US Navy Could Extend the service lives of USS Nimitz and USS Dwight D. Eisenhower, the Oldest Nimitz-class Carriers

US Navy to Decommission USS Nimitz in 2026, USS Dwight D. Eisenhower in 2027, 2 Independence-class LCS Set for Foreign Sales, according Long-Range Shipbuilding Plan

By Dario Leone
Apr 19 2023
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The US Navy will decommission two nuclear aircraft carriers back-to-back and two Independence-class Littoral Combat Ships will go up for foreign military sale.

According to the US Navy’s latest long-range shipbuilding plan, the service will decommission two nuclear aircraft carriers back-to-back and two Independence-class Littoral Combat Ships will go up for foreign military sale.

The 48-year-old USS Nimitz (CVN-68) will leave service in 2026, one year later than last year’s plan. Nimitz was commissioned in 1975 and built for a 50-year service and after a planned 13-month service life extension will squeeze at least one more deployment from the first-in-class carrier.

The US Navy said its plan to extend Nimitz is part of a five-and-a-half-month maintenance availability that will carry the carrier into May 2026, the service said in an Apr. 18, 2023 statement to USNI News.

US Navy Could Extend the service lives of USS Nimitz and USS Dwight D. Eisenhower, the Oldest Nimitz-class Carriers
USSCarlVinson (CVN 70) and USSNimitz (CVN 68) transit the Pacific Ocean, Feb. 13, 2022.

Breaking Defense told last week that Nimitz will travel to Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII)’s Newport News Shipbuilding to begin the deactivation process at the Virginia shipyard after its last deployment.

Nimitz‘s decommissioning will follow the former USS Enterprise (CVN-65), which was decommissioned in 2012.

USS Nimitz was ordered in 1967 as a development of the ten-year-old USS Enterprise, the world’s first nuclear powered aircraft carrier. Although dimensionally smaller than the Enterprise, the Nimitz Class use fewer but more powerful nuclear reactors, have a higher displacement, and operate roughly the same number of aircraft. Like the Enterprise, the use of nuclear reactors allowed the carriers’ superstructure to be much smaller, with no need for large funnels, allowing greater space on the flight deck. USS Nimitz was launched in May 1972 and, after extensive trials, commissioned in May 1975. USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69) and USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70) both followed within five years. As told by RAF Museum, originally, they were classified as attack carriers, but with the commission of the Carl Vinson this changed to a combined attack and anti-submarine role.

As told by USNI News, according to the plan Nimitz will remove a year-long buffer between Nimitz and the decommissioning of carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower.

USS IKE
USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69)

If Ike will not undergo a similar service life extension, it will leave the fleet in 2027 and likely join Nimitz at Newport News, along with at least one, if not two carriers in overhaul and new carriers Enterprise (CVN-80) and Doris Miller (CVN-81) that are under construction at the Virginia yard.

The US Navy also said that according to the long-range shipbuilding plan it wants to retire two Independence-class Littoral Combat Ships (LCS) ahead of their 25-year expected service lives.

USS Jackson (LCS-6) and USS Montgomery (LCS-8), commissioned in 2015 and 2016, respectively, are now marked for foreign military sales as part of the decommissioning plan.

Since the Navy is focusing the Independence-class ships on mine countermeasure missions means the service said it only needs 15.

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LCS is a fast, agile, focused-mission platform designed for operation in near-shore environments yet capable of open-ocean operation. It is designed to defeat asymmetric “anti-access” threats such as mines, quiet diesel submarines and fast surface craft. The LCS class consists of two variants, the Freedom variant and Independence variant.

According to the US Navy, the Independence Variant features a unique trimaran construction is unique to the US Navy and lends the ship some unique characteristics. Its flight deck is the largest of any current surface combatant, and its hangar bay is able to hold two MH-60 helicopters.

Photo credit: U.S. Navy

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Dario Leone

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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