The first U.S. Navy ship named in honor of Dwight David Eisenhower -- born in Denison, Texas, on 14 October 1890 -- the third of seven sons of David J. and Ida E. (Stover) Eisenhower. The family, of German extraction originally from Forbach, Lorraine, before emigrating to the U.S. in the 18th century, returned to Abilene, Kansas, two years later. Eisenhower attended Abilene High School, where he excelled in sports, graduating in 1909. He worked at Belle Springs Creamery from 1909–1911.
Eisenhower received an appointment to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., on 14 June 1911, and graduated on 12 June 1915. Commissioned a second lieutenant in September 1915, he reported to the Infantry at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, and later served at other posts in that state, Camp Wilson and Leon Springs. During his assignments in Texas he met Mamie G. Doud of Denver, Colo. (born on 14 November 1896, in Boone, Iowa), whom he married on 1 July 1916. Their union produced two sons. The first, Doud Dwight, was born on 24 September 1917, but died of scarlet fever on 2 January 1921. Their second, John S. Doud, was born on 3 August 1922. Like his father he made a career of the army, and later became an author and served as Ambassador to Belgium.
Eisenhower was promoted to first lieutenant on 1 July 1916, and to captain on 15 May 1917. By February 1918, he was stationed at Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia, when he received orders to the Tank Corps, after which point he served in succession at Camp Meade, Md., Camp Colt, Pa., Camp Dix, N.J., Fort Benning, Ga., and Fort Meade, Md., through January 1922. During this period the Army promoted him to major (temporary) on 17 June 1918, and to lieutenant colonel (temporary) on 14 October 1918. He reverted to the permanent rank of captain on 30 June 1920, and actually received his promotion to major on 2 July 1920.
While in the Tank Corps, Eisenhower volunteered to participate as an observer in the First Transcontinental Motor Convoy from 7 July to 6 September 1919. He next was assigned as the executive officer to Brigadier General (promoted to Major General during this period) Fox Conner at Camp Gaillard in the Panama Canal Zone, from January 1922 to September 1924, following which he served in various capacities in Maryland and Colorado. Eisenhower entered the Command and General Staff School at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, on 19 August 1925, graduating first in a class of 245 on 18 June 1926. Following that period of education, he served as a battalion commander with the 24th Infantry Regiment at Fort Benning from August 1926 to January 1927.
Next assigned to the American Battle Monuments Commission, from January to August 1927, Eisenhower had the distinction of serving under its director, Gen. John J. Pershing, USA, compiling a guidebook to World War I battlefields. On 27 August 1927, he entered the Army War College at Washington, D.C., graduating on 30 June 1928, after which he commanded guidebook revision and the European office of the American Battle Monuments Commission in Paris, France (July 1928–September 1929).
The promising Army War College graduate served as the executive officer to Assistant Secretary of War Gen. George V. Moseley, USA, in Washington, from November 1929 to February 1933. During that period Eisenhower participated in the Bonus Expeditionary Force crisis when as many as 45,000 WWI veterans poured into Washington during the spring and summer of 1932, to demand payment of the bonus promised to them at the end of the Great War.
Eisenhower then served as chief military aide to Army Chief of Staff Gen. Douglas MacArthur, USA, until September 1935, after which he continued with MacArthur as assistant military advisor to the Philippines during the beginning of that country’s transition from U.S. rule through commonwealth status toward independence, from September 1935 to December 1939. While there, he received promotion to lieutenant colonel on 1 July 1936. He then served with Gen. DeWitt Clinton, USA, Commander of the 15th Infantry, recently returned from China, for a short term at Fort Ord, Calif., and then at Fort Lewis, Wash., as the regimental executive from February 1940 to November 1940. Eisenhower then served as the Chief of Staff for Gen. Thompson, USA, Commander of the 3rd Infantry Division at Fort Lewis until March 1941. Promoted to colonel (temporary) on 11 March 1941, he received appointment as chief of staff to Maj. Gen. Kenyon A. Joyce, USA, Commander of the IX Corps at Fort Lewis, and remained there until June 1941. Then designated as the Chief of Staff to Lieutenant General (temporary) Walter Kreuger, USA, Commander of the Third Army at Fort Sam Houston from June to December 1941, Eisenhower was promoted to brigadier general (temporary) during that tour, on 29 September 1941. During that time he participated in the Louisiana Maneuvers, a series of exercises across the western part of the state from August to September 1941. The maneuvers -- some of the largest domestic exercises ever held to that time -- included the innovative use of tanks, paratroopers and combined arms tactics presaging the battles of World War II.
After the Japanese attacked the U.S. Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor, T.H., on 7 December 1941, Eisenhower became the Deputy Chief in Charge of Pacific Defenses under Maj. Gen. Leonard T. Gerow, USA, Chief of the War Plans Division. Two months later, he was designated as Chief of War Plans Division. In April 1942, Army Chief of Staff Gen. George C. Marshall, USA, called him to Washington for a war plans assignment with the General Staff as the Assistant Chief of Staff in Charge of the Operations Division. On 27 March 1942, he was promoted to major general (temporary). He worked tirelessly to increase cooperation among the Allies in London, England, where he arrived in May 1942, and was designated commanding general of the European Theater the following month. During that crucial summer, he also received his promotion to lieutenant general (temporary) on 7 July 1942. Eisenhower commanded the Allied forces during Operation Torch, the landings in Vichy French-controlled North Africa, in November 1942. He received his fourth star as general (temporary) on 11 February 1943, and was appointed brigadier general (permanent) on 30 August 1943, and major general (permanent) on the same date.
Appointed as Supreme Commander, Allied Expeditionary Forces, in December 1943, he prepared them for the immense undertaking of liberating Western Europe from the Nazi yoke. Eisenhower commanded these forces during their landings in Normandy, France, on 6 June 1944, and led them to victory through the brutal fighting across France, the Lowlands and into the heart of the Third Reich. During the first desperate days of the Battle of the Bulge he was promoted to General of the Army (5 stars), on 20 December 1944. Shortly after the German surrender on 8 May 1945, he became Military Governor of the U.S. Occupied Zone at Frankfurt, Germany.
Designated Chief of Staff of the Army on 19 November 1945, on 11 April the following year his wartime rank of General of the Army converted to permanent rank. Inaugurated as President of Columbia University in New York City on 7 June 1948, he then took leave to assume duties as Supreme Allied Commander, North Atlantic Treaty Organization [NATO], Europe, and given operational command of Treaty Organization, Europe, and operational command of U.S. Forces, Europe, on 16 December 1950. Republican emissaries to his headquarters near Paris persuaded him to run for President in 1952. He retired from active service on 31 May 1952 and resigned his commission in July of that year. In the interim, he announced his candidacy for the Republican Party nomination for President on 4 June in Abilene. “I like Ike” proved to be an irresistible slogan and Eisenhower won a sweeping victory on 4 November 1952.
Eisenhower served two terms as President from 20 January 1953 to 20 January 1961, cultivating what he termed “dynamic conservatism” by blending conservative economic policies with liberal social plans. Negotiating from military strength, he tried to reduce Cold War strains, but in June 1953, the Russians ruthlessly crushed an uprising among workers in East Berlin. In 1953, the signing of a truce did bring an armed peace along the border of the two Koreas, and Joseph Stalin’s death earlier that year on 5 March caused shifts in relations with Russia.
New Soviet leaders consented to a peace treaty neutralizing Austria. Meanwhile, however, both superpowers developed hydrogen weapons. Eisenhower nonetheless concentrated on maintaining world peace, and watched with pleasure the development of his “atoms for peace” program–the loan of American uranium to “have not” nations for peaceful purposes. With the threat of such destructive force hanging over the world Eisenhower met with British, French, and Soviet leaders at Geneva, Switzerland, in July 1955. The President proposed that the United States and Russia should exchange blueprints of each other's military establishments and to “provide within our countries facilities for aerial photography to the other country.” The Soviets greeted the proposal with silence, but cordiality throughout the meetings somewhat eased tensions. In September 1955, Eisenhower suffered a heart attack while in Denver. After seven weeks he left the hospital, and in February 1956 doctors reported his recovery. In November of that year the people elected him to his second term, a pivotal year as he led the country through deteriorating foreign relations resulting from the Suez Crisis and the Hungarian Revolution.
In domestic policy the President pursued a middle course, continuing most of the New Deal and Fair Deal programs and emphasizing a balanced budget. His administration pushed forward the development of the interstate highway system and oversaw the admittance of Alaska and Hawaii as states. A firm advocate of civil rights, the President sent paratroopers of the 101st Airborne Division into Little Rock, Ark., on 24 September 1957, to assure compliance with the orders of a Federal court to allow “The Little Rock Nine” -- nine African American students -- to attend Little Rock Central High School. “There must be no second class citizens in this country,” he wrote as he also ordered the complete desegregation of the armed forces.
From 1956 to 1958, tensions between Christians and Moslems in Lebanon rose until a Moslem rebellion and the collapse of a pro-Western Iraqi government threatened Lebanon’s stability. Lebanese President Camille N. Chamoun requested U.S. assistance and Eisenhower responded with Operation Bluebat, landing soldiers and marines to protect Americans trapped within the country and to maintain order (14 July–25 October 1958). During the same period he supported the Nationalist Chinese over Communist Chinese attempts to seize Matsu and Quemoy (Kinmen) Islands in the Formosa (Taiwan) Strait, while also preventing the dispute from escalating into a global conflict.
Before he left office for his farm in Gettysburg, Pa., in January 1961, Eisenhower urged the necessity of maintaining adequate military strength but cautioned that vast, long-continued military expenditures could breed potential dangers to the American way of life. “America is today,” he noted upon leaving office, “the strongest, most influential, and most productive nation in the world.” He concluded with a prayer for peace “in the goodness of time.”
President John F. Kennedy signed Public Law 87-3 in March 1961, returning Eisenhower to the active list of the regular Army with the rank of General of the Army, from 20 December 1944. He maintained an office at Gettysburg College and residence at his nearby farm from January 1961 to March 1969.
Following a long battle with a heart ailment, Eisenhower died at 1225 on 28 March 1969, at Walter Reed Army Hospital in Washington, D.C. President Richard M. Nixon, Eisenhower’s Vice-President, designated 31 March as a national day of mourning and attended the funeral, where he presented the eulogy in the rotunda of the capitol. Eisenhower was interred alongside his wife and first son in the Place of Meditation at the Dwight D. Eisenhower Library at Abilene, Kansas, on 2 April 1969.
“The real fire within the builders of America was faith,” Eisenhower observed upon his return to Abilene in 1952, “faith in a Provident God whose hand supported and guided them: faith in themselves as the children of God…faith in their country and its principles that proclaimed man’s right to freedom and justice,” reflections engraved at the gravesite.
(CVN-69): displacement 101,713; length 1,098'; beam 252'; draft 40'; speed 30 + knots; complement 6,076; armament: 3 RIM-7 NATO Sea Sparrow Basic Point Defense Missile Systems (BPDMS), 2 40 millimeter; aircraft 75–80; class Nimitz).
Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69) was laid down on 15 August 1970 at Newport News, Va., by Newport News Shipbuilding & Dry Dock Co.; launched on 11 October 1975; sponsored by Mrs. Mamie D. Eisenhower, widow of the late President; and commissioned on 18 October 1977, Capt. William E. Ramsey in command.
Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69) Ship’s Seal: The five stars represent President Dwight D. Eisenhower in his final rank in the Army; the electron orbits symbolize the carrier’s nuclear propulsion; and the circle of line portrays the ship herself.
At 1111 on 11 October 1975, Dwight D. Eisenhower slid down the ways and entered the water, at which point eight tugs assisted her across the James River to Pier 2 at the shipyard. Vice President Nelson A. Rockefeller addressed the crowd of more than 8,000 people, and dignitaries in attendance included Secretary of the Navy J. William Middendorf II, Adm. James L. Holloway III, Chief of Naval Operations (CNO), Adm. Hyman G. Rickover, Director Navy Nuclear Propulsion, Adm. Isaac C. Kidd Jr., Commander-in-Chief, Atlantic Fleet, former Ambassador John S. D. Eisenhower, son of the late President, and Virginia Governor Mills E. Godwin Jr. The vice president warned the audience that Dwight D. Eisenhower should help them to recognize that the Republic could not fall behind East Bloc expansion to become “the second greatest seapower.”
Vice Adm. Howard E. Greer, Commander Naval Air Force, Atlantic Fleet, announced on 3 May 1976 that a six-member committee had approved the ship’s insignia (see above for image) from among 28 proposed designs. The ship’s Precommissioningm Unit (PCU) moved on board on 11 April 1977, and on 15 July Dwight D. Eisenhower was placed in service. Dwight D. Eisenhower completed her first “fast” cruise (simulating getting underway without actually leaving the pier) to test equipment and systems (23–28 July), and then (30 July–1 August) builder’s sea trials off the Virginia capes, her first time underway at sea. Lt. David L. Hallanbeck of Helicopter Combat Support Squadron (HC) 6 accomplished the first aircraft landing on board, in a Sikorsky VH-3A Sea King at 1403 on 30 July. “We thrill to Ike’s majesty and mastery of the sea,” Capt. Billy J. McKee, senior chaplain, intoned during Dwight D. Eisenhower’s first Navy prayer at sea on that date. The ship returned with a broom tied to her masthead, the traditional symbol of victory at sea, proclaiming a “clean sweep.” The carrier completed her acceptance trials off the Virginia capes (23–24 August), and the shipyard delivered her to the Navy on 12 September, after which the crew welcomed their families on board for their initial dependent’s cruise into Chesapeake Bay. Dwight D. Eisenhower returned to her new home port at Pier 12 at Naval Station (NS) Norfolk, Va.
With clear weather Capt. Ramsey made the ship’s first aircraft launch, in COD 69, Dwight D. Eisenhower’s Grumman C-1A Trader, known affectionately by the crew as Mamie, at 1519 on 15 September 1977. Cmdr. Richard J. Palma, Chief Joe Severns, ADR1s David H. Sevener and Joe V. Hutchenson, AE2 Kenneth R. Baird, and Dr. William N. Houk also manned the plane. Ramsey flew 10 more launches and traps, bringing his career total to 900 arrested landings. Dwight D. Eisenhower completed her initial underway replenishment by coming alongside oiler Marias (T-AO-57) the following day. The carrier experienced a sudden engineering problem during the evolution, forcing her to perform an “emergency breakaway” to avoid a potentially dangerous accident.
“Break the commissioning pennant,” Cmdr. Edward W. Clexton Jr., the ship’s executive officer, ordered at 1111 on 18 October 1977, exactly two years and seven days to the minute since her christening, as the Navy commissioned Dwight D. Eisenhower at Pier 12 at Norfolk. Secretary of Defense Dr. Harold Brown, Admirals Holloway and Kidd, Vice Adm. Greer, and Mamie and John Eisenhower were among the crowd of thousands gathered beneath a cloudless blue sky. On the afternoon watch on 20 October, Cmdr. Gary F. Wheatley, Commander Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 1, accomplished the first jet landing on board in AB 302, an LTV A-7E Corsair II from Attack Squadron (VA) 46. Meanwhile, Naval Air Test Center (NATC) Patuxent River, Md., people tested the arresting gear, catapults, and automatic carrier landing system using specially instrumented aircraft, completing Dwight D. Eisenhower’s first aerial operations. In addition, the ship fired her RIM-7 BPDMS for the first time, hitting six of six Ryan (Teledyne) BQM-34E Firebee II drones. Lt. Cmdr. David L. Newton and Lt. David Anderson of the Strike Aircraft Test Directorate accomplished the first jet catapult launch in a Grumman A-6E Intruder from catapult No. 1. Lt. Cmdr. Frederick C. Lentz of that command followed them with the ship’s first automatic carrier landing, in a Corsair II on 21 October.
Dwight D. Eisenhower completed refresher training and carrier qualifications off Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, followed by missile testing at the Atlantic Fleet Weapons Range at Puerto Rico (6 November–13 December). During the latter, Fighter Squadron (VF) 32 participated with Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 4 in the operational evaluation of AIM-7F Sparrow air-to-air missiles. VF-14 and VF-32, VA-34, VA-46, and VA-72, Air Antisubmarine Squadron (VS) 32, Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 125, and Helicopter Antisubmarine Squadron (HS) 11 embarked with CVW-1. A tragedy marred the tests, however, when AB 405, a Corsair II flown by Lt. Cmdr. Harold Andersen of VA-72, suffered a mechanical malfunction and crashed shortly after launching from catapult No. 4, on 3 December. Andersen ejected and the ship launched a motor whaleboat, assisted by a Sikorsky SH-3D from HS-11, to recover him. The Sea King crew dropped a swimmer to retrieve the pilot, but Andersen apparently had become entangled in his parachute and he died from his injuries, most likely from drowning. The rescuers could not recover AB 405. Two Soviet Tupolev Tu-95 Bear-Ds reconnoitered the ship on 7 December, but Grumman F-14A Tomcats from VF-14 and VF-32 intercepted the snoopers at 100 nautical miles and escorted them out of the area. A pair of Bears en route to Cuba overflew Dwight D. Eisenhower on her return to Norfolk two days later, but Tomcats again intercepted the Russians and escorted them away from the ship.
While conducting flight operations and damage control training in the Caribbean (5–31 January 1978), Dwight D. Eisenhower visited her first port outside of the continental U.S. when she reached St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands (21–23 January). The crew next completed their Improved Rapid Rearming Program Evaluation, designed to test their ability to deliver ordnance to aircraft and launch them in a series of simulated wartime exercises (22–27 February). Although elements of CVW-7 had operated from the ship previously, the Navy did not assign the wing per se to Dwight D. Eisenhower until 1 March. During the first dog watch on that date a Boeing HH-46A from HC-16 (BuNo. 150950) encountered mechanical difficulties while in the plane guard position about 100 yards off Dwight D. Eisenhower’s starboard quarter, about 60 miles southeast of Jacksonville, Fla. The weather was calm with clear visibility, as the Sea Knight suddenly rolled rapidly to the right, crashed into the water tail first and sank, inverted, disappearing from view in barely 30 seconds. “Helo in the water” the bridge watch announced over the ship’s 1-MC speaker at 1652 as crewmen lowered a motor whaleboat, whose sailors recovered Lt. (j.g.) Howard M. Tillison and AD2 Richard L. Dolick. Lt. (j.g.) Frederic L. Bell and ADC John R. Bazan, however, the other two crewmen, died in the mishap. Helo Nos 404 and 411 from HC-16 participated in the rescue. An investigation determined that a “catastrophic failure” of an upper aft flight control assembly on the Sea Knight, resulting in severe movements of the aft rotor head, including a reduction in blade pitch and loss of lift.
At 1230 on 17 March 1978, President James E. Carter and his wife Rosalynn stepped out of their helo onto the flight deck. “I’m still one of you,” the President said, referring to his naval service. He later joined the crew for lunch on the mess decks. National Security Advisor Dr. Zbigniew Brzezinski, Secretary of Defense Brown, Secretary of the Navy W. Graham Claytor Jr., and Adm. Holloway accompanied the President and the First Lady during Operation Shamrock. The presidential party viewed Combined Weapons Training exercise involving Dwight D. Eisenhower and CVW-7, John F. Kennedy (CV-67), with CVW-1 embarked, guided missile cruiser Virginia (CGN-38), destroyer Peterson (DD-969), and frigate Ainsworth (FF-1090). Vice Adm. Wesley L. McDonald, Commander Second Fleet, acted as Battle Force Commander, and Capt. Ramsey commanded all the air elements.
A dense fog blanketing the area forced cancellation of a brief trip across Chesapeake Bay for their families and friends, so the crew held an “Open House” on board, hosting almost 10,000 visitors, on 27 March. The following day Dwight D. Eisenhower eased down the Elizabeth River from Norfolk to the Norfolk Naval Shipyard at Portsmouth, Va., for her post shakedown availability (8 April–3 June). The ship received underwater hull modifications and repairs to spaces and equipment while drydocked at the shipyard. While type training off Roosevelt Roads, P.R. (18–26 September), Dwight D. Eisenhower embarked CVW-7, including several new squadrons to the wing: VF-142 and VF-143 and Tactical Electronics Warfare Squadron (VAQ) 138. During a ceremony marking Dwight D. Eisenhower’s first year of commission, 69 men of the ship’s company and air wing reenlisted on the flight deck, “a fitting match,” her command historian observed, “for the ship’s hull number,” on 18 October. Under the command of Rear Adm. Robert L. Walters, Commander Cruiser Destroyer Group 8, Dwight D. Eisenhower participated in Gulf-Ex 79, a task force readiness exercise in the western Caribbean that involved over 20,000 U.S. and British servicemembers, 36 ships, two submarines, and more than 300 aircraft (14 November–4 December). Just before the New Year, ABE3 Ralston J. Carey, AN Charles L. Sherron, and ABEAA William V. Becker saved three shipmates trapped inside a burning vehicle ashore. All three men later received the Navy Marine Corps Medal for Heroism for their prompt and bold actions.
Dwight D. Eisenhower made her maiden deployment during a voyage to the Mediterranean (16 January–13 July 1979). Heavy seas pounded the ship as she crossed the Atlantic, and she then (27–29 January) relieved John F. Kennedy at Rota, Spain, following which she passed through the Strait of Gibraltar during the early morning hours of 30 January and into the Mediterranean for the first time. Two Algerian Mikoyan Gurevich (MiG) 21F-13 Fishbed-Cs investigated Dwight D. Eisenhower on that date, but a pair of Tomcats from the ship intercepted them outside of effective strike range and the MiGs returned to their Algerian field. Through most of the deployment, South Carolina (CGN-37) and Virginia sailed with the carrier. A host of submarines often operated against them including Sculpin (SSN-590) and Silversides (SSN-679), French La Praya (S.622), Spanish Delfin (S.61), and Italian Livio Piomarta (S.515), which made repeated attacks against the carrier simulating Soviet boats. During ports of call, Dwight D. Eisenhower established a concession stand ashore for liberty parties, which crewmen named “IkeDonalds” after the popular food chain.
Southeast winds approaching 35–40 knots over the Ionian Sea combined with North African dust and haze blowing out to sea to force the ship to cancel her final three flights on 16 February and the last two on 18 February, due to near zero visibility and seas raging up to 12 feet. Dwight D. Eisenhower operated in National Week XXVI/Sardinia 1-79, a combined task force exercise involving over 50 ships and 300 aircraft from various NATO countries, designed to test the strength of amphibious forces in the Mediterranean (26 February–4 March). The carrier swept ahead of the Orange (friendly) forces and acted as a decoy to lure opposing submarines away from the landings. Heavy fog blanketed the carrier in the Ionian Sea and she cancelled flight operations later on 18 March. A strong southwestern wind swept across the Tyrrhenian Sea, causing wind gusts up to 52 knots and swells approaching 11 feet at one point, that consistently imperiled operations (20 March–2 April).
Dwight D. Eisenhower participated in MultiplEx 1-79, a “multi-dimensional warfare” exercise involving dual battle group training with America (CV-66) in the Ionian Sea (22–28 April). Dwight D. Eisenhower performed an air power demonstration for an Israeli delegation led by President Yitzhak Navon, Prime Minister Menachem Begin, and Defense Minister Ezer Weizman, off Haifa, Israel, on 10 May. The ship took part in the final two phases of the three phase maritime support Dawn Patrol-79 (17–24 May). Eighty other NATO vessels participated in the huge exercise, including America and French aircraft carrier Clemenceau (R.98), the three carriers comprising NATO Task Force 502. Dwight D. Eisenhower provided close air support against the Vatika Target in Greece and simulated strike support at Gioia Del Colle Target in Italy. Upon the exercise’s conclusion, the ship steamed westward through the Strait of Messina to launch strikes against Capo Frasca Target in Sardinia. Independence (CV-62) relieved Dwight D. Eisenhower north of the Azores on 6 July. While in the Mediterranean, Dwight D. Eisenhower conducted 79 days of flight operations, logging 19,674 hours, 8,580 arrested landings, and 852 helo landings. En route to the U.S., the crew did not detect Soviet aircraft or vessels monitoring their movements, though they did note Russians shadowing Independence — by then more than 700 nautical miles to the east.
On 4 November 1979, Iranian revolutionaries seized 66 Americans, including one naval aviator and 14 marines, at the U.S. Embassy and the Iranian Foreign Ministry in Tehrān, Iran. The revolutionaries’ demands included the return to Iran of deposed Shah Mohammad R. Pahlavi, who was in the U.S. Dwight D. Eisenhower, with CVW-7 and Carrier Group 4, Rear Adm. Byron R. Fuller in command, embarked, South Carolina, and Virginia deployed for the 12,000 mile voyage around the Cape of Good Hope to the Indian Ocean (15 April–22 December 1980). The carrier and her consorts crossed from the Atlantic to the Pacific Fleets on 29 April, and on 7–8 May relieved Nimitz (CVN-68), California (CGN-37), and Texas (CGN-39), after Nimitz’s crewmen endured 108 days at sea. Capt. James H. Mauldin, Dwight D. Eisenhower’s commanding officer, established an almost weekly “CO’s Day” to allow the men to take time off and participate in “Flight Deck Olympics” and picnics. In addition, the Navy authorized a special ration of six cans of beer per man, which the captain dispensed in increments over a 60 day period. Dwight D. Eisenhower crossed the equator during this month, allowing the shellbacks to cleanse over 5,000 pollywogs of “their dreaded condition.”
Nearly constant Soviet surveillance in the Gulf of Oman compelled the ship to launch two Lockheed S-3A Vikings from VS-31 and two A-6Es from VA-65 for three and a half hour sorties to work the coastline or littoral regions. During this deployment VS-31 discovered and tracked two Soviet Echo II-class submarines and a Foxtrot-class submarine shadowing the carrier, intercepted more than 50 Soviet aircraft of various types (in addition to 15 Iranian Lockheed P-3F Orions), and kept an eye on an Iranian Saam-class guided missile frigate that loitered in the vicinity. The added tension of the Persian Gulf War between the Iranians and Iraqis exacerbated the strain on the crew, forcing them to be ever vigilant. The large number of flight hours produced an unusual number of AIM-9L air-to-air missile failures, however, prompting concerns about the Sidewinder’s reliability. Men requiring emergency leave were flown to al Masirah Island off Oman, and thence to Diego Garcia, British Indian Ocean Territory, where USAF Lockheed C-141 Starlifters and C-5 Galaxies flew them on to Clark AFB in the Philippines, where they embarked for other destinations, an exhausting series of flights. During the southeast monsoon that swept through the northern Indian Ocean during the late summer, sea surges increased to 11 to 13 feet, causing problems during station keeping and flight operations. Submarine tender Emory S. Land (AS-39), operating off Diego Garcia, provided calibrating capabilities to the Avionics Division.
The ship participated in exercise Gonzo 4-80/MultiplEx 1-80 in the northern Arabian Sea (8–9 July), and then (17–22 July) visited Singapore, the first liberty for her crew after 254 grueling days at sea. The ship then returned to the northern Arabian Sea via the Strait of Malacca. The readiness of other mariners to obey rules of the road during her transits of the busy waterway surprised the ship’s navigation team, allowing them to maintain an average speed of 15 to 18 knots amid the crowded shipping with enough room to maneuver out of vessels passing close aboard. Midway (CV-41) relieved Constellation (CV-64) and supported Dwight D. Eisenhower as both carriers performed contingency operations in the Arabian Sea on 17 August. The following day Miss America 1980 Cheryl Prewitt visited the latter. Dwight D. Eisenhower took part in exercise Gonzo 5-80 in the northern Arabian Sea (14–17 September), but a Douglas EA-3B from Fleet Air Reconnaissance Squadron (VQ) 2, unable to lower its tailhook during landing, emergency diverted ashore to Masirah. An SH-3H flew “troubleshooters” out to the island, who repaired the Skywarrior. Both aircraft returned to the ship that evening. A war erupted between the Iraqis and Iranians on 22 September, and Dwight D. Eisenhower and Midway thus continued their contingency operations in the north Arabian Sea. Independence relieved Dwight D. Eisenhower (8–9 December), and the next day she departed the Pacific Fleet and subsequently returned to the Atlantic Fleet. The reported that the “renewed presence of pollywogs” on board forced her shellbacks to perform another cleansing ceremony as the ship crossed the equator on 18 December.
Deploying to the North Atlantic, Dwight D. Eisenhower operated with British, Canadian, Danish, Dutch, French, Portuguese, and West German naval and air forces, including 83 ships and submarines, in NATO joint maritime exercises Magic Sword, Ocean Venture ’80 and ’81 and Ocean Safari (20 August–7 October 1981). During Ocean Venture Phase Four, the ship opposed Canadian and USCG forces, and then waged a “carrier vs. carrier war” against her counterpart, Forrestal (CV-59). Both carrier battle groups then merged and made speed into the Norwegian Sea to defeat a simulated Warsaw Pact thrust into Western Europe. Soviet Bears and Badgers intruded at least 80 times during these operations, as did nine shadowing warships, including helicopter cruiser Moskva, together with numerous submarines. A Grumman E-2C Hawkeye from the ship directed a pair of British Aerospace FRS.1 Sea Harriers from No. 801 Squadron Detachment 1, deployed on board aircraft carrier Invincible (R.05), to intercept and shadow a Tu-95D on 28 August. Dwight D. Eisenhower shrewdly crafted deception measures to thwart Soviet surveillance, but journalists generated heated controversy when they claimed that Russian submarines penetrated the carrier’s screen. The ship completed Magic Sword North by launching simulated strikes into Norway to support allied forces making amphibious landings, after which she rendezvoused with a huge combined force of 19,000 men, 60 ships, and 280 aircraft for Ocean Safari. Dwight D. Eisenhower’s share of this final exercise ranged from fighting a cross-Atlantic convoy through to Portugal, to attacking advancing East Bloc armored columns in southwestern West Germany.
Dwight D. Eisenhower deployed to the Mediterranean early in the New Year (5 January–13 July 1982), relieving Nimitz at Tangiers, Morocco (16–30 January). The ships accomplished a cross deck of staffs from Commander, Cruiser Destroyer Group 12, to Rear Adm. James E. Service, Commander, Battle Force, Task Force 60 and Sixth Fleet, who broke his flag in Dwight D. Eisenhower. Mississippi (CGN-40), South Carolina, Texas, and Virginia also entered Tangiers harbor with the carriers, who afforded the people of that city the “unforgettable spectacle” of six nuclear powered ships greeting them as they awoke. Both carriers then participated with John F. Kennedy in multi threat exercise National Week XXXI, with Nimitz leading the Orange forces to attack the other carriers.
COD 69, Dwight D. Eisenhower’s C-1A Mamie (BuNo 136787), launched during the afternoon watch on 2 April 1982, on a logistics flight to Naval Support Activity (NSA) Souda Bay, Crete. A gentle breeze touched the ship, but COD 69 arrived overhead the island an overcast sky with visibility of only two to three miles and an “obscured” horizon ensured that the crew flew in instrument meteorological conditions. Mamie crashed shortly after 1614, though investigators could not determine the cause due to the lack of information. Low ceilings and poor visibility hampered rescuers, who finally discovered the wreckage strewn across the northeast side of a 1,400 foot mountainside about four miles from Souda Bay’s navigational beacon. Eleven men died: Cmdr. Richard W. Beiser, Lt. Cmdr. Bruce L. Cook, AD1 Carter C. Kriz, MM2 Michael W. Davis, MM2 John C. Shabella and AMHAN Brian E. Haley of the ship’s company; and AT1 Brian D. Lafferty of VAQ-132, AZ1 David E. Newbill of VS-31, AE1 Michael A. Nichols of HS-5, AME2 Kenneth R. Sorby of VS-31, and AMH3 Miles T. Glover of HS-5.
As Lebanon descended into civil war, Dwight D. Eisenhower participated in the evacuation of U.S. embassy staff and civilians from Beirut, on 24 June 1982. American helicopters carried more than 1,200 people and 380,000 pounds of cargo out to ships offshore, also including dock landing ship Hermitage (LSD-34) and amphibious transport dock Nashville (LPD-13). The following day Forrestal and Independence rendezvoused with Dwight D. Eisenhower and John F. Kennedy in the Mediterranean. After steaming together in the Eastern Mediterranean for several days, Forrestal relieved John F. Kennedy and on 29 June Independence relieved Dwight D. Eisenhower, enabling those ships to sail home to Norfolk. The crisis in Lebanon prompted the reinforced deployments. The ship completed a selected restricted availability at Norfolk Naval Shipyard (16 August–30 October), carrying out her sea trials off the Virginia capes (30 October–3 November 1982). A McDonnell Douglas F/A-18A from the Naval Air Test Center at NAS Patuxent River, Md., conducted the first Hornet operations on board (26–27 January 1983). A McDonnell Douglas RF-4B from Marine Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron (VMFP) 3 used to obtain aerial photography of the Hornet also was “on deck.” The Hornet completed automatic carrier landing system certification, begun on board America, and remained overnight to permit closer inspection.
During hot refueling of two Tomcats from VF-142 near the starboard foul line in March, the starboard wing of a Viking from VS-31 struck one of the F-14As, ripping its probe from the S-3A. Fuel immediately began streaming from the Tomcat over the crowded flight deck, quickly spreading under aircraft with engines turning over and live missiles attached. ADC Raymond L. Goodwin, the VF-142 line supervisor, seeing a potential disaster unfolding, immediately directed a tow tractor to the stricken aircraft. Climbing atop it, he stopped the flow of fuel as the volatile liquid cascaded over him. Goodwin’s rapid and spontaneous reaction prevented what would most certainly have erupted into a catastrophic fire, buying the ship precious moments as the crash and salvage team responded.
Aircraft No. 210, an F-14A flown by Cmdr. John M. Sumnick, VF-142’s commanding officer, and Lt. (j.g.) Christopher U. Browne, suffered a hydraulic failure, caught fire and crashed at sea, while the ship completed Type Training Phase III off Puerto Rico on 17 March. Rescue crews recovered both men with minor injuries during the mid watch, though they could not retrieve the Tomcat. During the same exercise two more Tomcats, Taproom 107, Lt. William G. Welch and Lt. (j.g.) Wolfgang E. Thiel from VF-143, and Dakota 205, Lt. Cmdr. Kenneth W. Pritchard and Ens. Daniel P. Hummel of VF-142, collided. An SH-3D from HS-5 recovered Welch and Thiel, but Pritchard and Hummel perished during ejection.
Dwight D. Eisenhower deployed to the familiar waters of the Mediterranean (27 April–2 December 1983). She entered the Sixth Fleet’s area of responsibility and relieved Nimitz as flagship for Commander Battle Force, Sixth Fleet, as the latter carrier departed from the Mediterranean (8–9 May). The ship joined British, Canadian, French, Italian, and Turkish forces in Distant Drum ’83, a NATO control of the seas exercise in the Mediterranean and Ionian Seas (16–27 May). Her aircraft contested the skies in mock battles against Italian Lockheed F-104 Starfighters, Fiat G-91s, and PD-808s, and with French LTV F-8 Crusaders and Dassault-Breguet Super Etendards from aircraft carrier Foch (R.99). Tomcats acquired the first Tactical Air Reconnaissance System (TARPS) imagery of Soviet aircraft carrier Novorossiysk and guided missile cruiser Slava when those ships entered the Greek anchorage of Kíthira. Tomcats also intercepted a pair of inbound Soviet Ilyushin Il-38 Mays staging out of Libya on 24 May. Intrusive Mays shadowed the carrier several more times during this deployment. Dwight D. Eisenhower conducted dual carrier operations with Coral Sea (CV-43) in the central and western Mediterranean (9–16 July).
Continuing fighting in Chad and Sudan between separatists and Libyan invaders combined with Libyan threats against the Egyptians meanwhile exacerbated a crisis in Equatorial and North Africa. Libyan strongman Col. Muammar al-Qadhafi vowed to turn the Gulf of Sidra into a “red gulf of blood” if the ship should enter the area claimed by the Libyans, and singled out Dwight D. Eisenhower by name for destruction. The ship stood out of Livorno, Italy, for routine operations in the central and eastern Mediterranean, but rising tensions with Libya forced her to again come about and put on speed for the Gulf of Sidra (21 July–14 August 1983). On 2 August, a Tomcat flown by Lt. Randolph W. Horner and Lt. (j.g.) Scott C. Grundmeier of VF-143 intercepted two Libyan MiG-23 Floggers approaching the ship, that veered away and returned to their fields without further challenging the Americans. On the 5 August, Cmdr. Joseph W. Prueher and Lt. Cmdr. Larry H. Schmidt, and Cmdr. David E. Lovelady and Lt. (j.g.) Nelse C. Petersen of that squadron intercepted a pair of Libyan Dassault-Breguet Mirage Vs, that also disengaged. Diplomatic measures, however, gradually defused the crisis by mid-August
Dwight D. Eisenhower participated in exercise Bright Star 83 with USAF and Egyptian forces, pitting her aircraft against Egyptian MiGs and her Tomcats intercepting three Boeing B-52H Stratofortresses flying from Minot AFB in North Dakota to Cairo, Egypt (simulating Soviet bombers), 1,050 nautical miles from the ship (15–26 August). Secretary of the Navy John F. Lehman Jr., visited her (21–22 August), participating in a bombing run against an Egyptian range as a bombardier/navigator, and highlined over to Mahan (DDG-42) to visit her crew, returning via helo. “I’ve found,” Secretary Lehman observed, “…that Ike has a way of setting the standards.”
Beginning in 1982, a multinational peacekeeping force, including U.S. Marines, had worked to maintain an uneasy truce between Lebanon’s warring factions. Terrorist attacks against the marines inflicted a growing list of dead and wounded Americans, however, and the Navy dispatched Dwight D. Eisenhower to render assistance (26 August–5 October 1983). The ship arrived off Beirut on 26 August, and people trapped within the devastated city could clearly see her on the horizon, especially bringing a welcome respite to the marines ashore. During the following days, Dwight D. Eisenhower aircraft flew 39 reconnaissance missions over Lebanon to identify frequently shifting artillery batteries that fired sporadically at peacekeepers. The data these crews bravely gathered during their dangerous flights proved “invaluable” to ships offshore providing naval gunfire support to the marines. During the morning watch on 3 September, however, sailors discovered Technical Representative William B. Hewitt of Texas Instruments, Inc., dead in Storage Compartment No. 1-44-2-Q. The Navy did not identify an apparent cause of the accident. Also during this sad day, AMS3 Steven E. Alger of VS-31 fell from the third deck of barracks at NAS Sigonella, Sicily, where he had temporarily flown ashore from the ship. Alger died at Guiseppe Garibaldi Hospital in Catania from the multiple skull fractures, concussion and spinal injuries he incurred during his fall.
A Sea King from HS-5 rescued a downed Lebanese Air Force pilot on 17 September, and on 23 September a Sea King from HS-5 surprised a Soviet Foxtrot class submarine sailing on the surface and tracked her for 12 hours. Dwight D. Eisenhower took part in Display Determination ’83 with British and Turkish forces in the Aegean Sea (6–10 October). The carrier returned to Lebanese waters, where her crew continued to support the marines and to monitor the fighting ashore (11–20 October). On her 90th day at sea on 17 October, Capt. Clexton announced to the crew that they would be coming about for Naples, Italy, where the ship dropped anchor on 21 October. By that point the ship launched 5,400 sorties, aircraft flew 14,500 hours, and she steamed 23,000 miles.
At 0622 on Sunday 23 October 1983, a suicide bomber identified with the Free Islamic Revolutionary Movement, a group affiliated with Hezbollah, drove a five-ton Mercedes truck loaded with explosives into the marine barracks at Beirut, Lebanon, killing 241 marines and sailors assigned to the 1st Battalion, 8th Marines, 24th Marine Amphibious Unit. A second bomber drove a vehicle into the nearby French barracks, killing 56 of their paratroopers. During that crisis the ship prepared to sail with 12 hours’ notice. On 25 October the Navy ordered Dwight D. Eisenhower to make speed for the eastern Mediterranean and the ship issued an emergency recall of all hands, standing out of Naples early the following morning. Thorough planning ensured that less than one percent of the crew missed her departure, and her aircraft flew those men out to the ship within 36 hours. Dwight D. Eisenhower, Independence, and John F. Kennedy all operated off Lebanon at times (1–20 November). Originally scheduled to relieve Dwight D. Eisenhower, Independence responded to Operation Urgent Fury, launched to protect Americans -- primarily medical students -- trapped within Grenada as that Caribbean country erupted into chaos due to tensions generated by Marxist-Leninist rebels supported by Cuban troops, and did not arrive until 18–20 November. Dwight D. Eisenhower transitioned from the Sixth to the Second Fleet on 24 November.
Soviet Tu-95 Bears flying out of Cuba repeatedly reconnoitered the ship while she conducted refresher training off Guantánamo Bay, compelling Tomcat alerts around the clock (8–18 May 1984). Portuguese Navy Chief of Staff Adm. Sousa Leiato visited the ship while she sailed from Lisbon, Portugal, to Portsmouth, United Kingdom, during her Midshipman cruise (30–31 May). Dwight D. Eisenhower sailed off the coast of Normandy to participate in the 40th anniversary commemoration of the D-Day landings of World War II (6–7 June). Her aircraft flew over President Ronald W. Reagan and his entourage during the President’s address. Following the carrier’s return home, she emergency sortied from Norfolk to evade Tropical Storm Gustav and Hurricane Fran (12–14 September).
Dwight D. Eisenhower deployed to the Mediterranean (10 October 1984–8 May 1985), but Hurricane Josephine hampered her eastward voyage. The longest-lived named Atlantic storm since 1980, Josephine’s strong winds and heavy seas mercilessly battered the ship. Twenty foot seas smashed into her on 12 October and swept AD3 Charles D. Elliott of VA-66 overboard to starboard, at 1344. A Sea King from HS-5 searched for Elliott but could not locate him in the maelstrom. Dwight D. Eisenhower relieved America at Augusta Bay, Sicily (26–27 October). The ship operated in the eastern Mediterranean early the next month, conducting dual operations with Independence on 3 and 4 November. She then participated in Sea Wind, a joint air defense exercise with the Egyptians (5–7 November). Josephus Daniels (CG-27), John King (DDG-3), Hayler (DD-997), Estocin (FFG-15), McCandless (FF-1084), ammunition ship Santa Barbara (AE-28), and oiler Platte (AO-186) steamed with Independence, while Wainwright (CG-28) and Mississippi, Coontz (DDG-40) and Sampson (DDG-10), Spruance (DD-963), Elmer Montgomery (FF-1082), Koelsch (FF-1049), and Voge (FF-1047), Butte (AE-27) and replenishment oiler Savannah (AOR-4) accompanied Dwight D. Eisenhower. The carrier visited Haifa, Israel (11–12 December), and in the middle of the month Sea Kings from HS-5 and Vikings of VS-31 tracked a Soviet Charlie II-class submarine over five days while she shadowed Dwight D. Eisenhower in the eastern Mediterranean. Aircrew spotted the boat at 200 nautical miles from the carrier, observing that the aggressive Soviets sailed “anywhere from max missile range to in the wake” as they jostled with the Americans.
Dwight D. Eisenhower operated with NATO Boeing E-3A airborne warning and control Sentries (AWACS) (7–12 January 1985), followed by an antisubmarine exercise with Wainwright (11–12 January). The ship then (26–31 January) participated in Med-1-85, National Week XXXIII, and Dasix, multi-national exercises that spanned the Mediterranean and all warfare areas, operating with large numbers of NATO ships and aircraft, including Independence. Tomcats flew dissimilar air combat maneuvering against French F-1C Mirages. Soviet and Libyan aircraft and vessels monitored the exercise. Intelligence analysts believed that terrorists planned to utilize “Killer Cessna” suicide aircraft against the ship, so she increased precautions accordingly and no attacks occurred. Dwight D. Eisenhower visited Toulon, France (1–10 February). Five Tomcats flew ashore to Orange-Caritat AB for exercises with the French Air Force’s 1/5, 2/5 and 3/5 Squadrons, equipped with F-1B/C Mirages. Their French counterparts, the Americans observed, proved to be “gracious hosts and aggressive adversaries.” Dwight D. Eisenhower operated with the Dutch, French, Germans, and Italians, including NATO AWACS aircraft (12–17 February).
Following terrorist threats against the U.S Embassy in Beirut, Lebanon, she emergency sortied from Palma de Mallorca, Spain, on 7 Marc, and made for the Eastern Mediterranean. Helicopters subsequently evacuated people from Beirut to Cyprus. HS-5 dispatched their SH-3D (BuNo 152709) from Dwight D. Eisenhower to operate for 14 days from Mississippi and Spruance in the eastern Mediterranean, standing ready to evacuate U.S. civilians from the devastated country, before returning to the ship. The squadron considered this Sea King to be a strong asset due to its “three-fold” passenger and cargo capacity, which enabled the men to concentrate upon hunting submarines with their other helos. Tomcats from VF-143 flew dissimilar air combat training against Royal Air Force Phantom IIs flying out of Akrotiri, Cyprus (16–29 March). The Americans noted that their confident British opponents used their AIM-7F Sparrow and AIM-9L Sidewinder air-to-air missiles to their “absolute max and min ranges.”
Soviet aircraft carrier Kiev and her consorts added to the tension when they steamed through the Bosporus and the Strait of the Dardanelles into the Mediterranean via the Aegean Sea (21 March–30 April). Kiev behaved very boldly toward Dwight D. Eisenhower and at one point conducted a strike exercise in proximity to the Americans. The latter noted, however, that although Soviet Yakovlev Yak-36 Forgers flew practice strafing and bombing runs against Kiev’s wake, they never flew more than 50 nautical miles out of range from their carrier, demonstrating a lack of expertise in comparison to their U.S. counterparts. Soviet Il-38 Mays monitored the ship while she conducted around the clock antisubmarine operations, though Tomcats intercepted the Russians (6–13 April). The ship suffered her only aircraft loss during the deployment on 14 April when Aircraft No. 307, an A-7E Corsair II (BuNo 160719) flown by Lt. Kevin J. Rooney of VA-66, suffered an engine failure and crashed in the eastern Mediterranean, but an SH-3H from HS-5 recovered Rooney. Nimitz relieved the ship while they both anchored in Augusta Bay, Sicily (21–23 April). On 27 April Dwight D. Eisenhower departed the Sixth Fleet en route her return home.
The ship operated in the Caribbean, including participation in ReadiEx 2-85, a war at sea, long range strike and antisubmarine exercise with Saratoga (CV-60) (8 July–22 August 1985). Tomcats intercepted two pairs of Tu-95 Bear-Ds transiting to and from Cuba toward the end of the evolution. Heightened tensions resulting from fighting against Marxist rebels in the region led to Dwight D. Eisenhower operating off the eastern coast of Guatemala and Honduras for what the ship reported as “U.S. Naval Presence Operations.” Dwight D. Eisenhower participated in Ocean Safari with numerous U.S. and NATO vessels, including America and Saratoga (27 August–3 September). One of the largest allied exercises of the year, Ocean Safari pitted Dwight D. Eisenhower against manned raids, antisubmarine warfare, antiair warfare, war at sea scenarios, and airborne early warning against USAF aircraft. Journalists reported that the Soviets repeatedly monitored Ocean Safari.
To avoid Hurricane Gloria, the ship transited “deadstick” over to the Norfolk Naval Shipyard to take advantage of the shipyard’s (relatively) sheltered berths (27 September–1 October). Dwight D. Eisenhower then (26 October 1985–26 April 1987) completed a complex overhaul at Newport News Shipbuilding & Dry Dock Co., during which time some 1,100 crewmembers lived on board berthing vessel General William O. Darby (IX-510), in addition to 300 duty section watchstanders quartered on board each night. General William O. Darby participated in an experiment as the first naval vessel to have satellite television installed. During the overhaul, yard workers installed three RIM-7M Basic Point Defense Missile System (BPDMS) NATO Sea Sparrow systems, and three Mk 15 Mod 1 Phalanx Close-In Weapon Systems (CIWS). Dwight D. Eisenhower conducted dock trials, simulating at sea conditions without leaving the shipyard (30–31 March 1987), and then (23–25 April) sea trials. A civilian contractor fell 60 feet from the ship to a camel alongside on 4 June. Although ship’s medical crewmembers rushed the victim to the hospital, he died two months later of his injuries.
While underway off the Virginia capes Dwight D. Eisenhower refueled guided missile patrol combatant (hydrofoil) Hercules (PHM-2), the first such event for both ships, on 20 June. Eight days later the ship fired her first RIM-7M Sea Sparrows. Five of the six missiles guided successfully, but the sixth suffered a fin failure and crashed into the sea. During the same exercise the ship also shot her Phalanx for the first time, hitting all three towed targets, following which she accomplished Shakedown ’87 (21 June–22 July). Dwight D. Eisenhower logged her 100,000th arrested landing on 20 August 1987.
Dwight D. Eisenhower returned to the Mediterranean (29 February–29 August 1988), passing through the Strait of Gibraltar on 12 March. The terrorist threat compelled sailors and marines to man their stations at “full bore,” with gunners standing ready at .50 cal. machine gun mounts to defend the carrier against small suicide craft while she passed through the narrow chokepoint. The ship participated in exercises with Belgian, British, Dutch, French, West German, Israeli, Italian, Norwegian, Portuguese, Spanish, Tunisian, and Turkish forces at times during the voyage. Certain allied vessels were integrated into the carrier’s battle group during these exercises, including Greek destroyer Kanaris (D.212) and Turkish destroyer Anittepe (D.347) and submarine Batiray (S.349). Soviet ships monitored the exercises and in some instances stood into danger by maneuvering close aboard, among them aircraft carrier Baku and guided missile destroyers Vitse Admiral Kulakov and Komsomolets Ukrainy. VS-31 Vikings tracked one Charlie II, one Echo II, two Soviet Mod Echo II, one Foxtrot, and one Victor I class submarines.
Four Tomcats, two Intruders, and four Corsair IIs flew ashore to Hyeres, France, to fly coordinated strikes and dissimilar air combat training with 10 French Super Etendards and three Crusaders from Landivisiau (10–18 April). The climatic culmination of the exercise pitted 20 American planes against 10 French Air Force Mirage 2000s, who defended their airfield near Dijon against a simulated strike which the Americans flew daringly through the Alps. Dwight D. Eisenhower participated in Dragon Hammer 1-88 Phases I–III in the Mediterranean, Aegean, Tyrrhenian, and Ionian Seas (1–14 May). Involving sizeable NATO air, land, and naval forces, Dragon Hammer 1-88 included scenarios to defend Italy and Turkey from a simulated Warsaw Pact attack. Dwight D. Eisenhower’s aviators matched their skills against Belgian General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcons, British Sea Harriers flying from Illustrious (R.06), Italian Starfighters, and Turkish Phantom IIs and Northrop F-5 Tiger IIs, bombing Italian ranges as far apart as Capo Frasca, Capo Teulada, Pachino, and Solenzara, as well as the Turkish range at Konya. In addition, two Intruders and a pair of Corsair IIs reseeded a minefield just west of the Strait of Messina with eight MK-52 mines during Damsel Fair, one of the few aerial minelaying operations accomplished since the Vietnam War. Lt. Cmdr. J. Andrew Ingram of VA-72 led two Corsair IIs ashore to operate from the Turkish airfield at Eskisehir (9–14 May). Six diesel submarines from different nations (in addition to one U.S. boat) proved to be “formidable opponents” to Dwight D. Eisenhower. The ship participated in Poopdeck, a multi-force exercise in the eastern Mediterranean (30 May–3 June). Spanish McDonnell Douglas AV-8A Matadors flying from Dédalo (R.01) -- the former small carrier Cabot (CVL-28/AVT-3) -- provided naval air opposition. During Phiblex ’88 the ship operated with Tunisian F-5s and ground troops in an amphibious exercise off Cap Serrat and the range at Ras Engelah (7–8 June).
Greenpeace flagship Sirius interfered with Dwight D. Eisenhower during the carrier’s second visit of the deployment to Palma de Mallorca, the activists repeatedly positioning their Zodiac boats between the ship and her anchorage, on 9 June 1988. When a Zodiac rammed the carrier's anchor, however, the carrier’s crewmen countered with Operation Waterfall, aiming salt water hoses from her weather deck to drive off the troublemakers. While European media seized upon the incident to criticize the ship’s arrival as an example of U.S. abuse of nuclear power, the crew took it in stride, one wag declaring: “next time they will pick on someone their own size!” The ship participated in Juniper Falconry, a bilateral exercise over the desert (12–14 July). John F. Kennedy relieved Dwight D. Eisenhower in the Mediterranean on 16 August, one day after the latter departed Cannes, France. On 19 August Dwight D. Eisenhower passed through the Strait of Gibraltar and entered the Atlantic. While heading home she assumed the role of battlegroup oiler and replenished ten ships in just six days, an exhausting schedule.
Secretary of the Navy William L. Ball and Vice Adm. Richard M. Dunleavy, Commander Naval Forces Atlantic, flew out to the ship as she stood up Chesapeake Bay to greet her return to Norfolk on 29 August 1988. While entering Hampton Roads at 0820, however, Dwight D. Eisenhower collided with the 897-foot Spanish bulk carrier Urdulitz of 53,728 gross tons. The carrier began to come left 10º rudder to 225º and drop from five to three knots, which was not enough to compensate for the wind, which swept in from 150º at 20 knots, or the current, which flowed from 240º at 1.5 knots. The elements collectively brought the ship about 400 yards right of her intended track. The Spanish vessel lay anchored at Berth Z, Anchorage A, adjacent to the Entrance Reach Channel, waiting to gain access to the coal loading piers at Lamberts Point, Norfolk. A total of 38 Spaniards were on board; 36 crewmembers and two additional people. Several hundred “Tigers” -- male dependents of the crew -- had embarked on board Dwight D. Eisenhower two days previously at Bermuda.
Dwight D. Eisenhower slammed into the bow of Urdulitz between the aircraft carrier’s Nos 1 and 2 aircraft elevators. Although Capt. Gary L. Beck ordered all stop, the mighty ship still had way and caught Urdulitz’s bow under the overhang of the flight deck, dragging the merchantman along 175 feet of the carrier’s starboard side and altogether almost 1,000 yards out of their berth before coming to a halt. Both ships remained joined until 13 minutes later, when they drifted apart. Although neither vessel reported injuries, the accident resulted in an estimated $2 million damage to the aircraft carrier and $317,128 damage to Urdulitz. Dwight D. Eisenhower suffered damage to her starboard side between 50–65 feet above the waterline, along the underside of the flight deck. The ship’s wounds extended from about midpoint between Nos 1 and 2 aircraft elevators, aft to a point about midway under the flight deck level of the island superstructure. The impact smashed and tore away walkways and safety nets from the underside of the flight deck, together with extensively damaging the captain’s cabin, and dislodged 23 inflatable life rafts from their stowed positions into the water, though the Coast Guard recovered a number of them. Damage to Urdulitz’s hull was confined to the bow above the waterline; the collision crushed and tore the forecastle bulwark and deck for about 12 feet aft of the stem on the centerline, and pushed in and holed the bow into the forecastle. The Spaniards repaired their ship at the Bazan de Construcciones Navales Militaires shipyard at El Ferrol, Spain (22–30 September 1988). As a result of her time out of service Naviera Vizcaina S.A. of Bilbao -- the owners -- claimed an additional $341,587 in losses. The National Transportation Safety Board determined that Dwight D. Eisenhower’s navigation team’s “delayed and insufficient action” to correct the ship’s deviation from her intended track due to their inexperience in piloting the huge ship through the restricted channel, and failure to compensate for the wind and tide, principally caused the collision. In defense of the men involved, however, the Board also noted that noise from orders, three radio channels, internal vessel telephones, flight operations, conversations between dozens of people on and entering and leaving the pilothouse -- from the navigation team to Tigers to media representatives -- lookout reports, visual bearing reports and additional sounds generated confusion. Based upon its findings concerning the Urdulitz incident, on 27 September the Navy assigned Capt. Joseph J. Dantone Jr., to relieve Capt. Beck of his command. Dwight D. Eisenhower completed a selected restricted availability at Norfolk Naval Shipyard (3 October1988–3 March 1989). Repairs to the ship, especially to No. 2 aircraft elevator, resulting from the collision with Urdulitz, required considerable additional work. The ship also gained the capability to operate F/A-18 Hornets. She subsequently completed sea trials (9–13 March 1989).
The Navy evaluated F-14A-plus Tomcats with VF-142 and VF-143 while the ship steamed off the Virginia capes (17–28 April). Dwight D. Eisenhower became the first ship to provide air traffic control services to the improved Tomcats. The ship hosted a reunion by more than 500 members of the Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor on 3 May. The carrier participated in joint exercise Solid Shield 89 off the South Carolina coast (4–19 May), and the following month workers at Norfolk Naval Shipyard and Newport News Shipbuilding & Dry Dock Co., assisted the crew in lifting Nos 1 and 2 Main Engine high pressure turbine casings. The massive project began during Solid Shield 89 when watchstanders noted small casing steam leaks, as neither engine’s casing had been lifted since her initial construction. The ship hosted a reunion of 75 former crewmen of Hornet (CV-8) on 10 June.
In late August and early September a Navy Imaging Command camera team produced a hangar deck fire training film while on board the ship in port, and embarked again in October to shoot clips underway for the important training movie that circulated throughout the Fleet. Dwight D. Eisenhower completed Advanced Phase, a multi force exercise, in the Cherry Point Operating Area off the North Carolina coast, punctuated by a brief visit to Port Everglades, Fla. (6 October–2 November 1989). During the midwatch on Halloween, however, a rogue wave swept over No. 2 elevator, washing AO2 Dave Walker, AOAN Craig A. Harris, and AN Carroll A. Washington, 38 air-to-air missiles, and two ammunition transports overboard, approximately 90 miles southeast of Cape Hatteras. Heavy rain showers blanketed the area, the sea rolled with swells ranging from 12 to 20 feet, and the wind increased to 45 knots. Operating under instrument meteorological conditions, Aircraft No. 614, an SH-3H manned by Lt. John J. Reape Jr., Lt. (j.g.) Brent W. Bateman, AW1 Joseph W. Turner II, and AW3 Scott M. Pierce of HS-5, launched at 0120 and sped to the scene, arriving overhead of smoke and three strobes 10 minutes later. Despite the appalling weather conditions, that reduced visibility and caused numerous aircraft systems problems, including preventing the men from holding a steady hover over their shipmates, the crew of 614 persevered. With waves crashing over the heads of the men in the water as they struggled, Pierce, the rescue swimmer, entered the water and helped the survivors aloft. At one point Pierce himself vanished from sight and almost succumbed to the elements but he bravely pressed on and the crew recovered Walker and Washington. Although the ship and aircrew conducted an 11-hour search covering 400 square miles, they could not locate Harris. Aircraft No 611, another squadron Sea King manned by Lt. Cmdr. Michael F. Wanjon, Lt. (j.g.) Glenn L. Jimenez, AW1 S. Brinkman, and AW3 Robert J. Jacobowitz, volunteered to back up 614. Aircraft No. 616, the third Sea King involved in this large rescue effort, Lt. Mark M. Huber, Lt. G. Hansen, AW1 H.G. Aponte, AW3 W. Lewis, and AWAN T. Pratt, relieved 614 and 611 after low fuel forced them to return. Early in the New Year (25 January–10 February 1990) the ship participated in Fleet Exercise 1-90.
Dwight D. Eisenhower deployed from Norfolk to the Mediterranean and Red Seas (8 March–12 September 1990). The crew dubbed this deployment the “Ike Centennial Cruise” in honor of the 100th anniversary of the birth of the ship’s namesake. Director of the Mint Donna Pope visited the carrier to present special edition Eisenhower Centennial Silver Dollars to selected officers including Capt. Dantone. This also marked CVW-7’s first deployment with F-14A(Plus)s, F/A-18As, S-3Bs, and AGM-84E Standoff Land Attack Missiles (SLAMs). While the performance of the 20 Tomcats “exceeded expectations,” the 22 Lot-7 Hornets suffered repeated material failures due to airframe aging. Over 1,000 sailors gathered on the flight deck for Operation SpellEx on 17 March, forming five stars and the numbers 1890–1990 in honor of the centennial celebration of President Eisenhower's birth. Two days later the ship entered the Mediterranean under the command of the Sixth Fleet. While in that sea she maintained an average of two F-14A(Plus)s and two S-3Bs ashore at NAS Sigonella for operational training. Dwight D. Eisenhower participated with Forrestal in maritime threat scenarios as part of National Week 90B (20–27 March), and the following day dropped anchor in Augusta Bay to relieve Forrestal.
An F/A-18A flown by Lt. Cmdr. William J. Henderson from Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 136 experienced a “catastrophic” left engine failure followed by loss of flight controls and crashed into the sea at about 1610 on 31 March 1990. A Sea King from HS-5 rescued Henderson in barely 10 minutes. The rescue proved unique in that Henderson maintained radio contact the entire time with a nearby VS-31 Viking that vectored the helo in for the recovery, although its crew never actually spotted the pilot, who suffered minor injuries. Gunstar 302, an F/A-18A piloted by Lt. Cmdr. Randolph E. Causey of VFA-136, logged the one millionth Hornet flight hour when he landed on board at 1415 on 10 April. The trap also marked Causey’s 1,000th hour in Hornets. The ship participated in joint exercise Distant Thunder 90-1 with British and Turkish forces (14–21 April). Tomcats and Hornets flew dissimilar air combat training against British Panavia GR. Mk 1 Tornadoes flying out of Akrotiri. Dwight D. Eisenhower visited Haifa, Israel (22–29 April), and then (29 April–15 May) took part in Dragon Hammer 90, consisting of combined operations, coordinated air defense, and maritime and amphibious training, pitting her Tomcats against British Tornados, French and Spanish Mirages and Spanish Harriers. Vice President J. Danforth Quayle visited the ship on 7 May. The Vice President observed flight operations and met crewmembers in Hanger Bay No. 2, where he reenlisted 19 sailors. Four Hornets deployed to Sidi Ahmed Airfield in Tunisia and flew dissimilar air combat training against 14 F-5E and F Tiger IIs of the 15th Tunisian Air Unit (20–24 May). Dwight D. Eisenhower then (2–6 June) took part in Journey to Victory, a commemoration of the Allied landings in Normandy. John S.D. Eisenhower, U.S. Ambassador to France Walter J.P. Curley Jr., and American and British D-Day veterans were among those who embarked on 5 June. Tomcats from VF-142 and VF-143 flew a “missing man” formation over Omaha Beach the next day in honor of the men who fell seizing that crucial beachhead on D-Day in 1944.
Iraqi tanks and troops poured across the border from Iraq into Kuwait as Saddam Hussein seized the tiny country (2–8 August 1990). The Iraqis raped and looted helpless Kuwaitis, and sailors on board Robert G. Bradley (FFG-49), patrolling in the Persian Gulf barely 50 miles offshore, could hear the victims’ pleas for help via their bridge-to-bridge radio, “over and over again,” but restrictive rules of engagement constrained the crew until the U.S. responded by forming a coalition of 29 nations, that rushed reinforcements to the region during Operation Desert Shield, designed to protect the region from Iraqi aggression. “Saddam Hussein won the toss,” Capt. Lyle G. Bien, Commander CVW-15, detailed to Central Command as the Navy’s senior strike planner, noted, “and elected to receive.” The cancellation of their planned participation in exercises Flashing Scimitar and Juniper Hawk permitted Dwight D. Eisenhower, Scott (DDG-995), John L. Hall (FFG-32), Neosho (AO-143), and Suribachi (AE-21) to pass through the Suez Canal southbound on 8 August. As some of the first coalition forces to arrive in the area, the ships formed the Red Sea Battle Group, defending Saudi Arabia in the event that Hussein chose to continue his aggression.
A comprehensive strike plan provided a 720 nautical mile strike radius for battlefield air interdiction and close air support to stop Iraqi tanks, mechanized infantry, and personnel carriers. Initial planning focused on launching supportable strike packages carrying enough ordnance over targets as distance and tanking constraints would allow. The plan called for extensive tanker, airborne early warning, and Air Force fighter support. The Air Force requirement for its McDonnell Douglas KC-10A Extenders to refuel strategic airlifters during the build-up of reinforcements, however, resulted in substituting Boeing KC-135 Stratotankers out of Jiddah, Saudi Arabia, reducing fuel off-loads. Hawkeyes and Vikings began flying around the clock intelligence-gathering and surveillance operations. As planners acquired additional intelligence, they developed a high value target list for waging a “rollback” campaign against the Iraqis. Independence also responded to the crisis by steaming into the Gulf of Oman. The two carriers brought over 130 aircraft to bear against Hussein and his troops in Kuwait and southern Iraq, and protected airfields in the Arabian Peninsula close to vital sea routes. All hands endured tense days and encountered communication and identification problems operating with other U.S. and allied forces. “If we were directed by LGEN Horner [Central Command forward] to attack Iraqi forces headed south into Saudi Arabia during those first few weeks with U.S. Navy air forces,” Rear Adm. William M. Fogarty, Commander Dwight D. Eisenhower Battle Group, reflected later, “the danger of ‘blue on blue’ [accidental attacks on friendly troops and sailors] was sobering to say the least.” Keeping the ship supplied proved especially challenging and required constant flights by two CH-53Es and two C-2s, in addition to replenishment ships. High temperatures prevailed in the Red Sea, averaging 95º F. during the daytime, as did hazy weather and dust that often reduced visibility to barely three miles. Tattnall (DDG-19) and John Rodgers (DD-983) rendezvoused and operated with the Red Sea Battle Group during this period.
The Navy subsequently (16–18 August) augmented the Red Sea Battle Group’s mission to include maritime interception operations to enforce UN Security Council Resolution 51, which imposed an embargo upon ships entering or leaving Iraqi-occupied Kuwaiti and Iraqi ports. Interceptions began on 16 August and led to a flurry of activity. John L. Hall, which would average 10 interceptions daily, made the first challenge of a merchantman. Two days later, Reid (FFG-30) fired nine warning shots across the bow of Iraqi tanker Khanaqin, whose master stubbornly refused to alter course after being ordered to do so, the first naval shots of Desert Shield. Robert G. Bradley fired three rounds from a 25 mm chain gun at Iraqi tanker Babr Gurgr when she also refused to come about, however, the Iraqis continued on their way, and Taylor (FFG-50) relieved Robert G. Bradley of her charge. A boarding party from England (CG-22) carried out the first boarding by inspecting the cargo and manifest of Chinese freighter Heng Chung Hai. Scott of the carrier’s screen then ordered Cypriot merchantmen Dongola away from al-Aqabah, Jordan, after Dongola’s master confessed to carrying cargo bound for Iraq. Aircraft flying from Dwight D. Eisenhower covered many of those ships as they made those interceptions, which continued during the anxious days following. Secretary of Defense Richard B. Cheney also embarked in Dwight D. Eisenhower and Scott on 18 August.
Saratoga relieved Dwight D. Eisenhower of her Red Sea watch, enabling the carrier to steam northward and pass through the Suez Canal into the Mediterranean (23–24 August 1990). The latter’s aircraft logged 2,833 flight hours during Desert Shield. John F. Kennedy and her screen relieved Dwight D. Eisenhower and Ticonderoga (CG-47) at Augusta Bay on 1 September. Two days later, the carrier and her faithful escort steamed from the Sixth Fleet to the Second Fleet. Dwight D. Eisenhower completed a selected restricted availability alongside Pier 5, Berth 3, at Norfolk Naval Shipyard (19 October 1990–15 January 1991).
Dwight D. Eisenhower deployed to the Mediterranean and Indian Ocean (26 September 1990–2 April 1991), passing southward through the Suez Canal to relieve Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) in the Arabian Gulf on 13 October 1991. When CVW-7 began Omani PassEx (26–27 October), an air exercise with the Omanis, the wing discovered that their hosts could not fly opposing missions because they had just completed exercise Beacon Flash. Undaunted, CVW-7 flew 108 sorties over southern Oman, including low level passes at the new Omani range at Aqzayl. Dwight D. Eisenhower participated in Eager Mace, an amphibious exercise with the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit and the Kuwaitis, logging 160 day and night close air support, KA-6D tanking for marine AV-8B Harrier IIs, TARPs electronic support measures, and combat air patrol/air intercept training sorties (11–21 November).
On 13 November, Dakota 205’s radome separated from the F-14B, flown by Lt. Cmdr. Joe F. Edwards Jr., and Lt. (j.g.) Scott C. Grundmeier of VF-143. The radome impacted the front of the canopy, fracturing Edwards’s clavicle and severely cutting his right eye. “It sounded like an explosion,” Grundmeier explained later, “I thought the canopy blew off...I couldn’t see anything out of the front because of the damage to the cockpit.” Unable to ascertain Grundmeier’s condition due to a communications failure (although Grundmeier, the radar intercept officer in the back seat, could not contact the pilot he attempted to reach the ship), Edwards chose to recover on board, rather than risk flying 125 miles to the nearest divert field. “The most important thing was the safety of the ship,” Edwards recalled. “That was a pretty tough load to carry.” The ship turned into the wind as the two men, flashing hand signals back and forth trapped on board, despite marginal visibility resulting from the cracked windscreen and Edwards’ injuries, for which they evacuated him to the International Hospital at Bahrain for eye surgery. Both men received the Distinguished Flying Cross for their daring recovery, and NASA selected Edwards as an astronaut in December 1994.
Dwight D. Eisenhower transited the Strait of Hormuz outbound for Red Reef III, a joint U.S. and Saudi naval exercise conducted in the Gulf of Oman and northern Arabian Sea, in which she conducted service sorties and missile shoots (2–14 January 1992). Red Reef III involved Saudi vessels from both their East and West Flotillas. At the conclusion of the evolution, Dwight D. Eisenhower came about and returned to the Arabian Gulf via the crucial strait. Five F-14Bs flew ashore to Shaikh Isa, Bahrain, for Neon Arrow, a joint aerial exercise with the Bahrainis (20–26 January). The carrier meanwhile participated in Eager Archer, a joint strike exercise with the Kuwaitis (27–30 January). Hornets, Intruders, and Prowlers executed strikes of up to nine aircraft against al-Udairi range, opposed by up to seven Kuwaiti F-1 Mirages controlled by a Hawkeye. Following the raids a flight of four Hornets would land at Kuwait International Airport for debrief and afternoon events, then completed strikes while both Mirages and Skyhawks opposed them, and then recovered. The ship passed through the Strait of Hormuz outbound on 4 February and then, accompanied by Fox (CG-33), Ticonderoga, and oiler Joshua Humphreys (AO-188) participated in Beacon Flash with the Omanis in the northern Arabian Sea (8–13 February). Omani SEPECAT Jaguars and Hawker Hunters attacked the carrier, tangling with Hornets and Tomcats in what the pilots dubbed “2v2 engagements,” while U.S. planes flew strikes against Thumrait Airfield, the latter defended by Jaguars and Rapier Short Range Air Defense missiles. The Americans observed the Omani pilots to be “excellent visual fighters, demonstrating outstanding awareness of own aircraft capabilities and using flares/chaff effectively.”
Following that exercise, the ship sailed across the Gulf of Aden and through the Bab el Mandeb by westerly and northerly courses, entered the Red Sea on 15 February, and then took part in Indigo Anvil and South Thunder with the Saudis in the south central Red Sea, launching strikes against Saudi forces defending Bisha, Khamis Mushait, and Taif (16–19 February). Saudi McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagles and Tornados opposed the Americans, whose Hawkeyes and Prowlers neutralized many of their systems, enabling accurate strikes to penetrate to their targets. America relieved Dwight D. Eisenhower on 27 February, enabling her to come about from the Central Command area of responsibility and transit the Suez Canal northbound. While steaming westward across the Mediterranean the ship maintained a high alert posture due to possible tensions with the Libyans as she made for the Strait of Sicily.
The ship passed through the Strait of Gibraltar westbound on 7 March, but high winds, heavy seas, and poor flying conditions hampered Dwight D. Eisenhower while she participated in Teamwork 92, a huge NATO exercise off southern Scotland (10–21 March). These exercises postponed her own scheduled homecoming by a week, but allowed Saratoga to return home sooner, a disappointment to the former’s crew as they neared home and loved ones. “Swiping the Eisenhower out for the Saratoga in Teamwork makes perfect sense,” Lt. Isaac N. Skelton, a Navy spokesman, explained. “It saves about 250 ship days at sea for the Sara while adding only six and a wake-up to Ike’s.” Teamwork 92 consisted of three phrases: Freeplay, involving initial wing strikes; Frohavet, comprising long range anti-ship missions and TARPs runs supporting amphibious landings; and Vestfjord, including antisubmarine warfare, fjord antisurface operations, and engagements with a Dutch surface action group. Appalling weather, including heavy snow squalls that reduced visibility to near zero, compelled all hands topside to don cold weather gear but kept Soviet interference to a minimum. Aircraft flew a 600 nautical mile radius TARPs mission on 13 March, spotting an Ivan Rogov class amphibious assault ship and two Ropuchka class tank landing ships. Concerns that East Bloc submarines would take advantage of the foul weather to infiltrate the carrier’s screen, which included Ticonderoga and German guided missile destroyer Rommel (D.187), however, prompted submarine hunting S-3Bs to fly extended missions in the bitter conditions. The Vikings’ range and sensors proved vital as they generated seven out of nine submarine contacts via sensors, radar, and forward-looking infrared equipment. In addition, Sea Kings discovered a further four submarine contacts, and an A-6E Intruder detected a fifth boat. Seven F/A-18C Hornets experienced hard landings, mostly due to the flight deck pitching as much as 35 feet during rolls. While Dwight D. Eisenhower steamed off Norwegian waters that day, she also launched a pair of Intruders and a Viking for a long range (550 nautical miles) strike against a multinational NATO convoy protected by a German surface action group, off northern Scotland. Using organic tanking the Americans surprised and blasted the convoy with 10 AGM-84 Harpoon air-to-surface missiles, scoring numerous hits and effectively disrupting the ships. A covert strike rescue mission to insert a Sea-Air-Land (SEAL) detachment to rescue two downed aviators added a unique dimension to the exercise. For the ship’s final event on 21 March, she launched 23 aircraft, which combined with three Norwegian F-16s to pummel a Dutch task group. During this deployment aircraft flew 20,151.9 hours, completed 9,716 sorties -- 3,762 of them at night -- and accomplished 8,929 traps.
After the ship returned from the voyage she completed a drydocking selected restricted availability at Norfolk Naval Shipyard (6 January–28 April 1993). Dwight D. Eisenhower meanwhile (18 February–August 1993) terminated her nuclear weapon security mission in response to the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT) II, and the changing global political environment following the dissolution of the East Bloc. The Marine Corps initially approved a restructured shipboard detachment of two officers and 46 enlisted marines, but additional reductions ensued as the marines turned over many security functions to Navy masters-at-arms and gunner’s mates, and in May authorized the size of the detachment at one officer and 25 enlisted (through 1994 the strength of the detachment actually stood at one officer and 29 enlisted). During general quarters the detachment reduced from four to two the number of gun crews the marines manned, and stretcher bearers from 16 (or more) to eight. The marines trained extensively in fast roping and rappelling in preparation for possible Visit, Board, Search and Seizure (VBSS) operations, and spent most of August working with Foxtrot Platoon, SEAL Team 8.
Vice Adm. Ronald J. Zlatoper, Chief of Naval Personnel, had outlined the Navy’s plan to open new opportunities for women during the seventh annual Naval Aviation Symposium at NAS Pensacola, Fla., on 7 May 1993. On 1 December, Secretary of the Navy John H. Dalton publicly announced that, pending notification of Congress and the repeal of the Combat Exclusion Law (Section 6015, Title 10, U.S. code), the Navy would begin to open all classes of ships to women as crewmembers. The Secretary added that the action also opened several enlisted ratings hitherto denied to women, including Aviation Boatswain’s Mate-Launch and Recovery Equipment (ABE), Gunner’s Mate (GM), Gunner’s Mate-Guns (GMG), Gunner’s Mate-Missiles (GMM), and Sonar Technician-Surface (STG). Planners scheduled female sailors to begin reporting to eight ships companies including Abraham Lincoln and Dwight D. Eisenhower in June 1994, and to have 400 or 500 women on board the two carriers by the end of that year. Lt. Shannon L. Workman of VAQ-130 meanwhile became the first female combat pilot to successfully pass fleet carrier qualifications while embarked on board Dwight D. Eisenhower on 21 February 1994. Workman was slated as one of four female aviators to deploy to the ship in October. The Navy ordered the first 63 women of the ship’s company to report on 7 March, and on 10 March Lt. Deanna L. Reiber, the first woman permanently assigned to the carrier, reported on board.
Dwight D. Eisenhower participated in major fleet exercise JTF-EX 95-1 off the Virginia capes (8–12 September 1994). After Haitian Army officers overthrew President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in a coup d’état in September 1991, however, a succession of governments repressed the Haitian people and led to sectarian violence, culminating in a crisis when the Haitian Army imposed Supreme Court Justice Emile Jonassaint as the third provisional president in as many years, in May 1994. The United Nations responded by increasing economic sanctions and authorizing force to remove the military regime and restore order and freedom to the troubled land. The U.S. initiated Operations Support and Uphold/Restore Democracy -- Uphold Democracy for a peaceful entry into Haiti and Restore Democracy in the event of resistance from primarily disparate Army renegades and roving gangs -- to carry out the United Nations’ mandate. A multinational force including Dwight D. Eisenhower and America, the former forced to cut short her operations in JTF-EX 95-1, responded to the crisis (14–24 September). Secretary of Defense William J. Perry and Adm. Henry H. Mauz, Jr., Commander Atlantic Fleet, visited the crew just before they got underway on 14 September.
The unique operation included what the Department of Defense announced as “adaptive force packaging”; embarking nearly 2,000 soldiers of the USA’s XVIII Airborne Corps, including troops from the 10th Mountain Division and the Joint Special Operations Task Force (SEALs and troops from the 16th USAF Special Operations Wing, the Army’s 75th Ranger Regiment, 3rd Special Forces Group, 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta, and 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment) on board Dwight D. Eisenhower. HC-2, Helicopter Combat Support Special Squadron (HCS) 4 and HS-7 combined with dozens of Army helos at various times onto the crowded flight deck. HCS-4 deployed two detachments within 48 hours of notification: Detachment 1, which augmented HS-3 on board America, dock landing ship Ashland (LSD-48), and NS Guantánamo Bay, with a total of two SH-60Fs and four HH-60Hs from both squadrons for enhanced day/night combat search and rescue, operational flight and logistics support, and plane guards for JTF-188, and did not complete their deployment until 22 October; and two HH-60Hs from Detachment 2, initially assigned to Dwight D. Eisenhower for combat search and rescue and special warfare missions for Joint Task Force (JTF) 185, and then separate detachments conducting “split” single-helo operations by cross decking to Vicksburg (CG-69) and Comte de Grasse (DD-974).
Army helicopters flew 113 flight hours from the ship and made 480 landings. Supporting the soldiers required sailors to develop imaginative innovations: manufacturing and welding 17 M-60 machine gun mounts, which had to pass weight tests of 10,000 pounds, as well as Browning M2 .50 caliber machine gun mounts for High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles, better known as HMMWVs, external drop tank bushings for Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawks, night vision sight mounts, grappling hooks, and pilot helmet gun sight shims. Secretary of the Army Togo D. West Jr., visited Dwight D. Eisenhower two days out. The medical department shifted from supporting flight operations to sustaining troops ashore to act as primary casualty receiving. The ship’s marines provided a security force for combat search and rescue. The Haitians agreed to allow the Americans to land peacefully and the emergency resolved as U.S. troops occupied key positions to enable the return of Aristide, who restored his legitimate presidency on 15 October. The U.S. transferred peacekeeping functions to international forces on 31 March 1995. President William J. [Bill] Clinton visited Dwight D. Eisenhower, which provided national level command and control for the chief executive during his visit, on 6 October 1994.
More than 400 women sailed on board Dwight D. Eisenhower during the carrier’s first deployment with female crewmembers during a voyage to the Mediterranean and Arabian Gulf (20 October 1994–13 April 1995). Originally scheduled to operate in the Mediterranean and Adriatic Seas, a burgeoning crisis with Iraq drove Dwight D. Eisenhower to make a high speed transit of the Atlantic and through the Strait of Gibraltar into the Mediterranean en route to the Indian Ocean. VA-75 deployed with the first fully night capable A-6E Intruders to operate from the ship during a deployment. Her sailors also established their initial satellite reporting and coordination net in the area with Commander Sixth Fleet and with amphibious assault ship Nassau (LHA-4). This became Dwight D. Eisenhower’s initial deployment utilizing the Cooperative Engagement Capability (CEC), a system integrating antiair warfare sensors and weapons systems of ships and aircraft considered to be crucial for theater ballistic missile defense. The most popular system with her crew, however, proved to be “Sailor Phones.” A joint venture between the Navy and MCI, satellite capable phones installed in the library, first class petty officer’s mess, chief petty officer’s mess, flag mess, and wardroom, enabled sailors to call home for the comparatively affordable rate of $1.00 per minute. They also worked in reverse as AK3 Alex Saldana of VFA-37 and SN Ryan Crawford of the ship’s company discovered when President Clinton called them on two separate occasions.
Dwight D. Eisenhower relieved George Washington (CVN-73) in the Mediterranean, then passed through the Suez Canal southward (5–6 November). The ship steamed through the Strait of Hormuz and entered the Arabian Gulf, beginning her participation in Operation Southern Watch (12 November–6 December). The U.N. had established a no-fly zone along the 32nd parallel after the Iraqis renewed their attacks against Shiite Muslims in August 1992, and the coalition began patrolling the zone, involving dangerous long range missions deep into Iraq. The ship also supported Vigilant Warrior, a planned operation to enforce the American ultimatum to the Iraqis to withdrawal threatening armored columns from the Kuwaiti borders. Journalists reported that the Iranians (apparently) considered Vigilant Warrior to be a possible cover operation for a U.S. attack against that country, and reinforced their garrisons on Abū Mūsá and the Tunb Islands, including cruise missiles that endangered Dwight D. Eisenhower. In addition, the carrier conducted maritime interception operations (both the Iraqis and the Iranians interfered with operations) and her marines provided airborne marksmen for daily helo patrols, a grueling pace for the crew. Between 1 to 6 December, three joint SEAL and marine teams boarded three merchantmen suspected of violating UN sanctions imposed against the Iraqis. Upon discovering that the ships operated as smugglers, the teams diverted them to Bahrain for additional inspections and detention. Meanwhile, marines and SEALs from Foxtrot Platoon, SEAL Team 8, boarded a pair of Iraqi ships also suspected of smuggling, on 2 December, however, upon closer inspection the men discovered them to be “clean” (carrying authorized cargoes) and allowed the vessels to proceed. Aircraft flew nearly 2,600 combat missions, including 33% at night, out of 8,249 sorties during this deployment. Some of her sailors exchanged with their British and French counterparts from Invincible and Foch, respectively. French F-8 Crusaders and Super Etendards from Foch performed “touch and go’s.” The carrier passed through the Strait of Hormuz outbound on 6 December. Dwight D. Eisenhower sailed through the Suez Canal northbound (13–14 December). As the carrier returned to the Mediterranean, six pilots and four Hornets from VFA-37 flew ashore to Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, for a unique experimental forward deployed fast reaction detachment, demonstrating the feasibility of sending aircraft ashore while carriers steamed to get into position to counter Iraqi aggression.
The deteriorating situation in the Balkans as Yugoslavia collapsed impacted Dwight D. Eisenhower and she participated in several operations in the Adriatic, Deny Flight, Sharp Guard, and Provide Promise, her crew making a “quick transition from the heat and sand of Iraq to the snow-covered mountains of Bosnia.” During Deny Flight (12 April 1993–20 December 1995), the Implementation Force (IFOR) assumed responsibilities for military aspects of the peace agreement on Bosnia-Herzegovina. Despite enemy resistance, including heavy and accurate ground fire and occasional brushes with determined aircraft, logistics, weather, and international problems during more than 100,000 sorties over Deny Flight’s 983 days, the campaign prevented warring factions from effectively using their air power. In the weeks preceding the ship’s arrival the Bosnian-Serbs fired anti-aircraft artillery and surface-to-air missiles against reconnaissance aircraft, prompting NATO commanders to assign escorts to such flights.
On 23 November 1994, Bosnian-Serb air defense crews at Dvor and Otoka illuminated NATO aircraft with their radars, and allied aircraft retaliated against the nearby missile batteries. The Bosnian-Serbs continued their aggressive actions and hit a French Super Etendard IV P in the tail on 17 December, though the pilot recovered on board Foch. Dwight D. Eisenhower provided Prowlers from VAQ-130, at certain times the only electronic warfare aircraft present to counter enemy air defenses with their sophisticated electronic systems and AGM-88 High-speed Anti-Radiation Missiles (HARMs), ready to fire HARMs at offending sites. Sharp Guard enforced UN resolutions by inspecting or diverting violators, and could become very treacherous, as when NATO sailors seized Maltese-registered tanker Lido II on 1 May 1994 while she attempted to violate the maritime embargo, and tangled with Yugoslav naval forces as they brought Lido II into Italian waters. Provide Promise involved air transport and air drops of relief supplies to the people of Bosnia-Herzegovina. Dwight D. Eisenhower only interrupted operations for a brief port visit in Cannes, France (21–27 December 1994), where Adm. Jeremy M. Boorda, CNO, visited the ship two days before Christmas.
Early in the New Year (6 February–17 March 1995) Dwight D. Eisenhower came about and operated in the eastern Mediterranean, including participating in Juniper Falconry III with the Israelis. Following the exercise she called briefly at Haifa (16–21 February), Antalya, Turkey (6–10 March), and Rhodes, Greece (18–21 March). Dwight D. Eisenhower also combined with Anzio (CG-68) and Cape St. George (CG-71), two guided missile cruisers making their maiden deployments, together with Kidd (DDG-993), for a joint theater missile defense demonstration with an MIM-104 Phased Array Tracking Intercept of Target (Patriot) air defense missile battery from the Army’s 32nd Air Defense Command. Brig. Gen. Joseph G. Garrett III, USA, the 32nd’s commanding officer, embarked for part of the exercise to coordinate operations. Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) relieved Dwight D. Eisenhower in the western Mediterranean (5–6 April 1995), after which the latter sailed through the Strait of Gibraltar steering westerly courses.
Dwight D. Eisenhower completed a complex overhaul at dry dock no. 11 at Newport News Shipbuilding & Dry Dock Co., making a “dead stick” transit to the yard (11 October 1995–26 January 1997). The crew traditionally assisted with humanitarian projects in and around the Eisenhower family farm near Gettysburg, Pa. While on a trip to paint the family’s Show Barn, however, the “Ike Away Team” received more than they bargained for as 12 inches of rain fell in the area in barely four hours, causing massive flooding overnight (18–19 June 1996). The blaring of the Gettysburg Fire Station’s alarm awoke sailors staying there at 0130, who accompanied firefighters rushing to an apartment building as the rising flood waters collapsed the structure. The combined teams assisted residents stranded there into the next day, following which they continued on to work at the flooded Federal Communication Commission facility, and to the farm, to repair extensive damage there from flood debris.
The ship began easing out of the dry dock the next week at 0830 on 29 June, as tugs pushed her across the James River to Pier No. 2 at the shipyard. In addition to completing training and providing support to a number of vessels including John C. Stennis (CVN-74), John F. Kennedy, Theodore Roosevelt, and Nassau, and to CVW-1, CVW-8, and CVW-17, and various shore establishments, her crewmembers also helped repair the Rudder Order and Rudder Angle Indicators for Thorn (DD-988). The Supply Department introduced CAFÉ 69, novel messing including seafood dinners, “crawfish boil pickin’,” crab leg feasts, and ice cream socials. The ship also uniquely renovated her chapel as “an inner sanctum where God’s fullness can be found.” Cmdr. Howard Serlick, a specialist in 18th century restorations, oversaw the project, whose vision “was to take you to a very different place…to a chapel that didn’t look like it was part of a ship.” Dwight D. Eisenhower completed flight deck certification (10–15 March 1997).
During five separate underway periods (20 March–25 July 1997) the ship accomplished 74 days of carrier qualifications and set a Dwight D. Eisenhower record to date of 259 traps on a single day, a demanding cycle. In order to maximize flight deck training opportunities they opened the flight deck up to instructor pilots for proficiency landings. Altogether, the ship conducted over 8,600 arrested landings during 1997, and participated in three significant exercises: ZipperEx 97, multi-national MarCot ’97, and Bear Trap ‘97. At various times the ship also hosted both civilian and Navy representatives of the next generation aircraft carrier and the Joint Strike Fighter programs. While visiting Nassau in the Bahamas, the ship emergency sortied during foul weather with only her duty sections manned, and then performed a dangerous navigational detail as she returned during darkness (November 1997).
While she deployed to the Mediterranean and Arabian Gulf (10 June–10 December 1998), Dwight D. Eisenhower participated in Operations Deliberate Forge and Southern Watch. Allied planners developed Deliberate Forge principally to support NATO air operations for Stabilization Force (SFOR) in war-torn Bosnia-Herzegovina. The ship also took part in Matador (21–27 July), Fancy (23–27 September), and Dynamic Mix (5–13 October), providing “submarine water space and operating area deconfliction” for U.S. and allied subs. A detachment of six Hornets flew ashore to Tunisia for Manar 98-3 (6–12 September), and the carrier twice emergency sortied (14–19 August from Corfu, Greece; and 9–14 September from Cartagena, Spain, the latter due to the emergency in Kosovo). Dwight D. Eisenhower also visited Naples, Antalya, Rhodes, Marseille and Cannes, France, and Jebel Ali in the United Arab Emirates. The carrier passed through the Suez Canal southbound on 23 October 1998. Upon entering the Arabian Gulf she became Commander Fifth Fleet Strike Control Platform while supporting Southern Watch. When Iraqi machinations embroiled the region the Weapons Department assembled and loaded 244 precision guided munitions and 80 missiles for impending strikes against the recalcitrant Iraqis. With tensions mounting, President Clinton cancelled Operation Desert Thunder II on 14 November, while strike aircraft prepared to launch just as Hussein agreed to allow UN inspectors back into his country to search for Iraqi violations. Dwight D. Eisenhower transited the Strait of Hormuz outbound (22–24 November). Enterprise (CVN-65) relieved her the next day, steaming alongside of the latter for four hours while conducting turnover. Dwight D. Eisenhower sailed through the Suez Canal northbound on 28 November, but shortly after she came about for home then the region erupted into another crisis as coalition forces blasted Iraqi troops during Operation Desert Fox (16–20 December 1998). Planners on board provided key data to their reliefs to facilitate strikes during Desert Fox.
Over the winter Dwight D. Eisenhower qualified 32 fleet replacement pilots during carrier qualifications while experiencing difficult weather conditions as a low pressure system over the North Atlantic produced 10–14 foot swells that pounded the ship. Dwight D. Eisenhower completed a planned incremental availability at Norfolk Naval Shipyard (4 February–3 June 1999), accomplishing her sea trials in June. The Atlantic hurricane season proved an especially active one and two hurricanes, Dennis and Floyd, passed within 90 nautical miles of Hampton Roads (August–September). The ship received orders to prepare to emergency sortie during both Dennis and Floyd, but despite gale force winds Dennis did not develop into a significant enough threat to warrant standing out of the area and the Navy cancelled the orders. Floyd wreaked havoc across its path, however, and Dwight D. Eisenhower joined other Second Fleet vessels capable of escaping from the hurricane, Floyd slamming 21 foot seas and 45 knot winds into the ship as she rode the tempest out. Dwight D. Eisenhower operated as the meteorological forecasting guard ship for Task Group 183.1 before receiving the recall order four days out to return to port as Floyd continued on its destructive path. The ship participated in exercise JTFEx 00-1 (December 1999). Although the primary winter storm track positioned itself further north, morning fog and low strata over target areas in Florida impacted operations. Nonetheless, she prosecuted four separate submarine contacts representing opposing force subs attacking the carrier. Throughout 1999 Dwight D. Eisenhower logged 10,400 launches and arrested landings and 800 helo landings. The ship became certified to deploy with Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAMs), AGM-154A Joint Standoff Weapons (JSOWs), and BLU-116 penetrators with GBU-24 guidance systems.
On a cold and rainy day Dwight D. Eisenhower deployed to the Mediterranean and the Arabian Gulf with elements of two other groups (18 February–18 August 2000). Anzio and Cape St. George, Laboon (DDG-58) and Mahan (DDG-72, her maiden deployment), and Kauffman (FFG-59) and Samuel B. Roberts (FFG-58) sailed with the carrier. Barry (DDG-52) and Arthur D. Radford (DD-968) deployed to the Middle East Force. The Wasp Amphibious Ready Group, comprising Wasp (LHD-1), Oak Hill (LSD-51), and Trenton (LPD-14), deployed with the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit embarked. Ongoing controversy surrounding the crew’s readiness impacted the cruise. Since 1941, the Navy had trained at the range on Vieques Island, P.R., however, after USMC aircraft accidentally dropped two 500 pound bombs on an observation tower in April 1999, killing one person and wounding four others, protesters demanded an end to the exercises. While examining alternatives the Navy temporarily cancelled exercises using live ordnance on the range, and Dwight D. Eisenhower deployed without the benefits of live fire training, which planners deem to be crucial toward crew readiness.
Dwight D. Eisenhower participated in exercise Juniper Stallion (20–26 March) and then (27 April–9 May) steamed in the Adriatic for Operation Deliberate Forge. The crew trained with SEALs, whose crack special operators utilized four boats during their clandestine missions with the carrier (27–28 April). The ship then visited Dubrovnik, Croatia, before returning to sea for further patrols. She passed through the Suez Canal southbound on 20 May, and while steaming at various times in the Arabian Gulf (21 May–26 July) supported Southern Watch, her jets bombing Iraqi air defense sites with 15 tons of ordnance. In addition, she provided primary staffing for maritime interception operations, and participated in a Naval Air Forces Atlantic Fleet study concerning experimental cooling vests to be introduced Navy-wide. During daily temperatures sometimes soaring to over 100º F., hundreds of sailors donned two types of vests: one designed to facilitate ventilation by being soaked in water, and one utilizing ice packs to cool core body temperatures. The vests “became a familiar sight,” an observer noted, “during the hottest part of the day. Not a single Sailor on the flight deck or hanger bay was treated for a heat related injury that was more severe than dehydration.”
During her final week on station, Dwight D. Eisenhower participated in Indigo Anvil, an exercise with the Saudi Arabians. Shortly after 1000 on 26 July, a Tomcat from VF-11 crashed in the Saudi desert; a helo rescued both aircrew and flew them to Taif AB, where they recovered. The following day the ship sailed through the Suez Canal northbound, and then crossed the Mediterranean and headed for home, having also taken part in Jack Howl and Noble Suzanne. She also served as Rescue Coordination Cell for two search and rescues that saved the lives of six sailors, as Sea Combat Commander for a total of 66 days, controlled 644 hours of live fighter intercepts, responded to 72 Sighting Team calls for documentation of vessels and increased the average ships track database from the Fifth Fleet norm of 30–70 tracks to 150–350 tracks, including assisting in the seizure of 16,409 metric tons of Iraqi crude oil smuggled by 19 merchantmen suspected of violating UN sanctions, and logged a total of 10,500 arrested landings, 7,700 sorties, and more than 15,000 flight hours, including over 300 combat flight hours. Dwight D. Eisenhower and Wasp concluded testing the CEC system against drone-simulated threats off Wallops Island, Va., on 27 September. The Navy intended to attain an initial operational capability for CEC by 2004, and eventually allocate about 160 systems.
Dwight D. Eisenhower hosted the national memorial service to honor their shipmates on board Cole (DDG-67) on 17 October 2000. During the forenoon watch on 12 October, suicidal al Qaeda terrorists detonated a bomb on board a Zodiac type speedboat that damaged Cole while she refueled at Aden, Yemen, en route to a port visit in Bahrain during her deployment with the George Washington battle group. The explosion killed 17 sailors and wounded 42, and caused flooding in Cole’s engineering spaces. Her crew’s heroic damage control efforts saved their ship. President Clinton, Gen. Henry H. Shelton, USA, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Secretary of the Navy Danzig, and Adm. Vernon E. Clark, CNO, joined thousands of sailors and marines from across the area at Norfolk, who manned the ship’s rails 10 deep, to pay tribute to those lost. Chaplains from the ship’s Religious Ministries Department reached out to grieving families and RPCS Pasternack escorted family members and visiting dignitaries. Following flight deck certification the next month, Dwight D. Eisenhower offloaded her remaining ordnance to Enterprise and fast combat support ship Detroit (AOE-4), before spending a day at sea with family and friends highlighted by an air show. The carrier successfully diverted an F-14D during night carrier qualifications after a ramp strike on 2 December.
AB700, an S-3B from VS-32, crashed at 1210 on 6 December, while performing a flight check in the mid-Atlantic about 46 miles off the Florida coast. A gentle breeze touched the otherwise calm sea. AB700 went into the water some 29 miles from Dwight D. Eisenhower. Being the closest search and rescue ship, she dispatched an SH-60F Seahawk manned by Lt. David H. Rios, Lt. Bryan S. Peeples, AWC Kevin W. Gregory, and AW2 Todd J. Simpson of HS-11, to rescue the Viking’s four crewmembers after they ejected. Spotting the green dye marker of the ejected aircrew on the ocean’s surface, Rios brought the helo in to hover over the crash site, allowing rescue swimmer Simpson to leap in and rescue all four people. The pilot suffered second-degree burns on his face and neck, and another crewmen suffered slight neck injuries but all survived. “It’s a good feeling, knowing those guys are going to be able to go home and see their families,” Simpson reflected later, “It’s a really good feeling.” During 2000 Dwight D. Eisenhower completed 6,173 daytime and 3,463 nighttime traps.
Fleet replacement and training aircrew made over 1,400 daytime traps and touch-and-go landings during operations off the east coast (22 January–7 February 2001). NASA astronaut Cmdr. Brent W. Jett, a naval aviator who commanded mission STS-97, International Space Station Flight 4A, on board space shuttle Endeavour (which delivered giant solar arrays to the international space station (30 November–11 December 2000), joined over 1,600 visitors who thronged the ship when she moored to Pier No. 26 at Port Everglades, Fla., on 28 January. A McDonnell Douglas (Boeing) T-45A Goshawk flown by Lt. Gregory S. Fulco of Training Squadron (VT) 22 and Capt. Justin Sanders, USAF, of that service’s 33rd Training Squadron, crashed at 1618 on 21 February, about a mile from the ship while she conducted flight operations approximately 81 nautical miles from NS Mayport, Fla. The mishap killed both men, who were performing safety observer duties while en route to the ship from NAS Jacksonville, Fla.
Dwight D. Eisenhower accomplished a mid-life refueling complex overhaul, designed to ready her for another 25 years of service, at Northrop Grumman Newport News shipyard (22 May 2001–25 January 2005). The ship reported that “nearly every space and system on board was upgraded and overhauled” during this massive project. She deadsticked over to the yard during the morning of 22 May, two days later entering dry dock No. 11. Beginning on 5 March 2001, Capt. Mark T. McNally declared all crew berthing and workspaces, with the exception of Engineering and Reactor, “uninhabitable,” and began moving the crew ashore. The shipyard provided Floating Accommodation Facility (FAF), a $20 million, 300 foot barge fitted with berthing, galleys, office space, and medical facilities. In addition, the crew required seven other facilities, nine contracted apartment complexes, and four barracks for accommodations. The ship also established a support equipment storage facility at the Cheatham Annex at Naval Weapons Station Yorktown, near Williamsburg, Va. Even with these additions the crew experienced housing congestion, but as Precommissioning Unit Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) proceeded toward their ship’s completion they vacated Huntington Hall and some contracted apartments in December 2002, enabling 175 crewmembers to relocate from Ft. Eustis to the hall.
Al Qaeda terrorists attacked the United States on 9/11 (11 September 2001). Within hours Dwight D. Eisenhower shifted to Threat Condition Delta, the highest level of force protection and readiness. Meanwhile, the ship’s Integrated Communications Advanced Network (ICAN) installation, training and technical repair team sailed on board Nimitz when the latter steamed round Cape Horn to her new home port of NAS North Island following her overhaul (21 September–13 November 2001). Dwight D. Eisenhower shifted from dry dock No. 11 to Outfitting Pier No. 1, commencing the flooding of the dry dock on 9 December 2002, and shifting berths six days later. When category 5 Hurricane Isabel threatened the Hampton Roads area with 51 knot winds, gusts up to 73 knots, and an eight foot storm surge (18–19 September 2003), the crew manned line handling stations and posted watches on 13 mooring lines fore and aft to weather the storm, though Isabel knocked out the ship’s power for two days. The Department of Defense announced that it awarded Northrop Grumman a modification to the contract to extend the end date for the overhaul by another 11 weeks to 6 November 2004, on 15 December 2003. This raised the total cost of the overhaul from $1.36 billion to $1.49 billion. Additional delays later extended her completion beyond that date, and her cost to approximately $2.5 billion, collectively generating heated debate among the media and in the Congress.
The carrier unveiled her uniquely redesigned antenna mast during 2003. The crew installed two additional rigid hull inflatable boats (RHIBs) for security, as they patrolled the James River. This proved to be fortuitous on 7 July 2004, when a RHIB crew saved 11 people in four different private boats in distress out on the river due to rough weather. The men and women of the ship completed crew certification and began moving back on board a few days later on 12 July, when they finished returning from FAF. At various times during the overhaul, her sailors served on board Abraham Lincoln, Enterprise, Harry S. Truman (CVN-75), John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, Theodore Roosevelt, Bataan (LHD-5), Kearsarge (LHD-3), Saipan (LHA-2), Leyte Gulf (CG-55), Carter Hall (LSD-50), Winston S. Churchill (DDG-81), Saturn (AFS-8), and Seattle (AOE-3), as well as ashore at stations across the U.S. and in Afghanistan, Bahrain, Columbia, England, Guantánamo Bay, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and Venezuela. Tugs towed the ship over to Norfolk on 25 January 2005. Dwight D. Eisenhower completed sea trials and the shipyard redelivered her to the fleet (25 March–5 April 2005). Three days later, CVW-7, including VFA-106 and VFA-131, VS-31, VAQ-140, VAW-121, VX-23, and HS-5, began flying on board for flight deck certification.
VAW-123 operated on board for the first time with NP [New Propeller] E-2C Hawkeye 2000s, equipped with quieter eight bladed propellers that reduced fatigue and increased time on station for crewmembers, on 21 April 2005. The ship accomplished her post overhaul shakedown cruise off the Virginia capes (30 April–9 May), during which she completed her 215,000 trap on 4 May. While participating in Multi-National Maritime Exercise 05-1, Dwight D. Eisenhower worked with French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle (R.91), including French Hawkeyes and Dassault-Breguet Rafale Ms, which operated on board on 25 May. American aircraft also landed on board the French carrier. Dwight D. Eisenhower completed sea trials and a four month post shakedown availability and selected restricted availability on 20 October, and then (26–28 October) the flight deck certification process, 17 aircraft from VFA-37, VFA-105, VS-31, VAW-121, and HS-5 accomplishing over 200 traps. The carrier completed combat systems ship qualification trials off the Virginia capes, firing two RIM-116A Rolling Airframe Missile (RAM) System missiles and seven NATO Sea Sparrows against drones launched from Wallops Island, Md., that simulated multiple anti-ship cruise missiles attacking the ship (13–14 December 2005). The following year (14 February–10 March 2006), she accomplished a Tailored Ship’s Training Availability with CVW-7 off the Virginia capes, the first time that the wing embarked in almost five years, logging 1,376 launches and recoveries, and qualifying 86 fixed wing and 18 rotary wing pilots.
More than 16,000 servicemembers from five countries and including Dwight D. Eisenhower participated in JTFEx 06-2 Operation Bold Step off the east coast, which presented U.S. and coalition forces with “realistic and dynamic exercise threats” that they could expect to encounter during deployments (21–28 July 2006). “This exercise will not only test the Ike Strike Group,” Vice Adm. Mark P. Fitzgerald, Commander Second Fleet, summarized as the ship began Bold Step, “but also our command and control capabilities as a Joint Task Force.” Theodore Roosevelt, Bataan, Wasp, Anzio, Cape St. George, Vella Gulf (CG-72), Vicksburg, Mahan, Mason (DDG-87), Nitze (DDG-94), Ramage (DDG-61), Roosevelt (DDG-80), Doyle (FFG-39), Kauffman, McInerney (FFG-8), Samuel B. Roberts, Taylor, Underwood (FFG-36), Newport News (SSN-750), Arctic (T-AOE-8), Oak Hill, Shreveport (LPD-12), marines from the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, soldiers from the 34th Infantry Division, Canadians from their 8th Brigade Group, French submarine Emeraude (S.604), and Columbian boat Tayrona (SS.29) joined Dwight D. Eisenhower. “We are ready for any mission, any time,” Rear Adm. Allen G. Myers IV, Commander Carrier Strike Group 8, noted. Capt. Harold F. Bishop III, Commander CVW-7, supported by Commander Destroyer Squadron 28, also embarked in Dwight D. Eisenhower.
Dwight D. Eisenhower, with CVW-7 embarked, deployed to support maritime security operations to ensure that ships could operate freely while transiting the world's oceans during the Global War on Terrorism (3 October 2006–23 May 2007). Rear Adm. Allen G. Meyers, Commander Carrier Strike Group 8, broke his flag in the carrier. Anzio, Ramage, Mason, and Newport News accompanied her. Capt. Cloyd noted that this cruise marked the first for 70% of the crew. Upon entering the Mediterranean the carrier visited Naples (18–22 October) and then (25–28 October) Limassol, Cyprus. During part of Dwight D. Eisenhower’s deployment the ship’s historian reported that she acted as the “executive agent” for the conduct of area of responsibility-wide maritime common tactical picture management, maintaining a near “real-time” tactical maritime synopsis for two carrier strike groups, two expeditionary strike groups, and other U.S. and NATO commands. On 6 November the ship launched her first strikes of the deployment for Operation Eagle — support of International Security Assistance Force troops fighting Taliban militants in Afghanistan. In addition, the ship visited Jebel Ali three times during the voyage (21–27 December 2006 and 25–28 February and 16–20 April 2007).
During fighting between Ethiopians and Islamists in Somalia a USAF Lockheed AC-130 gunship attacked al Qaeda terrorists at a Somali fishing village near Ras Kamboni on the Kenyan border, on 7 January 2007. The following day the Fifth Fleet moved Dwight D. Eisenhower to join Ashland (LSD-48) and other ships in Somali waters as they searched vessels for militants who attempted to escape from Somalia. Dwight D. Eisenhower reported that approximately 850 shellbacks cleansed more than 3,700 pollywogs of their “land loving grime” when the ship crossed the equator while steaming with the Fifth Fleet on 1 February. Aircraft flew 3,962 sorties (3,346 combat) and made 5,103 arresting landings in support of Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom from the ship during her voyage.
Thirty ships and submarines from five countries including Dwight D. Eisenhower, Theodore Roosevelt, Illustrious, Bataan, Wasp, Oak Hill (LSD-51), and Shreveport (LPD-12), participated in Bold Step off the East Coast (10–28 July 2007). A USMC MV-22B landed on a foreign ship for the first time when an Osprey embarked on board Illustrious on 10 July, and two days later detachments from Marine Attack Squadrons (VMAs) 223, 513, and 542 embarked the British ship — at times 14 AV-8B Harrier IIs operated from Illustrious. In 2008 the ship completed PIA-08, a planned incremental availability at Norfolk Naval Shipyard. Grumman EA-18G Growlers of VX-23 completed sea trials on board Dwight D. Eisenhower in the Atlantic (31 July–5 August 2008). The Growlers flew 319 approaches and completed 62 catapult launches and 62 traps during the trials. A plane struck and killed AB2 Robert L. Robinson, an aircraft director of the ships company, on the flight deck during flight operations on 4 October 2008. Robinson, a native of Detroit, Mich., had served on board since that January.
Sailors of the ships company wore the Navy’s New Working Uniform for the first time during a deployment when the ship sailed to the Mediterranean, Indian Ocean, and Arabian Gulf on a bitterly cold and windy day (21 February–30 July 2009). On 5 March the carrier passed through the Strait of Gibraltar, but strong winds and heavy seas compelled a late arrival and shortened stay while she anchored off Marseille (7–10 March). The Discovery Channel filmed segments of a documentary, Carrier At Sea, on board Dwight D. Eisenhower at one point during the deployment. The ship transited the Suez Canal southbound on the sunny day of 15 March, and on 22 March began launching sorties to support Enduring Freedom. The veteran warship moored for the first time to the newly constructed Mina Salman Pier at Bahrain on 16 May. She came about from the fighting in Enduring Freedom on 7 July, returned to the Mediterranean via the Suez Canal, and visited Lisbon just before she departed the Sixth Fleet on 14 July and turned her prow across the Atlantic for home. Aircraft flew 2,468 approaches, 6,184 sorties, and more than 18,877 hours during the voyage. Following the ship’s return she completed a variety of upkeep and training evolutions.
Dwight D. Eisenhower, with CVW-7 again embarked, deployed to the Mediterranean, Indian Ocean, and Arabian Gulf (2 January–28 July 2010). The ship started her voyage by carrying out a daring at-sea rescue. On the first day out, the ship battled snow and freezing rain to rescue a mariner on board Gloria A. Dios, a sailboat in peril of the sea more than 300 nautical miles east of Cape Hatteras, N.C. A night alert helicopter from HS-5 launched 180 nautical miles from Gloria A. Dios, but the boat capsized in the 25 foot swells while the aircraft flew through 45 knot winds to the area. The helo nonetheless spotted the survivor in the water and rescued and transferred him to the Coast Guard. Dwight D. Eisenhower steamed through the Strait of Gibraltar on 14 January, but allied forces involved in fighting in Afghanistan required immediate air support and she continued across the Mediterranean without stopping and passed through the Suez Canal on 21 January. On 28 January the ship launched her first strikes of the deployment in support of Enduring Freedom, and by the time she came about on 24 June launched 2,970 combat missions. Neil A. Armstrong meanwhile received honorary Naval Astronaut Wings during a ceremony on board Dwight D. Eisenhower on 10 March. The carrier transited the Bab-el-Mandeb on 1 July and the crew began celebrating Independence Day on 3 July because the ship navigated the Suez Canal northbound the following day. Despite the troubled beginning of the voyage, the ship visited Jebel Ali (13–17 March and 25–29 April), Bahrain (7–11 June), Antalya (6–8 July), and Naples (13–15 July).
She then completed a planned incremental availability at Norfolk Naval Shipyard (18 October 2010–15 June 2011). In 2011 the ship steamed 16,526 nautical miles, carried out five precision anchorages, five fleet replacement squadron carrier qualification periods, and visited Mayport (25–28 July). Hurricane Irene then devastated the east coast and Dwight D. Eisenhower served as the flagship and sortie commander when she stood out of Hampton Roads with 27 other ships, rendezvoused with 11 other ships, and steamed around the storm before returning to port (25–31 August 2011).
Dwight D. Eisenhower and CVW-7 returned to the Mediterranean, Indian Ocean, and Arabian Gulf (20 June–19 December 2012). The ship celebrated Independence Day at Palma de Mallorca (3–7 July), anchored off Rhodes (13–16 July), and sailed through the Suez Canal into the Red Sea two days later. The carrier launched air superiority and close air support missions against al Qaeda terrorists and Taliban militants fighting coalition troops in Afghanistan (9–27 August and 27 September–14 October), and patrolled the Arabian Gulf during partnership, strength, and presence operations (27 July–7 August, 28 August–26 September, and 16 October–23 November). Crewmembers broke the grueling pace with brief sojourns ashore at Bahrain (31 August–5 September) and Jebel Ali (23–27 October). Dwight D. Eisenhower steamed through the Suez Canal into the Mediterranean on 1 December, and returned home in time for Christmas.
The ships company and CVW-7 enjoyed a brief respite before Dwight D. Eisenhower deployed again to the Mediterranean, Indian Ocean, and Arabian Gulf (21 February–3 July 2013). Capt. Stephen T. Koehler, her commanding officer, succinctly summarized the voyage as “an extended, high-operational tempo deployment schedule.” Dwight D. Eisenhower rendezvoused with German air defense frigate Hamburg (F.220), which operated with her throughout most of the cruise, both ships exchanging crewmembers. Aircraft flew 3,587 missions of 10,206 hours from the carrier during three Enduring Freedom line periods (24 March–27 April, 30 April–23 May, and 1–5 June), and the ship visited Marseille (7–10 March), Bahrain (23–28 April), Jebel Ali (26–30 May), and Lisbon (20–23 June). Following her return, tugs nosed the ship up the Elizabeth River and she accomplished a docking planned incremental availability at Norfolk Naval Shipyard (10 September 2013–3 September 2015). Some of the ship’s crash team took part in Lockheed Martin F-35C Lightning II testing and evaluations at Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake, Calif. (8–14 June 2014).
Dwight D. Eisenhower completed her yard work and, with CVW-3 embarked, deployed to the Mediterranean, Indian Ocean, and Arabian Gulf on 26 May 2016, reaching the Sixth Fleet on 8 June. She sailed under the Optimized Fleet Response Plan, which aimed to keep carrier deployments to seven months as part of a 36-month deployment plan. San Jacinto (CG-56), Monterey (CG-61), Mason, and Nitze sailed in company with the carrier, and Roosevelt and Stout (DDG-55) deployed from Mayport and later rendezvoused with Dwight D. Eisenhower as she crossed the Atlantic to relieve Harry S. Truman, while the latter launched strikes against Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) forces in those countries.
Commanding Officers Date Assumed Command
Capt. William E. Ramsey 10 October 1975
Capt. James H. Mauldin 10 February 1979
Capt. George D. O’Brien Jr. 8 October 1980
Capt. Edward W. Clexton Jr. 3 July 1981
Capt. Richard C. Macke 6 July 1984
Capt. Gary L. Beck 18 October 1986
Capt. Joseph J. Dantone Jr. 27 September 1988
Capt. William V. Cross II 28 September 1990
Capt. Alan M. Gemmill 20 March 1993
Capt. Gregory C. Brown 22 September 1995
Capt. H. Denby Starling II 26 August 1998
Capt. Mark T. McNally 13 October 2000
Capt. Charles E. Smith 26 April 2003
Capt. Dan Cloyd 1 September 2005
Capt. Dee L. Mewbourne 16 November 2007
Capt. Marcus A. Hitchcock 13 August 2010
Capt. Stephen T. Koehler 19 July 2013
Capt. Paul C. Spedero Jr. 18 November 2015
Mark L. Evans
14 September 2016