First in Class:
Commissioned on May 3, 1975, USS Nimitz (CVN 68) is the lead ship in a class of ten nuclear-powered aircraft carriers, the last of which (USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77)) entered service in 2009. This is a testament to the soundness and adaptability of the design of the Nimitz-class carriers.
In 1979, the carrier played a starring role on the silver screen, serving as a Hollywood set for the filming of The Final Countdown starring Kirk Douglas and Martin Sheen. The plot involved Nimitz and her crew going back in time to the eve of the Pearl Harbor attack and the decision on whether to alter the course of history.
Mission to Iran:
In 1980, while underway in the Indian Ocean during a deployment marked by 144 consecutive days at sea, Nimitz launched RH-53 Sea Stallion helicopters to take part in Operation Evening Light (also known as Operation Eagle Claw). This attempted rescue of 52 American hostages held in Tehran ended in tragedy at a landing site in the Iranian desert.
In 1981, while Nimitz conducted exercises in the Gulf of Sidra near Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi’s “Line of Death,” two of her embarked F-14 Tomcats of the VF-41 Black Aces shot down a pair of Libyan Su-22 Fitters after the enemy aircraft fired upon them.
Ship of Firsts:
In March 2003, Nimitz launched air strikes in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. The cruise marked the first deployments of both the F/A-18F Super Hornet and E-2C Hawkeye 2000. On 3 November 2014, the first carrier arrested landing of the F-35C Lightning II, the carrier version of the Joint Strike Fighter, occurred on board Nimitz.
An impactful entrance to the museum, the exhibit features a one quarter scale flight deck with the sights and sounds of carrier aviation. F/A-18 Super Hornets launch and recover on giant screens and interactive devices allow visitors to learn what Sailors do to help orchestrate flight operations.