|SPECIFICATIONS||PHOTOGRAPHS (Click on the pictures for an enlarged photo)|
Length: 1092 ft
Width: 252 ft
Beam: 134 ft
Displacement: 102,000 tons
Propulsion: 2 A4W Nuclear Reactors,
Speed: 30+ knots
Crew: 5,984 (includes air crew)
Airwing: 85 fixed, rotary
- 2 X 8 NATO Sea Sparrow SAM (all)
- 2 x 21 RAM System SAM (all)
- 3 X 20mm Phalanx CIWS (CVN:71-75)
Ships in class: 10
CVN-68 USS NimitzThe Nimitz class aircraft carriers are the largest warships ever built (until the new Ford Class carriers are commissioned). They are the mainstay of the US Navy's power projection and sea lane protetction capabilities. Each of these vessels carries an airwing that is larger and more powerful than many nation's complete air force. By having the resources, the experience, and the capability to build and operate ten of these vessels in class (where each vessel is surrounded by an extensive force of other surface and sub-surface combatants that make up each Carrier Strike Group (CSG), usually conssisting of at least one Ticonderoga Aegis Cruiser, two to three Arleigh Burke Class Aegis Destroyers, and one US Nuclear attach submarine), the United States remains the unchallenged, dominant sea force on earth.
The initial vessel, and namesake of the class, the USS Nimitz, CVN-68, was launched May 13, 1972 and commissioned May 3, 1975. As the first in class, with all the new features, she took some time to go through trials and get all worked up ready for commission. After that they would commission quicker, usually two or less years, except the last in class, which was a transilitional carrier to the next new class. Since the time the Nimitz was commissioned, nine more have been built, with the latest being the USS Gerogre H.W. Bush (after the 41st President of the United states) which was launched October 9, 2006 and commissioned January 10, 2009, 27 months later.
Carrier Air Wing:
A typical modern Nimitz carrier air wing would include one squardron of 12–14 F/A-18E or F Super Hornets, two squadrons of 10–12 F/A-18C Hornets, with one of these often provided by the U.S. Marine Corps (VMFA), 4–6 EA-6B Prowlers for electronic warfare (which will soon transition to the EF-18 Growlers), 4–6 E-2C/D Hawkeyes used for airborne early warning, 2-4 C-2 Greyhounds used for logistics; and a Helicopter Antisubmarine Squadron of 6–8 SH-60F & HH-60H Seahawks. Thi makes for an airwing of from 48-62 aircraft.
Carrier Weapon Systems and Self Defense:
Since USS Theodore Roosevelt, the carriers have been constructed with 2.5 in (64 mm) Kevlar armor over vital spaces, and earlier ships have been retrofitted with it: Nimitz in 1983–1984, Eisenhower from 1985–1987 and Vinson in 1989.
Electronic ountermeasures that the vessles use include four Sippican SRBOC (super rapid bloom off-board chaff) six-barrel MK36 decoy launchers, which deploy infrared flares and chaff to disrupt the sensors of incoming missiles, an SSTDS torpedo defense system; and an AN/SLQ-25 Nixie torpedo countermeasures system. The carriers also use Raytheon AN/SLQ-32(V) electronic warfare systems to detect and disrupt hostile radar signals. Electronics warfare aircraft like the EA-6B Prowler or EF-18 GRowler are also used to disrupt enemy radars and other sensors.
Flight Deck and Hangar:
There are four steam catapults which are used to launch fixed-wing aircraft, and four arrestor wires (Nimitz through Truman) are used for recovery. This is why these carriers (like all other US Carriers) are called CATOBAR, which means Catapult assisted Take-off and Barrier assisted Recovery of aircraft. The two newest carriers, Reagan and Bush, only have three arrestor wires each, as the fourth was used so infrequently it was deemed unnecessary. The CATOBAR arrangement allows for faster launching and recovery as well as a much wider range of aircraft that can be used on board compared with smaller aircraft carriers, most of which are either STOBAR (Short take off, Barrier Assisted Recovery) or STOVL (Short take-off, Vertical Landing) arrangements.
The ship's aircraft operations are controlled by the air boss on the bridge. Four large elevators transport aircraft between the flight deck and the hangar space below. The hangar bay is 684 ft. long, 108 ft wide and 25 ft 7 inches tall. It is divided into three bays by thick steel doors designed to restrict the spread of fire. Aircraft are stored here in rough weather and in order to conduct repairs and miantenance on the aircraft.
The Carrier Strike Group: When an aircraft carrier is deployed, it takes a group of vessels wit it which are used to protect the carrier, reprovision it (and the other vessels), and to conduct operations in conjunction with the mission of the carrier and its overall group. The entoire group of vessels is called the Carrier Strike group (CSG). With aNimitz carrier this group usually consists of one replensishment vessel from the Military Sea Lift Command (MSC) and at least one frigate or destroyer to escort that vessel, and then at least one (sometimes two) Ticonderoga Class Aegis Cruiser, two or three Arleigh Burk Class AEGIS destroyers, and one or two Nuclear attack submarines. The other vessels in the Strike Group provide additional defensive and offensive capabilities, such as long range Tomahawk missiles or the Aegis Combat System with its Standard Missiles used for long and ledium range defense against aircraft and misisles, and the helos and Anti-Submarine Warfare weapons and missiles of the cruisers, destoyers and submarines to protect the carrier agaoinst enemy submarines.
So, in addition to the well over 5,000 personnel who are aboard the carrier itself, each of the cruisers and destroyers (of which there can be from 4 to six of) will carry upwards of 2,000 other personnel, in addition to the nearly one thosuand personnel on the submarine, the replenshment ship and its escort. This totals well over 8,000 and potentially 9,000 personnel in a typical carrier strike group. And the US usually has four or more of these strike groups deployed at any given time around the world. The precise numbers and type of vessels accompanying these carriers in their CSGs will vary depending on the objectives of the mission for which each individual CSG is deployed.
Transitional Carrier to new Ford Class:
USS Nimitz, CVN-68 (Comm. 5/3/1975)|
USS Dwight Eisenhower, CVN-69 (Comm. 10/18/1977)
USS Carl Vinson, CVN-70 (Comm. 3/13/1982)
USS Theodore Roosevelt, CVN-71 (Comm. 10/25/1986)
USS Abraham Lincoln, CVN-72 (Comm. 11/11/1989)
USS George Washington, CVN-73 (Comm. 7/4/1992)
USS John Stennis, CVN-74 (Comm. 12/9/1995)
USS Harry Truman, CVN-75 (Comm. 7/25/1998)
USS Ronald Reagan, CVN-76 (Comm. 7/12/2003)
USS Geroge H.W. Bush, CVN-77 (Comm. 1/10/2009)
Nimitz Class Flight and Carrier Operations
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