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USS Nimitz (CVN-68)

USS Nimitz at sea near Persian Gulf, 12 October 1997 ()
Laid down:22 June 1968
Launched:13 May 1972
Commissioned:3 May 1975
Fate:on active service
General Characteristics
Displacement:98,500 tons full
Length:333 m (1092 ft)
Beam:41 m (134 ft)
Extreme Width:76.8 m (252 ft)
Draft:12 m (40 ft)
Speed:30+ knots
Complement:6,000+ officers and men
Armament:Sea Sparrow, Phalanx CIWS

The USS Nimitz (CVN-68) is an aircraft carrier in the United States Navy, the lead ship of its class. It is one of the largest warships in the world.

The keel of the 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 USS South Carolina and USS 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 USS Ranger in Operation Desert Storm, returning herself on 24 August. She deployed again to the Gulf for several months in 1993, relieving USS Kitty Hawk during Operation Southern Watch.

On 1 September 1997, Nimitz began an around-the-world cruise with the destination of Newport News, for a mid-life refueling overhaul that lasted until 25 June 2001. She then changed home port to San Diego, California, arriving there on 13 November 2001.

In mid-April 2003, Nimitz relieved Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) in the Persian Gulf.

Nimitz in the Movies

The size and power of the 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-14 Tomcat jets and Japanese Zeros.

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