The Nimitz-class supercarriers, a line of nuclear-powered aircraft carriers in service with the United States Navy, are currently the world's most powerful ships. With their nuclear engines, they could almost sail forever, and the aircraft below their decks outnumbers some air forces in the world, very impressive. They are preceded by the Kitty Hawk-class of carriers, and are succeeded by the Gerald R. Fold-class.
U.S.S. Nimitz, being the lead ship in the class, was commisioned on May 3rd, 1975, followed by 9 more carriers of her class. U.S.S. George H. W. Bush is the last ship of the class (She was built by Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding, or just N.G.S.). Nimitz-class Carriers are numbered with consecutive hull numbers starting with CVN-68. The three letters "CVN", denotes the type of ship: CV is the hull classification, while N indicates nuclear-powered propulsion. The "68" in CVN-68 means that it is the 68th "CV", or in English, instead of Navy jargon, Aircraft Carrier.
As there are several construction differences from the first three ships of the class, and the rest seven, starting from U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt, the latter ships are sometimes refered to as the Theodore Roosevelt-class aircraft carriers, but the U.S. Navy prefers to consider all of them as part of one class.
Nimitz-class Carriers are currently the heaviest ships U.S. fleet, although they are not the longest, as this title is still held by U.S.S. Enterprise.
Ships in this Class are...
- U.S.S. Nimitz (CVN-68) Commissioned: May 3rd, 1975.
- U.S.S. Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69) Commissioned: October 18th, 1977.
- U.S.S. Carl Vinson (CVN-70) Commissioned: March 13th, 1982.
- U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) Commissioned: October 25th, 1986.
- U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) Commissioned: November 11th, 1989.
- U.S.S. George Washington (CVN-73) Commissioned: July 4th, 1992.
- U.S.S. John C. Stennis (CVN-74) Commissioned: December 9th, 1995.
- U.S.S. Harry S. Truman (CVN-75) Commissioned: July 25th, 1998.
- U.S.S. Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) Commissioned: July 12th, 2003.
- U.S.S. George H. W. Bush (CVN-77) Not commissioned. Expected to be in Mid 2009.
Builder: Newport News Shipbuilding Company, Newport News, Virginia.
Power Plant: Two A4W reactors, four shafts.
Length: 333 m (1092 ft) overall.
Flight Deck Width: 76.8 - 78.4 m (252 - 257 ft 5 in).
Beam: 41 m (134 ft).
Displacement: 98,235 - 104,112 tons full load.
Speed: 30+ knots (56+ km/h).
Aircraft: 85 (current wings are closer to 64, including 48 tactical and 16 support aircraft).
Intended to operate aircraft currently including the F/A-18 Hornet, EA-6B Prowler, E-2 Hawkeye, C-2 Greyhound, SH/HH-60 Seahawk, and S-3 Viking for many missions including self defense, land attack and maritime strike.
Cost: about US$4.5 billion each.
Average Annual Operating Cost: US$160 million.
Service Life: 50+ years.
Crew: Ship's Company: 3,200 — Air Wing: 2,480.
NATO Sea Sparrow launchers: three or four (depending on modification).
20 mm Phalanx CIWS mounts: Three on Nimitz and Dwight D. Eisenhower and four on Carl Vinson and later ships of the class, except Theodore Roosevelt and George Washington which have three. (USS Ronald Reagan has none, initially outfitted with Rolling Airframe Missile system during construction).
RIM-116 Rolling Airframe Missile: Two on Nimitz, George Washington and Ronald Reagan, will be retrofitted to other ships as they return for RCOH.
Date Deployed: May 3, 1975 (Nimitz).