Facts About USS George Washington (CVN-73)

Facts About the USS George Washington (CVN-73): The Behemoth

USS George Washington is a Nimitz-class nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, and is a supreme example of the US' technological and military supremacy. To know more about this behemoth, read on...
Historyplex Staff
Last Updated: Jun 3, 2018
Named after the first president of the United States of America, the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier is the sixth ship in the Nimitz class. She was built by the Newport News Shipbuilding Company, and was commissioned on July 4, 1992. It was named by the then First Lady, Barbara Bush, in 1990. The ship's home port was in Norfolk, Virginia, but was later shifted to the Yokosuka Naval Base in Japan.

It is best known for its huge size. A few of its impressive facts include:
  • A size of about 233 meters in length, 78 meters in width, and as tall as a four-story building
  • An enormous flight deck of 4.5 acres, which can accommodate about 80 aircraft
  • Four elevators to move aircraft between the hangar bay and the flight deck
  • Accommodation for 6,250 crew members
  • Displacement of about 100,000 tons at full load
  • 4 distilling units that can produce 400,000 US gallons of potable water and food divisions that can serve 18,000 meals a day
  • Air conditioning capacity of 2,520 tons (2.1 MW)
  • Three 20 mm Phalanx Close-In Weapon System (CIWS), 2 Sea Sparrow Surface to Air Missile (SAM) launchers and 2 RIM-116 Rolling Airframe Missiles
When the George Washington was commissioned, its hangar bays were painted white to make them appear brighter and larger. The hull numbers of all US Navy carriers are painted in white, so that they are visible at night, but George Washington's hull numbers were outlined with red, blue, and white lights.

It has made the most number of trips to the Mediterranean Sea―six trips so far. The ship has even played a peacekeeping role in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Its most important deployment, however, came in 1998 in the Persian Gulf, when its presence compelled Iraq to let United Nations weapon inspectors in the country. In 2000, the ship helped conduct Maritime Interception Operations supporting the UN sanctions against Iraq and capture 20,000 metric tons of oil smuggled out of the country.

In February 2001, the ship was upgraded at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard. Later, in September, after the terrorist attacks in New York, the ship and her air wing provided air defense to the city. The ship was redeployed in the Persian Gulf for six months in 2002. In 2008, it was chosen to replace the USS Kitty Hawk (CV-63), which was stationed in Japan, making it the first nuclear powered carrier to be permanently stationed at the Yokosuka Naval Base in Japan.

On May 2008, a fire in the air conditioning and auxiliary boiler room injured 36 people. The fire spread fast and caused a lot of damage. It took several hours before the fire could be controlled and extinguished. The ship was forced to return to San Diego for repairs, delaying its journey to Japan. The fire had caused damage to the tune of about 70 million dollars, which resulted in both the Captain and Executive Officer of the ship being relieved from their duties.

The ship underwent repairs, had a new captain and executive officer appointed, and was ready to sail to its new home port in Yokosuka, but protests from the locals regarding the safety of the ship (fueled by the fire) again led to a delay in leaving for Japan. This forced the US to send the Commanding Officer of the Naval Forces to explain to the mayor of Yokosuka the cause of the fire and assure him about the safety of the ship. The super-carrier finally sailed to Yokosuka in August 2008, and has been stationed there since.