The USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69) is a nuclear-powered Nimitz-class aircraft carrier serving in the US Navy. She was commissioned in October 1977 under the command of Captain William E. Ramsey. As of 2010, she was in port on standby status at the Naval Station Norfolk (Virginia). She scheduled for her next deployment in May 2012.
The "Ike" and her sister Nimitz- class "supercarriers" were all constructed at the Newport News Shipbuilding Company near Norfolk, Virginia. The keel was laid on 15 August 1970 and the completed vessel was launched in October 1975.
Displacing nearly 114,000 tons and measuring just under 1100 feet, Eisenhower is powered by two Westinghouse A4W nuclear reactors driving four steam turbines. The carrier has a crew compliment of 3200 officers and seamen in addition to 2400 aviators and support personnel.
Repairs and Upgrades
Eisenhower returned to the Newport News in October 1985 for an eighteen-month overhaul that included new weapons and data systems as well as berths for over 1800 additional crewmen.
In 1991, the vessel underwent a series of repairs and refits prior to her deployment to the Persian Gulf in September. In January 1993, she went into the Norfolk Naval Shipyard for eleven months of overhaul and conversions. It is possible that onboard asbestos was either removed or encapsulated during this time.
Her next major yard period took place at the Newport News Shipyard between July 1995 and January 1997, during which several episodes of a popular television game show were filmed. Following a ten-month deployment "Ike" returned to the Norfolk Nave Yard for six months of refits between February and June of 1999.
Beginning in May 2001, Eisenhower started a four-year-long overhaul at the Newport News facility. This included replacement of the cores in the two nuclear reactors in addition to other technological upgrades. In January, she was towed to nearby NS Norfolk, and put to sea once more in October 2006.
Eisenhower's first mission was to the Mediterranean in January 1979. The following year, she was deployed to the Indian Ocean in response to the Iran hostage crises, spending a record 254 consecutive days at sea off the Iranian coast.
During the 1980s, "Ike" made a number of deployments to the Mediterranean, participating in NATO exercises and other routine duties. As tensions increased in the Middle East during 1991, the vessel was put on a state of alert and ordered to the Red Sea as a deterrent to a feared Iraqi invasion of Saudi oil fields. After a brief trip home, Eisenhower returned to the Persian Gulf in September as part of Operation Desert Shield.
In October 1994, Eisenhower became the first US naval vessel to carry female crew during Operations Southern Watch and Deny Flight. Most of the last fifteen years has been spent in the waters off the coast of the Middle East when not in port undergoing maintenance. Following her extensive modernization from 2001-2005, "Ike" visited the Mediterranean in the fall of 2006 before proceeding to the Persian Gulf for a six-month tour.
Her most recent extended deployment has been to the Persian Gulf in support of combat and occupation operations in Iraq as well as conducting anti-piracy patrols in the Arabian Sea.
Asbestos Risk on the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69)
Damage to navy vessels can result in a release of asbestos fibers. Eisenhower was involved in a number of accidents over the years, but most of these involved the aircraft aboard. At the end of August 1988, the carrier collided with a coal ship when winds and currents pushed it off course. Damage was minor, and this was the only incident that affected the vessel itself.
Installing asbestos in the design of all vessels was required by law in the United States in the 1930s, after a deadly fire on a luxury liner killed 137 passengers and crew. When asbestos-containing material is worn or damaged it becomes "friable", which means that individual fibers can be broken off and escape into the air, and then are inhaled or ingested by naval personnel and dockworkers, causing mesothelioma.
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Evans. Mark L. "USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69)." Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships (http://www.history.navy.mil/danfs/d6/cvn69.htm). Updated 27 September 2006. Retrieved 13 December 2010.