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USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71)
USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71)
USS Theodore Roosevelt
Career (United States)
Namesake: Theodore Roosevelt
Ordered: 30 September 1980
Builder: Newport News Shipbuilding Co.
Cost: US $4.5 billion in 2007 dollars.[1]
Laid down: 31 October 1981
Launched: 27 October 1984
Commissioned: 25 October 1986
Homeport: NS Norfolk, Virginia
Motto: Qui Plantavit Curabit (He who has planted will preserve.)
Nickname: TR, Big Stick
Status: in active service, as of 2022
Badge: CVN-71 insignia.png
General characteristics
Class & type: Nimitz-class aircraft carrier
Theodore Roosevelt subclass
Displacement: 104,600 long tons (117,200 short tons)[2]
  • Overall: 1,092 feet (332.8 m)
  • Waterline: 1,040 feet (317.0 m)
  • Overall: 252 ft (76.8 m)
  • Waterline: 134 ft (40.8 m)
  • Draft:
  • Maximum navigational: 37 feet (11.3 m)
  • Limit: 41 feet (12.5 m)
  • Propulsion:
  • 2 × Westinghouse A4W nuclear reactors
  • 4 × steam turbines
  • 4 × shafts
  • 260,000 shp (194 MW)
  • Speed: 30+ knots (56+ km/h; 35+ mph)
    Range: Unlimited distance; 20–25 years
    Endurance: Limited only by food and supplies
    • Ship's company: 3,200
    • Air wing: 2,480
    Sensors and
    processing systems:
  • AN/SPS-48E 3-D air search radar
  • AN/SPS-49(V)5 2-D air search radar
  • AN/SPQ-9B target acquisition radar
  • AN/SPN-46 air traffic control radars
  • AN/SPN-43C air traffic control radar
  • AN/SPN-41 landing aid radars
  • 4 × Mk 91 NSSM guidance systems
  • 4 × Mk 95 radars
  • Electronic warfare
    & decoys:
  • SLQ-32A(V)4 Countermeasures suite
  • SLQ-25A Nixie torpedo countermeasures
  • Armament:

    3 x NSSMS (Sea Sparrow) Sea-to-Air missile launchers 3 x PHALANX CIWS (Close-In Weapons System) Gatling guns

    10 x .50 Caliber M2HB mounted machine guns
    Armor: No armor plating, but a double-hull design reduces damage from torpedoes
    Aircraft carried: 90 fixed wing and helicopters

    USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) (also known by crewmembers as "the Big Stick" or within the navy simply as TR) is the fourth Nimitz-class aircraft carrier. Her radio call sign is Rough Rider, the name of President Theodore Roosevelt's volunteer cavalry unit during the Spanish-American War. She was launched in 1984, saw her first action during Operation Desert Storm in 1991, and is currently homeported at Newport News Shipyard, Virginia.


    Initially, US President Gerald Ford cancelled the order for CVN-71 in 1976 and substituted two CVV-type medium-sized, conventional-powered carriers that were expected to operate V/STOL aircraft. The existing T-CBL design formed the basis for the new CVV, serving as a replacement for the aging Midway-class aircraft carrier, while capable of operating all existing conventional carrier aircraft. This capability to operate conventional aircraft proved important as the hoped-for supersonic V/STOL fighters did not come to fruition at the time. In any case, construction of the proposed CVV medium-sized carrier never took place.[3][4]

    Authorization for CVN-71 was further delayed when U.S. President Jimmy Carter vetoed the 1979 Fiscal Year Department of Defense authorization bill because of the inclusion of this Nimitz-class nuclear supercarrier in the U.S. Navy's shipbuilding program.[4][5] Because of the international crisis that required the increased deployment of U.S. aircraft carrier battle groups to the Indian Ocean, President Carter reversed his stand on Nimitz-class nuclear supercarriers, and CVN-71 was subsequently authorized under the 1980 Fiscal Year authorization bill for the U.S. Department of Defense.[5]

    Design and construction

    Theodore Roosevelt was the first aircraft carrier to be assembled using modular construction, wherein large modules are independently constructed in "lay-down" areas, prior to being hoisted into place and welded together. Modular construction, made possible through the use of a huge gantry crane capable of lifting 900 tons, cut 16 months off Theodore Roosevelt's construction time, and the technique has been used on every aircraft carrier since. Roosevelt and those Nimitz-class vessels completed after her have slight structural differences from the earlier carriers (USS Nimitz (CVN-68) and USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69)), and improved protection for ordnance storage in her magazines.[6]

    Theodore Roosevelt's history began on 30 September 1980, when a contract was awarded for "Hull 624D" to Newport News Shipbuilding. Her keel was laid down on 31 October 1981, with Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger initiating the first weld. On 3 November 1981, Secretary of the Navy John F. Lehman announced that the carrier would be named for the 26th President of the United States, Theodore Roosevelt.

    The Navy's Pre Commissioning Unit (PCU) was formed in February 1984, with Captain Paul W. Parcells named the Commanding Officer. On 27 October 1984 the ship was officially christened by Mrs. Barbara Lehman, wife of Secretary Lehman. On 25 October 1986, Theodore Roosevelt was commissioned to active service at Newport News.

    Service history

    Maiden deployment

    Shock test of Theodore Roosevelt during sea trials in 1987

    After sea trials and pre-deployment work ups, Theodore Roosevelt started her maiden deployment on 30 December 1988 with Carrier Air Wing Eight embarked. The ship patrolled the Mediterranean Sea prior to returning on 30 June 1989.

    Theodore Roosevelt was awarded the 1989 Battle "E" from Commander, Naval Air Force U.S. Atlantic Fleet on 20 March 1990.


    Gulf war

    On 28 December 1990, Theodore Roosevelt and CVW-8 deployed for Operation Desert Shield, arriving in the Persian Gulf on 16 January 1991. With the commencement of Operation Desert Storm on 15 January 1991, Theodore Roosevelt began combat operations; eventually flying over 4,200 sorties (more than any other carrier) and dropping more than 4,800,000 pounds of ordnance before the cease-fire on 28 February.[1]

    When Iraqi forces turned on the Kurds, Theodore Roosevelt and CVW-8 were among the first coalition forces in Operation Provide Comfort, flying patrols over northern Iraq. After a 189-day deployment, with 176 days at sea, Theodore Roosevelt returned to Norfolk on 28 June 1991. On 14 February 1992, the ship won her second Battle "E". This was followed by the award of the Battenberg Cup for 1991 as the Atlantic Fleet's premier ship.[7]


    Theodore Roosevelt began her third deployment on 11 March 1993, again with CVW-8 embarked. Also embarked was a Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force (SPMAGTF), in a test the concept of embarking a multi-purpose Marine force in a carrier.

    While the ship was still in the Virginia Capes operating area, President Bill Clinton flew aboard for several hours for his first visit to a U.S. Navy ship.[7]

    Theodore Roosevelt operated in the Adriatic as CVW-8 planes enforced Operation Deny Flight in the U.S. no-fly zone over Bosnia. In June, on the way to only her second port visit, Theodore Roosevelt was ordered instead to transit the Suez Canal en route to the Red Sea to participate in Operation Southern Watch, enforcing the no-fly zone over Iraq.

    Deployed for 184 days, Theodore Roosevelt spent 169 days under way prior to return in September 1993. For the accomplishments of her crew, the ship received her second Meritorious Unit Commendation.

    From November 1993 to April 1994, Theodore Roosevelt conducted a Selected Restricted Availability (SRA) at Norfolk Naval Shipyard (NNSY), completing ahead of schedule.

    On 10 March 1994, Theodore Roosevelt received its third Battle "E". Then on 3 June, Theodore Roosevelt was awarded her second Battenberg Cup as the best ship in the Atlantic Fleet.

    Theodore Roosevelt and CVW-8 began their fourth deployment in March 1995, operating in the Red Sea in support of Operation Southern Watch over Iraq, and Operations Deny Flight and Sharp Guard over the skies of Bosnia and in the Adriatic operating areas. Deny Flight evolved into Operation Deliberate Force, as CVW-8 aircraft led NATO strikes against strategic Bosnian Serb targets in Bosnia-Herzegovina. The Theodore Roosevelt Battle Group returned to Norfolk, Virginia in September 1995 and was awarded the Navy Unit Commendation for its Bosnia operations.[7]

    Theodore Roosevelt deployed for her fifth deployment on 25 November 1996, with CVW-3 embarked, in support of Operation Southern Watch in the Mediterranean and Persian Gulf. The ship returned from deployment in May 1997.

    On 8 July 1997, Theodore Roosevelt entered the Newport News Shipbuilding yard for a one-year Extended Drydock and Selected Restricted Availability (EDSRA), her first major overhaul since commissioning. Theodore Roosevelt returned to her homeport of Norfolk Naval Station on 2 July 1998.

    Theodore Roosevelt underway in 1999

    An air traffic controller watches his radar scope in the Carrier Air Traffic Control Center

    From 1 February to 4 March 1999 Theodore Roosevelt participated in a large navy exercise called JTFEX / TMDI99 along with the Brazilian navy and several NATO navies. During the exercise Theodore Roosevelt was 'sunk'[8] by a Dutch submarine called the Walrus (2) along with 8 other US ships, many of which were part of Theodore Roosevelts escorts.

    Theodore Roosevelt began her sixth deployment on 26 March 1999 with CVW-8 embarked. They were immediately called to duty in the Ionian Sea to support NATO's Operation Allied Force. Theodore Roosevelt and CVW-8 aircraft conducted air strikes for two months over the skies of Kosovo against the Serbians. TR and CVW-8 were then dispatched to support Operation Southern Watch, enforcing the "no-fly" zone over Southern Iraq. Theodore Roosevelt returned to her homeport of Norfolk, Va., on 24 September 1999.

    On 10 January 2000, Theodore Roosevelt entered a Planned Incremental Availability (PIA) at the Norfolk Naval Naval Shipyard, Portsmouth, Virginia for a six-month maintenance period.


    After the 11 September attacks, Theodore Roosevelt began her seventh deployment earlier than planned on 18 September 2001 with Carrier Air Wing One. On the night of 4 October 2001, Theodore Roosevelt and CVW-1 launched the initial strikes of Operation Enduring Freedom against al-Qaeda in Afghanistan from the North Arabian Sea. Theodore Roosevelt spent 159 consecutive days at sea, breaking the record longest period underway since WWII.[9] Theodore Roosevelt returned to her homeport 27 March 2002, and was awarded the Navy Unit Commendation, 2001 Battenberg Cup, and 2001 Battle E.[10] From April to October 2002, Theodore Roosevelt conducted a Planned Incremental Availability maintenance period at Norfolk Naval Ship Yard.

    Roosevelt receives cargo while pierside at the NATO Marathi Pier Facility.

    Theodore Roosevelt got underway on 6 January for a scheduled month-long training period in the Puerto Rican Operating Area. Near the end of January, Theodore Roosevelt received orders to proceed across the Atlantic to the Mediterranean Sea. Strike Fighter Squadron 201, based at Naval Air Station Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth, Texas, was ordered to active duty as a unit of Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 8, the first Naval Reserve squadron to deploy aboard an aircraft carrier since the Korean War.[11] Theodore Roosevelt arrived on station in the Eastern Mediterranean in February. On 22 March 2003 Theodore Roosevelt, along with USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75), began launching air strikes into Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.[12] Theodore Roosevelt returned home on 26 May, and was awarded the Meritorious Unit Commendation, the Navy Unit Citation, and the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal.

    Theodore Roosevelt in the Elizabeth River in 2004

    On 19 February 2004, Theodore Roosevelt entered a ten-month Docked Planned Incremental Availability (DPIA) at NNSY in Portsmouth.[13] Major systems overhauled included AC systems, Steam and CHT (sewage) systems, 1MC (announcing) systems, communication, navigation, and detection suites, weapons elevator overhauls, propeller replacement, hull cleaning and painting, and sea valve replacement, to name a few. Theodore Roosevelt came out of dry-dock in August and completed the maintenance availability on 17 December 2004.[14]

    An F/A-18 Hornet from the "Sidewinders" of VFA-86 ignites its afterburners while preparing to be catapulted from the flight deck.

    On 1 September 2005, Theodore Roosevelt deployed with Carrier Air Wing Eight embarked for a routine six-month mission to the Persian Gulf in support of OIF.,[15] transiting the Suez Canal on 27 September[16] and launching OIF missions beginning 6 October.[17] This deployment was the last cruise for the F-14 Tomcat before its retirement in 2006. Theodore Roosevelt carried two Tomcat squadrons, VF-31 (Tomcatters) and VF-213 (Black Lions).[18] Theodore Roosevelt returned to home port on 11 March 2006.[citation needed]

    Shortly after this cruise, the Theodore Roosevelt earned the "Jig Dog" Ramage Carrier and Carrier Air Wing Operational Excellence Award, which is a Navy-wide award that is selected jointly by Type Commanders (TYCOM) and is presented to the Carrier/Air Wing team with the best performance as an integrated unit.

    On 7 March 2007 Theodore Roosevelt began a nine-month Planned Incremental Availability (PIA) in Norfolk, which saw the addition of RAM missiles among other upgrades.[19] The ship returned to Naval Station Norfolk on 28 November 2007.[citation needed]

    CVW-8 and Theodore Roosevelt participated in Joint Task Force Exercise 08-4 Operation Brimstone off the coast of North Carolina between 21 and 31 July 2008. The British carrier HMS Ark Royal, the amphibious assault ship Iwo Jima with associated units and the Brazilian Navy frigate Greenhalgh (F-46) and the French submarine Améthyste also participated in the event.[20]

    Roosevelt left Norfolk on 8 September 2008 for a scheduled deployment to the Middle East with Carrier Air Wing Eight embarked.[21] On 4 October 2008 the ship stopped at Cape Town, South Africa. This was the first visit to Cape Town by a nuclear-powered vessel since the German cargo ship Otto Hahn in the 1970s.[22] Due to poor weather, approximately half of the ship's crew was unable to go ashore on liberty. Much of the crew that made it ashore was unable to return to the Roosevelt due to the increasingly poor weather. The remaining crew was forced to remain on the pier till morning alongside the USS Monterey (CG-61). The crew was denied shelter, food and water until their return to the Roosevelt the next afternoon.[23] The ship made four subsequent port stops in Jebel Ali, UAE, including one during the Christmas holiday. CVW-8 and CVN-71 supported Operation Enduring Freedom and flew more than 3,100 sorties and dropped more than 59,500 pounds of ordnance while providing Close Air Support for ISAF-forces in Afghanistan.

    On 21 March 2009 Theodore Roosevelt was relieved by Dwight D. Eisenhower.[24] The carrier arrived at Norfolk on 18 April.[25]

    On 26 August 2009 defense contractor Northrop Grumman was awarded a 2.4 billion dollar contract for Refueling and Complex Overhaul (RCOH) of Theodore Roosevelt which is expected to be completed by August 2013. During the RCOH period, the ship's unofficial mascot became The Highduster, replacing the mascot of the ship's operational days, The Nighthawk.[26]


    On 29 August 2013, the Theodore Roosevelt returned to Norfolk Naval Station, Virginia, completing its post-overhaul sea trials that concluded its four-year mid-life Refueling and Complex Overhaul.[27] On 14 September 2013, Theodore Roosevelt successfully completed flight deck certification which entailed completing a total of 160 carrier landings during daytime and night-time operations. Other certification drills included rigging the emergency barricade, flight deck firefighting evolutions, and crash and salvage operations.[28] On 17 September 2013, Theodore Roosevelt completed its first underway replenishment in over four years.[29]

    Ship awards


    1. 1.0 1.1 "USS THEODORE ROOSEVELT – HISTORY". Retrieved 3 July 2009. 
    2. Polmar, Norman (2004). The Naval Institute guide to the ships and aircraft of the U.S. fleet. Naval Institute Press. p. 112. ISBN 978-1-59114-685-8. 
    3. Friedman, Norman (1983). Aircraft Carriers: An Illustrated Design History. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. pp. 323–324; 329–333. ISBN 978-0-87021-739-5. Retrieved 2013-07=-17. 
    4. 4.0 4.1 "CVV" (PDF). Naval Aviations News. Washington Navy Yard: Naval History & Heritage Command. July 1979. p. 8. Retrieved 2013-07-18. 
    5. 5.0 5.1 Polmar, Norman (2006). Aircraft Carriers: A History of Carrier Aviation and Its Influence on World Events, Volume 2. Dulles, Virginia: Potomac Books, Inc.. p. 364. ISBN 978-1-57488-663-4. Retrieved 2013-07=-17. 
    6. "Costing the CVN-21: A DID Primer". Defense Industry Daily. 19-December-2005. Retrieved 27 December 2009. 
    7. 7.0 7.1 7.2
    8. "Lessons not learned: The U.S. Navy's status quo culture". 6 April 2007. ISBN 978-1-59114-865-4. 
    9. "Title unknown". [dead link]
    10. Theodore Roosevelt Takes Battenberg Cup. Navy News.
    11. VFA-201 “Hunters” Make History Aboard TR. Navy News.
    12. America's Big Stick Launches Operation Iraqi Freedom Strikes. Navy News.
    13. Seaman, Journalist. (23 March 2004) FOD Walkdown Marks End to Historic Chapter for TR. Navy News.
    14. Fast Cruise Marks End of DPIA for ‘Big Stick’. Navy News.
    15. Theodore Roosevelt CSG Deploys in Support of Global War on Terrorism. Navy News.
    16. USS Theodore Roosevelt Transits Through Suez Canal. Navy News.
    17. TR CSG Offers OIF Air Support. Navy News.
    18. Tomcat Chapter Draws to a Close. Navy News.
    19. Theodore Roosevelt Moves to Shipyard. Navy News.
    20. JTFEX 08-4 "Operation Brimstone" Flexes Allied Force Training. Retrieved on 2012-05-26.
    21. USS Theodore Roosevelt Deploys in Support of Maritime Security Operations. Navy News.
    22. IOL, USS Theodore gets green light
    23. Personal Account
    24. ''Eisenhower'' Launches OEF Sorties. (21 March 2009). Retrieved on 2012-05-26.
    25. Washington Times, "Carrier Returns To Navy Station", 19 April 2009, p. 7.
    26. DefenseLink: Contracts for Wednesday, 26 August 2009
    27. "Theodore Roosevelt Returns to Norfolk as a Ready for Tasking Carrier". NNS130829-16. USS Theodore Roosevelt Public Affairs. August 29, 2012. Retrieved 2012-08-30.  and "Roosevelt Successfully Completes RCOH". NNS130829-20. PEO Carriers Public Affairs. August 29, 2012. Retrieved 2012-08-30. 
    28. Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Heath Zeigler, USN (September 16, 2013). "Theodore Roosevelt Completes Flight Deck Certification". NNS130916-14. USS Theodore Roosevelt Public Affairs. Retrieved 2013-10-24. 
    29. Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Kris R. Lindstrom, USN (September 20, 2013). "USS Theodore Roosevelt Completes First Underway Replenishment in Four Years". NNS130920-22. USS Theodore Roosevelt Public Affairs. Retrieved 2013-10-24. 
    30. America's Big Stick Wins 2nd straight Ney Award. Navy News.

    External links

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