Manufacturer: Huntington Ingalls Industries Newport News Shipbuilding Co.
Armament: Multiple NATO Sea Sparrow, Phalanx CIWS, and Rolling Airframe Missile (RAM) mounts
Propulsion: Two nuclear reactors, four shafts
Speed: 30+ knots
Crew: 3,200, air wing: 1,500
The Nimitz Class aircraft carrier continues to be the centerpiece of the forces necessary for operating forward. In times of crisis, the first question leaders ask in a crisis is: “Where are the carriers?”
Often the presence of an aircraft carrier has deterred potential adversaries from striking against U.S. interests. Aircraft Carriers support and operate aircraft that engage in attacks on airborne, afloat and ashore targets that threaten free use of the sea; and engage in sustained power projection operations in support U.S. and coalition forces.
The aircraft carrier and its strike group also engage in maritime security operations to interdict threats to merchant shipping and prevent the use of the seas for terrorism and piracy. Aircraft carriers also provide unique capabilities for disaster response and humanitarian assistance. The embarked carrier air wing provides helicopters for direct support and C4I assets to support them and ensure aid is routed quickly and safely.
The 10 nuclear powered Nimitz class aircraft carriers are the largest warships in the world, each designed for an approximately 50 year service life with one mid-life refueling. USS NIMITZ (CVN 68), USS DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER (CVN 69), USS CARL VINSON (CVN 70), and USS THEODORE ROOSEVELT (CVN 71) have all completed their Refueling Complex Overhauls (RCOH) at Newport News, Va., with USS ABRAHAM LINCOLN (CVN 72) having commenced RCOH in 2013.
The next generation of aircraft carrier, the Gerald R. Ford class (CVN 78) was ordered in 2008 and is slated to be delivered in 2016 as the force structure replacement for USS ENTERPRISE (EX-CVN 65) which inactivated in 2012.