USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69) ("Ike") is a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier currently in service with the United States Navy. Commissioned in 1977, the ship is the second of the ten Nimitz-class aircraft carriers currently in service, and is the first ship named after the 34th President of the United States, Dwight D. Eisenhower. The vessel was initially named simply as USS Eisenhower, much like the lead ship of the class, Nimitz, but the name was changed to its present form on 25 May 1970. The carrier, like all others of her class, was constructed at Newport News Shipbuilding Company in Virginia, with the same design as the lead ship, although the ship has been overhauled twice to bring her up to the standards of those constructed more recently.
Since commissioning, Dwight D. Eisenhower has participated in deployments including Operation Eagle Claw during the Iran hostage crisis in 1980, as well as the Gulf War in the 1990s, and more recently in support of U.S. military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
On 29 June 1970, Newport News Shipbuilding of Newport News, Virginia was awarded the contract for construction. On 30 June 1975, her designation was changed from CVAN-69 to CVN-69.
She was laid down as hull number 599 on 15 August 1970 at Newport News shipyard at a cost of $679 million ($4.5 billion in 2016 dollars), launched 11 October 1975 after christening by Mamie Doud-Eisenhower, and commissioned 18 October 1977, Captain William E. Ramsey in command. Since her commissioning, Dwight D. Eisenhower has had 16 Commanding Officers. Her first Command Master Chief was AGCM Robert Franklin Frazier.
On commissioning, she replaced the aging World War II–era carrier USS Franklin D. Roosevelt in the fleet.
Dwight D. Eisenhower was initially assigned to the United States Atlantic Fleet, and, after receiving over a year of training, the ship was visited by President Jimmy Carter with his wife Rosalynn Carter, Secretary of Defense Harold Brown and his National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzeziński. In January 1979, she sailed for her first deployment to the Mediterranean Sea. During this deployment, while off the coast of Israel, Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin visited Dwight D. Eisenhower, The carrier returned to Norfolk Naval Station in July of the same year.
Under the command of her second Commanding Officer, Captain James H. Mauldin, her second deployment occurred in 1980, when she was dispatched by President Carter to the Indian Ocean, in response to the Iran hostage crisis. She relieved Nimitz three days after the Iranian hostage rescue attempt. To help maintain morale, Capt. Mauldin allowed the men aboard to participate in "Flight Deck Olympics". The Navy also authorized a special ration of beer, consisting of six cans per man, which was dispensed over a two-month period.
Dwight D. Eisenhower returned to the Mediterranean Sea for her third deployment, under the command of her third Captain E. W. Clexton, Jr., from 5 January – 13 July 1982. During this deployment, 11 passengers and crew were lost when Mamie, her onboard logistics aircraft, crashed near Souda Bay, Crete, on 2 April. She also participated in the 24 June evacuation of the U.S. Embassy staff from Beirut, Lebanon, as that country descended into civil war.
Ike embarked on her fourth deployment from 27 April – 2 December 1983. In addition to several major exercises with NATO, Egyptian and U.S. Air Force personnel and assets, she came under direct threat of destruction as Libyan strongman Muammar al-Qadhafi vowed to turn the Gulf of Sidra into a "red gulf of blood" should the ship enter the zone claimed by Libya. Further tensions between Libya, Chad, Sudan and Egypt forced Ike to be ordered to the disputed area. Between 2 and 5 August, the ship's Combat Air Patrol intercepted two MiG-23 Flogger and two Dassault-Breguet Mirage V aircraft headed toward the carrier in separate engagements. The Libyan aircraft immediately turned back toward their bases, ending both incidents. Diplomatic measures deflated the crisis days later. On 26 August, Ike sailed within sight of the embattled city of Beirut, Lebanon. The ship launched reconnaissance sorties in support of the U.S. Marines and other international peacekeepers coming under attack ashore. After 93 days at sea since her previous port visit, Ike visited Italy on 21 October. She once again had to make speed toward Beirut on the 26th because of suicide attacks that killed nearly 300 American and French troops on 23 October. Ike would remain on station until relieved by the Independence and John F. Kennedy in mid November.
In May/June 1984, for the 40th anniversary of D-Day, "Ike" was deployed to Normandy, France and Portsmouth, England. The port visit in England included a visit from Queen Elizabeth II.
After her fifth deployment Dwight D. Eisenhower went into Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock in October 1985 for a major overhaul. The 18-month yard period included the addition of the Close-in Weapons System, NATO Sea Sparrow Missile System, Naval Tactical Data System, anti-submarine warfare module, communications upgrades and rehabilitation of 1,831 berths in 25 compartments. She re-entered the fleet in April 1987. On 29 February 1988, the ship started her sixth deployment to the Mediterranean. While returning to Norfolk, on 29 August 1988, she collided with an anchored Spanish coal ship while entering the harbor to dock at Norfolk Naval Station when wind and currents pushed the carrier off course, although damage was minor to both ships.
Dwight D. Eisenhower entered Norfolk Naval Shipyard (Portsmouth, Virginia) in September 1988; she returned to the fleet in April 1989.
In 1990, Dwight D. Eisenhower completed her seventh Mediterranean deployment. The deployment became a commemorative event in the worldwide "Dwight D. Eisenhower Centennial", celebrating the 100th anniversary of the late president's birth. During D-Day anniversary ceremonies off the coast of Normandy, President Eisenhower's son John Eisenhower and D-Day veterans embarked in the ship, while Carrier Air Wing Seven conducted a memorial flyover of the American cemetery at Omaha Beach in Normandy, France.
In response to Iraq's invasion of Kuwait, Dwight D. Eisenhower became the first carrier to conduct sustained operations in the Red Sea, and only the second nuclear-powered aircraft carrier ever to transit the Suez Canal. Ike served as a ready striking force in the event Iraq invaded Saudi Arabia, and participated in maritime interception operations in support of a United Nations embargo against Iraq.
After completion of an extensive shipyard period and work ups, the carrier deployed 26 September 1991 to the Persian Gulf to continue multi-national operations with coalition forces in support of Operation Desert Storm. Ike returned to Norfolk on 2 April 1992, and, on 12 January 1993, entered Norfolk Naval Shipyard for overhaul and conversion, returning to the fleet 12 November 1993.
In September 1994, Dwight D. Eisenhower and elements of the U.S. 10th Mountain Division first tested the concept of adaptive force packaging. The division's soldiers and equipment were loaded on board, and the ship's Army/Navy team headed for Port-au-Prince to lead Operation Uphold Democracy, the U.S.-led effort to restore the elected government of Haiti.
One month later, in October 1994, Dwight D. Eisenhower departed for a six-month deployment which included flying missions in support of Operation Southern Watch and Operation Deny Flight. This deployment marked the first time that women had deployed as crew members of a U.S. Navy combatant. Dwight D. Eisenhower, Carrier Air Wing 3, and the Commander, Cruiser-Destroyer Group 8 staff team included more than 400 women. The integration of women caused some negative headlines for the Navy. During the deployment, 15 women serving aboard had to be reassigned ashore because of pregnancy, earning the ship the nickname The Love Boat. There was also a case of a sailor who filmed himself having sex with a female.
In April 1995, the game show Wheel of Fortune taped two weeks of episodes on the ship's hangar deck.
Dwight D. Eisenhower returned to Newport News Shipbuilding on 17 July 1995 for a complex 18-month overhaul completed on 27 January 1997. Among other things, they installed a new Advanced combat direction system. The ship departed on her 10th deployment on 10 June 1998 and returned in December. In February 1999, she returned to the Norfolk Navy Shipyard for a six-month refitting and returned to the fleet in June. Upon completion in June 1999, she returned to full duty in the fleet.
Deploying in February 2000 and returning that August on the "Millennium Cruise", for the first time Ike's embarked aircraft dropped ordnance in combat while enforcing Operation Southern Watch's No-Fly Zone over Iraq.
On 3 October 2006 with Carrier Air Wing 7 (CVW-7), Dwight D. Eisenhower returned to sea as the flagship of Rear Admiral Allen G. Myers, commanding Carrier Strike Group 8. CSG-8 also includes the guided-missile cruiserAnzio, guided-missile destroyers USS Ramage and USS Mason, and the fast-attack submarine USS Newport News. She visited Naples, Italy, and then Limassol, Cyprus, for three days in October 2006 before departing to the east. She entered the Persian Gulf in December 2006.
On 8 January 2007, a U.S. AC-130 gunship based out of Djibouti was dispatched to target Al-Qaeda operatives located in Somalia. Eisenhower "was deployed in the Indian Ocean to provide air cover for the operation and, if needed, to evacuate downed airmen and other casualties". It joined other US and allied vessels from Bahrain-based Combined Task Force 150 The US spokesperson did not say what particular ships comprised the cordon, but the task force includes vessels from Canada, France, Germany, Pakistan, the UK and the US. US ships of Combined Task Force 150 include the Arleigh Burke-class destroyer Ramage and the Ticonderoga-class cruiser USS Bunker Hill. The aim of the patrols is to "... stop SICC leaders or foreign militant supporters escaping" Somalia.
In March 2007, following the Iranian seizure of Royal Navy personnel, Dwight D. Eisenhower began battle group exercises off the Iranian coastline. The following month in April, the ship was relieved by USS Nimitz.
On 4 October 2008 Dwight D. Eisenhower Petty Officer 2nd Class Robert Lemar Robinson was killed on the ship during training exercises off the coast of North Carolina. The sailor was killed after being struck by an airplane at 8:15 p.m. on the carrier's flight deck.
On 21 February 2009, Dwight D. Eisenhower deployed for the Arabian Sea and environs rotating into the forward-deployed forces there. She served as the flagship of Carrier Strike Group 8 commanded by Rear Admiral Kurt W. Tidd. Also embarked were Carrier Air Wing 7 and the staff of Commander, Destroyer Squadron 28. Other ships of Strike Group 8 were USS Bainbridge, USS Halyburton, USS Scranton, USS Vicksburg, and USS Gettysburg. In addition to supporting Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom, the strike group conducted maritime security operations including anti-piracy operations. On 16 May, Dwight D. Eisenhower became the first Nimitz-class carrier to dock pierside in Manama, Bahrain. The last carrier to moor pierside in Bahrain was USS Rendova in 1948. On 30 July 2009, the Dwight D. Eisenhower returned to Naval Station Norfolk after almost a six-month deployment.
On 2 January 2010, Dwight D. Eisenhower again deployed to the Middle East, the U.S. 5th and 6th Fleet areas of operations. She served as the flagship of Dwight D. Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group commanded by Rear Admiral Philip S. Davidson. While in theater, the strike group provided security cooperation, forward naval presence, maritime security, and crisis response. In addition to the Ike, the strike group was made up of Carrier Air Wing 7; Commander, Destroyer Squadron 28; the guided-missile cruiser USS Hué City; and guided-missile destroyers USS McFaul, USS Carney, and USS Farragut. On 28 July 2010, the Ike returned to her homeport in Norfolk.
The ship was placed in a planned incremental availability at Norfolk Naval Shipyard through June 2011.
On 22 February 2013, IKE and Strike Group 8 departed for another Mediterranean and Mid-East deployment. After pulling into Marseille, France in early March the German Sachsen-class frigate Hamburg became the first to fully integrate into an American Strike group. Hamburg was commanded by Cmdr. Ralf Kuchler and stayed with the strike while it operated with the 5th fleet. On 6 August the ship began an ammunition offload in preparation for an upcoming docked planned incremental availability (DPIA) at Norfolk Naval Shipyard.
On 26 August 2014, the ship was moved to Berth 42-43 from Dry Dock #8 at Norfolk Naval Shipyard, and as of 4 February 2015, the DPIA was four months behind schedule, with the ship planned to remain in the yard until at least April, 2015.
On 3 September 2015, the ship went back to sea.
In June 2016, Eisenhower and its Carrier Strike Group entered the ATLANTIC OCEAN (NNS) -- USS Dwight D. Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group (Ike CSG) entered the U.S. 6th Fleet area of operations June 8 in support of U.S. national security interests in Europe. On 22 November 2016, Military Times reported that since June 2016 - when the ship entered the Persian Gulf after launching strikes from the eastern Mediterranean - the carrier's Captain, Paul Spedero, said sorties from the Eisenhower have dropped nearly 1,100 bombs on ISIS targets in Iraq and Syria. Ike returned to homeport Norfolk December 30.