USS Nimitz (CVN-68)
USS Nimitz (CVN-68) is a supercarrier of the United States Navy, and is the lead ship of its class. It is one of the largest warships in the world. It was laid down, launched and commissioned as CVAN-68 but was redesignated CVN 68 (nuclear-powered multimission aircraft carrier) on 30 June 1975 as part of the fleet realignment of that year.
The ship was named for World War II Pacific fleet commander Chester W. Nimitz, who was the navy’s third fleet admiral. Unlike all subsequent Nimitz class aircraft carriers, Nimitz only uses its namesake's surname as is common for military officers. It is also the first carrier of its class and the most recent supercarrier in service not to be named for someone who held elected office in the United States.
Nimitz was homeported at Naval Station Norfolk until 1987, when it was relocated to Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Bremerton, Washington. Following its Refueling and Complex Overhaul in 2001, its homeport was changed to NAS North Island in San Diego, California. Nimitz home port was again changed to Everett, Washington in 2012. This move is expected to save the navy $100 million.
The keel of Nimitz was laid down 22 June 1968 by Newport News Shipbuilding in Newport News, Virginia. It was christened in 1972 by Catherine Nimitz Lay, daughter of the late Admiral Nimitz. Nimitz was delivered to the navy in 1975, and it was commissioned at Naval Station Norfolk on 3 May 1975 by President Gerald Ford.
Nimitz Carrier Strike Group
Nimitz is part of Carrier Strike Group Eleven (CSG-11) with Carrier Air Wing Eleven (CVW-11) embarked, with Nimitz as the flagship of the battle group and the home of the commander of Destroyer Squadron 23.
Ships of DESRON-23
- USS Curts (FFG 38)
- USS Vandegrift (FFG 48)
- USS John Paul Jones (DDG 53)
- USS Pinckney (DDG 91)
- USS Sampson (DDG 102)
- USS William P. Lawrence (DDG-110)
- USS Spruance (DDG-111)
Squadrons of CVW-11
- Strike Fighter Squadron 154 (VFA-154) "Black Knights" with F/A-18F Super Hornets
- Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 323 (VMFA-323) "Death Rattlers" with F/A-18C Hornets
- Strike Fighter Squadron 146 (VFA-146) "Blue Diamonds" with F/A-18C Hornets
- Strike Fighter Squadron 147 (VFA-147) "Argonauts" with F/A-18E Super Hornets
- Electronic Attack Squadron 142 (VAQ-142) "Gray Wolves" with EA-6B Prowlers
- Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron 117 (VAW-117) "Wallbangers" with E-2C Hawkeyes
- Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 6 (HSC-6) "Screamin' Indians" with MH-60S
- Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 75 (HSM-75) "Wolf Pack" with MH-60R
- Fleet Logistics Support Squadron 30 Detachment 3 (VRC-30) "Providers" with C-2A Greyhounds
USS Nimitz first deployed to the Mediterranean on 7 July 1976 with Carrier Air Wing 8 embarked in company with the nuclear-powered cruisers USS South Carolina and USS California. In November 1976, Nimitz was awarded the Battle "E" from Commander, Naval Air Force U.S. Atlantic Fleet, for being the most efficient and foremost aircraft carrier in the Atlantic Fleet. The cruise was uneventful, and the carrier returned to Norfolk, Virginia on 7 February 1977.
A second uneventful Mediterranean cruise was conducted from 1 December 1977 to 20 July 1978. The third deployment began on 10 September 1979 to the Mediterranean. The ship moved to the Indian Ocean in response to the Iran hostage crisis in which the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, Iran, was overtaken and 52 hostages were held. (Prior to this trip, the ship took part in the shooting of the movie The Final Countdown and played a central role in the film.) After four months on station, Operation Evening Light was launched from Nimitz's decks in an attempt to rescue the U.S. Embassy staff. The mission was aborted after a helicopter crashed at a refueling point in the Iranian desert. The ship returned home 26 May 1980, having spent 144 days at sea.
On 26 May 1981, an EA-6B Prowler crashed on the flight deck, killing 14 crewmen and injuring 45 others. The Prowler was fuel-critical after a "bolter" (missed approach), and its crash and the subsequent fire and explosions destroyed or damaged eleven other aircraft. Despite being uninvolved with the operation of the aircraft or cause of the accident, the focus turned to testing conducted during autopsies which found that several members of the flight deck crew tested positive for marijuana. Although unclear how it would have affected this incident, President Ronald Reagan instituted a "Zero Tolerance" drug policy across all of the armed services, which started the mandatory drug testing of all U.S. service personnel.
Nimitz deployed again to the Mediterranean on 3 August 1981. The ship, in company with USS Forrestal, conducted a Freedom of Navigation exercise in international waters in the Gulf of Sidra near Libya on 18 and 19 August 1981. On the morning of 19 August 1981, two F-14As of VF-41 were engaged by two Libyan Su-22s, resulting in the two Libyan aircraft being shot down in what became known as the Gulf of Sidra incident.
Nimitz's fourth deployment, from 10 November 1982 to 20 May 1983, was to the Caribbean and Mediterranean Seas. Nimitz deployed a fifth time on 8 March 1985. On 14 June 1985, two Lebanese gunmen hijacked TWA Flight 847, which carried 153 passengers and crew and included Americans. In response, Nimitz was deployed to the coast of Lebanon, where it remained until August 1985. The embarked Airwing 8 flew continuous sorties for 67 days, bombing several sites in Beirut including the runways of Beirut Rafic Hariri International Airport. The ship returned to Norfolk on 4 October 1985.
Nimitz, again with CVW-8 embarked, departed Norfolk for its sixth and final Mediterranean deployment on 30 December 1986. After four months and numerous Mediterranean port visits, the carrier crossed the equator en route to Rio de Janeiro. From Rio it proceeded south around Cape Horn and into the Pacific. After a brief stop in San Diego, California, to offload its East Coast air wing, it arrived at its new home port of Bremerton, Washington, on 2 July 1987.
Nimitz deployed to the Western Pacific with Carrier Air Wing 9 embarked on 2 September 1988. During the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul, Nimitz provided security off the coast of South Korea. In October it operated in the North Arabian Sea participating in Operation Earnest Will, the protection of re-flagged Kuwaiti tankers. On 30 November 1988, while in the Arabian Sea, a 20 mm cannon accidentally fired during maintenance, striking an KA-6 Intruder. The ensuing fire spread to six other aircraft, and there were two fatalities. The ship returned to Bremerton on 2 March 1989.
On 25 February 1991, Nimitz departed Bremerton for the Persian Gulf in relief of USS Ranger in the aftermath of Operation Desert Storm, returning to Bremerton on 24 August 1991. Nimitz again deployed to the Persian Gulf on 1 February 1993, in support of Operation Southern Watch (OSW), returning on 19 August 1993.
On 27 November 1995, Nimitz deployed to the Western Pacific, Indian Ocean and Persian Gulf with Carrier Air Wing Nine (CVW-9). In March 1996, it patrolled the waters off Taiwan amid missile tests conducted by the Chinese in the area, becoming the first American warship to pass through the Taiwan Strait since 1976. It also cruised the Persian Gulf in support of OSW prior to returning from deployment on 20 May 1996.
Between 14–24 July 1997, Nimitz participated in Joint Task Force Exercise 97-2 (JTFEX 97-2) off the coast of souther California, which also served as a "Revolution in Strike Warfare" demonstration. The latter event was designed to demonstrate the capability of an aircraft carrier and its embarked air wing to surge carrier-based airpower in a littoral warfare scenario. On 20 July 1997, Nimitz and Carrier Air Wing Nine began a high-intensity strike campaign. When flight operations were completed four days later, Nimitz and Carrier Air Wing Nine had generated 771 strike sorties while putting 1,336 bombs on target. Carrier Air Wing Nine flew 975 fixed-wing sorties during this four-day surge operation. Almost 80 percent of the sorties flown were strike sorties, with strike support accounting for another 10 percent. F/A-18 Hornet strike fighters flew nearly 80 percent of the strike sorties. Of the 771 strike sorties, 727 were loaded with ordnance while 44 were electronic support sorties by EA-6B Prowlers. During this four-day period, only a portion of the medium-range interdiction strikes required tanking support. KC-135 and KC-130 tanker aircraft provided most of this support. S-3 Vikings conducted recovery tanking and supplied more than one-third of the fuel passed to Carrier Air Wing Nine aircraft during this surge operation. This surge had been preceded by a 16-hour preparation after undergoing four days that had generated about 700 fixed-winged sorties. A subsequent study by the Center for Naval Analyses determined that Nimitz and Carrier Air Wing Nine could have maintained this high-sortie operational tempo for another twelve to twenty-four hours before requiring its ordnance and aviation fuel stocks to be replenished as well as equipment maintenance and rest for its crews.
On 1 September 1997, Nimitz began an around the world cruise, again supporting OSW, that ended in Newport News on 2 March 1998. It spent the next three years undergoing Refueling and Complex Overhaul that ended 25 June 2001.
On 11 September 2001, after sea trials in the Virginia Capes, Nimitz began its transit around South America to her new home port of NAS North Island in San Diego, California, arriving there on 13 November 2001. Aircraft from Carrier Air Reserve Wing 20 were embarked for the transit. From January to May 2002, it underwent a four-month post-shakedown maintenance availability at North Island; during this time Advanced combat direction system was installed.
Nimitz's eleventh operational deployment began on 3 March 2003. It relieved USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) in the Persian Gulf in mid-April 2003, launching Carrier Air Wing 11 aircraft sorties over Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF). It returned to San Diego on 5 November 2003. Nimitz and CVW-11 were awarded the 2003 Battle "E" and Flatley Award in early 2004.
Nimitz, again with CVW-11 embarked, deployed to the Persian Gulf on 7 May 2005, returning on 8 November 2005. This deployment marked three decades of service, and was depicted in the Emmy award winning 2008 PBS documentary series Carrier. In June 2006, Nimitz was awarded the 2005 Battle "E".
The carrier departed North Island for its thirteenth deployment on 2 April 2007 to the Arabian Sea, relieving USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69) in support of OIF. It anchored off Chennai, India on 2 July 2007 as part of efforts to expand bilateral defense cooperation between India and the United States. Sailors participated in community work in Chennai prior to departing, on 5 July 2007, along with the destroyer USS Pinckney (DDG-91) towards the Persian Gulf. It returned to North Island on 30 September 2007.
On 24 January 2008, Nimitz deployed to the Pacific for a "surge"-deployment. On 9 February 2008, two Russian Tu-95 'Bear' bombers overflew the carrier in the Western Pacific. Four F/A-18C Hornets were launched when the bombers were 500 miles (800 km) away from the US ships, and intercepted the bombers 50 miles (80 km) south of Nimitz. Two F/A-18s trailed one of the bombers, which buzzed the deck of the carrier twice, while the other two F/A-18s trailed another Tu-95 circling about 50 miles (80 km) away from the carrier. Reportedly, there was no radio communication between the American and Russian aircraft. According to the Department of Defense, one of the two aircraft was said to have flown above Nimitz at an altitude of 2,000 feet (610 m). On the same day, Russian aircraft entered Japanese airspace, which caused the Japanese to raise protest to the Russian ambassador in Tokyo.
Again, on 5 March 2008, a Russian bomber came within 3 to 5 nautical miles (6 to 9 km) and flew 2,000 feet (610 m) above Nimitz and its battle group. Two F/A-18 fighters intercepted the Russian aircraft and escorted it out of the area.
Nimitz was awarded the Navy Battle "E" for battle efficiency for 2007 along with the Ney award for food service excellence. It returned to her homeport of San Diego, California on 3 June 2008.
Nimitz Strike Group, including CVW-11, departed the States for a scheduled Western Pacific deployment on 31 July 2009, and began to fly combat missions in support of Operation Enduring Freedom 21 September.
The USS Nimitz continues to serve in the U.S. Navy as of the early 2010s. With the December 2012 inactivation of USS Enterprise (CVN-65), Nimitz is now the oldest US carrier in active service (although Enterprise retains the record for longest-serving). In January 2010, while in the Persian Gulf, the ship was awarded the Meritorious Unit Commendation for its back-to-back deployments in support of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in 2007 and 2008. The award was presented by Admiral Gary Roughead in a ceremony on the ship 6 January 2010.
Nimitz visited Hong Kong for five days in February to allow its crew to rest and visit the city. The visit occurred despite China previously preventing a visit by the carrier USS Kitty Hawk (CV-63).
On 9 December 2010, the Navy formally announced that Everett was to be the new homeport for Nimitz. On 9 March 2012, Nimitz arrived at its new homeport of Naval Station Everett after spending nearly a week at sea conducting post-overhaul sea trials.
In March 2012, Nimitz arrived at its new home port of Naval Station Everett in Everett, Washington after more than a year of maintenance in Bremerton, WA. It replaced the Nimitz-class carrier, Abraham Lincoln. On 3 August 2012, Nimitz departed Pearl Harbor after a two-day port call, arriving at NAS North Island on 9 August 2012 to begin Fleet Replacement Squadron Carrier qualifications. On 6 October 2012, a MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft from squadron VMM-165 landed and refueled on board the Nimitz. This operation was part of an evaluation of the feasibility of the MV-22 as a potential replacement for the C-2 Greyhound carrier onboard delivery (COD) cargo transport aircraft.
The Nimitz class carriers have a lifespan of approximately 50 years. The Nimitz herself is currently scheduled to be eventually replaced around 2020 by the Gerald R. Ford–class aircraft carrier USS John F. Kennedy, CVN-79. The exact date of the ship's inactivation and decommissioning will likely depend on Defense Department funding considerations.
In popular culture
In Tom Clancy's Red Storm Rising, Nimitz is severely damaged early in the NATO-Warsaw Pact conflict when it is attacked by Backfire bombers in the North Atlantic. It returns later in the book and is crucial in the successful retaking of Iceland.
In the television series Wings, Nimitz is mentioned in a dream sequence of character Lowell Mather as the rescue ship after the cast makes a crash landing into the Atlantic Ocean between Nantucket and Hyannis while flying to Boston for Helen's Boston Symphony debut.
In the 2011 video game Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, Nimitz is seen partially sunk in New York Harbor as two of the main characters are escaping from pursuing Russians.
The 10 part documentary Carrier follows the crew of the Nimitz.
In the film Countdown to Looking Glass the Nimitz and its task force are deployed to the Strait of Hormuz to force the Omani government to rescind a toll placed on inbound oil tankers. The Soviets respond with a group of submarines, also sent to the crisis zone. They clear Omani patrols with minor losses. However, the Russian subs arrive before the Nimitz and one penetrates its escort screen. It then fires nuclear-armed depth charges, and destroys the sub. In retaliation, the Soviets deploy their submarine's nuclear weapons, which destroy the Nimitz. This begins World War III.
- Carrier Strike Group Eleven
- List of aircraft carriers
- List of aircraft carriers of the United States Navy
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: USS Nimitz (CVN-68)|
- This article incorporates text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. The entry can be found here.
- USS Nimitz - Official website
- HSC-6 - Official website
- Story archive - U.S. Navy - USS Nimitz (CVN-68)
- USS Nimitz Association
- USS Nimitz Dry Dock - Episode 1 (or: "USS Nimitz... a documentary - Episode 1".)
- "USS Nimitz Dry Dock - Episode 2"
- "USS Nimitz Dry Dock - Episode 3"
- "USS Nimitz Dry Dock - Episode 4 Many Hands"
- "USS Nimitz Dry Dock - Episode 5"
- "USS Nimitz Dry Dock - Episode 6 The Climb"
- "USS Nimitz Dry Dock - Episode 7 Heavy Work"
- "USS Nimitz Dry Dock - Episode 8 Readiness"