U.S. Navy to Commission Aircraft Carrier George H.W. Bush

December 31, 2008. The Navy’s newest nuclear-powered aircraft carrier George H. W. Bush will be commissioned Saturday, Jan. 10, 2009, during an 11 a.m. EST ceremony at Naval Station Norfolk, Va.

President George W. Bush will deliver the principal address. Dorothy “Doro” Bush Koch, daughter of the ship’s namesake, is the ship’s sponsor. In the time-honored Navy tradition, she will give the order to "man our ship and bring her to life!"

Ship’s Sponsor Doro Bush Koch, Former President George H.W. Bush and President George W. Bush greet the crowd after the bottle-break. (photo @northropgrumman)

The last Nimitz-class aircraft carrier is named to honor World War II naval aviator and America’s 41st president George H. W. Bush. Born on June 12, 1924, in Milton, Mass., Bush began a lifetime of service to America when he joined the Navy on his 18th birthday as a seaman. He became the youngest pilot in the Navy at the time, receiving his commission and naval aviator wings before his 19th birthday.

Capt. Kevin O'Flaherty, from Los Angeles, Calif., and a 1981 Naval Academy graduate, will become the ship’s first commanding officer, leading a crew of more than 5,500 men and women, including embarked air wing personnel. George H. W. Bush will be initially homeported in Norfolk, Va., assigned to the U.S. Atlantic Fleet.

Northrop Grumman reached a major milestone today as it lifted the 700-ton island onto the flight deck of the nation's newest and most advanced nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, George H.W. Bush (CVN 77).(photo @northropgrumman)

George H. W. Bush (CVN 77) Milestones

  • Contract awarded Jan. 26, 2001
  • Seven-year construction timeframe
  • CVN 77 Naming Ceremony – Dec. 9, 2002
  • Keel Laying – Sept. 6, 2003
  • Lower Bow Lift - March 8, 2005
  • Upper Bow Lift - March 15, 2006
  • Island Landing - July 8, 2006
  • Christening scheduled for Oct. 7, 2006
  • Launch scheduled for Oct. 8, 2006
  • Delivery scheduled for late 2008
The George H. W. Bush is the nation's tenth and final Nimitz-class aircraft carrier. Northrop Grumman Newport News has built 11 of the U.S. Navy’s 12 active carriers, including all 10 ships of the Nimitz class. (photo @northropgrumman)

Modernized Island
CVN 77's island design includes a modified main mast, an integrated aft mast,transparent armor windows and many navigation and communication systems upgrades. The USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) was the first carrier to incorporate many of these changes.
1. Aft Mast - The AFT mast was relocated from the flight deck to the island to put it in closer proximity to other radar systems.

2. Main Mast - The main mast pole is a tapered square pole in lieu of a round mast pole. This design keeps electrical and piping systems enclosed for survivability purposes.
The larger size also allowed for the following changes:
- Waist high safety rails
- Easy access to all areas by internal ladders

3. Primary Flight Control - Increased square footage and larger window in Primary Flight Control has improved visibility of the flight deck for the Air Boss and squadron representatives.

4. Bridge - Larger windows are included in the Navigation and Flag Officer Bridge areas for better visibility.

5. Outboard Weapons Elevator - An aircraft weapons elevator was relocated from the centerline of the flight deck and now extends up into the aft section of the island, allowing for more efficient movement of aircraft ordnance during flight operations.

Northrop Grumman Newport News launched the George H. W. Bush on Oct. 9, 2006.(photo @northropgrumman)

Nimitz-Class Aircraft Carriers – General Characteristics

  • Top speed exceeds 30 knots
  • Powered by two nuclear reactors that can operate for more than 20 years without refueling
  • Expected to operate as Navy warship for about 50 years
  • Typical Nimitz-class ship carries 80-plus combat aircraft
  • Three two-inch diameter arresting wires on the deck bring an airplane going 150 miles per hour to a stop in less than 400 feet
  • Towers 20 stories above the waterline with a 4.5-acre flight deck
  • 1,092 feet long: nearly as long as the Empire State Building is tall
  • Four bronze propellers, each 21 feet across and weighing more than 30 tons
  • Steering accomplished by two rudders, each 29 feet by 22 feet and weighing 50 tons
  • Four high speed aircraft elevators, each more than 4,000 square feet, bring planes to the flight deck from the hangar below
  • Home to about 6,000 Navy personnel
  • Enough food and supplies to operate for 90 days: 18,150 meals served daily
  • Distillation plants providing 400,000 gallons of fresh water from sea water daily, enough for 2,000 homes
  • Nearly 30,000 light fixtures and 1,600 miles of cable and wiring
  • 1,400 telephones, 14,000 pillowcases and 28,000 sheets

C2 Greyhound (photo @northropgrumman)

The ship will support a wide variety of aircraft, including the F/A-18C Hornet and F/A-18E/F Super Hornet strike fighters, the E-2C/D Hawkeye Airborne Early Warning aircraft, the C-2 Greyhound logistics aircraft, the EA-6B Prowler and the EA-18G Growler electronic warfare aircraft, multi-role SH-60 and MH-60 helicopters, and other future carrier-based aircraft. @Defro & @northropgrumman

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