Nimitz Strike Group
Nimitz Battle Group
"Teamwork - A Tradition"
The keel of USS Nimitz (CVN 68) was laid on June 22, 1968 at Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company in Newport News, Va. It was destined to become the largest warship ever. The ship was commissioned May 3, 1975, at Pier 12, Naval Station Norfolk, Va.
Nimitz' first deployment began on July 7, 1976 when it departed Norfolk for the Mediterranean. Included in the task force were the nuclear-powered cruisers USS SOUTH CAROLINA and USS CALIFORNIA. The deployment marked the first time in 10 years that nuclear-powered ships had deployed to the Mediterranean. In November 1976, Nimitz was awarded the coveted Battle "E" from Commander, Naval Air Forces Atlantic Fleet, for being the most efficient and foremost aircraft carrier in the Atlantic Fleet. The ship returned to Norfolk Feb. 7, 1977 after a seven-month deployment.
Nimitz again sailed toward the Mediterranean Sea Dec. 1, 1977. Following a peaceful deployment, the ship returned home to Norfolk July 20, 1978. During Nimitz' third cruise to the Mediterranean beginning Sept. 10, 1979, it was dispatched to strengthen the U.S. Naval presence in the crucial Indian Ocean area as tensions heightened over Iran's taking of 52 American hostages. Four months later, Operation "Evening Light" was launched from Nimitz in an attempt to rescue the hostages. The rescue was aborted in the Iranian Desert when the number of operational helicopters fell below the minimum needed to transport the attack force and hostages out of Iran. During its deployment, the ship operated 144 continuous days at sea. Nimitz' homecoming on May 26, 1980 was, at the time, the largest given to any carrier battle group returning to the United States since the end of World War II. The ship's crew was greeted by President and Mrs. Carter, members of Congress, military leaders and thousands of families and friends.
On May 15, 1981, Nimitz departed Norfolk for the final phases of her workup schedule for an upcoming Mediterranean Cruise. On the night of May 25, an EA-6B Prowler crash-landed on the flight deck, killing 14 crewmen and injuring 45 others. The carrier returned to port to repair damaged catapults and returned to sea less than 48 hours later to complete its training schedule. On August 18 and 19, 1981 during its fourth deployment, Nimitz and USS FORRESTAL conducted an open ocean missile exercise in the Gulf of Sidra near what Libyan leader Khadafi called the "Line of Death." On the morning of August 19, two Nimitz aircraft from VF-41 were fired upon by Libyan pilots. The Nimitz pilots returned fire and shot both Libyan aircraft from the sky. Newspapers across the country rallied around the incident against terrorist-backing Libya with front-page headlines reading "U.S. 2 - Libya 0."
On June 14, 1985, two Lebanese Shiite Muslim gunmen hijacked TWA Flight 847, carrying 153 passengers and crew, including many Americans. In response, Nimitz was ordered to steam at flank speed to the Eastern Mediterranean, off the coast of Lebanon, where it remained until August. After another extended deployment, Nimitz left the Mediterranean on May 21, 1987. It crossed the Atlantic Ocean, rounded the rough waters of Cape Horn, South America, and sailed for the first time in the waters of the Pacific Ocean enroute to its new homeport, Bremerton, Wash. Nimitz arrived there July 2, 1987.
In September, 1988, the ship operated off the South Korean coast to provide security for the Olympic Games in Seoul. On Oct. 29, 1988 Nimitz began operating in the North Arabian Sea where it participated in Operation "Earnest Will." This operation called for U.S. Navy ships to protect shipping lanes and escort U.S. registered (re-flagged) Kuwaiti tankers. On Feb. 25, 1991, Nimitz departed Bremerton for the Western Pacific and eventually the Arabian Gulf, where it relieved USS RANGER, during Operation Desert Storm. The ship returned to Bremerton Aug. 24, 1991. Nimitz again deployed Feb. 1, 1993 to the Arabian Gulf, relieving USS KITTY HAWK to take its place as part of Operation Southern Watch. The ship returned after a mishap-free deployment in August, 1993.
CVN 68 Nimitz returned to San Diego 02 September 2006 after getting underway for the first time in more than six months for six days of sea trials. After completing a successful deployment in 2005, an Inspection and Survey; an Operational Reactor Safeguard Exam; and Fleet Replacement Squadron Carrier Qualifications in 2006, Nimitz had remained moored to Pier Juliet on Naval Air Station North Island since March 2006. During that time, Sailors and contractors repaired, replaced and upgraded hundreds of components and systems on the ship during the ship's Planned Incremental Availability (PIA). The drill scenarios were intended to prepare the crew to do the best they can during the upcoming Tailored Ship's Training Availability (TSTA).
The Navy announced 09 December 2010 that the nuclear aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68) would be homeported at Naval Station Everett, Wash., upon completion of the ship's docking planned incremental availability (DPIA) maintenance at Bremerton, Wash., in December 2011. After a thorough analysis and review of related factors, Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus decided to homeport Nimitz in Everett following the departure of USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) in early fiscal 2012 for a four-year refueling complex overhaul (RCOH) in Hampton Roads, Va. Abraham Lincoln is presently deployed to the Central Command Area of Responsibility. Nimitz was homeported in San Diego from Nov. 13, 2001, to Dec. 6, 2010, when the ship administratively shifted homeport to Bremerton for the duration of its year-long maintenance period.
Chester W. Nimitz
Chester William Nimitz was born on 24 February 1885, near a quaint hotel in Fredericksburg, Texas built by his grandfather, Charles Nimitz, a retired sea captain. Young Chester, however, had his sights set on an Army career and while a student at Tivy High School, Kerrville, Texas, he tried for an appointment to West Point. When none was available, he took a competitive examination for Annapolis and was selected and appointed from the Twelfth Congressional District of Texas in 1901.
He left high school to enter the Naval Academy Class of 1905. It was many years later, after he had become a Fleet Admiral that he actually was awarded his high school diploma. At the Academy Nimitz was an excellent student, especially in mathematics and graduated with distinction -- seventh in a class of 114. He was an athlete and stroked the crew in his first class year. The Naval Academy's yearbook, "Lucky Bag", described him as a man "of cheerful yesterdays and confident tomorrows."
After graduation he joined USS Ohio in San Francisco and cruised in her to the Far East. On 31 January 1907, after the two years' sea duty then required by law, he was commissioned Ensign, and took command of the gunboat USS Panay. He then commanded USS Decatur and was court martialed for grounding her, an obstacle in his career which he overcame.
He returned to the U. S. in 1907 and was ordered to duty under instruction in submarines, the branch of the service in which he spent a large part of his sea duty. His first submarine was USS Plunger (A- 1). He successively commanded USS Snapper, USS Narwal and USS Skipjack until 1912. On 20 March of that year, Nimitz, then a Lieutenant, and commanding officer of the submarine E-1 (formerly Skipjack), was awarded the Silver Lifesaving Medal by the Treasury Department for his heroic action in saving W.J. Walsh, Fireman second class, USN, from drowning. A strong tide was running and Walsh, who could not swim, was rapidly being swept away from his ship. Lieutenant Nimitz dove in the water and kept Walsh afloat until both were picked up by a small boat.
He had one year in command of the Atlantic Submarine Flotilla before coming ashore in 1913 for duty in connection with building the diesel engines for the tanker USS Maumee at Groton, Conn. In that same year, he was sent to Germany and Belgium to study engines at their Diesel Plants. With that experience he subsequently served as Executive Officer and Engineering Officer of the Maumee until 1917 when he was assigned as Aide and Chief of Staff to COMSUBLANT. He served in that billet during World War I.
In September 1918 he came ashore to duty in the office of the Chief of Naval Operations and was a member of the Board of Submarine Design. His first sea duty in big ships came in 1919 when he had one year's duty as Executive Officer of the battleship USS South Carolina. After that he continued his duty in submarines in Pearl Harbor as Commanding Officer USS Chicago and COMSUBDIV Fourteen.
In 1922 he was assigned as a student at the Naval War College, and upon graduation went as Chief of Staff to Commander Battle Forces and later Commander in Chief, U.S. Fleet (Admiral S. S. Robinson) .
In the meantime, the ROTC program had been initiated and in 1926 he became the first Professor of Naval Science and Tactics for the Unit at the University of California at Berkley. Throughout the remainder of his life he retained a close association with the University. After three years in that assignment, in 1929, he again had sea duty in the submarine service as Commander Submarine Division Twenty for two years and then went ashore to command USS Rigel and decommissioned destroyers at the base in San Diego. In 1933 he was assigned to his first large ship command, the heavy cruiser USS Augusta which served mostly as flagship of the Asiatic Fleet. Coming ashore in 1935 he served three years as Assistant Chief of the Bureau of Navigation. His next sea command was in flag rank as Commander Cruiser Division Two and then as Commander Battle Division One until 1939, when he was appointed as Chief of the Bureau of Navigation for four years. In December 1941, however, he was designated as Commander in Chief, Pacific Fleet and Pacific Ocean Areas, where he served throughout the war. On 19 December 1944, he was advanced to the newly created rank of Fleet Admiral, and on 2 September 1945, was the United States signatory to the surrender terms aboard the battleship USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay.
He hauled down his flag at Pearl Harbor on 26 Nov. 1945, and on 15 December relieved Fleet Admiral E.J. King as Chief of Naval Operations for a term of two years. On 01 January 1948, he reported as special Assistant to the Secretary of the Navy in the Western Sea Frontier. In March of 1949, he was nominated as Plebiscite Administrator for Kashmir under the United Nations. When that did not materialize he asked to be relieved and accepted an assignment as a roving goodwill ambassador of the United nations, to explain to the public the major issues confronting the U.N. In 1951, President Truman appointed him as Chairman of the nine-man commission on International Security and Industrial Rights. This commission never got underway because Congress never passed appropriate legislation.
Thereafter, he took an active interest in San Francisco community affairs, in addition to his continued active participation in affairs of concern to the Navy and the country. he was an honorary vice president and later honorary president of the Naval Historical Foundation. He served for eight years as a regent of the University of California and did much to restore goodwill with Japan by raising funds to restore the battleship Mikasa, Admiral Togo's flagship at Tsushima in 1905.
He died on 20 February 1966.
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