Carrier USS Nimitz back at sea following months of maintenance

After seven months in port, the USS Nimitz is back at sea. The aircraft carrier, CVN 68, returned to operations on Friday, June 22, following a few days of sea trials. 

The carrier had spent more than half a year at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, undergoing what the U.S. Navy calls a “planned incremental availability” or PIA period. Essentially, the carrier was in port for months of maintenance and updates to its systems. Specifically this time in port focused on updating the flight deck and aircraft elevators on the ship, as well as improvements to the combat system and its berthing features, the Navy said in its announcement.

(photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kenneth Lagadi/U.S. Navy)

“For the past nine months I had the opportunity to be part of a talented, dedicated, and patriotic Navy team all working together to conduct a challenging PIA. What’s equally significant is that we’re celebrating a longstanding relationship with a remarkable group of public and private sector maintenance professionals at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard,” Capt. Douglas Graber, the commanding officer of the USS Nimitz, said in the Navy’s announcement. “Both the civilian contractors and the Nimitz crew worked tirelessly to ensure Nimitz is at peak condition. Thanks to their dedication, we’re prepared to get out to sea and maintain a strong, professional presence wherever our nation requires us to be.”

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The ship’s maintenance and upgrades were completed on schedule, following the start in January. 

Before it entered port, the Nimitz had operated in the Pacific theater for a seven-month deployment, focused on freedom of navigation operations in the South China Sea. The Nimitz is the oldest American aircraft carrier still in service, having entered operations in 1975. Before its Pacific deployment, the carrier had gone through a 10-month overhaul in port. It is currently set to be decommissioned in 2026, as the U.S. Navy phases out older carriers for newer ones. 

In January, three sailors assigned to the USS Nimitz were involved in a fight in the barracks while at port, leaving one sailor injured after being stabbed. This past week they were formally charged in a military court, according to the Kitsap Sun

The ship is one of the Navy’s 11 currently operating aircraft carriers. This past week the Department of Defense announced that the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group was leaving the waters around the Middle East after eight months. The USS Theodore Roosevelt and its carrier strike group is moving to replace it, leaving the Pacific theater following a recent stop in South Korea. 

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Nicholas Slayton

Contributing Editor

Nicholas Slayton is a Contributing Editor for Task & Purpose. In addition to covering breaking news, he writes about history, shipwrecks, and the military’s hunt for unidentified anomalous phenomenon (formerly known as UFOs). He currently runs the Task & Purpose West Coast Bureau from Los Angeles.