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John C. Stennis (CVN-74)

1995-

The first U.S. Navy ship named in honor of John Cornelius Stennis, 1901-1995. For additional information see: STENNIS, John Cornelius.

(CVN-74: Displacement 103,300; length 1,092'; beam 252'; draft 42'; speed 30 + knots; complement 6,275; armament NATO Sea Sparrow Basic Point Defense Surface Missile System, 3 Mk 15 Close In Weapon System (CIWS),  two 40 millimeter saluting guns, 85 aircraft, class Nimitz)

John C. Stennis (CVN-74) was laid down on 13 March 1991, at Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Corp., Newport News, Va.; launched on 13 November 1993; sponsored by Mrs. Margaret S. Womble, daughter of the late Senator Stennis; and commissioned on 9 December 1995 at Norfolk, Va., Capt. Robert C. Klosterman in command.

An aerial oblique view of John C. Stennis
An aerial oblique view of John C. Stennis at one of the fitting out piers at Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Corp., July 1995. Note that workers install steel plating on the fore end of the ship. (Robert J. Sitar, Newport News donated to the Navy, John C. Stennis (CVN-74) Collection, Ships History, Naval History & Heritage Command)
John C. Stennis completes her builder’s sea trials
John C. Stennis completes her builder’s sea trials off the Virginia capes, 3-6 October 1995. (Chief Photographer’s Mate Tom Hensley, John C. Stennis (CVN-74) Collection, Ships History, Naval History & Heritage Command)
Aircraft pack the ship’s flight deck
Aircraft pack the ship’s flight deck as she steams gracefully at sea. (Unattributed or dated photograph, John C. Stennis (CVN-74) Collection, Ships History, Naval History & Heritage Command)

On 1 December 1993, Secretary of the Navy John H. Dalton announced the first assignment of women to combat ships to begin by June 1994, pending notification of Congress as required by the fiscal year 1994 Defense Authorization Bill. Aircraft carriers Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) and Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69) were scheduled to be the first carriers to embark women, followed by John C. Stennis at the end of 1994. Lieutenants Dane L. Dobbs and James F. Skarbek of Fighter Squadron (VF) 101 made the first arrested landing on board John C. Stennis in a Grumman F-14B Tomcat, on 18 January 1996. Lt. Francis D. Morley landed on board on board John C. Stennis in F1, the first McDonnell Douglas F/A-18F arrested landing on the ship, on 18 January 1997.

John C. Stennis moors at Naval Station Mayport, Fla.
John C. Stennis moors at Naval Station Mayport, Fla., 5 April 1996. (Photographer’s Mate Airman Leah Kanak, John C. Stennis (CVN-74) Collection, Ships History Files, Naval History & Heritage Command)

In 1998 the United States Central Command launched Operation Desert Thunder I, a large-scale deployment to the Middle East to pressure the government of Iraq and to bolster the United Nations’ negotiating position that included the planned continual availability of two aircraft carriers. On 18 January, U.S. aircraft carriers George Washington (CVN-73) and Nimitz (CVN-68) and British aircraft carrier HMS Invincible (R.05) operated in the area. A total of more than 50 additional allied ships and submarines, including amphibious assault ship Guam (LPH-9), deployed to the region during the year. British aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious (R.06) turned-over with Invincible in the Arabian Gulf while operating with aircraft carriers George Washington and Independence (CV-62), on 3 March. John C. Stennis relieved George Washington in the Arabian Gulf on 12 March. A resurgence of tensions later in the year led to additional deployments as part of Operation Desert Thunder II.

Following three years of studies the Navy announced the revision of carrier home ports on the West Coast, on 31 January 2000. In early 2002 Nimitz (CVN-68) was to join John C. Stennis, already stationed therein, followed in 2005 by Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) at Naval Air Station (NAS) North Island, Calif. The announcement stipulated that Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) would remain at Everett, Wash. The need to replace, in 2003, Constellation (CV-64) following her retirement, and in 2008 Kitty Hawk (CV-63), forward deployed to Japanese waters, prompted the moves. F/A-18C Hornets flying from John C. Stennis pounded Iraqi air defense targets in the southern no-fly zone on 6 April 2000, flying the raid in response to antiaircraft fire.

On 11 September 2001, Al-Qaeda terrorists hijacked four American airliners, crashing two into the twin World Trade Center towers in New York City, and one about 80 miles southeast of Pittsburgh, Pa., and flew American Flight 77, a Boeing B-757, into the Pentagon. In the last horrific event, the impact of the plane thrust it into the reinforced building and severely damaged the newly opened Navy Command Center. The attack at the Pentagon killed 189 people: all 64 on board American 77 including Naval Reservist and pilot Capt. Charles F. Burlingame III; and injured 125 including 33 sailors and nine Navy civilians. The strikes killed an estimated 2,977 people on 9/11. The Department of Defense declared Force Protection Condition Delta, the highest alert. Aircraft carrier George Washington sailed from Norfolk to protect New York City. The carrier responded to tasking from NORAD, and supported Military Sealift Command, operated hospital ship USNS Comfort (T-AH-20) during the relief efforts. Aircraft carriers John C. Stennis and John F. Kennedy (CV-67) positioned themselves to defend the East and West Coasts, respectively, while across the globe many aircraft ashore sortied. Coast Guardsmen began to escort Navy ships during their departures or arrivals at ports.

John C. Stennis relieved Carl Vinson (CVN-70) in the Arabian Sea and launched her first strikes in Operation Enduring Freedom on 16 December 2001. Two days later, French Task Force 473 rendezvoused with U.S. Task Force 50 about 50 miles off the Pakistani coast. The combined group comprised four aircraft carriers: John C. Stennis, Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71), French Charles de Gaulle (R.91), and Italian Guiseppe Garibaldi (C.551). At that time nearly 100 coalition ships and submarines operated across the Indian Ocean.

On 3 and 4 March 2002, the coalition began Operation Anaconda, a thrust to trap al-Qaeda terrorists and their Taliban supporters in the Shah-e-Kot valley of southeastern Afghanistan. Veterans afterward describe Anaconda as some of the fiercest fighting of the Global War on Terrorism. John C. Stennis and Theodore Roosevelt supported allied troops at times during the first several days of the battle. F/A-18C Hornets flying from Theodore Roosevelt strafed their stubborn adversaries. Naval aircraft dropped Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAMs) and BLU-118 thermobaric bombs directly into caves during the first combat deployment of thermobarics, a class of fuel-rich compositions that generated higher sustained blast pressures for use against tunnels and underground facilities. Within the first 24 hours USN, USMC, and USAF aircraft dropped 177 JDAM GBU-31s and GBU-12 laser-guided 500-pound bombs. Lockheed P-3C Orions flew intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance missions. The fighting raged through 18 March.

An F/A-18C Hornet (background) launches from John C. Stennis
An F/A-18C Hornet (background) launches from John C. Stennis to support allied troops locked in the deadly fighting in Operation Anaconda, 5 March 2002. 500-pound Mk 82 GBU-12 laser guided bombs (left) stand ready for the next launch. (Photographer’s Mate 3rd Class Jayme Pastoric, U.S. Navy Photograph 020305-N-9769P-031, Navy NewsStand)
An F/A-18C Hornet of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA)
An F/A-18C Hornet of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 146 hurtles from the ship to add its firepower to the coalition troops fighting desperately ashore, 5 March 2002. (Photographer’s Mate 3rd Class Alta I. Cutler, U.S. Navy Photograph 020305-N-1587C-100, Navy NewsStand)
Aviation Ordnancemen of VFA-147 load a 2,000-pound Mk 86
Aviation Ordnancemen of VFA-147 load a 2,000-pound Mk 86 Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) onto an F/A-18C Hornet as the fighting continues in Anaconda, 8 March 2002. (Photographer’s Mate 3rd Class Alta I. Cutler, U.S. Navy Photograph 020308-N-1587C-091, Navy NewsStand)

During Summer Pulse 04 the Navy tested changes to operational methods that resulted from the Fleet Response Plan. Beginning in June 2004, aircraft carriers Enterprise (CVN-65), George Washington, Harry S. Truman (CVN-75), John C. Stennis, John F. Kennedy, Kitty Hawk, and Ronald Reagan deployed in five theaters, at varying times. The operations of those ships extended into September during scheduled deployments, surge operations, and joint and international exercises.

John C. Stennis sails from NAS North Island for her new home port of Delta Pier at Naval Base (NB) Kitsap, Bremerton, Wash.
John C. Stennis sails from NAS North Island for her new home port of Delta Pier at Naval Base (NB) Kitsap, Bremerton, Wash., 6-8 January 2005. The ship makes the move in order to utilize Kitsap’s overhaul facilities, and to enable Carl Vinson to shift coasts to Norfolk. (Unattributed U.S. Navy Photograph 050105-N-7281D-038, Navy NewsStand)

John C. Stennis, Nimitz, and amphibious assault ship Bonhomme Richard (LHD-6) led seven other ships through the Strait of Hormuz into the Arabian Gulf for an exercise demonstrating U.S. resolve in the face of increased tensions with the Iranians (23 May-6 June 2007).

Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 71 began the deployment of the initial operational squadron equipped with Sikorsky MH-60R Seahawks when John C. Stennis sailed from NB Kitsap, Bremerton, Wash., to the Western Pacific and Indian Oceans and the Arabian Sea (13 January-10 July 2009).

A Grumman E-2C Hawkeye of Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW)
A Grumman E-2C Hawkeye of Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 112 launches from John C. Stennis for what the Navy hails as the service’s final air mission in support of Operation New Dawn over Iraq, while the ship steams in the Arabian Gulf, 18 December 2011. Navy aircraft will again fly over Iraq, however, during Operation Inherent Resolve, 2014-2015. (Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Benjamin Crossley, U.S. Navy Photograph 111218-N-BT887-061, Navy NewsStand)
Adm. Jonathan W. Greenert, Chief of Naval Operations
Adm. Jonathan W. Greenert, Chief of Naval Operations, visits John C. Stennis while she operates in the Arabian Gulf, 8 October 2011. (Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Benjamin Crossley, U.S. Navy Photograph 111008-N-BT887-682, Navy NewsStand)
Adm. Greenert speaks to crewmembers during an all-hands call
Adm. Greenert speaks to crewmembers during an all-hands call, 8 October 2011. (Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Walter M. Wayman, U.S. Navy Photograph 111008-N-VN693-229, Navy NewsStand)
An F/A-18F Super Hornet of VFA-41
An F/A-18F Super Hornet of VFA-41 moves onto a catapult to launch while the ship completes sustainment exercises in southern Californian waters, 6 July 2012. Another jet approaches to land and two more circle during the busy flight operations. (Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Nolan Kahn, U.S. Navy Photograph 120706-N-NK714-210, Navy NewsStand)
A sailor embraces his loved ones
A Sailor embraces his loved ones as John C. Stennis returns from a deployment to the Western Pacific and Indian Oceans to North Island, 29 April 2013. The ship stops at North Island primarily to enable her embarked Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 9 to return to NAS Lemoore, Calif., before continuing the voyage to her home port at Kitsap. (Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Samantha Webb, U.S. Navy Photograph 130429-N-SP369-265, Navy NewsStand)
Aviation Boatswain’s Mate 1st Class Adam Zimniak directs an F/A-18C Hornet
Aviation Boatswain’s Mate 1st Class Adam Zimniak directs an F/A-18C Hornet of VFA- 34 on the ship’s flight deck while she carries out operational training in the Pacific Ocean, 10 December 2014. (Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Ignacio D. Perez, U.S. Navy Photograph 141210-N-TC437-055, Navy NewsStand)

John C. Stennis deployed from Bremerton to the western Pacific, including more than 60 days in the South China Sea (15 January–14 August 2016). The ship carried out dual flight operations with Ronald Reagan at one point, and took part in exercises Malabar with Indian and Japanese forces, Foal Eagle with the South Koreans, and RimPac (Rim of the Pacific) with nearly 25,000 people, 40 ships and submarines, and over 200 aircraft from 26 other nations. John C. Stennis marked more than 8,500 aircraft launches and recoveries, replenished at sea 30 times, and took on approximately 13 million gallons of fuel during her voyage, and called at ports in Hawaii, Guam, Philippines, Singapore, and South Korea.

The Navy awarded Huntington Ingalls Industries of Newport News, Va., a $187.5 million advance planning contract for the complex overhaul of the ship, on 10 August 2018. The agreement included engineering, design, material procurement and fabrication, documentation, resource forecasting, and pre-overhaul inspections. Planning was scheduled to begin that month.

“The planning stage is critically important to the overall success of an engineering and construction project of this magnitude,” Chris Miner, Vice President, In-Service Aircraft Carrier Programs at the company’s Newport News Shipbuilding division, said. “This contract allows us to prepare for each step in the overhaul process from preparing for the ship’s arrival at Newport News to its redelivery back to the Navy.”

Detailed history pending.

Mark L. Evans
13 August 2018

Published:Mon Aug 13 10:04:11 EDT 2018