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USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72)

USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72)

The USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) is a Nimitz-class aircraft carrier serving the United States Navy. Bearing the name of the 16th president, Abraham Lincoln, the “Abe” (or occasionally, “Stinkin’ Linkin”) is a core component of the United States Navy combat fleet.


The Lincoln was laid down during the Reagan-era defense buildup. The contract for CVN-72 was given to Newport News Shipbuilding in late 1982, and her keel was laid on November 3, 1984. Construction on the Lincoln was uncomplicated and she came in on budget at $4.5 billion. She was launched on February 13, 1988. After completing sea trials she was commissioned as CVN-72 on November 11, 1989.

The Lincoln uses nuclear power for generating electricity and for propelling the ship. Lincoln’s dual Westinghouse A4W nuclear reactors provide sufficient power to move the ship’s 100,000-ton displacement at more than 30 knots (35+ miles per hour). The Abraham Lincoln carries a variable complement of 90 or more fixed-wing aircraft and/or helicopters, with her exact load changing with different mission needs.

Repairs and Upgrades

After more than thirty years of service, the USS Abraham Lincoln has undergone a number of maintenance, repair, refit, and upgrade operations. The first maintenance operation involved a minor maintenance refit. This took place in early 1992 at Naval Air Station Alameda in California. In 1999, The Lincoln underwent another minor upkeep operation at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard.

A major upkeep and overhaul was performed on the Lincoln from August to December of 2006 at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, including a complete cleaning of the ship’s seawater-corroded internal water tanks and a bow-to-stern repainting. Further refitting work was done through March of 2007. Lincoln then returned to sea duty until receiving a $250 million upgrade and repair pass at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in January of 2010.

The USS Abraham Lincoln has been involved in one accident at sea which involved a collision with the USS Sacramento in the Persian Gulf in June of 1995. While the Sacramento took heavy damage, the much larger Lincoln was unscathed and continued her mission without undergoing repair.

Wartime Service

As with most aircraft carriers, the Lincoln’s combat operations have mostly been completed by aircraft, at a distance. As a result, she did not sustain damage in battle. Like others of her class, the USS Lincoln also carried out large numbers of humanitarian missions throughout the duration of her service, and she experienced as much wear and tear from these “safe” missions as from fighting.

Lincoln’s first notable combat mission provided close-air support and reconnaissance flights during Operation Desert Storm in 1991 as part of the Gulf War. In October of 1993, Abe’s aircraft flew patrols over Somalia during Operation Restore Hope in support of UN peacekeeping efforts.

After a lengthy deployment supporting US and allied operations in the Persian Gulf, the Lincoln was called into action for Operation Iraqi Freedom as part of the Iraq War on July 20, 2002. During this deployment she launched more than 16,500 air missions and delivered 1.6 million pounds of ordnance.

As of late 2010 the USS Abraham Lincoln is flying missions in support of coalition efforts in Afghanistan.

Asbestos Risk on the USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72)

Asbestos has a long history of use on Navy ships due to its ability to resist fire, heat and corrosion making it a perfect insulator for boilers, steam pipes, and many other installations onboard. For decades, many serving at sea including boilermakers, pipefitters, shipwrights, sailors and others were at constant risk of inhaling airborne asbestos fibers. Asbestos is known to cause mesothelioma, a type of asbestos cancer.

As a result there is a large number of documented mesothelioma cancer cases reported each year for Navy Veterans. Yet the risk for this asbestos disease is not solely limited to those who served on the ships. In many cases asbestos contamination on the work clothes of dock workers and sailors exposed the families of those workers to this lethal contaminant as well.

Fortunately for the sailors, airmen and shipyard workers who have lived and worked on the USS Abraham Lincoln, those concerns and risks are relatively small since the US Navy stopped using asbestos in its shipbuilding operations in 1973. Older Navy ships, however, may still contain asbestos.

If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma and believe that you may have been exposed to asbestos while serving in the Navy you may be interested in receiving our free mesothelioma information kit. Simply fill out the form on this page and we will send it to you free of charge.

Author: Linda Molinari

Editor in Chief, Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance

Linda Molinari


Kitsap Sun, June 7, 1995, “NAVY ACCIDENT: USS Sacramento collision linked to steering failure”, Retrieved 10/22/2010.

Polmar, Norman, “The Naval Institute Guide to the Ships and Aircraft of the US Fleet”, Naval Institute Press, 2004.