The Oldest American Carrier In Service: USS Nimitz (CVN-68)

USS Nimitz (CVN-68) is a supercarrier of the United States Navy and the lead ship of her class. One of the largest warships in the world, she was laid down, launched, and commissioned as CVAN-68, “aircraft carrier, attack, nuclear powered”, but she was later redesignated as CVN-68, “aircraft carrier, multi-mission, nuclear-powered”, on 30 June 1975. The Nimitz-class aircraft carriers were the largest warships ever built until the commissioning of USS Gerald R Ford in 2017. Currently, Nimitz is the oldest U.S. aircraft carrier in service and the oldest serving aircraft carrier in the world.

Nimitz is part of Carrier Strike Group Eleven (CSG-11) with Carrier Air Wing Seventeen (CVW-17) embarked, with Nimitz as the flagship of the strike group and the home of the commander of Destroyer Squadron 23.

The carrier reaches a maximum speed of over 30k and can accommodate 3,184 personnel (with 203 officers), 2,800 aircrew (with 366 officers) and 70 flag (with 25 officers). With over 6,000 personnel (crew and aircrew), the carrier has a displacement of 102,000t and a flight deck length of 332.9m.

The 50 TACAIR air wing includes up to 82 aircraft. Typically this would be 12 F/A-18E/F Hornets, 36 F/A-18 Hornets, four E-2C Hawkeyes and four EA-6B Prowlers fixed-wing and helicopters, including four SH-60F and two HH-60H Seahawks. The carrier can also deploy S-3B Viking aircraft, but these were phased out and replaced with the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet. The S-3B Viking was finally decommissioned in January 2009.

There are four Raytheon / General Dynamics 20mm Phalanx six-barrelled Mk 15 close-in weapon systems that have a firing rate of 3,000 rounds a minute and a range of 1.5km. The nuclear-powered carrier has two General Electric pressurised water reactors driving four turbines of 260,000hp (194MW) and four shafts. There are four emergency diesels of 10,720hp (8MW).

Nearing the end of its 50 year long lifespan, USS Nimitz is projected to be replaced around 2022 by the Gerald R. Ford-class aircraft carrier USS John F. Kennedy (CVN-79).

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