The aircraft carrier that buried Osama bin Laden’s body at sea arrived in Hawaii today, making its first stop on U.S. soil since its historic six-month deployment to waters in and around the Middle East.
More than 100 family and friends greeted sailors at the pier as the ship stopped in Pearl Harbor for a port visit before making its way home to San Diego.
The USS Carl Vinson was in the North Arabian Sea last month when it received a Navy SEAL team carrying the body of the mastermind of the Sept. 11 terror attacks.
Pentagon officials speaking about the burial have said that bin Laden’s body was placed in a weighted bag on the carrier and that an officer made religious remarks before the remains were put on a board and tipped into the sea.
The massive carrier and its 5,500 sailors, pilots and crew were returning home from their deployment to the Middle East and Asia that began Nov. 30. It spent 171 of 191 days at sea and sailed more than 52,340 nautical miles.
The Vinson — named after the Georgia congressman who died in 1981 — serves as the flagship for Carrier Strike Group 1 led by Rear Adm. Samuel Perez. From Feb. 6 to May 1, Carrier Air Wing 17 deployed 17,000 lbs. of ordnance and 2,900 rounds of 20mm ammunition.
It also conducted exercises with South Korea, Japan, Singapore, Britain, France and Australia in addition to responding to two piracy attempts on civilian vessels.
The carrier hosted numerous visitors from Philippines President Philippines Benigno Aquino III to the Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers.