The Nimitz-class supercarriers are a line of nuclear-powered aircraft carriers in service with the United States Navy, are the largest capital ships in the world, and are considered to be a hallmark in the United States' superpower status. These ships are numbered with consecutive hull numbers starting with CVN 68. The letters CVN denote the type of ship: "CV" is the hull classification symbol for aircraft carriers, and "N" indicates nuclear-powered propulsion. The number after the CVN means that this is the 68th "CV", or aircraft carrier.
Nimitz (CVN-68), the lead ship of the class, was commissioned in 1975. As of 2006, George H. W. Bush (CVN-77), the tenth and last of the class, was built by Northrop Grumman Newport News and will enter service in 2009. Bush will be the first transition ship to the Ford class, the first ship of which began construction in 2007 and will incorporate new technologies including a new multi-function radar system, volume search radar, an open architecture information network, and a significantly reduced crew requirement. To lower costs, some new technologies were also incorporated into Ronald Reagan, the previous carrier to the Bush, though not nearly as many as will be involved with Bush.
Because of construction differences between the first three ships (Nimitz, Eisenhower and Vinson) and the latter seven (from Theodore Roosevelt on), the latter ships are sometimes called Theodore Roosevelt-class aircraft carriers, though the U.S. Navy considers them to all be in one class. As the older ships come in for Refueling and Complex Overhaul (RCOH), they are upgraded to the standards of the latest ships.
By tonnage, Nimitz class are the largest class of carriers built so far, holding the world record for displacement of any naval war vessel. When Bush is completed, the ten ships of the class will total just under a million tons combined displacement. Although the Nimitz class ships are the heaviest ships in the US fleet they are not the longest ships in the fleet, as that distinction belongs to the carrier Enterprise.
Nimitz was the first to undergo her initial refueling during a 33-month RCOH at Newport News Shipbuilding in Newport News, Virginia, in 1998. Dwight D. Eisenhower was next, completing RCOH in 2005. Carl Vinson began RCOH in late 2005. USS Abraham Lincoln entered dry dock at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard on September 8, 2006, leaving ahead of schedule on December 18.
|Builders=Newport News Shipbuilding
|Ship displacement=78,280 tons light
101,196 tons full load |Ship length=1040|ft|m|0|abbr=on waterline
convert|1115|ft|m|0|abbr=on overall |Ship beam=134|ft|m|abbr=on waterline
convert|257|ft|m|abbr=on extreme |Ship draft=|40|ft|m |Ship propulsion=2 × Westinghouse A4W nuclear reactors
4 × steam turbines
4 × shafts
260,000 shp |Ship sail plan= |Ship speed=30+ knots (56+ km/h) |Ship range=Unlimited |Ship complement=3,200 ships company
2,500 air wing |Ship armament=16-24 surface-to-air missiles
4 close-in weapons systems |Ship aircraft=85