Veterans Day basketball game to tip off on carrier that buried bin Laden at sea
The aircraft carrier on which Osama bin Laden's body was washed, placed in a white sheet, and slid into in the Arabian Sea is now docked near San Diego and is playing host to the first-ever Carrier Classic, Friday night's basketball game between North Carolina and Michigan State. President Obama will attend the game in honor of Veterans Day.
Starting on Wednesday, a crane began lifting pieces of the basketball court used at the 2011 NCAA championship game onto the flight deck of the USS Carl Vinson, the Los Angeles Times reported. Portable bathrooms, concession stands, cameras, lights and about 7,000 seats were also brought onto the carrier, as a San Diego Union-Tribune graphic of the carrier shows. Most of the seats were reserved for members of the military.
Sailors who helped set up the court and other facilities received tickets to the game, according to the Navy. A second court and 2,000 seats were also constructed in the carrier's hangar bay in case of rain, but weather reports show mostly sunny skies with temperatures in the mid-60s Friday afternoon in San Diego.
Players will wear special uniforms for the game that feature a camouflage pattern over their school colors, according to the Military Times.
The Vinson, which is almost 1,100 feet long and about 250 feet wide, was commissioned in 1982 and is anchored in Coronado in San Diego Bay. Later this month, it is heading out on a regular six-month deployment, according to the Union-Tribune.
In an interview with CBS's 60 Minutes three days after he announced bin Laden had been killed, Obama did not mention the Vinson by name, but described how he and his administration chose to bury him at sea.
"It was a joint decision. We thought it was important to think through ahead of time how we would dispose of the body if he were killed in the compound," Obama said. "And I think that what we tried to do was, consulting with experts in Islamic law and ritual, to find something that was appropriate that was respectful of the body.
"Frankly we took more care on this than, obviously, bin Laden took when he killed 3,000 people. He didn't have much regard for how they were treated and desecrated. But that, again, is something that makes us different. And I think we handled it appropriately."
The game tips off at 4:15 p.m. PST following remarks from the president. It will be televised on ESPN and more than 3 million people are expected to watch.