Home Americas USS Nimitz returns home after over 300 days underway

USS Nimitz returns home after over 300 days underway

USS Nimitz
USS Nimitz returning to Bremerton on March 7, 2021. Photo: US Navy

USS Nimitz returned to its Bremerton homeport on Sunday after 11 months underway, completing what is likely the longest US aircraft carrier deployment since World War II.

USS Nimitz sailors embarked the carrier on April 1, 2020, to become the first crew to deploy following the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic. After getting underway from Bremerton, the ship embarked its carrier wing in San Diego in June.

During its 11 months underway, Nimitz operated in the Middle East and Asia Pacific, and performed freedom of navigation operations and contributed to operations Freedom’s Sentinel, Inherent Resolve and Octave Quartz.

It is worth noting that the deployment also marked the end of an era for the F/A-18 Hornet. As the ship disembarked its carrier air wing in San Diego last month, eleven Hornets took off from the flight deck, marking the last time the aircraft deployed on an aircraft carrier. The Death Rattlers of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 323, which completed the last F/A-18 Hornet carrier deployment in the US Marine Corps, is now preparing to fly the F-35B Lightning II.

During its 11-month deployment, USS Nimitz sailed around 99,000 miles and launched over 10,000 aircraft from its flight deck.

While deployed, the strike group completed five dual carrier operations in the US 7th Fleet area of operation with the Ronald Reagan and Theodore Roosevelt carrier strike groups, and participated in the India-hosted multinational exercise Malabar 2020 with the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force and the Australian Navy in the Bay of Bengal.

In the Middle East, the carrier strike group supported Operation Freedom’s Sentinel as part of the NATO-led Resolute Support mission in Afghanistan, and operation Inherent Resolve with close air support and defensive counter-air missions against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

Ship’s company mans the rails as USS Nimitz returns home on March 7, 2021. Photo: US Navy

In January 2020, the US Navy confirmed that USS Abraham Lincoln had completed the longest aircraft carrier deployment since the Cold War. The ship deployed from Norfolk on April 1, 2019, and returned to San Diego on January 20 after 295 days underway.

USS Nimitz spent well over 300 days underway, however, the navy is yet to confirm the length of the official deployment. After the carrier returned to Bremerton on Sunday, the ship’s official Facebook page simply wrote: 340 Days! Nimitz is finally home!

Now that the Nimitz is home, it will begin preparations for a planned incremental availability overhaul at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, which takes around six months to complete. The ship is scheduled to retire in 2025 after 50 years of service, however, recent reports have indicated that the ship’s service life could be extended.