The USS John C Stennis (CVN-74) is a nuclear-powered Nimitz-class aircraft carrier serving the US Navy. Named for the Mississippi Congressman who secured funding for the project, the vessel was commissioned in December 1995 and is currently based at NB Kitsap in Bremerton, Washington.
Stennis was constructed at the Newport News Shipbuilding Company between March 1991 and November 1993. Nicknamed "Johnny Reb," the vessel displaces 115,700 tons, has a length of 1,092 feet and a beam of 252 feet. She is powered by two Westinghouse A4W nuclear reactors and four steam turbines, and can sail for twenty years without refueling. Crew compliment is 3,200 officers and seamen and an air wing of 2,400 pilots and aviation crew.
Built at a cost of $4.5 billion, she has a life expectancy of fifty years.
Repairs and Upgrades
In October 1998, Stennis underwent maintenance and upgrades at the NS San Diego North Island facility. The work was completed in six months.
In November of 1999, cleanup work of the reactor intakes was required because of a mishap. Cost was $2 million.
Stennis underwent her second Planned Incremental Availability (PIA) during the last half of 2002.
During most of 2005, Stennis was in drydock at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Bremerton, Washington. She was fitted with a new antenna mast, an automated Integrated Bridge System with digital displays, and weapons upgrades.
Following her shakedown trials and qualifications, Stennis spent her first two years off the east coast in what are known as "independent steaming exercises." During this time, she became the first carrier to land the Boeing F/A-18-E/F "Super Hornet" jet fighter.
Stennis set out for her maiden deployment from her home port of Norfolk, Virginia in February 1998, completing the voyage to the Persian Gulf in two weeks. After three months on Operation Southern Watch, she returned to her new home port of Dan Diego, arriving at the end of August of that year.
In 2000, Stennis made her second Persian Gulf deployment, paying calls on ports on the voyage home. Following the collapse of the Twin Towers in September 2001, Stennis patrolled the west coast as part of the Noble Eagle operations. She was ordered to the Persian Gulf two months later, remaining on station until relieved six months later. The remainder of that year was spent in the yard.
Toward the end of May 2004, Stennis sailed throughout the Pacific from Alaska to Australia, conducting battle exercises and paying diplomatic port calls in fulfilling that part of the US Navy's mission. She returned to San Diego in November.
In January 2005, her home port was shifted to Bremerton, Washington, where the vessel remains stationed as of this writing.
In January 2007, Stennis' Battle Group was ordered to the Persian Gulf, operating with that of the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69). This was the first time the Navy had placed two full carrier groups in the region at the same time. Stennis was relieved in August and returned to port at the end of the month.
In January 2009, Stennis was again deployed to the Far East and the Persian Gulf. During the deployment, she conducted joint exercises with the naval forces of South Korea and the Japan Maritime Defense Force before returning to port in July of that year.
Asbestos Risk on the USS John C. Stennis (CVN-74)
The Stennis has experienced a few mishaps in her brief career. During a maintenance cycle in October 1998, a jet blast deflector collapsed, causing two casualties. In November 1999, Stennis ran aground while attempting to maneuver in the turning basin at NS San Diego. The intake pipes for the reactor steam condensers where clogged as a result, forcing the shutdown of both reactors. While in port at Singapore in April 2009, a seaman was killed during maintenance work on one of Stennis' drains.
The use of asbestos insulation in the construction of all vessels was ordered by the US Congress in the early 1930s, after a deadly fire aboard a luxury liner caused the deaths of 137 passengers and crew. During Stennis’ operational career asbestos was not generally used so those living or doing repair work on this ship most likely weren't exposed to high levels of asbestos from that source.
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