabeth Mongkhonvilay of air department’s V-3 division after returning from what she calls the best experience in her Navy career. Mongkhonvilay traveled from San Diego to her native country of Laos where she spent October to December 2012 serving as an interpreter on the Joint Prisoner of War/Missing in Action Accounting Command (JPAC) staff. Her mission was to liaise between JPAC and the Lao people as JPAC organized the search for Americans never recovered from the Vietnam War. Mongkhonvilay, a first-generation American from Emporia, Kan., was told when she was first contacted that she was one of only 12 Sailors in the U.S. Navy who speak and write Laos fluently. Though this made her especially qualified for the assignment, Mongkhonvilay was chosen as a candidate because she is an outstanding Sailor and shipmate, said Senior Chief Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Handling) (AW/SW) Scott Doty, V-3 division’s

hangar bay leading chief petty officer. “Her work ethic is on point and she is always willing to help her fellow Sailors. We knew she would represent Carl Vinson well if chosen for the mission.” Following the recommendation from her supervisor, Mongkhonvilay interviewed with retired Sgt. 1st Class Sengchanh Vilysane, JPAC’s lead Lao linguist, to ensure she was the right candidate for the mission. Not surprising to her supervisors in air department, she was selected for the mission. Then, knowing her departure was imminent, Mongkhonvilay began researching JPAC in earnest. Finding about six Americans’ remains every month, JPAC’s mission is to investigate and excavate areas in foreign countries to find Prisoner-of-War (POW) and Missing-in-Action (MIA) Americans who were never brought home after past conflicts, Mongkhonvilay said. JPAC teams pinpoint possible positions of Americans using information gathered through company movement history, photos, and maps. Laos was deeply entrenched in the Vietnam War. A major campaign along the Ho Chi Minh Trail was waged in Laos and, at the war’s end, 575 Americans were unaccounted for within that area. From 1978 to 2012, JPAC accounted for 259 Americans, but 316 are still missing in Laos as a result of past U.S. military operations. “When I researched [JPAC], I thought about how big of an honor it would be to participate in the mission,” Mongkhonvilay said. “The idea of reuniting deceased service members who are MIA with their descendents seemed like the most rewarding experience I would ever have. It was not only an honor, but it

February 4, 2013


was my obligation as a United States service member to engage in this mission.” Beyond helping JPAC, Mongkhonvilay said, on a very personal level, she had a strong desire to discover her native country. She wanted to see where her parent’s culture and heritage originated and to better understand what being part of the Lao people means. Mongkhonvilay’s mother and father each took their own journey as refugees to America in the 1980s. Mongkhonvilay’s father served 20 years in the Lao Army and fought alongside the Americans in the Vietnam War. “My father was involved in the Vietnam conflict. I wanted to be a part of something he was a part of at an early age. It is an honor because my father is my hero,” Mongkhonvilay said. Mongkhonvilay feels she grew as a person, a Sailor and a leader while facing the challenges of being the only interpreter liaising between 10 JPAC members, 60 Lao workers and 100 villagers. Mongkhonvilay said her mission began difficultly, as the clinical operating structure of JPAC and the military as a whole clashed with the more relaxed, less ordered work schedule of the Lao people. Though very hard-working, the villagers work differently than the military, Mongkhonvilay explained. “They wake when they’re rested and work until they’re tired. In the Navy, of course, every day you wake up at the same time and work until a certain time. I had to bring these two completely different cultures together as one within a two-month mission. Learning to understand the differences separating JPAC and the Lao people and then developing solutions and compromises challenged me to think outside the box and become a true leader,” Mongkhonvilay said. Demonstrating she was, indeed, the right liaison for this mission, Mongkhonvilay possessed the perfect blend of experience and understanding garnered from her parents and the Navy to

fully reconcile both parties and create a productive environment of cooperation. “I was able to effectively delegate tasks to both the American and the Lao people,” Mongkhonvilay said. “I was overall responsible for the coordination of the entire worksite and more than 60 workers and villagers.” Mongkhonvilay’s relationships with the villagers and her understanding of the culture both grew deeply during her mission. She learned about the reserved Lao people and that respect is very important in the Lao culture. To this day, Mongkhonvilay still keeps in contact with the villagers. “The people became my family. I met a family that starting calling me their daughter. They would joke if there was an issue to ‘go talk to my mom,’” Mongkhonvilay said. “I appreciate that I now can understand all the struggles and sacrifices my family made while in Laos.” Toward the end of the trip, the JPAC team donated clothes and food to the Lao villagers. They prepared a feast for the locals in celebration of all their hard work and the newlyforged friendships. While the inevitable parting was hard, Mongkhonvilay said her experience gave her a whole new perspective on life and what it meant to serve in the U.S. Navy. “Visiting Laos made me realize how truly gifted I am to serve in the United States Armed Forces. People join the military to do these kinds of incredible things, but don’t often get the chance,” Mongkhonvilay said. “I am truly lucky to have been given such a life-changing opportunity. It was the best experience of my entire life.” Since joining the Navy, Mongkhonvilay has been saving up to one day take her parents back to Laos. She also hopes to be able to conduct another JPAC mission in Laos while serving in the Navy.

Photos taken during JPAC mission submited by ABH3 (AW) Elizabeth Mongkhonvilay. Bottom right photo: The Mongkhonvilay family.



Vinson Voice


Super Bowl Fours Years In, We’re Still Watching STORY BY

MC2 Shannon Heavin | Carl Vinson Staff Writer


Photos By MCSA Kristopher Haley | Carl Vinson Staff Photographer


arl Vinson hosted a Super Bowl party sponsored by the ship’s Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) division Feb. 3, making it the fourth consecutive year the warship’s crew has watched the championship game while at sea. Sailors began congregating in the ship’s hangar bay during the pregame show, eager to witness Super Bowl XLVII – a contest pitting East Coast against West and brother against brother. They were greeted with hundreds of seats and a projection screen broadcasting live coverage. “You probably won’t see the Super Bowl on a bigger screen than right here on Carl Vinson,” said Rebekah McKoy, MWR’s fun boss. “I think it’s important to have a Super Bowl party for Carl Vinson. During this underway a lot of drills have taken place. It’s good to provide a way for the Sailors to take a break and enjoy a great American tradition.” Holding fast to those American traditions, Carl Vinson’s supply department laid a fitting Super Bowl spread, providing nachos, chicken cordon bleu, and thousands of sandwiches and chicken wings for the entire crew. “Supply department worked hard on some food garnish for the Super Bowl party,” said Culinary Specialist 3rd Class Troy McLaurin, assigned to supply department’s S-2 division. “Watching the Super Bowl with everybody cheering for their teams is a morale booster. We’re away from our families, but with all of us together as Sailors, amongst the people that have

your back everyday – that makes watching the Super Bowl here a good feeling.” With more than 200 folding chairs and the game in fullswing, the hangar bay quickly took on a stadium-esque atmosphere as Carl Vinson Sailors rowdily cheered on their respective teams. “I’m just really excited watching everybody react to the game,” said Hospital Corpsman First Class (SW/AW) Phillip Cowger, assigned to medical department. “It’s been a good game. I also did think it was great that this year we were able to see the game live with the actual commercials and not the commercials aired from the Armed Forces Network (AFN) channel.” “Compared to last year’s game, the clarity now is much better,” said Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Destiny Brown, who is temporarily assigned to MWR. “So far it’s been a huge success.” The game ended in high drama with the Baltimore Ravens outlasting the San Francisco 49ers 34-31, despite a power outage which dramatically switched the momentum of the game. This is the second Super Bowl victory for the Baltimore Ravens, allowing Raven fans amongst the crew to walk the ship with a little more swagger and excitement. “I’m ecstatic,” said Electrician’s Mate 3rd Class Jonathon Fischer, assigned to engineering department’s E division. “I’ve been waiting five years for my team to go to the Super Bowl. It was great to be able to enjoy this game.”

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MC2 (SW/AW) Luke Meineke| Carl Vinson Staff Writer


little more than one year after its grand opening, the scent of gourmet coffee once again wafts from the open and inviting window of Chuckie’s Café. “I think this is the hot spot on the ship,” said Ship’s Serviceman 3rd Class Clinton Guthrie, a Chuckie’s Café barista. “I’m really excited Chuckie’s is open again. I’ve had a great time running it because it definitely boosts morale around the ship.” However, it’s not just the scent of delicious Starbuck’s concoctions that is slowing Sailors and turning heads. The newly refurbished café received a facelift while Carl Vinson underwent its extended maintenance period. “It looks better than it used to,” said Aviation Ordnanceman 2nd Class Mitch S i m p s o n , assigned to w e a p o n s d e p a r t m e n t ’s G-4 division. “It definitely doesn’t look like a broom closet anymore.” “I think it’s the

best thing the ship has,” added Culinary Specialist 3rd Class Heather Leitl, assigned to supply department’s S-11 division. “The new look really draws you in; it looks very appealing now.” Originally opened Dec. 6, 2011 while Carl Vinson was on a Western Pacific deployment, Chuckie’s Café was introduced to raise morale during the long stretch of deployment by bringing premium coffee to Sailors at lower prices than those ashore. Though it serves Starbuck’s brand coffee and ingredients and uses Starbuck’s equipment, Chuckie’s Café is run


underway Mon- 0830-1000 1200-1600 Sat 1800-2100 Sun 0830-1000 1200-1600 in-port Mon- 0830-1430 Fri Sat/ Closed Sun

exclusively by ship’s company and all of its profits go to MWR to ultimately benefit the crew. “Every dollar that is spent at Chuckie’s Café goes back to the Sailors,” said Chief Machinist’s Mate (SW/AW) Mark Fletcher, Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) division’s leading chief petty officer. “We use the profits to lower prices on everything from movie tickets to trip passes. And, when we’re deployed, we use them to lower the prices of port tours and hotel prices.” Aside from literally getting the window treatment, the café also received an upgrade it its production. “Chuckie’s Café will now feature Frappuccinos,” Guthrie said. “We have two blenders now and on Feb. 5 some Starbucks representatives are coming aboard to train us on making them.” Chuckie’s Café is open daily while Carl Vinson is underway and Monday through Friday when pierside.

















Photo By MC3 Giovanni Squadrito



Vinson Voice


| Prior to sea trials, we asked new Sailors in INDOC what they thought about their first underway period. |

“I’ve never been out to sea before. It’s a new experience I’m really looking forward to.”

“It’s something completely new for me. I’m excited and anxious, but mostly excited.”


A I R M A N STEPHEN Snoreckgilberti

“I’m really nervous to be out of contact with my family for the first time, but I’m ready to take on new experiences.”

“I think it’ll be like staying in a giant dorm room. It should be fun!”



“I’m excited! I’m ready to better myself and my career.”

“It’s something different than anything I’ve ever experienced. I don’t know what to expect but I’m ready for it.”


A B F A R Che yenne Forem an

ESWS||EAWS The Carrier Air Traffic Control Center (CATCC) is charged with the control of aircraft from the time they launch from the flight deck until they’re turned over mission ready to an Air Intercept Controller or on their own to conduct operations and from the time they enter the return pattern until they recover on the

Angle of Attack (AoA). The angle at which the airfoil or fuselage meets a flow of air. Defined as the angle between the chord line of the wing (an imaginary straight line from the leading edge to the trailing edge of the wing) and the relative wind. The relative wind is the direction of the air stream in relationship to the wing. Angle of attack is measured in “units” as opposed to degrees.

FEB 3rd Vinson Voice  

This is the Vinson Voice that was sent out to the crew on Feb 3rd