The USS Carl Vinson is the United States Navy’s third Nimitz-class supercarrier. It was first commissioned in 1982, deployed in 1983, and it’s famous for being the ship from where the body of Osama bin Laden was buried at sea in 2011. Since 2009, the ship has been the flagship for Carrier Strike Group One.
E-4 Petty Officer John Baughman served in the U.S. Navy from 2008 to 2013. In January 2010, he was stationed aboard the Carl Vinson, assisting in humanitarian aid to Haiti after an earthquake had destroyed a large portion of the country. A Gunner’s Mate, his job description called for him to “mount, stow, and secure all weaponry, repair and calibrate defense systems, maintain guided missile launching, rocket launchers, gun mounts and all other ordnance.” In other words, the job carries serious responsibility and is only given to serious people.
Working as an E2 Blue Shirt on the flight deck one day, he was dangling his legs off the SAM Launcher Deck on the Forward Starboard side of the ship, taking a short break. He’d often look for sea life when things were at ease. “I’d often see all kinds of wild stuff swimming and floating under and on the surface,” he says. “Everything from sharks, dolphins and whales to giant squids, sea turtles, and swordfish.”
Baughman stressed that he had grown accustomed to identifying what was in the ocean and at what depths. “I had a pretty good reference point on how big or deep something was in the water, especially when you can see the water line on the side of the ship.” On this day, however, something caught his attention in the calm and clear water, unlike anything he’d ever seen before.
“I was staring into the water from above when a large, fat, white ’Tic Tac’ object, approximately twenty feet in length, suddenly appeared in my view below me, moving right and darted into the depths as fast as it appeared. I couldn’t really comprehend what I saw. It was definitely a solid object, but when it descended, its forward end rapidly collapsed in on itself and disappeared.”