USS Nimitz to arrive at Naval Station Everett on Friday

EVERETT — The warship USS Nimitz (CVN 68) is scheduled to sail into its new homeport of Naval Station Everett on Friday.

The 1,100-foot nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, with its nearly five-acre flight deck, will dock at the Navy pier in the space vacated by the USS Abraham Lincoln in early December. The Navy said the ship is expected to arrive between 10 a.m. and noon.

For most of the past year, the Nimitz has undergone a nearly $240 million maintenance job at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Bremerton. The Nimitz left Naval Base Kitsap-Bremerton on Monday for several days of sea trials.

The Nimitz is commanded by Capt. Paul Monger, said Naval Station Everett public affairs officer Kristin Ching. The carrier is assigned to Carrier Strike Group 11, commanded by Rear Adm. Peter Gumataotao.

Many families of the 3,000 sailors aboard the Nimitz already have moved to Snohomish County, and Everett is more than ready to welcome the Nimitz, Mayor Ray Stephanson said.

When Naval Station Everett was under construction in the early 1990s, the original plan was to make the Nimitz the centerpiece of the base.

The first in its class of 10 nuclear-powered aircraft carriers, the Nimitz was commissioned on May 3, 1975, by President Gerald Ford in Newport News, Va.

The carrier called Bremerton home from 1987 to 1997, and spent a little time here in Everett. But after the Nimitz underwent midlife refueling of its nuclear reactors from 1998 to 2001, it was moved to San Diego in November 2001.

The Lincoln left Everett on Dec. 7, headed for a deployment and then to Virginia for the refueling of its nuclear reactors.

Getting the Navy to commit to replacing the Lincoln with the Nimitz was no small feat, Stephanson has said, and required lobbying by city and congressional officials.

The decision to base the Nimitz in Everett followed a lengthy analysis and review, Navy officials have said. Locating the carrier here ensures long-term strategic dispersal of warships from the West Coast and saves the Navy more than $100 million in housing costs and transportation. Factors that were considered included the quality of life for sailors and their families and the welcoming community.

The Nimitz is named after Navy Adm. Chester William Nimitz, a five-star admiral who died in 1966.

Gale Fiege: 425-339-3427; gfiege@heraldnet.com.

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