Mission and Capabilities
The mission of USS John C. Stennis and her embarked Air Wing (Carrier Air Wing Nine) is to conduct sustained combat air operations while forward deployed in the global arena. The embarked Air Wing consists of eight to nine squadrons. Attached aircraft are the F/A-18 Hornet, F-14 Tomcat, EA-6B Prowler, S-3 Viking, E-2C Hawkeye, and SH-60 Seahawk.
The Air Wing can destroy enemy aircraft, ships, submarines, and land targets, or lay mines hundreds of miles from the ship. USS John C. Stennis' aircraft are used to conduct strikes, support land battles, protect the Battle Group or other friendly shipping, and implement a sea or air blockade. The Air Wing provides a visible presence to demonstrate American power and resolve in a crisis. The ship normally operates as the centerpiece of a Carrier Battle Group commanded by a flag officer embarked in USS John C. Stennis and consisting of four to six other ships.
USS John C. Stennis' two nuclear reactors give her virtually unlimited range and endurance and a top speed in excess of 30 knots. The ship's four catapults and four arresting gear engines enable her to launch and recover aircraft rapidly and simultaneously. The ship carries approximately three million gallons of fuel for her aircraft and escorts, and enough weapons and stores for extended operations without replenishment. USS John C. Stennis also has extensive repair capabilities, including a fully equipped Aircraft Intermediate Maintenance Department, a micro-miniature electronics repair shop, and numerous ship repair shops.
For defense, in addition to her Air Wing and accompanying vessels, USS John C. Stennis has NATO Sea Sparrow short-range, surface-to-air missile systems, the Phalanx Close-in Weapons System (an extremely rapid firing 20mm gun) for cruise missile defense, and the SLQ-32 Electronic Warfare System.
USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) Seal was produced from the combined efforts of several crewmembers with historical help from Stennis Center for Public Service, John C. Stennis Space Center and United States Senate Historian. The Seal implies peace through strength, just as Senator John C. Stennis was referred to as an "unwavering advocate of peace through strength" by President Ronald Reagan, when the ship's name was announced in June 1988.
The circular shape signifies the NIMITZ class aircraft carrier's unique capability to circle the world without refueling while providing a forward presence from the sea. The predominant colors are red, white, blue and gold, the same as those of the United States and its navy. The outer border, taken from one version of a U. S. Senate crest, represents the strength through unity of the ship's crew. The four gold bands and eight ties denote John C. Stennis' four decades (41 years) in the Senate and the eight presidents he served with, from President Truman to President Reagan. The seven stars in the blue border represent his seven terms in the Senate and characterize USS John C. Stennis as the seventh NIMITZ class aircraft carrier. The red and white stripes inside the blue border represent the American flag and the American people USS John C. Stennis serves. They also honor the courage and sacrifice of the United States' armed forces.
The eagle and shield is a representation of the gilt eagle and shield overlooking the Old Senate Chamber. The shield represents the United States of America. The twenty stars represent the US's twentieth state, Mississippi, the home of John C. Stennis. The three arrows in the eagle's talons symbolize the Ship and Air Wing's ability to project power. The burst of light emanating from the shield, representative of the emergence of a new nation in the United States Senate Seal, portrays the birth of over 25 major Naval Aviation programs under Senator Stennis' leadership, including all aircraft carriers from USS FORRESTAL (CV 59) to USS HARRY S. TRUMAN (CVN 75), and aircraft from the F-4 Phantom to the F/A-18 Hornet. The eagle is representative of John C. Stennis' stature in the Senate, where he was respected and admired as a "soaring eagle" by some of his colleagues.
The Seal, after selection by the ship's crew, was submitted to Mrs. Margaret Stennis Womble, the ship's Sponsor and daughter of Senator Stennis, and to Mrs. John Hampton Stennis, the Matron of Honor and wife of Senator Stennis' son, for their approval. In February 1995 they approved the design.
See also: John C. Stennis Battle Group
Sources: US Navy web site; ship images from TimShell