Nimitz Class Fleet Aircraft Carriers (1972)
Nuclear-powered Fleet Aircraft carriers
USS Nimitz, Dwight D Eisenhower, Carl Vinson, Theodore Roosevelt, Abraham Lincoln, George Washington*, John C. Stennis*, Harry S. Truman*, Ronald Reagan*, George H.W. Bush*.
The mainstay of the US Navy since 1975.
These nuclear-powered aircraft carriers now still forms the backbone of US Navy, since 1975, at the time the Vietnam war ended. In 1990, at the time of the fall of the USSR, the USN aligned five of these, from USS Nimitz to Abraham Lincoln, with three more under construction, five planned (the last one was delivered and commissioned in 2009). That class was eventually replaced by the new Gerald Ford class (2013).
By the time the Nimitz class first appeared on paper, only five years passed since USS Enterprise, the world's first nuclear aircraft carrier, was commissioned. It was indeed decided in 1968 to start work on the first of a new serie based on USS Enterprise, but cheaper due to simplifications, a new radar suite and a couple of new A4W reactors, much more compact.
As a result, these shorter, larger and heavier ships became even more spacious than USS Enterprise, while still incorporating effective ASW protection, modelled on that of the USS JF.Kennedy. Renouncing the solid radome of the fixed SPS-32/33 antenna, they had a more mobile external antennae SPS-43A and 48. Aerial complement also comprised 90 aicraft, however they did not change their deck configuration, catapults, landing equipments, and lifts. Close AA defense was provided by Sea Sparrow launchers.
⚠ Note: This post is in writing. Completion expected in 2022.
Going further in detail, these ships reintroduced armor, classic STS (improved), but reinforced with kevlar, much lighter, in many sensitive places already looked upon in the past: Over the machinery space, steering gear, avgas tanks, aviation ammo stores, and central operation, deep inside the hull.
the Navy in the end announced their level of protection was three times greater than those on the WW2 Essex class (which were still around in modernized form). They also had a greater fuel capacity, all equipped with the ASCAC ASAC control coordination system. From USS T. Roosevelt, the first sub-class, armor and protection, both active and passive, were reinforced, to the detriment of fuel however.
These aircraft carriers, including the latest, USS Georges H.W. Bush, succeeding the John C Stennis, Harry Truman and Ronald Reagan, completed in 1998, 2003 and 2009. They are currently deployed in all sensitive areas assigned by the US government, as the centerpiece of task forces, mostly protected by the Arleigh Burk class destroyers. Since the early 2000s several projects were studied for the replacement of the old Forrestal and Kitty Hawk class, using smaller vessels and comparing existing designs, including the French 1990 Charles de Gaulle, the British QE then in study, as well the Spanish Principe de Asturias.
But ultimately, it was decided to keep on with supercarriers with the Gerald Ford, which six are planned since FY 2009: Gerald Ford, John F Kennedy, Enteprise, Doris Miller (the later to be commissioned in 2036, the others in 2032, 2028 and 2024). These are long delays, but the sacro-sankt principle of ten task force has been kept, ensuring there are enough Nimitz class ships to "hold the line" until this new generation came along, even in a new context of tensions in Asia.
Author's illustration of USS Lincoln
74,000t standard, 92,000t FL;
331.7 x 78.5 (MF 40.8) x 11.5 m.
4 propellers, 4 HP turbines, 2 A4W reactors, 260,000 hp and 32 knots.
5620 and over
Radar SPS-43A, SPS-48.
3x8 Sea Sparrow AA (24v), 3-4 x 20mm Vulcan-Phalanx CIWS AM, 90 aircraft.