The USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) is part of the powerful nuclear-powered Nimitz-class carrier group, being the fourth of the ten ships built. As a class they are the largest nuclear-driven capital ships in service anywhere in the world - making the United States Navy as the premiere ocean-going fighting force. The carrier group allows the service to power-project for both the United States and its allies in unstable regions around the globe as well as bring the "fight to the enemy" wherever he resides.
USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) was ordered on September 30th, 1980 and saw her keel laid down on October 31st, 1981 by the Newport News Shipbuilding Company. Launched on October 27th, 1984, the warship was subsequently commissioned on October 25th, 1986. She remains in active status today (2020) and homeports out of NAS North Island of San Diego, California. The vessel fights under the motto of "Qui Plantavit Curabit" ("He Who Has Planted Will Preserve") and has the nicknames of "TR" (for former U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt) and "Big Stick" (from a slogan related to the former president). its official call sign is "Rough Rider".
President Roosevelt believed in using the American fleet to project power by "showing the flag", sending the Atlantic Squadron to Morocco and, later, the "Great White Fleet" to circumnavigate the globe. This display of naval might continues today, embodied in such ship types like the Nimitz-class and her air squadrons as well as support ships and attack submarines.
Because of extensive changes and upgrades between the first three ships of the Nimitz-class - USS Nimitz (CVN-68), USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69), and USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70), USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) and the six subsequent ships of the line (USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72), USS George Washington (CVN-73), USS John C. Stennis (CVN-74), ad USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75)) are unofficially referred to as the "Theodore Roosevelt-class" aircraft carriers in some Naval quarters (also considered the "Theodore Roosevelt sub-class"). USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) and USS George W. Bush (CVN-77) make up the "Ronald Reagan sub-class".
As built, Roosevelt features a displacement rating of 117,200 tons (short) and has an overalllength of 1,092 feet, a beam of 252 feet, and a draught of 37 feet. Power is from 2 x Westinghouse A4W series nuclear reactor units feeding 4 x Steam turbines developing 260,000 horsepower to 4 x Shafts under stern. This provides the warship with a top ocean-going speed of over 30 knots and unlimited range, the latter quality due to her nuclear propulsion scheme.
The ship's onboard complement reaches 3,200 sailors and enlisted and a further 2,480 personnel make up the vital air arm of the vessel. Up to ninety warplanes can be carried throughout her decks, providing the ship with considerable firepower to serve in times of war and as a deterrence when needed. Beyond the usual group of attackers are fleet defenders, special-mission platforms, and resupply aircraft that includes helicopters.
Roosevelt is outfitted with a bevy of sensors and processing systems to make her a key cog in the American fighting machine. This includes the AN/SPS-48E 3D and AN/SPS-49(V)5 2D air-search radars, the AN/SPQ-9B target acquisition radar, and the AN/SPN-46 and AN/SPN-43C air-traffic control systems. The vessel also carries four Mk 91 guidance systems and four Mk 95 radars. The Electronic CounterMeasures (ECM) fit is the AN/SLQ-32A(V)4 series suite while the SLQ-25A "Nixie" is the torpedo countermeasures system in play.
Beyond her systems, the warship deploys conventional weaponry to deal with inbound aerial threats. This includes 2 x "Sea Sparrow" medium-ranged Surface-to-Air Missile (SAM) launchers, 2 x RIM-116 "Rolling Airframe Missile" short-ranged missile launchers, and 2 x 20mm Phalanx Close-In Weapon Systems (CIWSs). Up to 63.5mm of armor is used in key areas as a last line of protection.
CVN-71's construction began in October of 1981 when then-acting Secretary of Defense Weinberger initiated the first keel weld of Theodore Roosevelt. On 25 October 1986, Theodore Roosevelt was placed in active service at a cost of $4.5 billion (in 2007 dollars).
Shock-testing on the Nimitz-class was not done until Theodore Roosevelt was built. Explosive charges were set at various depths and distances then detonated beneath the hull of the mighty ship to simulated the detonation of naval mines and torpedoes about her design. The required shock-testing, in addition to the standard tests that all newly commissioned ships endure (such as high speed runs and turns), are referred to as the "shake down" cruise.
The air arm available to the Roosevelt is the largest department aboard the ship. Its specially-trained personnel are charged with the launching and recovery of high-performance tactical aircraft across the 4.5 acre flight deck. To safely accomplish this enormous task, seventeen officers and 584 Enlisted men and women operate within the air group and are needed around the clock. The flight deck is the most dangerous area on any navy ship due to massive aircraft being readied, launched, and recovered by more than 200 crew assigned to flight deck duty per shift.
During the course of deployment, the crew will launch and recover thousands of aircraft and more than 40,000 aircraft moves will be performed on the flight deck above and hangar decks below. Fueling the embarked aircraft and ships in the TR Battle Group will require the pumping of more than 20 million gallons of fuel.
To date (2020), USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) has "earned her stripes" in the U.S. Navy by becoming a veteran of the Persian Gulf War of 1991 during Operation Desert Shield / Desert Storm. On October 14th, 1996, she collided with the guided-missile cruiser USS Leyte Gulf off the coast of North Carolina, suffering some $7 million USD in damage. Following the events of 9/11, the ship used her air arm in anger against Taliban positions in Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom. General cruises, overhauls, and exercises have dotted her sailing career since.
In March of 2020, the vessel began to report ill sailors during the COVID-19 pandemic. Before the middle of April, nearly 600 crew have proven positive for virus.