USS Nimitz CVN-68

Chronology and Significant Events: 2000-2006

1 Jan 2001: Nimitz began the New Year moored to Pier 2 at Newport News Shipbuilding.

2 Mar 2001: The ship completed her first test catapult shots (27) following overhaul.

19 Mar 2001: Nimitz turned around to face bow in at Pier 2 at Newport News. This is vital to preserve ships from the corrosion of the elements, to prepare them for sea and in this case, to also facilitate her propulsion plant dock trials.

25–-27 Jun 2001: Nimitz conducted sea trials.

28 Jun 2001: Newport News announced the redelivery of Nimitz to the Navy. The carrier moored to Pier 11N at NS Norfolk, and the crew began onloading “Safe for Sea” ordnance, such as small arms ammunition.

16–2-3 Jul 2001: The ship got underway for her first post overhaul operations, to conduct precision approach and landing system and flight deck certifications, before returning to Pier 11S, Norfolk.

11 Sep 2001: Al Qaeda terrorists attacked the U.S. CAPT Steven F. Firks placed Nimitz, then alongside Pier 11S, in a “high state of readiness,” assigning sailors to man key security positions on board and preparing for “possible homeland defense actions.” The Postal Division assumed the grim task of inspecting mail for possible terrorist Anthrax attacks, as well as other deadly agents.

21 Sep–-13 Nov 2001: Following her overhaul, Nimitz sailed round Cape Horn to her new home port of NAS North Island. Commander, Cruiser-Destroyer Group 5 and CVWR-20, the latter comprising VFA-204, VAW-78, VS-22, VRC-30, HC-11 and HS-75, embarked. The ship cancelled scheduled port calls en route due to tensions and security considerations resulting from 9/11. During her voyage 40 “ship riders” (civilian consultants and Sailors) embarked to test systems following overhaul. In addition, soldiers of the Army’s 22nd “Deeds Not Words” Infantry from the 10th Mountain Division performed helo deck landing qualifications. Foul weather, however, tore Nimitz’s forward RIM-116A Rolling Airframe Missile System (RAM) launcher overboard during her passage round the Horn.

28 Sep 2001: Nimitz crossed the equator southbound.

3–-5 Oct 2001: Nimitz trained with Brazilian naval forces. Brazilian Navy AF-1 Falcãos (McDonnell Douglas A-4M Skyhawks) performed 46 “touch and go” landings on board, and the Brazilians reciprocated by enabling aircrew to land at São Pedro d’Aldeia Naval Air Base, to wash corroding sea salt off their aircraft.

9–-10 Oct 2001: While training with Uruguayan naval and air forces Nimitz narrowly avoided colliding with a fishing boat during foggy weather. Backing into a swell to avoid the impact, the ship rocked momentarily and her carrier on-board delivery C-2 landed “off center.” The C-2 nearly slid off the flight deck while carrying Uruguayan visitors, and the mishap wrecked the Greyhound. This necessitated that helo crews had to accomplish all remaining re-supply during her voyage.

14–-17 Oct 2001: Nimitz passed around Cape Horn and entered the Pacific Ocean. While she transited the Drake Passage overnight on the 16th, a lookout spotted a light in the water, which was later determined to be a life raft swept overboard by a large wave. Recognizing that high winds approaching 50 knots would adversely affect the normal Williamson or Anderson Turn, the Officer of the Deck brought the ship about by developing the “Marblestone Turn,” placing the ship’s auxiliary conning station directly over the raft to search for possible Sailors in peril.

18–-19 Oct 2001: Nimitz conducted a bilateral exercise with Chilean naval and air forces.

24 Oct 2001: Nimitz trained with Peruvian naval forces.

28 Oct 2001: Nimitz crossed the equator northbound, and her crew held a “"Steel Beach" picnic.” Among their events the Sailors held “Equator Run 2001,” a 26.2 mile marathon, with runners passing the baton as they completed their legs.

3–7- Nov 2001: Nimitz put into Berth H3/H4 at NS Pearl Harbor, HI, before continuing on toward Californian waters.

13 Nov 2001: Nimitz moored at Berth Kilo at North Island, completing her home port shift and a cruise around the Americas .

17 Nov 2001: Nearly 1,500 Sailors and Marines mostly from Nimitz attended by special invitation the world premier of the motion picture Behind Enemy Lines at North Island .

Feb 2002: Nimitz sent 22 sailors to the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center at Twentynine Palms, Calif. , to assist the Marines in salvaging an F/A-18 Hornet.

May 2002: ADM Walter F. Doran, CinCPac, visited the ship at North Island.

7–-14 May 2002: Nimitz completed sea trials off southern California following post shakedown availability. At the beginning and the end of her trials the ship anchored out.

19–-22 Sep 2002: The ship visited Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, her first foreign port visit in upward of four years.

9–-19 Dec 2002: During cooperative engagement capability event no. 13, designed to net together sensors and fire control systems to counter aircraft and increasingly capable missiles, off southern California, Nimitz completed her first combined NATO Sea Sparrow and RAM telemetry missile shoots.

16 Mar 2003: Deploying on “short notice” Nimitz crossed the International Date Line on this date, transferring from the Third to Seventh Fleets, while en route to participating in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Two squadrons embarked with CVW-11 equipped with F/A-18E/F Super Hornets; (VFAs-14 and 41), the latter with “Fs,” the first deployment of that model on board. Super Hornet aircrew would prove instrumental in flying close air support of coalition troops on the ground, and for aerial refueling of aircraft. VAW-117 also embarked, flying E-2Cs fitted with NP2000 eight-bladed propellers, the first deployment in Nimitz of these Hawkeyes, which were designed to be quieter, produce smoother flights, conserve fuel and ease maintenance concerns. The ship deployed with rearchitectured NATO Sea Sparrows. Celebrities who entertained the crew included Wayne Newton, Neil McCoy, Brittany Murphy, Alyssa Milano, the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders, hall of fame basketball star Bob Lanier, Conan O’Brien, R. Lee Ermey, Dishwalla and Blink 182. Guided missile cruisers Chosin (CG-65) and Princeton (CG-59), guided missile destroyers Benfold (DDG-65) and Fitzgerald (DDG-62), destroyer Oldendorf (DD-972), guided missile frigate Rodney M. Davis (FFG-60) and fast combat support ship Bridge (T-AOE-10) accompanied Nimitz to war.

21-–23 Mar 2003: Nimitz transited the Makassar and Lomboc Straits southbound.

30 Mar-–6 Apr 2003: Two Super Hornets, LCDRs Hal Schmitt and Jason Norris (VFA-14), and two F/A-18Fs, LCDRs Brian Garrison and Mark Weisgerber and LTs Tom Poulter and Tom Bodine (VFA-41) temporarily shifted from Nimitz to Abraham Lincoln to provide the latter with an improved mix of fighter/tanker capabilities. The transfer involved a 1,700 mile flight.

Apr 2003: Nimitz assumed duties as Task Force 50’s command ship.

3 Apr 2003: Nimitz transferred from the Seventh to Fifth Fleets.

6-–7 Apr 2003: Nimitz passed through the Strait of Hormuz and entered the Arabian Gulf, rendezvousing the next day with Abraham Lincoln.

11 Apr 2003: Nimitz launched her first attacks during this deployment for Operation Iraqi Freedom. During most of this period daytime temperatures approached an average of 115º F., taxing Sailors and equipment alike. The crew downloaded real time intelligence of terrorist crimes from Viking aircrew flying from the ship, and from shore based Orions, U-2s and Northrop Grumman RQ-4A Global Hawk high altitude long endurance unmanned aerial vehicles. At one point the ship suffered the loss of both night integrated avionics test stations, essential for F/A-18 missions. The crew spent hundreds of exhausting hours isolating the problem, which they discovered to be a “manufacturing defect.” Consequently, Nimitz alerted the Fleet and the Navy removed the defective parts from its supply system.

Jun 2003: While conducting exercise Infinite Acclaim with the Jordanians the ship sent a security detachment ashore to that country’s ANZRAC Air Base, the first time that a security detachment operated so far from the ship, at one point over 1,200 miles away.

4 Jun 2003: Nimitz medically evacuated a sailor from submarine Pasadena (SSN-752). Due to the man’s serious condition he required immediate medical attention beyond the capabilities of the sub, and a rigid hull inflatable boat crew transferred him from Pasadena , which was considered a more feasible move than a normal helicopter procedure due to the sub’s size.

Jul 2003: The crew installed a video ingestor for General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc., RQ-1A/MQ-1B/MQ-9A medium altitude endurance Predator and Predator B unmanned aerial vehicle feeds for operations with the Fifth Fleet.

27 Jul 2003: An EA-6B (VAQ-135) crashed in the Arabian Gulf at approximately 1100. Seahawks (HS-6) rescued all four aircrew.

Aug 2003: Nimitz transited the Strait of Hormuz to operate in the northern Arabian Sea, on 1 August. She returned to the Gulf on the 15th, operating there until the 21st, when Nimitz again steamed in the northern Arabian Sea, before returning to the Gulf from 23 August–3 September.

4–-11 Sep 2003: Nimitz sailed easterly courses toward Singapore.

11-–12 Sep 2003: Nimitz transited the Strait of Malacca eastbound.

21–-22 Sep 2003: After a brief visit to Changi Naval Base at Singapore followed by operations in the South China Sea, Nimitz passed through the Strait of Malacca into the Indian Ocean. The ship principally steamed within the Andaman Sea.

6–-7 Sep 2003: Nimitz sailed through the Strait of Malacca eastbound, her final such transit through the strategically crucial passage during this deployment.

27 Oct 2003: Nimitz crossed the International Date Line and passed from the operational control of the Seventh to Third Fleets.

2–3 Dec 2003: Nimitz moored to valve barge RO M-5 and berthing barge APL-65. Most of the crew completed moving on board the barges by the following month, though “selected” sailors billeted ashore in hotels.

5 Nov 2003: Nimitz returned from her extended deployment to WestPac, the Indian Ocean and the Arabian Gulf . CVW-11 flew more than 6,500 combat missions and dropped over 125,000 pounds of ordnance on the enemy during Iraqi Freedom. Sailors adapted innovative tactics to fight their diabolical adversaries, and as a reflection of changing warfare many helo aircrew flew more than half of their operational flight hours in the demanding nocturnal environment, utilizing night vision goggles.

23 Feb–-22 Aug 2004: The ship completed a planned incremental availability at North Island.

18 May 2004: Japanese fighter pilots from World War II toured Nimitz as part of the last international grand reunion of the Unabara-kai [Imperial Navy Surviving Aviator’s Association].

17 Aug 2004: VADM James M. Zortman relieved VADM Michael D. Malone as Commander, Naval Air Forces, in a ceremony on board Nimitz at North Island .

20–-24 Sep 2004: Fleet replenishment squadrons completed over 700 arrested landings during carrier qualifications off southern California , qualifying 47 pilots. Nimitz also supported Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX)-23’s lateral asymmetry flight testing with F/A-18E/F Super Hornets.

10 Nov 2004: Nimitz celebrated the Marine Corps birthday underway with VMFA-232 embarked.

20 Nov 2004: Most of Carrier Strike Group-11 (less submarine Louisville (SSN-724) and Bridge), comprising Nimitz with CVW-11 embarked, Princeton and guided missile destroyers Chaffee (DDG-90) and Higgins (DDG-76) completed its first group training exercise, off southern California. In 2003, the Chief of Naval Operations directed that the terms carrier battle group and amphibious ready group be replaced respectively with carrier strike group (CSG) and expeditionary strike group (ESG), to reflect the enhanced striking power of more widely distributed forces designed to be more responsive.

21 Mar 2005: Screenwriter Doug Richardson hosted a special showing of the motion picture Hostage, starring Bruce Willis, on board.

25 May 2005: Nimitz operated with Japanese naval and air forces, including destroyers Akebono (DD-108), Makinami (DD-112) and Myoko (DDG-175).

18–-22 Jun 2005: Nimitz visited Guam, her first visit to the strategically vital island.

1–4 Jul 2005: Nimitz visited Port Kelang, Malaysia, her first visit to that country.

Jul 2005: The ship relieved Carl Vinson in the northern Arabian Gulf, commencing operations supporting Iraqi Freedom.

2 Aug 2005: Nimitz Cruiser Princeton medically evacuated OS1 Thomas C. Hull of Princeton, Ill., to Nimitz due to a “non-combat related incident,”. Hull died shortly thereafter on board the carrier.

7 Sep 2005: A rescue and assistance team from Princeton, Air Defense Commander, Nimitz carrier strike group, consisting of ENC Duane Paulsen, EM1 Brett Reape, DC1 James Pizinger, DC2 Terry Artis, HT2 Wiley Henley, HT3 Lovell Cooper, DC3 Lucas Hanson and EM3 John Young, responded to a distress call from motor vessel Ali Alhadid, which suffered an accident in the Arabian Gulf. As the team boarded the vessel Ali Alhadid was taking on water in her engine room and listing ominously to port, but the Sailors dewatered the engine room and saved the ship and her crew. Nimitz coordinated the rescue.

12–-17 Sep 2005: SA Robert D. Macrum from Sugarland, Texas, fell overboard from Princeton in the Arabian Gulf . The Nimitz carrier strike group initiated a search and rescue covering a 360 square mile area, only ending their search on the 17th after failing to recover their shipmate.

22 Sep 2005: Nimitz transited the Strait of Hormuz outbound, departing the Arabian Gulf and completing nine weeks of Maritime Security Operations, which maintained security and stability and complemented counter-terrorism. She launched more than 4,500 sorties totaling over 11,000 flight hours since entering the Fifth Fleet’s area of responsibility, including more than 1,100 sorties and 6,000 flight hours in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

27 Sep–-5 Oct 2005: Nimitz participated in Malabar 05 the seventh iteration of the annual air, surface and sub-surface exercise with Indian naval forces. Nimitz operated for the first time with Indian aircraft carrier Viraat (R-22). Indian exchange officers “paired up” with their American opposite numbers on board Nimitz. “The series of exercises over the years has built up to a very complex scale of operations,” observed visiting LCDR Sudipto Maitra, “to the state where two carriers are operating in the same waters, same air space, and so many aircraft flying around very safely.”

4 Oct 2005: Tragedy marked Malabar 05, however, when PO2 Brian K. Joplin from Hugo, Okla. (Helicopter Mine Countermeasures Squadron (HM)-15), died when he fell out of a Sikorsky MH-53E Sea Stallion (BuNo 162514) while training in the Gulf. The Nimitz carrier strike group supported the search for Joplin .

7–-12 Oct 2005: Nimitz put into Perth and Fremantle, Western Australia. Her crew eagerly awaited the visit as Australians are known for their hospitality to U.S. Sailors.

2006: During Nimitz’s deployment she participated in a Fleet-wide “manning experiment” to determine how many crewmembers Nimitz class carriers required to operate optimally. Her total ship’s company numbered just 2,900, reduced from her previous roster of 3,149, and CVW-11 dropped from 1,443 to 1,249 Sailors.

Home Port Assignments Dates
NS Norfolk, Va. 12 Apr 1975
PSNS Bremerton, Wash. 1 Jul 1987
Newport News, Va. 1 Sep 1997
NAS North Island, Calif. 13 Nov 2001

Commanding Officers Date Assumed Command
CAPT Bryan W. Compton, Jr. 12 Jul 1972
CAPT Richard T. Gaskill 21 Aug 1976
CAPT John R. Batzler 12 Feb 1979
CAPT Raymond P. Ilg 26 Feb 1982
CAPT Eugene D. Conner 26 Sep 1984
CAPT Brent M. Bennitt 28 Aug 1987
CAPT Robert C. Williamson 16 Sep 1989
CAPT John B. Nathman 16 Apr 1992
CAPT Alfred G. Harms, Jr. 26 Aug 1994
CAPT Isaac E. Richardson, III 8 Nov 1996
CAPT Steven F. Firks 8 Jun 1999
CAPT Robert J. Gilman 17 May 2002
CAPT Ted N. Branch 23 Nov 2004
Changes in armament and major systems (Weapons and radar/sonar equipment):

10 Mar–-10 Jul 1977, Extended SRA, installations: Modifications were incorporated to convert Nimitzfrom an attack aircraft carrier (CVAN) to a multi-purpose carrier (CVN); to accommodate Grumman F-14ATomcats, Lockheed S-3A Vikings and Sikorsky SH-3H Sea Kings; four Versatile Avionics Shop Test (VAST) Stations; the acquisition and testing of an ASW Tactical Support Center (TSC), allowing her to process sensor information obtained from Vikings and Sea Kings; two EA-6B Digital Test Stations (DTS) vans; five AWM-23 test stations for F-14A AWG-9 missile control systems; and the Naval Modular Automated Communications System (NAVMACS A+), which guarded up to four broadcast channels, and served as an automated shipboard terminal.

17 Jun 1983-–Jul 1984, Complex Overhaul, installations: Two RIM-7H5 Basic Point Defense Missile System (BPDMS) NATO Sea Sparrow; three Mk 15 Mod 1 Phalanx Close-In Weapon System (CIWS). Developed in response to the ongoing threat poised by sea-skimmer and anti-ship cruise missiles, CIWS was a last-ditch “fast-reaction” defense system against those missiles, combining on a single mount fire control radars and a six barrel M61A1 Vulcan (Gatling) gun firing tungsten alloy projectiles at a rate of up to 4,500 rounds per minute. During initial test firings Nimitz’s CIWS gunners savaged the target, leaving only the swivel connecting to the tow cable; Flag Data Display System and new NTDS (both of which they actually completed installing during Navy sea trials.

21 Aug 1987-–8 Feb 1988, SRA ’87, installations: Mk 36 Super Rapid Blossoming Off-Board Chaff.

19 Aug 1989–-3 Mar 1990, DSRA-90, installations: Upgraded capabilities to accommodate F/A-18C lot 12s, including an F/A-18C Arm/De-arm Platform, F-14A(+/B)s, A-6E SWIP/Composite Wings, EA-6B Block 86s, E-2C(+)s and SH-60Fs; AN/SRC-47 flight deck communication system; advanced newband digital voice terminal system and Have Quick anti-jam ultra high frequency system.

29 Jan-–20 Aug 1994, EDSRA, installations: Upgraded capabilities to accommodate F/A-18 Lot 16/17, E-2C Group II and EA-6B Block 89 aircraft; APG-73 test program set used in conjunction with the Consolidated Automated Support System for the radar’s installation in Hornets; AN/USC-38V extremely high frequency satellite communication system; OA-9243(V)SR antenna tilt group; WSC-6 super high frequency; electronic warfare command station; high frequency electronic-mail (E-Mail); WSC-3 satellite communications (Quad-Demand Assigned Multiple Access); Joint Tactical Information Display Systems (JTIDS)/Link 16; Quad INMARSAT; SYS-2; Snap III; Smartnet shipboard internal communication system; USC38V extremely high frequency; UMK-3 TESS (3.0); SMOOS (these latter two were tactical environmental support systems that received, analyzed and displayed atmospheric and oceanographic information); SMQ-11 EPROM update; NTCS-A upgrade; JDISS; TAMPS upgrade; SCCTV upgrade; SLQ-32V(4); USQ-125; Joint Tactical Information Distribution System; Joint Maritime Command Information System (considered the first information technology installation for the 21st Century, known as IT21); FTAS; JFACC-Afloat; MDS message processing system/software in local area network for automatic distribution, enabling “paperless” processing by floppy diskettes; upgraded Halon systems to include fail safe time delay valves; replacements: SPS-48C with SPS-48E; and SPN-42 with SPN-46; conversions: SPS-49(V)1 to SPS-49(V)5; removals: Pneumatic tube message systems; KG-36, KI-1A and KY-75 crypto equipment; and AN/UCC-1 keyer/converter equipment.

26 May 1998-–28 Jun 2001, Refueling Complex Overhaul, installations: RIM-116A Rolling Airframe Missile (RAM) System, a lightweight quick-reaction “fire-and-forget” missile designed to counter anti-ship missiles attacking in waves or streams, on her starboard bow; Integrated Communications and Advanced Networks (ICAN), which combined previously separate communications and navigation systems for greater efficiency; local area network comprising over 300 workstations serving seven geographical sites. Among the improvements to her electronic connectivity was the installation of a T-1 line; Global Command and Control System-Maritime; SEATEL satellite television system.

1 Jan–-31 Dec 2002, installations: Replaced the forward RAM launcher (swept overboard during her home port shift) including a “wave break” to protect the system; Upgrades to accommodate F/A-18E Super Hornets, including aircraft armament equipment, counter measures and nitrogen bottle stowage, including aircraft expendable countermeasures complex; conversion of the Air Operations Center, Combat Direction Center, Strike Operations Cell and Intelligence Warfare Center into an “all digital Operations Center”; TARPS modifications to the ship’s first operational Shared Reconnaissance Pods (SHARPS) test stations; AN/WSC-6(V)4 satellite communication upgrade; AN/WSC-8(V)1/2 commercial C-Band satellite communication; Sailor Phones; quad 5kHz ultra high frequency satellite communication; AN/US1-147A(V)1 quality monitoring control set upgrade; lowering of OE-82 antennae to reduce the impact on AN/SPQ-9 radar; AN/USQ-144C(V)2 ADNS; AN/USQ-148B(V)2 SCI ADNS; Joint Tactical Information Distribution System upgrade; AN/SPS-73; Battle Force E-Mail-66; Fleet Messaging System; S-3B surveillance system upgrade and Joint Targeting Toolbox 2.1; secure television system (23TV); battle group passive horizon extension system; hostile integrated targeting system; Naval Fires Network; F/A-18A/C/E/F SHARPS tactical reconnaissance processing system; S-3B SSC video reconnaissance system; TAMPS F/A-18A/C/E/F mission planning system; advanced combat direction system block 1, Cooperative Engagement Capability; ship self-defense system; SPQ-9B fire control radar; integrated communication and navigation system; integrated shipboard information system and aviation consolidated allowance listing for F/A-18E/F Super Hornets.

Major Deployments Away From Home Port For 2 Months or More

Date of Departure Return Date Air Wing Area of Operation
7 Jul 1976 7 Feb 1977 CVW-8 Med
1 Dec 1977 20 Jul 1978 CVW-8 Med/NorLant
10 Sep 1979 26 May 1980 CVW-8 Med/SoLant/IO
29 Aug 1980 17 Oct 1980 CVW-8 NorLant
3 Aug 1981 12 Feb 1982 CVW-8 Med
10 Nov 1982 20 May 1983 CVW-8 Carib/Med
8 Mar 1985 4 Oct 1985 CVW-8 Carib/Med
15 Aug 1986 16 Oct 1986 CVW-8 NorLant
30 Dec 1986 26 Jul 1987 CVW-8 Med/SoLant/West Coast
2 Sep 1988 2 Mar 1989 CVW-9 WestPac/IO
15 Jun 1989 9 Jul 1989 CVW-9 NorPac
25 Feb 1991 24 Aug 1991 CVW-9 WestPac/IO/Arabian Gulf
1 Feb 1993 1 Aug 1993 CVW-9 WestPac/IO/Arabian Gulf
27 Nov 1995 16 May 1996 CVW-9 WestPac/IO/Arabian Gulf
1 Sep 1997 1 Mar 1998 CVW-9 Global circumnavigation
21 Sep 2001 13 Nov 2001 CVWR-20 Carib/SoLant/SoPac
3 Mar 2003 5 Nov 2003 CVW-11 WestPac/IO/Arabian Gulf
7 May 2005 CVW-11 WestPac/IO/Arabian Gulf

Unit Awards Received Dates
Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal [AE] 2 Nov–5 Dec 1988
1 Nov–25 Dec 1989
11 Jan–15 Mar 1996
9 Oct 1997–1 Feb 1998
Navy Expeditionary Service Medal (EM) 14 Jan–14 May 1980
5–31 Dec 1982
21 Jan–13 Feb 1983
18–24 Feb 1983
19–21 Mar 1983
18–22 Apr 1983
Meritorious Unit Commendation [MU] 13 Dec 1995–3 May 1996 (also awarded to the Nimitz Battle Group for the same period)
Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal (NA) 1 May 2002–5 Nov 2003
(Pending)
Navy Battle Efficiency Award [NE] 1 Jul 1975–30 Sep 1976
1 Jan–31 Dec 1995
Navy Unit Commendation [NU] 23 Jan–1 May 1980
1 Oct 1997–30 Apr 1998
4 Apr–1 May 2003 (While operating under the command of Fifth Fleet Strike Force–awarded to that command)
Southwest Asia Service Medal [SA] 13–18 Apr 1991
Command History/Operations Reports Submitted: 1975–-99, 2001–-2004.