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Nimitz Class Aircraft Carrier
Model featured: CVN-77 USS George H. W. Bush
Together with CVN-65 USS Enterprise (1st nuclear-powered carrier, commissioned 1966), and the Nimitz Class there are a total of eleven US aircraft carriers operating. It is these few flattops that form the centerpiece of US Naval global might. In addition to their role of projecting power, they serve as joint command platforms in the worldwide command-and-control network.
The Nimitz Class aircraft carriers are a floating
airport capable of launching as many as four aircraft a minute. Besides
the aircraft, other self-defense measures include:
The carrier's two nuclear reactors give her virtually unlimited range and endurance with a top speed in excess of 35 knots. Eight steam turbine generators each produce 8,000 kilowatts of electrical power - enough to supply electricity to a city of 100,000.
The ships normally carry enough food and supplies to operate for 90 days. Four distilling units make over 400,000 gallons of fresh water from seawater daily for use by the propulsion plants, catapults and crew.
The ship carries approximately 3 million gallons of fuel for her aircraft and escorts and enough weapons and stores for extended operations without replenishment.
These ships also have extensive repair capabilities including a fully equipped aircraft maintenance department, a micro-miniature electronics repair shop and numerous ship repair shops.
Nimitz Class carriers boast all the amenities that would be found in any American city with a comparable population, including a post office with its own ZIP code, TV and radio stations, a newspaper, a fire department, a library, a hospital, a general store, two barbershops and much more.
The Navy plans regular nuclear refueling overhauls for its Nimitz-class carriers which began with the USS Nimitz in 1998 - at a cost of $1.2 billion. This major life-cycle milestone in a nuclear-powered ship is a process that takes approximately 33 months to complete and needs to be done about every twenty years. In addition to the refueling of both of the ship’s reactors, significant modernization occurs at the same time. Aircraft carriers are generally estimated to have useful operating live of 50 years.
Technological improvements to prepare for the CVNX ships began in CVN-76 USS Ronald Reagan which has a re-designed bulbous bow for increased propulsion efficiency and trim stability. Her aircraft elevators also have greater capacity then those currently in use aboard her sister ships.
CVN-77 is the transition ship to the new CVNX class of aircraft carriers, incorporates new technologies applicable to CVNX, and differs considerably from earlier Nimitz class ships.
CVNX (now called CVN-21 program) is the centerpiece of the next generation aircraft carrier fleet. It will be a large-deck, nuclear-powered Supercarrier with a newly designed combat system that eliminates rotating antennas. A new nuclear propulsion plant with a new electrical distribution system will provide war fighting enhancements and life cycle cost reductions. Subsequent carriers will feature additional new technologies including electromagnetic aircraft launch and recovery systems.
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