Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
USS Nimitz (CVN-68)
The keel of Nimitz was laid down 22 June 1968 by Newport News Shipbuilding in Newport News, Virginia, and she was commissioned 3 May 1975 by President Gerald Ford. The ship was named for Admiral Chester Nimitz, who commanded the Pacific fleet in World War II.
Nimitz first deployed to the Mediterranean, departing 7 July 1976, in company with the cruisers South Carolina and California. This was the first time in ten years that the US had deployed nuclear-powered ships in the Mediterranean. The cruise was uneventful, and Nimitz returned to Norfolk, Virginia 7 February 1977. A second Mediterranean cruise 1977-1978 was similarly quiet, but on the third cruise, which began 10 September 1979, Nimitz was the launchpad for Operation Evening Light, the attempt to rescue the US Embassy workers being held hostage in Tehran, Iran. The mission was aborted when helicopters crashed at a rendezvous point in the Iranian desert. The ship finally returned home 26 May 1980.
In the following year, one of Nimitz's EA-6B Prowlers crash-landed on its flight deck, killing 14 crewmen and injuring 45 others.
In the Gulf of Sidra incident (1981), while conducting a freedom of navigation exercise in the Gulf of Sidra near what Libya had proclaimed as the "line of death", two aircraft of Nimitz's VF-41 were fired on by Libyan pilots, but they returned fire and shot down both Libyans.
In 1987, Nimitz changed home ports to Bremerton, Washington. She left from there on 25 February 1991 to relieve Ranger in Operation Desert Storm, returning herself on 24 August, 1991. She deployed again to the Gulf for several months in 1993, relieving Kitty Hawk during Operation Southern Watch. In March 1996, she was deployed to patrol the waters off Taiwan amid missile tests by the PRC in the area, becoming the first U.S. warship to pass though the Taiwan Strait since 1976.
On 1 September 1997, Nimitz began an around-the-world cruise with the destination of Newport News, for a mid-life Service Life Extension Program (SLEP) that lasted until 25 June, 2001. She then changed home port to San Diego, California, arriving there on 13 November, 2001.
Nimitz returned to San Diego on 2 November 2003 where she underwent regularly scheduled maintenance and repair. Nimitz and her crew are currently involved in intensive training in preparation for her next deployment, expected in mid-2005.
Nimitz in fiction
- The size and power of Nimitz fascinated navy buffs when it first sailed, and that eventually translated into a 1980 movie; The Final Countdown is a what-if story featuring the Nimitz going back in time, to the day before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, complete with the predictable encounters between F-14A Tomcat jets and Japanese Zeros.
- In Tom Clancy's novel The Hunt for Red October, Nimitz is one of two aircraft carriers recalled from the Southern Atlantic Ocean to reinforce John F. Kennedy and monitor the Soviet surface fleet.
- In Tom Clancy's novel Red Storm Rising, Nimitz is sent to protect U.S. convoys from Soviet attack. The ship is eventually damaged by Soviet AS-6 Kingfish missiles during an air raid.
- In the science fiction television series Stargate SG-1, Nimitz was destroyed by a Goa'uld attack vessel in the seventh season finale.
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