The USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) became the fifth Nimitz-class nuclear-powered aircraft carrier in operation with the United States Navy on November 11th, 1989. Throughout her time abroad, she has primarily operated in the Persian Gulf and the Pacific regions of the world conducting both military and humanitarian services as needed. She joins the powerful arm of the United States Navy's existing Nimitz-class nuclear-powered carriers that include others named for past US Presidents such as the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower, USS Theodore Roosevelt and the USS George Washington (among others).
The USS Abraham Lincoln is a conventionally-designed aircraft carrier with an island on the starboard side and an angled flight deck to port. Four hangar elevators service her flight deck with three located on the starboard and one to port. The starboard three are divided with one sitting abaft of the island and the remaining two forward. Four steam catapults allow for quick response off the flight deck. Like other Nimitz-class carriers, the USS Abraham Lincoln can field up to 90 aircraft of various makes, models and types including helicopters. As such, the vessel's offensive punch plays an important part to US Navy Pacific operations in the region and should remain so for some time to come.
On board "Big Abe" is the Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 2 consisting of 9 squadrons, 2 x Super Hornet fighter bombers, 2 x Hornet fighter bombers, 1 x Hawkeye early warning fix wing, 1 x Prowler electronic warfare, 1 x Greyhound logistical support aircraft, 2 x Seahawk attack helicopter squadrons.
Lincoln is defended by twin Mk 57 Mod3 series Sea Sparrow surface-to-air missile launchers and two RIM-116 Rolling Airframe Missile short-range surface-to-air missile launchers. Additionally, the crew can call upon three 20mm Phalanx Close-In Weapon Systems for anti-missile/anti-aircraft defense. Power is derived from two Westinghouse brand A4W class nuclear reactors, powering four steam turbines which, in turn, propelled four shafts to 260,000 shaft horsepower. Due to the nature of nuclear reactors, the range of the Abraham Lincoln (and the entire Nimitz-class for that matter) is essentially unlimited.
Sensors, radars and systems abound on this floating city. The ship features some three air traffic control radars, powerful air search radars, landing aid radars and guidance systems. Countermeasures revolve around the SLQ-32A(V)4 suite and the SLQ-25A "Nixie" torpedo countermeasures systems. Crew complement is an impressive 3,200 sailors along with 2,480 airmen. The ship's crew of 3,200 and the 2, 480 aircrew eats very well on Lincoln, hard work around the clock requires a lot of daily meals. Each day the crew consumes 800 loaves of bread, 13,000 sodas and 660 gallons of milk. Each day 540 pounds of Hamburger meat is served plus 180 dozen eggs and 800 pounds of fresh vegetables.
The Lincoln was called to immediate service almost as soon as she was deployed at the time of Operation Desert Shield (eventually to become Operation Desert Storm). She served in a humanitarian role in evacuation operations after the eruption of Mount Pinatubo on her way to the Gulf region (before supporting Desert Shield/Desert Storm). The volatile 1990's also saw tensions erupt to all-out conflict in Somalia, prompting the US to send the Lincoln to the Horn of Africa. Beyond that, the vessel supported elevated status operations in Southern Watch - enforcing the No-Fly zone over the southern portion of Iraq. In all, the Lincoln made a total of five deployments, to this point - all to the Persian Gulf. The new millennium would see the USS Abraham Lincoln called into action in the War on Terror with operations encompassing Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom, her air arm being among the first to strike in the latter. More humanitarian assistance roles were asked of the Lincoln in the years following and she currently remains in operations in the Persian Gulf.
Naval Station Everett of Washington state is the newest and most modern naval port facility in the United States Navy and was built to be the home port of a US Navy Battle Group. USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) arrived in 1997 and departed for the last time in December 2011 to begin an eight month deployment to the US Navy's 5th, 6th and 7th Fleet areas of responsibility. A typical battle group consists of a nuclear-powered carrier, 2 missile destroyers and 3 missile frigates.
During the deployment CVW-2 flew more than 11,000 sorties of which 2,400 were combat providing air cover in support of U.S. and coalition forces supporting Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF). OEF is the official name for the War in Afghanistan, under the umbrella of the global "War on Terror" (GWOT). Leaving Everett in December, the ship steamed more than 72,000 miles in 245 days, of which 105 days were spent in the Arabian Sea in support of OEF.
Lincoln was relived from her operational duty from the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet after the Navy had added two extensions and three months to the ship's deployment schedule. Steaming home, Big Abe arrived at her new home port at the Naval Station Norfolk, , Virginia on August 7th, 2012 after eight months of sea duty. Lincoln had been scheduled for a four-year RCOH (refueling systems overhaul) before her deployment but was needed for OEF and she is currently (2012) undergoing this at the Newport News in-port maintenance depot. During the RCOH, workers will refuel Lincoln's nuclear reactors, install an upgraded combat system plus a modern communication ship-wide system. The 400-man work crew will overhaul the hull in dry-dock and replace all mechanical and electrical systems.
Moving to a new duty station requires the crew's families to follow. This is part of the Navy lifestyle of being separated from family for many months then up rooted when the navy calls. The homeport change and the end of the long deployment allow the crew to spend time with family and friends. Many of the crew may be rotated to serve in other ships along with the guided-missile cruisers and guided-missile destroyers that were her battle group screen. Her Air Wing (CVW) 2 will also be reassigned during the 4-year refit. Lincoln is scheduled to resume deployments in 2016.
The Lincoln was first ordered in 1982 and laid down in 1984. She was launched in 1988 and commissioned a year later. She makes her home port at Everett in Washington state and fights under the unofficial banner of "Shall not perish, get over it!". The USS Abraham Lincoln is affectionately known simply as "Abe" and is in active service as of this writing. The Lincoln is also the proud recipient of the following honors: Joint Meritorious Unit Award, Navy Unit Commendation, Coast Guard Unit Commendation, Meritorious Unit Commendation, Navy "E" Ribbon, National Defense Services Medal, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Southwest Asia Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Humanitarian Service Medal, Sea Service Deployment Ribbon, and Kuwait Liberation.