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Aircraft carrier Carl Vinson, 2 other ships leave San Diego Bay

Seeing father offIt served as the platform for the at-sea burial of Osama bin Laden in May. Then as the venue for a college basketball game on Veterans Day, attended by President Obama.

And on Wednesday, as families waved goodbye from the dock, it was back to business as usual for the aircraft carrier Carl Vinson as it set sail from North Island Naval Air Station in Coronado.

The guided-missile cruiser Bunker Hill and guided-missile destroyer Halsey departed San Diego with the Vinson as a carrier strike group to the Western Pacific and Persian Gulf.

Aboard the Vinson are fixed-wing and rotary-wing air squadrons: the Fighting Redcocks, Sunliners, Stingers, First of the Fleet, Tigertails, Red Lions and Garudas.

Not deploying with the Vinson, however, were 49 sailors snared in an investigation last month into the use of spice, the designer drug said to mirror the high of marijuana. Those found guilty of using the drug are being booted from the Navy.

For the rest of the Vinson crew and their families, it was a quick turnaround: The ship only returned from its last deployment in mid-June.

The strike group is prepared to launch combat sorties, engage in humanitarian relief missions and deter pirates on the high seas. In Navy jargon, the Vinson strike group is a "forward presence," providing comfort to nations allied with the U.S., giving nations adverse to the U.S. reason to reconsider their actions.

Once a heavy fog lifted over San Diego Bay, the Vinson left for its deployment, with the families of sailors catching a final glimpse from the pier.

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-- Tony Perry in San Diego

Photo: One-year-old Kristian Tarang and his mother, Genessis Tarang, watch as the aircraft carrier Carl Vinson leaves North Island Naval Air Station. The boy's father, Petty Officer 3rd Class Eli Tarang, is part of the Vinson crew.

Credit: Gregory Bull / Associated Press

 
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