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Nimitz-class Aircraft Carriers

Nimitz-class Aircraft Carriers

The US Navy, at present, has 10 Nimitz-class supercarriers, all of which are nuclear powered. The backbone of US Navy, they are considered the hallmark of the superpower status of the US. Read on to know more about these iconic machines...
Historyplex Staff
The Nimitz class aircraft carriers are presently in service in the US Navy. They are equipped with the latest armament, radar, and aircraft. Their nuclear fueling system is so advanced and efficient that they can operate continuously for twenty years without refueling. Yes, you read that right―twenty years without refueling!
These carriers are numbered as CVN, where 'CV' is the hull classification symbol, and 'N' indicates the nuclear propulsion. Nimitz (CVN-68) was the first ship of this class to be commissioned, on September 18, 1976, while George H.W. Bush was the tenth and the last. Almost all of them have been made by the Newport News Shipbuilding Company in Newport News, Virginia. USS George H.W. Bush will be the first ship to receive massive modernization. It is being transitioned into the Gerald R. Ford class of carriers, which will have a new multifunctional radar system, volume search radars, an open architecture information network, and reduced crew members.
If we go by displacement, Nimitz class carriers are the largest aircraft carriers built so far. They hold the world record for the displacement of any naval war vessel. But although these ships are the heaviest, they are not the longest; the record for the longest carrier ever is held by USS Enterprise. USS Nimitz was the first warship of its class to undergo Refueling and Complex Overhaul (RCOH) in 1998. It was followed by Dwight D. Eisenhower in 2005, Carl Vinson in late 2005, and Abraham Lincoln in 2006. Some general characteristics of these carriers are:

  • 333 meters in length
  • Flight deck width of 76.8 to 78.4 meters
  • Powered by two A4W nuclear reactors with four shafts
  • Displacement of about 98,235 to 104,112 tons
  • Speed of 30+ knots (56+ kilometers per hour)
  • Can carry up to 85 aircraft (including F/A-18, EA-6B Prowler, e-2 Hawkeye, C-2 Greyhound, SH/HH-60 Seahawk, and T-45 Goshawk)
  • Costs about 4.5 billion US dollars
  • Capable of operating for 20 continuous years without refueling
  • Average operating cost of about 160 million US dollars
  • Service life of about 50 years
  • Armament includes:
    • NATO Sea Sparrow launchers
    • 20 mm Phalanx CIWS mounts
    • Rolling Airframe Missile

The ten operating Nimitz-class aircraft carriers, their homeports and the operations and wars they were involved in, at a glance:
Name of the Carrier Commissioned Status Operations
USS Nimitz (CVN-68) May 3, 1975 In service, based at Naval Air Station Island, San Diego Operation Evening Light, Operation Desert Storm, Operation Southern Watch, Operation Iraqi Freedom, Gulf of Sidra
USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69) October 11, 1975 In service, based at Naval Station Norfolk in Virginia Iran hostage crisis, Operation Desert Shield, Operation Desert Storm, Operation Uphold Democracy, Operation Southern Watch, Operation Deny Flight
USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70) March 13, 1982 Undergoing RCOH Operation Southern Watch, Operation Desert Storm, Operation Desert Fox, Operation Enduring Freedom, Iraqi Freedom
USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) October 25, 1984 In service, based at Naval Station Norfolk in Virginia Operation Desert Shield, Operation Provide Comfort, Operation Deny Flight, Operation Southern Watch, Operation Deliberate Force, Operation Allied Force, Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom
USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) November 11, 1989 In service, based in Naval Station Everett in Everett, Washington Operation Desert Shield, Operation Desert Storm, Operation Fiery Vigil, Operation Southern Watch, Operation Restore Hope, Operation Vigilant Sentinel, Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Unified Assistance
USS George Washington (CVN-73) July 4, 1992 In service, based in Yokosuka Naval Base, Yokosuka, Japan Operation Decisive Endeavor, Operation Southern Watch, Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Vigilant Resolve
USS John C. Stennis (CVN-74) December 9, 1995 In service, based in Naval Base Kitsap in Bremerton, Washington Operation Southern Watch, Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Noble Eagle
USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75) July 25, 1998 In service, based in Naval Station Norfolk in Norfolk, Virginia Operation Southern Watch, Operation Iraqi Freedom, Hurricane Katrina relief
USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) July 12, 2003 In service, based in Naval Air Station North Island in San Diego, California Operation Urgent Fury, Operation El Dorado Canyon, Operation Praying Mantis
USS George H.W. Bush (CVN-77) January 10, 2009 Based in Naval Station Norfolk, Virginia Nil

These ten Nimitz-class aircraft carriers are currently in service in the US Navy. With the formidable presence of such massive weaponry, it is unlikely that any navy in the world will challenge the strength or even come on par with the US navy for quite some time.