USS Carl Vinson returns from historic deployment

SAN DIEGO (CNS) – The USS Carl Vinson returned home Wednesday from a historic deployment that included the burial at sea of terrorist Osama bin Laden, but the aircraft carrier's crew is expected to enjoy only a short rest.

The ship's 6,000 sailors and Marines were greeted by a large crowd along the pier at Naval Air Station North Island.

They'll scatter across all 50 states for what Capt. Bruce Lindsey called “a well-deserved liberty,” but he also warned during a conference call with reporters Monday that the next deployment was not far off. He did not share scheduling details.

A Navy spokesman, however, said the Carl Vinson might return to sea by the end of this year.

The captain said America owes his crew a debt of gratitude.

“These sailors are just top-notch, the best of the best,” Lindsey said.

Bin Laden's body was flown to the carrier as it sailed in the northern Arabian Sea on May 1, after he was gunned down by Navy SEALs during a raid on his Pakistani hideout. His remains were dumped overboard after they were prepared according to Islamic customs.

The carrier's personnel also stopped acts of piracy against civilian vessels, once on its first day in Middle Eastern waters, and the second time coming on the ship's last day on patrol in the area, according to Lindsey.

“They did some interesting things,” Lindsey said of his crew.

Also coming home this week are Carrier Air Wing 17, the cruiser USS Bunker Hill and destroyers USS Gridley and USS Stockdale.

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