Nimitz Class Aircraft Carrier

Product Type:

Aircraft Carrier

Using Service (US):

Navy

Program Status:

Undergoing major refueling overhauls

Prime Contractors:

Newport News Shipbuilding
(Huntington Ingalls Industries)

The CVN-68 USS Nimitz Aircraft Carrier

About the Nimitz Class Carrier:





The Nimitz Class aircraft carriers are the largest warships ever built. With over 6,000 personnel (including aircrew), the up to 106,600 metric ton Nimitz Class carriers are 1,092 feet long (332.8 m), 132 feet (40 m) wide (at waterline), and draw 37 feet (11.3 m) of water fully loaded. The flight deck is equipped with four aircraft elevators and four aircraft catapults and can support up to 90 aircraft through fourteen days of continuous combat operations. The class and lead ship was named after Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz. All ten Nimitz Class carriers have been built in Virginia by Newport News Shipbuilding (Huntington Ingalls Industries).

All Nimitz Class carriers are powered by two Westinghouse A4W nuclear pressurized water reactors driving four General Electric steam turbines and four shafts. Maximum power produced is 260,000 shp (190 MW). Using nuclear power, the ships are capable of operating for over 20 years without ever refueling. Carriers were designed for an approximately 50-year service life with one mid-life refueling. USS Nimitz (CVN-68), USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69), and USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70) have all completed their Refueling Complex Overhauls with USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) scheduled to return to the Fleet in 2013.

The Nimitz Class was constructed to supplement and eventually replace Kitty Hawk Class carriers and USS Enterprise (CVN-65). The lead ship of the class, USS Nimitz, was commissioned on May 3, 1975 (keel laid down June 22, 1968) while USS George H.W. Bush, the tenth and last of the class, was commissioned on January 10, 2009. The final Nimitz Class carrier, USS George H.W. Bush (CVN-77), was designed as a "transition ship" to the Ford Class. CVN-77 incorporates new technologies including improved propeller and bulbous bow designs, a reduced radar signature + electronic and environmental upgrades. The CVN-77 has a crew of only 3,300 compared to 5,000-6,275 for other ships in the class. To reduce future upgrade/modification costs, a number of new technologies and design features (including a redesigned island) were incorporated into the USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76). Since USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71), Nimitz Class carriers were manufactured in modular construction. For example, USS George H.W. Bush was constructed from 161 super-lift modules.

The Nimitz Class carriers use a CATOBAR (Catapult Assisted Take Off But Arrested Recovery) system where aircraft are launched using catapult-assisted take off + stopped during the recovery phase (landing) by arresting wires. Each of four steam powered catapults can send a 48,000 pound plane 300 feet from zero to 165 mph in two seconds. The carrier is capable of launching an aircraft every 20 seconds. On each plane's nose gear is a so-called T-bar that locks into the catapult's shuttle and pulls the plane down the catapult track. Four steel arresting cables are stretched across the deck of the aircraft carrier. The planes' tail hook, a hook bolted to an 8-foot bar extending from the belly of the aircraft, catches one of the carrier's four cables, bringing aircraft landing at 150 mph to a stop in about 320 feet. The cables stop each aircraft at the same place on the deck, regardless of aircraft size or weight. Each of the four deck-edge elevators can lift two aircraft from the huge hangar bay to the 4.5-acre flight deck in seconds.

To manage aircraft flow, crew members use a scale model version of the actual flight deck and hangar bay. Miniature airplanes with tail numbers are placed in positions that correspond to the actual location of aircraft.

Sensors onboard the Nimitz Class include the AN/SPS-48E/G 3D air search radar from ITT Exelis; the Raytheon AN/SPS-49(V)5 long-range air surveillance radar; Northrop Grumman AN/SPQ-9B Anti-Ship Missile Defense (ASMD) multimode X-band pulse Doppler radar; Northrop Grumman/Norden Systems AN/SPS-67(V) search and surveillance radar; AN/SPN-46(V)3 Precision Approach Landing System (PALS); AN/SPN-43C Carrier Air Traffic Control (CATC) radar system; and the Telephonics AN/SPN-41A Instrument Carrier Landing System (ICLS); four Mk 91 NSSM guidance systems; and four Mk 95 radars.

Also, Nimitz Class carriers are equipped with the AN/SQQ-34C(V)2 Carrier Tactical Support Center (CV-TSC). This system supports embarked USW/SuW (Under Sea Warfare/Surface Warfare) aircraft by providing support for mission planning, preflight data insertion, mission briefing, in-flight data exchange, data processing, data analysis, and post flight analysis.

U.S. Navy aircraft carriers operate in carrier strike groups (CSGs), an operational formation composed of roughly 7,500 personnel, an aircraft carrier, one or more AEGIS cruisers, a DDG 51 destroyer squadron of at least two destroyers, and a carrier air wing of 60 to 70 aircraft. Occasionally, a carrier strike group also includes submarines, attached logistics ships, and a supply ship.



Aircraft:

With the retirement of the F-14 Tomcat in September 2006, the strike fighters in operation on the Nimitz Class carriers are F/A-18E/F Super Hornets and F/A-18 Hornets. The typical carrier air wing has 12x F/A-18E Super Hornet; 12x F/A-18F Super Hornet; 20x F/A-18 Hornet;
5x EA-18G Growler or 4x EA-6B Growler; 4x E-2C/D Hawkeye; 4x SH-60F or MH-60R Seahawk; and 2x HH-60H or MH-60S Seahawk
+ a number of C-2A Greyhound cargo aircraft.



Armament/Ship Self-Defense:

Nimitz Class carriers are equipped with three or four Raytheon Mk 15 Phalanx 20mm Close In Weapon Systems (CIWS). The Phalanx has a firing rate of 3,000 rounds per minute and a range of 0.9 miles (1.5 km). More recently build carriers are armed with two Raytheon Guided Missile Launching System (GMLS) Mk 29 eight-cell launchers for RIM-7P Sea Sparrow surface-to-air missiles and RIM-162 Evolved Sea Sparrow Missiles (ESSM). Other carriers are equipped with two Mk 57 NATO Sea Sparrow Missile System (NSSMS) launchers. Carriers are also equipped with two Raytheon Mk 49 RAM launching systems with 21x RIM-116 Rolling Airframe Missiles each. RAM provides short-range defense against incoming anti-ship missiles. In February 2008, integration of the RIM-162 ESSM started on Nimitz Class aircraft carriers. USS John C. Stennis (CVN-74) was the first carrier to be fitted with the ESSM.

Countermeasures onboard include the Raytheon AN/SLQ-32(V) shipboard electronic warfare system, which provides electronic support and countermeasure protection; and the AN/SLQ-25 NIXIE torpedo countermeasures transmitting set.



Mission/Role:

The primary mission of the CVN 68 Nimitz Class aircraft carrier is to provide a seagoing airbase capability. This entails deploying and recovering aircraft. Aircraft carriers allow the Navy to project airpower worldwide without the need for local bases.



FY 2014 DoD Program:

FY 2014 provides $1,855.1M for the complex refueling overhaul of USS George Washington (CVN-73).



FY 2015 DoD Program:

No refueling overhaul funded in FY 2015.

For more information, click to see the FY 2015 Nimitz Class Budget.




Source: U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), ITT Exelis, Raytheon,
Northrop Grumman, and Rand Corporation.

Specifications Armament DoD Spending FY2015 Budget

Last Update: June 24, 2014.

By Joakim Kasper Oestergaard /// (jkasper@bga-aeroweb.com)

External Resources:



ITT Exelis: AN/SPS-48E/G 3D air search radar


Raytheon: AN/SPS-49(V)5 long-range air surveillance radar



YouTube: Nimitz Class Aircraft Carrier | YouTube Videos



Fact Sheet: Not Available

Nimitz Class U.S. Defense Budget Charts:

DoD Spending on Nimitz Class Aircraft Carriers in FY 2011, FY 2012, FY 2013, FY 2014 and FY 2015
DoD Purchases of Nimitz Class Aircraft Carriers in FY 2011, FY 2012, FY 2013, FY 2014 and FY 2015
Defense Budget Data

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DoD Spending, Procurement and RDT&E: FY 2011/12/13 + Budget for FYs 2014 + 2015

DoD Defense Spending, Procurement, Modifications, Spares, and RDT&E for the CVN 68 Nimitz Class Aircraft Carriers

Download Official U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) Budget Data:

Shipbuilding & Conversion | CVN Complex Refueling Overhaul
Specifications

Specifications: Nimitz Class Aircraft Carrier (CVN 68)

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Primary Function: Aircraft Carrier
Prime Contractor: Newport News Shipbuilding (Huntington Ingalls Industries)
Hull: Steel hull, steel superstructure
Propulsion: 2x Westinghouse A4W nuclear pressurized water reactors driving
four General Electric steam turbines driving four shafts /// 260,000 shp produced (190 MW)
+ 4x emergency diesels of 10,720 hp
Propellers: Four with five blades on each propeller
Length: 1,092 ft (332.8 meters)
Beam: 134 ft (40.8 m)
Draft: 37-41 ft (11.3-12.5 m)
Full Load Displacement: 99,800-106,600 metric tons
Speed: 30+ kts /35+ mph (56+ km/h)
Range: Practically unlimited
Aircraft: The typical carrier air wing has 12x F/A-18E Super Hornet; 12x F/A-18F Super Hornet; 20x F/A-18 Hornet;
5x EA-18G Growler or 4x EA-6B Growler; 4x E-2C/D Hawkeye; 4x SH-60F or MH-60R Seahawk; and 2x HH-60H or MH-60S Seahawk
+ a number of C-2A Greyhound cargo aircraft.
Armament/Ship Self-Defense: 3x/4x Raytheon Mk 15 Phalanx Close In Weapon System (CIWS);
2x Mk 57 NATO Sea Sparrow Missile System (NSSMS) launchers or 2x Raytheon GMLS Mk 29 eight-cell launchers
for RIM-7P Sea Sparrow missiles and/or RIM-162 Evolved Sea Sparrow Missiles;
2x Raytheon Mk 49 RAM launching system with 21x RIM-116 Rolling Airframe Missiles.
Crew: CVNs 68-70: 558-568 officers + 5,313-5,508 enlisted men;
CVNs 71-76: 200 officers + 6,075 enlisted men;
CVN-77: 200 officers + 3,100 enlisted men
Price/Unit Cost: Approx. $8.5 billion (constant FY 2012 dollars)
Deployed: First ship in class (USS Nimitz) commissioned on May 3, 1975

Ships:


USS Nimitz (CVN-68) - Commissioned on May 3, 1975
USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69) - Commissioned on October 18, 1977
USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70) - Commissioned on March 13, 1982
USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) - Commissioned on October 25, 1986
USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) - Commissioned on November 11, 1989
USS George Washington (CVN-73) - Commissioned on July 4, 1992
USS John C. Stennis (CVN-74) - Commissioned on December 9, 1995
USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75) - Commissioned on July 25, 1998
USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) - Commissioned on July 12, 2003
USS George H.W. Bush (CVN-77) - Commissioned on January 10, 2009
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