USS Nimitz (CVN-68) - Facts and Asbestos Exposure

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The USS Nimitz (CVN-68) is a Nimitz-class aircraft carrier. The operations of the ship were mostly focused on sheltering, arming and deploying aircraft.

The USS Nimitz, nicknamed Old Salt, is on active duty to this day, having been around since the 1970s when it was first launched at sea. Given the fact that USS Enterprise, a competitor in longevity at sea, was placed out of commission in the year of 2017, the USS Nimitz is currently the oldest aircraft carrier serving for the U.S.

Technical Features of the USS Nimitz (CVN-68)

Class and type: Nimitz-class aircraft carrier
Launch date: 13 May 1972
Commissioning date: 3 May 1975
Status: in active service
Displacement: 97,000 t full load
Length: 1.092 ft
Draft: 37.7 ft
Beam: 134 ft
Speed: 31.5 kts
Complement: 3,532 officers and enlisted
Propulsion: four propellers, 260,000 shp
Aircraft: 85 planes
Armament: two Sea Sparrow missiles, two RIM-116 Rolling Airframe Missiles, two PHALANX CIWS Gatling guns, four MK 38 autocannon turrets, ten .50 caliber turret emplacements.

History of the USS Nimitz (CVN-68)

The USS Nimitz was built by the Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company, Newport News, Virginia. The ship was sponsored by Catherine Nimitz Lay. Gerald R. Ford, the 38th President of the United States officially commissioned the vessel on 3 May 1975.

In July 1976, the Nimitz left for the Mediterranean for its first deployment. By November, the ship received the Battle Effectiveness Award from Commander, Naval Air Force U.S. Atlantic Fleet. Between December 1977 and July 1978, the ship was engaged in another Mediterranean tour. On 10 September 1979, the Nimitz was ordered to approach locations in the Indian Ocean as a measure against the Iran hostage situation, which involved 52 people being held hostage at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran. Attempting to come to the rescue of the hostages, Operation Evening Light was put in motion right from the board of the Nimitz. The rescue failed and the operation was aborted after the crashing of an American helicopter in the Iranian desert.

Between November 1982 and May 1983, the Nimitz was deployed to the Caribbean and the Mediterranean. In June 1985, the ship was commanded to Lebanon in response to the hijacking of TWA Flight 847, which had 153 passengers on board, by two armed Lebanese. In September 1988, the Nimitz departed to the Western Pacific and while the Olympic Games were taking place that year, the ship did security duty off the coast of South Korea. By October, the ship was involved in Operation Earnest Will while sailing the waters of the North Arabian Sea. The Nimitz also took part in Operation Southern Watch in February 1993 in the Persian Gulf. In 1996, the Nimitz was sailing off the coast of Taiwan as the Chinese were testing missiles in the zone.

In September 1997, the ship was on a tour around the world that ended with it docking at Newport News, Virginia in March 1998 for a three-year-long nuclear Refueling and Complex Overhaul. After completing overhaul in September 2001, the Nimitz performed shakedown exercises in the Virginia Capes. In April 2003, the ship was sailing in the Persian Gulf and supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom in Iraq and Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. Early in 2004, the Nimitz was awarded the Battle Effectiveness Award for the deployment in 2003. In September 2009, the ship was yet again engaged in Operation Enduring Freedom.

In 2012, a BBC report stated that the Nimitz was sailing in the Persian Gulf standing by for intervention in Syria. After having launched strikes at the command of President Obama, the ship alongside its entire task group was re-directed across the Arabian Sea. In October 2013, the ship reported to the 6th Fleet for training exercises. In 2014, the Nimitz took part in an exercise that lasted two weeks in which the 3rd Fleet was involved along with marine units pertaining to the Royal Canadian Navy and ships from the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force. In June 2017, the vessel departed for a deployment targeting ISIS in Iraq and Syria. In March 2018, the Nimitz dry-docked at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard for a ten-month long overhaul.

The ships in this class are constructed with a 50 years lifespan in mind. Thus, there is an ongoing conversation about when the Nimitz will be decommissioned with estimations pointing to the year of 2022.

Asbestos Risks on the USS Nimitz (CVN-68)

Just last century, the Navy relentlessly used asbestos in building ships and equipment for at sea deployments. Asbestos is a mineral that turns into a hazard when it is released into the air as fibers becoming easily inhalable. The mineral in microscopic form attaches itself to the soft tissue surrounding vital organs like the lungs, the heart and the abdomen and causes irritation that could potentially develop into a cancerous illness.

However, the damaging effects of asbestos became a public matter long after its qualities took over the economy and the industry. Properties such as strength, flexibility and resistance to fire made it a great commercial good, and it also made it a valuable asset for the U.S. military and especially for the Navy.

Prior to the 1970s, when the use of the toxic mineral was banned in shipbuilding, asbestos was pretty much everywhere on the vessel. All insulation was done by mixing in asbestos, the pipes in the engine and boiler rooms were also covered with asbestos-containing materials. The poor ventilation in these spaces only further increased the level of toxicity since disturbing the asbestos when repair work would be necessary created hazardous dust that was breathed in by the workers on the job.

Have You Been Exposed to Asbestos on the USS Nimitz (CVN-68)?

We wish to give the chance to veterans such as yourself find their former shipmates. In this sense, we are confident that our massive database will be a great asset. If you want to file a claim for asbestos exposure, we can put you in touch with asbestos attorneys. To learn more, call us at 760.621.6147.

Questions about asbestos exposure? We can help!

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