The aircraft carrier Carl Vinson recently returned to San Diego following a three-month WESTPAC deployment that was highlighted by a visit to Vietnam, the first such port stop by a U.S. carrier since the war ended.

While the historic magnitude of the Vinson’s visit stole headlines, another newsworthy development was flying under the radar.

The “Blue Blasters” of VFA-34, embarked aboard Vinson, completed the final cruise for the Navy’s F/A-18 Legacy Hornet, a story first reported by Scramble Magazine and confirmed by The Drive.

Strike Fighter Squadron 34 is expected to transition from the Legacy Hornet to the Super Hornet in early 2019, the report said. And while the jet’s glory days are in the rear view, it will continue serving Navy aviation in a number of smaller roles, including in reserve squadrons and at the Naval Aviation Warfighting Development Center at Naval Air Station Fallon.

The Blue Blasters will also still be participating in the multi-national war exercises — RIMPAC — this summer, but that will only require a short stint aboard the carrier.

The Legacy Hornet’s retirement from carrier deployments comes as the “Argonauts” of Strike Fighter Squadron 147 continue a transition to the F-35C, which began in December after they landed at NAS Lemoore following a six-month deployment aboard the carrier Nimitz.

The Argonauts will soon start more intensive flying as they begin their integration into a carrier air wing and prepare to deploy on the Vinson in 2021.

Jon Simkins is a writer and editor for Military Times, and a USMC veteran.

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