The keel of the USS Nimitz, flagship of a class of nuclear-powered aircraft carriers, was laid in 1968 and the warship was first launched in 1972. It was commissioned three years later.
Inside is a maze of corridors and compartments, all designed to accommodate a crew of about 5,000 who run the ship, launch and recover warplanes.
The Nimitz, based at Naval Station Everett, is one of 11 nuclear-powered aircraft carriers that operate on the world’s oceans on behalf of U.S. interests abroad. It is a big ship. Here are some quick facts that demonstrate its size and purpose:
- For propulsion, it has two nuclear power plants that enable it to travel vast distances without refueling.
- It can travel well over 30 miles per hour.
- Four propellers, each with five blades, drive the ship.
- Four aircraft elevators can rapidly move aircraft from hangars to the flight deck.
- It has four catapults to launch planes and four arresting cables on the deck for landing them.
- The overall length of the ship is 1,115 feet, overall width is 252 feet and the beam at the waterline is 134 feet.
- The flight deck covers about 4.5 acres.
- Fully loaded, the ship displaces about 97,000 tons.
- While under way, between 12,000 and 14,000 meals a day are served.
- The ship is 23 stories high from the keel to the top of the mast.
- The hangar bay extends nearly the full length of the ship. It is used for repairs and to shelter aircraft not involved in flight operations on a given day.
- It has four distilling units, enabling engineers to make more than 400,000 gallons of fresh water a day for use by the crew, propulsion plant and steam-driven catapults used for launching planes.
- Huge refrigerators and storage facilities can stock at least 70 days of food.
- Tons of clothes are washed every day by laundry and tailoring services personnel.
- The ship has a fully equipped dental facility staffed by five dentists.
- There are three chaplains aboard who conduct daily religious services in an interdenominational chapel.