Everything you need to know about the Truman aircraft carrier

War /

The USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75), is the eighth of ten nuclear powered Nimitz-class aircraft carriers currently in service in the United States Navy.

The ship is named after the 33rd President of the United States, Harry S. Truman, known for succeeding Franklin D. Roosevelt in the final stages of World War II and for dropping the first, and to this day only, atomic bombs on Japan.

Its call sign, is Lone Warrior and its motto is “The buck stops here”. The aircraft carrier is currently based in Norfolk, Virginia, in the Hampton Roads area, also headquarters to the recently reestablished 2nd Fleet.

Overall 332.8 metres (1,092 ft.)
Waterline 317 metres (1,040 ft.)

Overall 76.8 metres (252 ft.)
Waterline 40.8 metres (134 ft.)

Maximum navigational: 11.3 metres (37 ft.)
Limit” 12.5 metres (41 ft.)

Speed: 30+ knots (56+ km/h; 35+ mph);

Range: unlimited, nuclear fuel has an estimated life of 20/25 years;

Displacement: 103,900 long tons full load (116,400 short tons), 101,000 standard;

Ship’s company: 3,200+ men
Air wing: 2,480

As with all major American aircraft carriers, the Harry S. Truman features an island (superstructure) on the starboard side of the angled flight deck, home to the ship’s bridge and air wing command, as well as a new radar tower and communication systems, along with other electronic equipment. The ship has four lifts (three on the starboard and one on the port), each with an area of ​​360 square metres (3,880 sq. ft.), connecting the hangar bay to the flight deck of 1.8 hectares (4.5 acres) in size, four steam catapults and four arrestor wires on it. Aft of the island there is a mast, which houses the main air search radars.

The Truman is driven by four five-bladed screws weighing 30 tons (66,220 pounds) each, on four shafts that engage four steam turbines connected to two Westinghouse A4W nuclear reactors for a total power output of 260,000 horsepower (194 megawatts).

The aircraft carrier has two anchors, each weighing 30 tons, deriving from the USS Forrestal (CV-59) aircraft carrier. The Truman is divided into more than 2,500 compartments that require 2.1 MW (2,520 tons) of power just to ensure the flow of air conditioning.

The total cost of the ship, in 2007 dollars, is $4.5 billion.

The Truman aircraft carrier is equipped with various radar systems and electronic sensors to carry out naval, flight, communication and self-defence operations. They are, as follows:

  • AN / SPS-48E 3-D and AN / SPS-49 (V) 5 in 2-D air search radars
  • AN / SPQ-9B target acquisition radar
  • AN / SPN-46 and AN / SPN-43C air traffic control radars
  • AN / SPN-41 landing aid radars
  • Four NSSM (NATO Sea Sparrow Surface Missile) fire control systems type Mk 91
  • Four Mk 95 radars for fire control
  • SLQ-32A (V)4 countermeasures system
  • SLQ-25A Nixie Torpedo countermeasures system

The Harry Truman carries, for self-defence, two Mk 57 Mod.3 Sea Sparrow missile launchers, two RIM-116 Rolling Airframe Missiles (RAM) also capable of counteracting cruise missiles, lastly three 20 mm Mk 15 Phalanx CIWS (Close-in Weapons Systems) mounts for point defence.

The aircraft carrier is capable of accommodating an air wing of up to 90 fixed or rotating wing aircraft. This typically consists of 9 squadrons (7 planes and 2 helicopters) comprising F/A-18, EA-18G, E-2, C-2, MH-60S and MH-60R.

The Truman aircraft carrier was ordered on 30 June 1988, laid down at Newport News Shipbuilding (Virginia) on 29 November, 1993 and launched on 13 September, 1996. It entered service in the US Navy on 25 July, 1998. The ship was initially laid down as USS United States, but the name was changed in February 1995 at the direction of the then Secretary of the Navy John H. Dalton.

On 12 July 1997, during the construction period after the launch, three ship workers died from asphyxiation when a pump room filled with gases during welding operations. The ship completed its sea trials slightly late, on 11 June 1998, due to noise issues in one of the reactor closure heads. From 1998, and for a good part of 2000, the ship carried out all the certifications required to bring it into line in the fleet and on 28 November of the same year it left for its first operational mission directed towards the area of ​​competence of the 6th and 5th Fleets.

On 2 January, 2001 the aircraft carrier passed through the Strait of Hormuz to take part in its maiden deployment, the Southern Watch, which guarantees the No Fly Zone over Iraq, until 27 April of the same year, when it was relieved on station by Constellation (CV-64) after a total of 2,700 flight hours accumulated by the squadrons from Carrier Air Wing (CVM) 3.

The first flight accident occurred on 10 September 2002: an S-3B Viking assigned to squadron VS-22 crashed into the sea 25 miles south-southeast of Puerto Rico with the loss of 3 crew members.

On 5 December 2002, Truman returned to the Mediterranean and, crossing into the 6th Fleet’s area of operations, on 20 March 2003, took part in Operation Iraqi Freedom. In the 29 days in which the aircraft carrier took part in the military operation, its air wing marked more than 2,000 sorties with the release of 700 tons of bombs on Saddam Hussein’s Iraq.

On 27 June 2004, the second flight accident occurred: an F/A-18C of the VMFA-115 (Marines), crashed about 60 miles south of the Azores islands, with the loss of the pilot.

On 13 October of the same year, the Truman sailed from Norfolk to the 5th Fleet area of operations, in particular in the Arabian Gulf, where it would support the “War on terrorism” for about four months.

On 1 September 2005, Truman set sail for the Gulf of Mexico to serve as a command post and advanced emergency coordination following the destruction wrought by Hurricane Katrina.

15 August 2007. A Truman Vaw-120 E-2C Hawkeye crashed immediately after launching from the catapult while the aircraft carrier was located 150 miles southeast of the Virginia Capes conducting carrier qualifications, killing 3 crew members.

On 5 November of the same year, the aircraft carrier left Norfolk bound for the Arabian Gulf for its third operational deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

On 7 January, 2008 two F/A-18 collided during flight operations in the Arabian Gulf, the pilots were unharmed.

On 4 June of the same year, after a seven-month deployment, Truman returned to Norfolk. Its Carrier Air Wing (CVW-3) squadron has accumulated more than 26,500 flight hours in 9,500 sorties, of which 2,459 combat.

On 21 May 2010, the aircraft carrier sailed from Norfolk to the Middle East, but this time was used in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan; a deployment that would last another seven months.

On 26 November 2012, the UCAS (Unmanned Combat Air System) X-47B was launched on the aircraft carrier for a series of flight tests that lasted until 18 December.

22 July 2013. Truman left the United States for the 5th Fleet area of responsibility. This operational shift lasted about 9 months and saw more than 2,900 air wing sorties in total.

On 11 August 2015, while the ship was cruising off the coast of North Carolina, a fire erupted on the flight deck while refueling an F/A-18 assigned to the VFA-106 squadron and caused the loss of the aircraft; the pilot managed to save himself by ejecting.

16 November 2015 – 13 July 2016: another deployment between the Mediterranean and the Persian Gulf.

11 April 2017 – 21 July 2017: brief deployment in the 6th Fleet area of operations.

28 August – 16 December 2017: back at sea for exercises in the North Atlantic and Mediterranean.

March 2019. The US Congress planned to withdraw Truman prematurely, to avoid financing the next “mid-life refuelling and overhaul” works (2024) and save about 3.4 billion dollars that would be reinvested in other Defence programmes, such as hypersonic missiles.

On 18 November 2019 the Truman set sail from Norfolk to the Arabian Sea passing through the Mediterranean.


Translation by Natalie Payne