USS Nimitz has answered her country’s call many times in response to regional and international crises. In doing so, the aircraft carrier has secured a prominent place in history, just like her namesake, Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz. After her commissioning on May 3, 1975, Nimitz’ first deployment began July 7, 1976, when she departed Norfolk for the Mediterranean.
Nimitz again sailed toward the Mediterranean Sea on December 1, 1977.
On September 10, 1979, she was dispatched to the Indian Ocean area as tensions heightened over Iran’s taking of 52 U.S. 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 complete the rescue. 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.
On August 18-19, 1981, during her fourth deployment, Nimitz and USS Forrestal (CV 59) 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. 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.”
In September 1988, the ship operated off the South Korean coast to provide security for the Olympic Games in Seoul.
On October 29, 1988, Nimitz began operating in the North Arabian Sea in Operation Earnest Will.
Nimitz then departed Bremerton on February 25, 1991, for the Arabian Gulf, relieving USS Ranger (CV 61), during Operation Desert Storm.
Nimitz again deployed on February 1, 1993, to the Arabian Gulf, relieving USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63) as part of Operation Southern Watch.
On September 1, 1997, Nimitz set out on an around-the-world cruise that would allow the carrier to return to her East Coast roots and begin a multi-year overhaul at Newport News Ship building and Drydock Company. During this deployment, Nimitz was ordered into the Arabian Gulf to support Operation Southern Watch and various United Nations initiatives; answering each challenge. At times the Nimitz Battle Group was the only force available in the region to enforce U.N. sanctions as lraq launched a campaign of defiance.
Before the cruise was over, the U.S. returned to a policy of keeping two carriers in the Gulf simultaneously. Nimitz returned to Virginia on March 1, 1998, and on May 26, 1998, began her mid-life refueling overhaul.
Nimitz arrived at her new homeport in San Diego, California November 13, 2001.
As hostilities grew during the early part of 2003, Nimitz was tasked to set sail in March to support combat operations in Afghanistan and lraq as part of Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. As a result of the crew’s hard work and the ship’s success, Nimitz was awarded the Battle “E,” as the finest carrier in the Pacific Fleet; the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal; the Navy Unit Commendation; and the 2003 Admiral H. Flatley Memorial Award for excellence in aviation safety, in combination with the ship’s air wing, Carrier Air Wing Eleven (CVW 11).
In 2003, Nimitz was deployed in support of Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom.
In May 2005, Nimitz embarked on a six-month deployment to the Western Pacific, Indian Ocean and Arabian Gulf in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and the Global War on Terrorism.
Shortly after leaving the Gulf, the strike group participated in MALABAR 2005, the seventh annual bilateral exercise between the U.S. and Indian navies.
In 2007 and 2008, Nimitz CSG deployed in support of the U.S. commitment to peace and stability in the region.
Nimitz departed to the Persian Gulf for a scheduled eight-month Western Pacific deployment on 31 July 2009, in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
Nimitz arrived at her new homeport in Everett, Washington March 2012.
On March 30, 2013, Nimitz deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Nimitz extended its tour to eight and a half months when she returned to the Mediterranean Sea after tensions rose during the Syrian conflict.
On November 3, 2014, Nimitz took part in naval aviation history when the Navy’s first fifth generation Joint Strike Fighter, F-35 Lightning touched down on a carrier at sea for the first time.
Nimitz arrived at her new homeport in Bremerton, Washington January 13, 2015.
Beginning January 15, 2016 Nimitz underwent a 20-month Extended Incremental Availability (EPIA) and home port change in Bremerton, Washington.
Following the EPIA, Nimitz began workups October 10, 2016 for a 2017 deployment completing sea trials, and Tailored Ships Training Availability and Final Evaluation Problem (TSTA-FEP).
Nimitz returned to sea January 28, 2017 to undergo its first Board of Inspection and Survey (INSURV) since 2010.