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Improved Nimitz class

Nuclear-powered aircraft carrier

Improved Nimitz class aircraft carrier

The first improved Nimitz class aircraft carrier was commissioned in 1986

Entered service 1986
Crew 3 184 men
Aircrew 2 080 men
Flag staff 70 men
Dimensions and displacement
Length 317 m
Beam 43 m
Draught 11.3 m
Flight deck length 332.9 m
Flight deck width 76.8 m
Displacement, full load over 102 000 tons
Propulsion and speed
Speed over 35 knots
Nuclear reactors 2 x ? MW
Steam turbines 2 x 208 MW
Fixed wing 20 x F-14D Bomcat
36 F/A-18 Hornet
8 x S-3A/B Viking
4 x E-2C Hawkeye
4 x EA-6B Prowler
Helicopters 4 x SH-60F
4 x HH-60H


   In 1981 the first of Improved Nimitz class carrier was ordered after much discussion both within the Congress and the Pentagon. At that time at least six of these aircraft carriers were planned. Eventually seven were built.

   These vessels were completed with Kevlar armour over their vital areas and have improved hull protection arrangements. The Kevlar armour has been retrofitted to the earlier carriers, as have many of the advanced systems built into the newer ships.

   Broader in the beam by about two metres, the newer carriers have a full-load displacement in excess of 102 000 tons (and may exceed 106 000 tons in some circumstances). The ship's complement of 3 184 personel (203 officers) does not include the air wing of 2 800 aircrew (with 366 officers); and 70 flag staff (with 25 officers).

   The combat data systems fitted to the improved carriers are based around the Naval Tactical and Advanced Combat Direction System (AcDs), with Links 4A, 11, 14, and 16 communication and data links. Weapons control is managed by three Mk 91 Mod 1 MFCS directors for the Sea Sparrow missile. USS Nimitz is fitted with the SSDS Mk2 Mod 0 ship self-defense system, developed by Raytheon. The SSDS provide automated self-defence against anti-ship cruise missiles (ASCMs) by integrating and co-ordinating the ship's weapon and electronic warfare systems.

   The Raytheon AN/SLQ-32(V) electronic warfare system detects hostile radar emissions by two sets of antennae and the system analyses the pulse repetition rate, the scan mode, the scan period, and the frequency. The system identifies the threat and direction, provides a warning signal and interfaces the ship's countermeasures systems.

   The first improved Nimitz was the USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71), which commissioned in October 1986. Roosevelt saw extensive action in the Gulf War. USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) was commissioned in November 1989 and her first major operation was evacuation of American forces from the Philippines after the eruption of Mount Pinatubo. USS George Washington (CVN-73) was commissioned in July 1992, followed by USS John C. Stennis (CVN-74) in December 1995 and USS Harry S.Truman (CVN-75) in 1998. USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) was christened by Mrs Nancy Reagan in 2001 and commissioned in 2003.

   The 10th and last of the class, USS George H.W. Bush (CVN-77), entered service in 2009. It is a transitional design, incorporating new technology that will significantly reduce the crew requirement. It will test systems intended for a new class of Ford aircraft carriers.


Name Laid down Launched Commissioned Status
USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) 1981 1984 1986

in refueling since 2009

USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) 1984 1988 1989

active, in service

USS George Washington (CVN-73) 1986 1990 1992

active, in service

USS Jonh C. Stennis (CVN-74) 1991 1993 1995

active, in service

USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75) 1993 1996 1998

active, in service

USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) 1998 2001 2003

active, in service

USS George H.W. Bush (CVN-77) 2003 2006 2009

active, in service