uss abraham lincoln

USS Abraham Lincoln Nuclear-Powered Aircraft

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The USS Abraham Lincoln is the world’s only nuclear-powered aircraft carrier. She was commissioned in 1989 and made her maiden voyage in Atlantic and Caribbean waters in 1990.

She was deployed to the Arabian Gulf from July 2002 until May 2003, serving as the flagship of Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 14 during the Iraqi Freedom and Southern Watch operations. She spent a total of 295 days at sea, the longest deployment ever for a US Navy aircraft carrier.


USS Abraham Lincoln was the first ship of Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 3 and the fifth Nimitz-class aircraft carrier built by Newport News Shipbuilding. She was launched on 13 February 1988 and commissioned on 11 November 1989.

She cost $4.726 billion in 2010 dollars. She is the largest, most powerful, and most technologically advanced aircraft carrier in the world.

During her maiden deployment, Abraham Lincoln conducted operations in the Western Pacific in support of Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm. The carrier, air wing, and battle group ships earned the Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation and the Arleigh Burke Award.

USS Abraham Lincoln

USS Abraham Lincoln is the first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier to cross the equator. Her historian notes that sailors who crossed the equator “achieved their ‘pollywog’ and shellback status, becoming sons of Neptune.'”

In October 1992, the ship hosted Fleet Week at Naval Station Alameda in San Francisco. During the week, she led the parade of ships under the Golden Gate Bridge into the bay and hosted over 10,000 visitors.

Then she departed for a two-week underway for Fleet Replacement Squadron Carrier Qualifications and Independent Sea Expedition (ISE) off the coast of southern California. Underway again from Jan. 11, 1991, to conduct READIEX 91-2B and Tailored Ship’s Training Availability I/II/III;

Underway again from April 29- May 9.

On June 8, she intercepted a Soviet Tupolev Tu-95 Bear-D strategic bomber that was flying maritime surveillance and targeting missions against the United States. The Soviet bomber was a major tactical challenge for the carrier, as the turboprop-powered aircraft could maneuver much faster than an F-14A Tomcat.

In addition, she logged her 40,000th trap during the deployment. This was the largest number of targets logged by a single ship in its history.

She also logged her 30 millionth gallon of JP-5 aviation fuel during an underway replenishment with the replenishment oiler Wichita on 29 October 1991. During the week, about 1,000 crewmen spelled out the phrase “Beat Army” on the flight deck for the game against the Army.

The ship’s next deployment was in the Persian Gulf. The Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990 resulted in 212 Combat Air Patrol (CAP) flights, 206 Airborne Early Warning (AEW) sorties and 19 Tactical Aerial Reconnaissance Pod System (TARPS) launches. The ship also provided a large number of Electronic Support Measures (ESM) sorties to enforce United Nations sanctions against Iraq.


The USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) is currently conducting readiness training off the coast of southern California, as part of the fleet response plan. Sailors on board are working to prepare for a possible deployment under this plan in the coming months.

The Abe recently completed a nine-month rehabilitation period at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Bremerton, Wash. This was an important step for the vessel to prepare it for life at sea in the next phase of its lifespan. This period included major alterations, upgrades, and installments throughout the ship.

During this time, Lincoln visited ports across the United States and the Caribbean. She spent several weeks at sea while preparing for her primary builder’s sea trials.

Virginia capes

From 11 to 14 September 1989, the carrier underwent her primary builder’s sea trials off the Virginia capes. This time at sea was a critical step in the development of the aircraft carrier as it involved limited air operations. During these trials, the first helicopters from Helicopter Antisubmarine Squadron 9 (HS-9) landed on the flight deck.

These tests provided valuable information for the ship’s designers. They also helped ensure that the ship was ready to sail as soon as the ship reached her homeport at Newport News.

After completing her primary builder’s sea trials, USS Abraham Lincoln entered Puget Sound Naval Shipyard for an eleven-month Selected Restricted Availability (DSRA) in July 1991. This period entailed a wide range of maintenance and repair activities that required a large number of changes to the ship’s systems, including replacing all of the air conditioning units and replacing the rudder posts and blades.

In the course of this DSRA, Lincoln completed two replenishments at sea. She unloaded a total of nearly three-and-a-half million pounds of ordnance during an ammunition transfer with the USNS Supply (T-AOE 6) and USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) during her time at sea in the Charleston Op.

Area; Returned to her homeport on August 1.

The ship departed Everett, Wash., for her first deployment as an operational aircraft carrier in 1992. She traveled over 64,000 nautical miles and made multiple strait and choke point transits, including the Suez Canal, Bab-el Mandeb, Hormuz Strait, and Malacca Strait.

Her crew performed a variety of tasks, including patrolling the waters in support of USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) and USS Ronald Reagan Strike Group 2 (CSG 2) as well as participating in a variety of exercises with other ships. She delivered more than 71,000 sorties, logged over 22,000 flying hours, and dropped more than 255,963 pounds of ordnance while supporting coalition ground forces in the 5th and 7th Fleet Areas of Responsibility.


When the war in Iraq began in September 2002, USS Abraham Lincoln was among the Navy’s most highly deployed ships. She was there in support of Operation Southern Watch, assisting in the occupation of Iraq and helping to keep the region’s airspace open for U.S. flights, and providing crucial training to Iraqi military forces, including the Combined Air Operations Center (CAOC) and aircraft carrier strike group Task Force 161.

Her deployment in the Middle East was one of the longest ever. It lasted a total of 183 days, which included more than 100 days of patrolling in the Arabian Gulf, and she was the first ship to be escorted into the region by an Israeli aircraft carrier.

During her second cruise, she took part in exercises with allied nations. During an exercise with the Argentinean navy, she hosted a number of distinguished visitors, and aircraft from her ship practiced ‘touch-and-go’ landings. She also participated in Gringo-Gaucho II with the Argentinean navy, flying bombing runs against targets at the Punta Indigo range.

In addition, Abe completed her first deployment outside the Western Hemisphere and accomplished ReadiEx 91-2B, a battle group exercise conducted off the coast of California. She was also involved in an antisubmarine warfare exercise.

Ship’s deployment

The ship’s deployment during the War on Terror was a critical juncture in world history. America had just experienced the tragic events of Sept. 11, 2001, and a new threat of global terror was looming on the horizon.

At that time, a major shift was underway in the Navy’s operational philosophy: from an emphasis on conventional naval warfare to a focus on new tactics and capabilities such as anti-submarine warfare. This resulted in a number of major changes to the way ships were trained, equipped, and operated.

These changes required an overhaul of the fleet’s command structure. Several senior officers left to be replaced by newly elected commanders, and many sailors were transferred to new command positions in other ships.

As a result, some ships were reorganized, while others were reduced in size. The change allowed for an increase in the number of sailors on board carriers. In the case of Abe, this meant that she would have more than 6,000 crewmembers during her cruise, up from her original 5,000.

Refueling and Complex Overhaul (RCOH)

The RCOH program, which supports the long-term modernization of nuclear-powered aircraft carriers, is one of the most important milestones in a carrier’s lifecycle. It is vital for the longevity of aircraft carriers and extends their nuclear fuel lifetime an additional twenty-five years. It is also an important element of the overall cost-effectiveness of the Nimitz class of aircraft carriers.

The USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) RCOH was completed in January 2021 and began her post-Cold War deployment as the longest active-duty carrier at sea. The RCOH included repairs and maintenance to her auxiliary electrical system, the completion of a critical maintenance upgrade to her nuclear power plant, and refueling and complex overhauls.

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Following the RCOH, the ship embarked on a record-setting 295 days at sea. During her time at sea, Abe conducted an unprecedented number of operations, including multiple air strikes against North Korea and China as part of Operation Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom, and support to maritime security and coalition missions in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility.

JP-5 aviation fuel

During the deployment, Abe also logged its 30 millionth gallon of JP-5 aviation fuel during an underway replenishment with replenishment oiler Wichita (AOR-1). In addition to flying her own combat sorties, Carrier Air Wing Two (CVW-2) flew more than 7,000 aircraft and dropped in excess of 255,000 pounds of ordnance on enemy targets in the Persian Gulf and the Middle East.

When the ship returned to NAS Alameda on 15 December 1993, she was in good condition and ready to resume her duties at home. She supported various training exercises and provided a number of humanitarian assistance missions throughout the Western Pacific.

A major deployment came in July 2002, when Abe was ordered to the Arabian Gulf in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and Southern Watch. The mission, which took place over a seven-month period, included conducting exercises with the U.S. naval aviators of CVW-1, a major exercise with the Japan Air Self Defense Force, and a return visit from President George W. Bush to congratulate the carrier for its mission accomplishments.

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