USS Carl Vinson: Osama Bin Laden's Burial at Sea

Naval ship USS Carl Vinson reportedly carried Osama Bin Laden to burial.

ByABC News
May 2, 2011, 1:25 PM

May 2, 2011— -- Before Osama bin Laden's body was lowered to its final resting place at sea, the last spot on earth to host his remains was reportedly the deck of the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson.

When asked about the USS Carl Vinson's role in burying bin Laden, a military official would not confirm the ship's involvement. But Pentagon officials previously told ABC News and other news outlets that the 30-year-old naval vessel was indeed the ship responsible for transporting bin Laden's body to its burial, likely in the Indian Ocean.

In Islam, people are typically buried in the ground, without a casket, before the next of five daily prayer periods have taken place. The U.S. government apparently decided it was risky for bin Laden to have a known grave, lest it become a shrine to the world's best-known terrorist.

Officials said that, in accordance with Muslim law, bin Laden's burial at sea was conducted by a Muslim seaman, who recited the prayers and ensured that the body was washed and wrapped appropriately in cloth.

But this task was hardly the Vinson's only high-profile assignment. In the three decades since its launch in 1980, the ship has earned the nickname "America's favorite aircraft carrier." It has assisted with key military and humanitarian operations around the world.

The aircraft carrier, named for Democratic Rep. Carl Vinson of Georgia (1883-1981), was first commissioned on March 13, 1982. Vinson served more than 50 years in the House, and during World War II he became known as "the father of the two-ocean navy."

USS Carl Vinson's Motto: 'Strength from the Sea'

After several sea trials, the ship took off from Norfolk, Va., in 1983, for an eight-month world cruise, with a crew of nearly 6,000 sailors, the ship's website says.

In the decades since its inaugural cruise, the ship has continued to tour the world to support key military campaigns. In the 1990s, it launched air strikes in support of Operation Desert Fox and Operation Southern Watch in Iraq. After the September 11 attacks, the USS Carl Vinson moved to the North Arabian Sea, to launch the first strikes for Operation Enduring Freedom.

In January 2010, the aircraft carrier was sent to Port-au-Prince, Haiti, to assist disaster relief operations after the devastating earthquake.

The ship also goes by the nickname the "Gold Eagle" -- so called for the eagle prominently featured in its seal. The eagle, which is meant to be emblematic of the country, carries a banner displaying the Latin phrase, "Vis Per Mare," which means "Strength from the Sea" and is the ship's motto.

The USS Carl Vinson's Facebook page has nearly 28,000 "likes" but includes the warning "Loose Lips Sink Ships!"

"ANY discussion or speculation of the ship's location or anticipated inport dates before they're officially released may result in revocation of access to this page," the page's description says. "Remember, the bad guys DO follow our Facebook page too."