JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM (HawaiiNewsNow) - The USS Carl Vinson is cruising its way past Hawaii on a regularly scheduled deployment to the Western Pacific.
At a time when there's uncertainty with countries like North Korea, Navy officials say the aircraft carrier — which belongs to Carrier Strike Group 1 — provides a visible U.S. presence at sea and in the air.
Details about the current deployment could not be shared, but the commander says they are more than ready.
"We've trained for the mission. Unique to our strike group is we were here (Western Pacific) just a year ago, so we have a lot of fluency in the area," said Real Admiral John Fuller, commander of Carrier Strike Group 1.
"We're familiar with who we're going to be operating with and we have a very experienced team here."
The $3.8 billion aircraft carrier is home to 5,000 sailors, pilots, and other crewmembers. The ship is more than three football fields long, less than a football field wide, and weighs 95,000 tons.
The air wing attached to the Carl Vinson includes more than 70 aircraft.
During flight operations, aircraft are catapulted off the flight deck in regular intervals.
"There's no sports car that can come close to going from 0 to almost 200 mph in less than 2 seconds. It's quite the ride," said Lt. Spencer Johnson.
When it comes to landing, large cables help bring the aircraft to a complete stop.
"Landing on an aircraft carrier has long been considered the most challenging thing an aviator could do on an aircraft. The touch down point that the pilot is aiming for is only about the size of a large tennis court," Johnson said.
The nuclear-powered aircraft carrier played a key role in the fight against ISIS in Syria and Iraq, and it also carried Osama Bin Laden's dead body before he was buried at sea.
Along with conducting combat air operations, Navy officials say the Carl Vinson Strike Group has other missions.
"We're here to provide presence, operations, and if something happens, we're out here for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief. We can also provide maritime security," said Fuller.
Fuller says the ship is self-sufficient at sea and everything the crew needs is onboard.
Sailors stay in shape with different workout classes and gym equipment — most with an ocean view — and activities are planned to keep morale high.
"They do have karaoke night. They do have sports night where they play basketball in the hangar bay. They have movie nights also," said Chief Daniel Tootoo, an aviation fueling specialist.
And how do you feed 5,000 people?
"A lot of teamwork. A lot of planning. We have to take a look a couple days ahead to see what we have coming up. It gets interesting. We have some pretty busy moments underway at sea," said culinary specialist Andrew Demarsico.