USS Abraham Lincoln
CVN-72 Aircraft “Supercarrier” | Nimitz Class
USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) is the fifth Nimitz-class aircraft supercarrier in the United States Navy. She is the second Navy ship to have been named after former President Abraham Lincoln. Her home port is Norfolk, Virginia, and she is a member of the United States Atlantic Fleet. She is administratively responsible to Commander, Naval Air Forces Atlantic, and, operationally served as the flagship of Carrier Strike Group Nine and host to Carrier Air Wing Two until 2012. She is currently undergoing a four-year Refueling and Complex Overhaul process.
General and specialized information
|USS Abraham Lincoln||Abraham Lincoln||N/A||December 27, 1982||Northrop Grumman Newport|
|Cost||Laid down||Sponsored by||Christened||Launched|
|$4.726 billion||November 3, 1984||JoAnn K. Webb||February 13, 1988||February 13, 1988|
|November 11, 1989||NS Norfolk, Norfolk, Virginia – USA||Shall Not Perish||Abe||Active – January 2017|
|Class and type:||Nimitz-class aircraft carrier|
|Displacement:||104,112 long tons (105,783 t)|
|Beam:||Overall: 252 ft (76.8 m)|
|Speed:||30+ knots (56+ km/h; 35+ mph)|
|Range:||Unlimited distance; 20–25 years|
Systems and Armament
|Aircraft carried:||90 fixed wing and helicopters|
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Abraham Lincoln‘s contract was awarded to Newport News Shipbuilding on 27 December 1982; her keel was laid 3 November 1984 at Newport News, Virginia. The ship was launched on 13 February 1988 and commissioned on 11 November 1989. She cost $4.726 billion in 2010 dollars.
1990 to 1999
Abraham Lincoln was transferred to the Pacific in September 1990 performing Gringo-Gaucho with the Argentine Naval Aviation during her transit. From 4 October, Abraham Lincoln formed CTG 24.8 in company with USS Doyle (FFG-39); 6 October transit with USS Pawcatuck (AO-108), Doyle in company. Her maiden Western Pacific deployment came unexpectedly on 28 May 1991 in response to Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm. The ship had the staffs of Commander, Carrier Group Three, Rear Admiral Timothy W. Wright, and Destroyer Squadron 9 embarked, as well as Carrier Air Wing Eleven. She was accompanied by a seven-ship battle group.
While heading towards the Indian Ocean, the ship was diverted to support evacuation operations after Mount Pinatubo erupted on Luzon Island in the Philippines. In support of Operation Fiery Vigil, Abraham Lincoln led a 23-ship armada that moved over 45,000 people from the Subic Bay Naval Station to the port of Cebu in the Visayas. It was the largest peacetime evacuation of active military personnel and their families in history. After Fiery Vigil, Abraham Lincoln steamed toward the Persian Gulf, to run reconnaissance and combat air patrols in Iraq and Kuwait, assisting allied and US troops involved with Desert Storm. In early 1992, the ship was at Naval Air Station Alameda on Ship’s Restricted Availability for minor maintenance and refitting.
From June 1993 Abraham Lincoln was the flagship of Commander, Carrier Group Three. In October 1993, the carrier was ordered to the coast of Somalia to assist UN humanitarian operations. For four weeks, Abraham Lincoln flew air patrols over Mogadishu in support of Operation Restore Hope.
Abraham Lincoln was to be the first Pacific Fleet carrier to integrate female aviators into the crew after the Combat Exclusion Laws were lifted on 28 April 1993. The ship left San Diego on 24 October 1994, to begin refresher training. The next day, Lieutenant Kara Spears Hultgreen, first female F-14 Tomcat pilot, died when her plane crashed into the sea. Her plane lost hydraulic control as she made her final approach. She aborted her landing to the best of her ability in an effort to prevent a collision into the aft end of the ship and the plane inverted and went into the ocean. Radar intercept officer Lieutenant Matthew Klemish ejected safely from the plane and was rescued from the water minutes later. But Hultgreen, who ejected seconds after Klemish, fell straight into the ocean and was killed. Her body, still strapped in the ejection seat, was discovered 19 days later.
Abraham Lincoln’s third deployment began in April 1995 when Abraham Lincoln was sent to the Persian Gulf, where the ship assisted in Southern Watch and in Operation Vigilant Sentinel. During an underway replenishment, Abraham Lincoln was run into by USS Sacramento (AOE-1) when Sacramento had steering difficulties due to a split rudder, impacting Sacramento‘s port side, crushing the M-frames, partially crushing a female crew berthing area, and punching a large hole in Sacramento‘s superstructure (TACAN room). Abraham Lincoln was able to continue on with her mission while Sacramento had to dock at Jebel Ali, U.A.E. for several weeks for repair.
Later that year, a supposed transcript of an exchange between Abraham Lincoln and a Canadian lighthouse was widely disseminated on the Internet. The Navy has officially denied it occurred, but it continues to circulate.
Operation Infinite Reach
USS Abraham Lincoln began a fourth deployment in June 1998. Once again, the ship headed for the Persian Gulf in support of operation Southern Watch. During this deployment, the USS Abraham Lincoln carrier battle group launched Tomahawk cruise missiles against two sites. The first was a Sudanese pharmaceutical factory suspected of assisting Osama Bin Laden in making chemical weapons. The second was Bin Laden’s terrorist training camps in Afghanistan. These strikes were ordered by President Clinton thirteen days after terrorists bombed the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania and was codenamed Operation Infinite Reach.USS Abraham Lincoln was awarded the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, and USS Abraham Lincoln carrier battle group the Meritorious Unit Commendation ribbon for its participation.
The carrier’s fifth deployment commenced in August 2000 when Abraham Lincoln again traveled to the Persian Gulf in support of Southern Watch. On this deployment, the carrier, air wing and battle group ships earned the Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation. Additionally the ship earned the prestigious Arleigh Burke Award as the most improved command in the Pacific Fleet.
Abraham Lincoln was in port on 11 September 2001. She was put to sea on 20 July 2002 to support Operation Enduring Freedom. She took up station once more in support of Operation Southern Watch before taking a port visit to Perth, Western Australia. It was during this time that Abraham Lincoln was ordered to the Persian Gulf to take part in Operation Iraqi Freedom. This forced the Navy to extend Abraham Lincoln’s stay from 20 January 2003 to 6 May 2003. The news of this extension was delivered to the ship’s crew on New Year’s morning by the then Battlegroup Commander, RADM Kelly, with the phrase, “We don’t need to be home holding our loved ones, we need to be here holding the line. Get over it!” The term “Get over it” became the running joke aboard ship, which eventually led to a deployment patch made aboard that read “Westpac 2003 CVN-72 CVW-14 GET OVER IT” with an image intended to depict an admiral kicking a sailor in the groin.
Abraham Lincoln and the carrier battle group and airwing helped deliver the opening salvos and air strikes in Operation Iraqi Freedom. During her deployment, some 16,500 sorties were flown and 1.6 million pounds of ordnance used. Sea Control Squadron 35 (VS-35), the “Blue Wolves”, was instrumental in delivering over 1 million pounds of fuel to these strike aircraft, one of the largest aerial refueling undertakings by a carrier aviation squadron in history. The carrier returned home in May 2003, in the process receiving a visit from President George W. Bush before officially ending Abraham Lincoln’s deployment by docking at San Diego before returning to homeport in Everett, WA. Bush stated at the time that this was the end to major combat operations in Iraq. While this statement did coincide with an end to the conventional phase of the war, Bush’s assertion—and the sign itself—became controversial after guerrilla warfare in Iraq increased during the Iraqi insurgency. The vast majority of casualties, both military and civilian, occurred after the speech. The White House said their services constructed the banner. As explained by Cmdr. Conrad Chun, a Navy spokesman, “The banner was a Navy idea, the ship’s idea. The idea popped up in one of the meetings aboard the ship preparing for its homecoming and thought it would be good to have a banner, ‘Mission Accomplished.’ The sailors then asked if the White House could get the sign made. … The banner signified the successful completion of the ship’s deployment,” Cmdr. Chun continued noting that the Abraham Lincoln was deployed 290 days, longer than any other nuclear-powered aircraft carrier in history.
In June 2004, following a 10 month docking period, the ship put to sea for the start of working up prior to deployment. During this period, a film crew was hosted aboard to produce scenes for the film Stealth, which included the presence of a full-scale model of a fictional aircraft, the F/A-37 Talon, that would feature as operating from the carrier. On 1 October 2004, the carrier’s controlling formation was redesignated from Cruiser-Destroyer Group Three to Carrier Strike Group Nine. Abraham Lincoln departed for her next voyage on 15 October 2004. The carrier was on a port call in Hong Kong when the 9.0-magnitude 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake struck southern Asia on 26 December 2004. To help with the international relief effort and assist with search and rescue efforts already underway, Abraham Lincoln deployed to the hard hit western coast of Sumatra to provide humanitarian assistance. The deployment was designated Operation Unified Assistance.Abraham Lincoln‘s Air Transportation Office (ATO) coordinated the flow of supplies into the region, and the carrier provided air traffic control for the relief effort.Sailors from Abraham Lincoln‘s Engineering Department Repair Division designed a potable water manifold to help bring fresh water to Aceh Province, Sumatra, with the system beginning to ship the much-needed fresh water on 4 January. In total, Carrier Strike Group Three delivered 5,929,000 pounds (2,689,000 kg) of relief and Humanitarian supplies, including 2,915,500 pounds (1,322,400 kg) of food and 748,410 pounds (339,470 kg) of medical supplies, during Operation Unified Assistance (OUA). Carrier Strike Group Three received the Humanitarian Service Medal in recognition of its humanitarian assistance/disaster response (HA/DR) efforts during the OUA mission.
In mid-January 2005 the carrier left Indonesian waters after the Indonesian government refused to allow fighter pilots assigned to Abraham Lincoln to conduct air patrols and training flights. By law, US carrier-based pilots must practice at least once every two to three weeks to remain “fit,” otherwise they are grounded. Despite the move into international waters, Abraham Lincoln continued to provide support to the region until 4 February. During the carrier’s 33 days on station, she and her battle group, Carrier Strike Group Nine delivered 5.7 million pounds of relief supplies. The 17 helicopters assigned to HSL-47 Saberhawks and HS-2 “Golden Falcons”, attached to CVW-2 flew 1,747 relief missions along the western coast of Sumatra. The carrier’s departure coincided with the arrival of the hospital ship Mercy.
Between 7 March – 27 May 2005, Abraham Lincoln underwent a docking planned incremental availability (DPIA) yard overhaul at Naval Station Everett, Washington, and following its subsequent sustainment training, the carrier underwent an additional planned incremental availability (PIA) at NS Everett between 28 June – 26 August 2005. Between 1–23 June 2005, Abraham Lincoln and Carrier Air Wing Two (CVW-2) trained in the northern Pacific, conducting their quarterly Integrated Strike Group (ISG) Sustainment Training cycle.Abraham Lincoln carried out surge sustainment training for the Fleet Response Plan (FRP), fleet replacement squadron carrier qualifications (CQ), and Joint Task Force Exercise 2005 (JTFEX-05) in southern Californian waters between 19 October and 16 November 2005. For JTFEX-05, Abraham Lincoln and Carrier Air Wing Two were joined by the guided-missile cruiser Mobile Bay; the guided-missile destroyers Russell and Shoup, and Carrier Strike Group Seven led by the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76).
On 18 December 2006, Abraham Lincoln left dry dock at the shipyard ahead of schedule and under budget. The Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility (PSNS & IMF) completed ship tank maintenance in less than half the scheduled time. In 89 days, 18 tanks were completed. The Tank Value Stream Team achieved this partnering with Ship’s Force and the Lincoln Project Team. While in dry dock, the whole ship was painted by the crew at nights and on weekends rather than waiting for contractors to do the job.
On 5 January 2006, the carrier Abraham Lincoln departed its homeport of Everett, Washington, and transited to San Diego, California, for its scheduled underway period to undertake its sustainment training exercisies (SUSTAINEX) and post-refit inspection by the US Navy’s Board of Inspection and Survey (INSURV). Abraham Lincoln completed its additional sustainment training in southern Californian waters between 21–24 February 2006.
The refit was completed 26 March 2007, when Rear Adm. Scott Van Buskirk assumed command of Carrier Strike Group Nine (CSG 9) from Rear Adm. Bill Goodwin.
On 29 August 2006, the carrier Abraham Lincoln arrived at Naval Base Kitsap in Bremerton, Washington, and on 8 September 2006, the carrier entered Dry Dock No. 6 at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard & Intermediate Maintenance Facility (PSNS & IMF) to begin a scheduled Docked Planned Incremental Availability (DPIA) yard maintenance period. Major projects for this DPIA included the refurbishment of ship tanks, work on three of the four catapults, modernization of navigation systems, resurfacing of the flight deck, and updates to the ship’s Local Area Network (LAN). Abraham Lincoln also received installation of the RIM-116 Rolling Airframe Missile (RAM) system, which improved the ship’s close range defensive capabilities. On 18 December 2008, Abraham Lincoln left dry dock ahead of schedule and under budget because PSNS & IMF yard team was able to cut the time of ship tank maintenance by more than half, completing 18 tanks in 89 days.
The aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln held a fast cruise from the pier between 23–25 June and left Puget Sound on 26 June to conduct sea trials before returning to its homeport of Naval Station Everett, Washington, on 30 June 2007.
Abraham Lincoln underwent flight deck carrier (FDC) Qualifications while sailing in southern Californian waters between 12–15 July 2007. F/A-18E Super Hornets and F/A-18C Hornets from strike squadrons VFA-137 and VFA-151 joined VX-23 test pilots performed precision approach drills to ensure that the ship’s equipment, such as the Precision Approach Landing System (PALS), operated within close tolerances, with SH-60B Seahawks from squadron HS-2 providing search and rescue (SAR) capabilities during flight operations.
On 20 August 2007, Abraham Lincoln and embarked Carrier Air Wing Two completed their 25-day Tailored Ship’s Training Availability (TSTA) and Final Evaluation Problem (FEP) training period off southern California. TSTA is designed to prepare the ship and crew for full integration into a carrier strike group, and FEP is a graded 48-hour evolution to evaluate how well the units learned during TSTA. Abraham Lincoln and embarked CVW-2 aircraft conducted over 1,000 fixed-wing sorties. Abraham Lincoln completed five replenishments at sea (RAS) evolutions, including two with the fleet replenishment oiler Henry J. Kaiser, and participated in 18 general quarters (GQ) drills. Also, on 13 August, Abraham Lincoln tested its defensive capabilities when she fired four RIM-7P NATO Sea Sparrow missiles, with two of them at BQM-74E Chukar remote-operated aerial target drones.
Carrier Strike Group Nine’s Composite Unit Training Exercise (COMPTUEX) featured twenty-four Sailors from Mobile Security Squadron 2 (MSRON-2), Helicopter Visit, Board, Search and Seizure (HVBSS) Team 1 (pictured), a first for West Coast-based U.S. Navy ships. MSRON-2 Team 1 specializes in boarding non-compliant ships at sea in the dead of night, detaining the crew if necessary, and identifying suspected terrorists or subjects of interest, using the element of surprise afforded by helicopter insertion, night vision equipment, and state-of-the-art biometrics. MSRON-2 HVBSS Team 1 was established in 2004 at Norfolk Naval Shipyard in Portsmouth, Virginia, and it was the first team of its kind to reach operational status.
Also, on 11 November 2007, n HH-60H Seahawk helicopter from squadron HS-2 crashed while operating from the ship approximately 100 miles (160 km) from San Diego. Rescuers successfully pulled all seven crewmembers from the water.
Between 3–30 January 2008, Carrier Strike Group Nine (CARSTRKGRU 9) conducted antisubmarine exercises (USWEx) and Joint Task Force Exercise 03-08 (JTFEx 03-08) off southern California. On 16 January, Secretary of the Navy Donald C. Winter visited the strike group’s flagship, Abraham Lincoln. On 20 January, a NATO Boeing E-3A Sentry Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) aircraft was deployed from NATO Air Base Geilenkirchen, Germany, with a multi-national crew aboard for JTFEx 03-08, and it defended Carrier Strike Group Nine from a simulated air attack (30 January).
Abraham Lincoln began its planned incremental availability (PIA) maintenance cycle at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard (PSNS) in Bremerton, Washington, on 16 April 2009. The objective of this PIA yard period is to refurbish Abraham Lincoln‘s shipboard system to meet the anticipated 50-year service life of the ship, including an upgraded Local Area Network system. Beginning 1 December 2009, Abraham Lincoln began daily flying squad, general quarters (GQ), and integrated training team (ITT) drills in preparation for its first underway period following its current maintenance cycle.
On 13 January 2010, the carrier completed upgrades and repair that cost $250 million at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard. The carrier was to be assigned to Carrier Strike Group Nine. On 3 February 2011, The ship was awarded the Battle Effectiveness Award for its high standards of excellence and combat readiness.
On 9 December 2010, the US Navy officially announced that Naval Station Everett, Washington, was the new homeport for the USS Nimitz (CVN-68), replacing Abraham Lincoln, which would be undergoing its scheduled Refueling and Complex Overhaul (RCOH) at the Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding-Newport News shipyard in Virginia which is slated to begin in 2013.
On 1 March 2011, the news media reported that the US Navy had awarded Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding-Newport News a $206.7 million USD option under a previously awarded contract to plan Abraham Lincoln‘s RCOH. The planning contract covered the design, documentation, engineering, advanced material procurement, inspections, fabrication, and support work for Abraham Lincoln‘s RCOH, with more than 1,000 employees supporting this planning phase. Additional funding for the RCOH was pending the passage of the U.S. Department of Defense’s Fiscal Year 2011 budget appropriations by the U.S. Congress. Upon authorization, Abraham Lincoln‘s RCOH was anticipated to begin in 2013, and it is scheduled to take between three and four years to complete at an estimated overall cost of $3 billion USD.
On 1 August 2011, the US Navy announced that Abraham Lincoln will shift its homeport from Everett, Washington, to Newport News, Virginia, for its Refueling and Complex Overhaul in August 2012. The ship departed Everett for the deployment that would take it around the world to Newport News in December 2011.
6–10 January, accompanied by guided-missile cruiser Cape St. George (CG 71), Abraham Lincoln visited the Gulf of Thailand port of Laem Chabang. During the visit, Singapore-based Glenn Defense Marine Asia (GDMA) provided husbanding services, for which the Navy was billed $884,000. In November 2013, federal prosecutors charged that the Navy had been overbilled more than $500,000.
On 22 January 2012, the US Navy announced that Abraham Lincoln had entered the Persian Gulf “without incident.” The deployment through the Straits of Hormuz came at a time of escalating tensions with Iran. The Lincoln, accompanied by a strike group of warships, was the first U.S. aircraft carrier to enter the Gulf since late December 2011 and was on a “routine rotation” to replace the outgoing USS John C. Stennis (CVN-74).
The departure of the Stennis prompted Iranian army chief Ataollah Salehi to threaten action if another carrier passed back into the Gulf, saying, “I recommend and emphasize to the American carrier not to return to the Persian Gulf. … We are not in the habit of warning more than once,” The US dismissed the warning.
Abraham Lincoln transited the Suez Canal northbound on 16 July 2012  and the Strait of Gibraltar on 26 July 2012 en route to the United States. On 7 August 2012, Abraham Lincoln arrived at Norfolk Naval Station following an eight-month deployment to the US Navy’s 5th, 6th and 7th Fleet areas of responsibility, in preparation for her Refueling and Complex Overhaul (RCOH) at Newport News.
On 8 February 2013, the U.S. Department of Defense announced that the scheduled mid-life Refueling and Complex Overhaul intended for the Abraham Lincoln would be postponed pending the resolution of the upcoming budget sequestration. This budget shortfall would not only affect Abraham Lincoln‘s refueling of her nuclear propulsion plant, but it would also delay the next scheduled mid-life complex overhaul involving the George Washington forward-based in Yokosuka, Japan, as well as the de-fueling of the recently deactivated Enterprise. By March 2013 Naval ship maintenance and overhaul budget issues had been addressed enough such that Lincoln’s RCOH had been confirmed and she was made ready to tow over to Newport News Shipbuilding. By mid-March she had been towed over and docked, and the RCOH work had begun.
On Friday 3 October 2014, Huntington Ingalls Newport News Shipbuilding said that its workers had transferred an anchor from Enterprise, the Navy’s first and oldest nuclear carrier, to be installed aboard Lincoln during that week. This was due to one of the Lincoln’s 30-ton anchors needing replacement; the withdrawal of Enterprise allowed one of her anchors to be made available rather than being scrapped with the rest of the ship.
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Following a six-week delay due to budget uncertainty, USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) has arrived for its refueling and complex overhaul (RCOH), which will include the refueling of the ship’s reactors, as well as extensive modernization work to more than 2,300 compartments, 600 tanks and hundreds of systems.