Construction began on Oct. 31, 1981, when Secretary of Defense Casper Weinberger authenticated the keel laying of TR by initiating the first weld. Capt. Paul W. Parcells was named Prospective Commanding Officer in Feb. 1984, and, that October, the ship was officially christened. On Oct. 25, 1986, TR was placed in active service.
Normally the first ship in a class, in this case the USS NIMITZ, would normally be shock tested prior to deployment. However, the USS NIMITZ was never tested and the testing fell to the USS THEODORE ROOSEVELT, or the "T.R." as it is commonly referred to by it's sailors. The T.R. had several explosive charges at various depths, distances and amplitudes detonated underneath her hull. All critical components were videotaped and analyzed. The shock testing was in addition to the standard tests that all newly commissioned ships endure such as high speed runs and turns.
Capt. Dayton W. Ritt became TR's second Commanding Officer on Oct. 3, 1987, and on Dec. 30, 1988, TR started her maiden deployment, which was also the maiden deployment of the first 10-squadron air wing, Carrier Air Wing Eight.
On Jun. 9, 1990, Capt. Charles S. Abbot became the ship's third Commanding Officer and on Dec. 28, TR and CVW-8 deployed for Operation Desert Shield. TR entered the war on Jan. 9, 1991, eventually flying over 4,200 sorties (more than any other carrier) and dropping more than 4,800,000 pounds of ordnance before the cease-fire on Feb. 28.
When Iraqi forces turned on the Kurds, TR and CVW-8 were among the first coalition forces in Operation Provide Comfort, flying patrols over northern Iraq. After a 189-day deployment, with 169 days at sea, TR returned to Norfolk on Jun. 28, 1991. On Feb. 14, 1992, the ship won its second Battle "E." This was followed by the award of the Battenburg Cup for 1991 as the Atlantic Fleet's premier ship.
Capt. Stanley W. Bryant became TR's fourth Commanding Officer on Aug. 27, 1992.
TR and CVW-8 began their third deployment on Mar. 11, 1993, teamed with the Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force (SPMAGTF) to test the concept of embarking a multi-purpose Marine force in a carrier. TR hosted President Bill Clinton's first visit to a U.S. Navy ship, then sailed to the Adriatic as CVW-8 planes enforced Operation Deny Flight in the U.S. no-fly zone over Bosnia. In June, on the way to only her second port visit, TR was ordered to turn around and transit the Suez Canal en-route to the Red Sea to participate in Operation Southern Watch, enforcing the no-fly zone over Iraq.
Deployed for 184 days, TR spent 169 days underway. Her flight deck logged over 16,000 hours, and CVW-8 flew more sorties than during the Persian Gulf War. For its accomplishments, the ship received its second Meritorious Unit Commendation.
In Nov. 1993, TR entered Norfolk Naval Shipyard (NNSY) for a Selected Restricted Availability (SRA). Heading back to sea on Apr. 14, 1994, TR became the first nuclear carrier to complete an SRA ahead of schedule at NNSY.
Awards for 1993 continued. TR received the CINCLANTFLT Golden Anchor Award for the best retention in an Atlantic Fleet carrier. On Mar. 10, 1994, TR received its third Battle "E." Then on June 3, TR was awarded its second Battenburg Cup as the best ship in the Atlantic Fleet.
On Jul. 8, 1994, Capt. Ronald L. Christenson became TR's fifth Commanding Officer.
TR and CVW-8 began their fourth deployment on Mar. 1995, operating in the Red Sea in support of Operation Southern Watch. TR also provided a "Forward...from the Sea" presence, conducting flight operations in support of Operations Deny Flight and Sharp Guard over the skies of Bosnia and in the Adriatic operating areas. Deny Flight evolved into Operation Deliberate Force, as CVW-8 aircraft led NATO strikes against strategic Bosnian Serb targets in Sarajevo-Herzegovina. During TR's transit home, Secretary of the Navy John Dalton came aboard and awarded the Theodore Roosevelt Battle Group the Navy Unit Commendation for its Bosnia operations.
In 1996, TR received its third consecutive Golden Anchor Award and Commander, Naval Air Force, U.S. Atlantic Fleet's first Security Excellence Award. CVW-3 joined TR in May 1996 prior to her port visit to Halifax, Nova Scotia. On Nov. 1, 1996, Capt. David Architzel became TR's sixth Commanding Officer. TR deployed for her fifth deployment on Nov. 25, 1996, conducting operations in the Mediterranean and Arabian Gulf in support of Operation Southern Watch.
On July 8 1997, TR entered the Newport News Shipbuilding yard for a one-year Extended Drydock and Selected Restricted Availability (EDSRA), her first major overhaul since commissioning. In Feb. 1998, TR received her fifth Golden Anchor Award while in the shipyard. One year later, TR returned to her homeport at the Norfolk Naval Station.
Capt. David R. Bryant became TR's seventh Commanding Officer on Sep. 22, 1998.
TR began her sixth deployment on Mar. 26, 1999 with CVW-8. They were immediately called to duty in the Ionian Sea to support NATO's Operation Allied Force. TR and CVW-8 aircraft conducted air strikes for two months over the skies of Kosovo against the Serbians. TR and CVW-8 were then dispatched to support Operation Southern Watch, enforcing the "no-fly" zone over Southern Iraq. TR returned to her homeport of Norfolk, Va., on Sept 24, 1999.
On January 7, 2000, TR entered a Planned Incremental Availability at the Norfolk Naval Naval Shipyard, Portsmouth, Virginia. This six month maintenance period ended on June 30, 2000 when the ship departed on sea trials.
TR successfully completed her Inter-Deployment Training Cycle in August 2001.
TR began her seventh deployment on September 19, 2001 with Carrier Air Wing One. After a routine transit of the Atlantic Ocean, TR and CVW-1 were called to support Operation Enduring Freedom. Receiving support from around the country, TR and CVW-1 led coalition forces in creating a more stable government in Afgahnistan and hunting down members of al-Qaeda. After breaking the record longest period underway since WWII, TR's crew only hit two ports after 159 days at sea. TR was again awarded the Battenberg Cup, Naval Unit Commendation, and Battle E. TR pulled back in March 17, 2001.
TR pulled out of NNSY Oct. 30, 2002, after completing a Planned Incremental Availability. More work was completed in a six month period than ever attempted before.