Construction of the third nuclear-powered and second Nimitz-class aircraft carrier, USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69), was authorized by Congress in fiscal year 1970. The carrier, named after the nation’s 34th president, was christened at 11:11 a.m., October 11, 1975, by Mamie Doud-Eisenhower, the ship’s sponsor and widow of the late president. IKE was commissioned October 18, 1977, under the command of Capt. William E. Ramsey. After 14 months of fleet training, the ship made her first Mediterranean Sea deployment in 1978.
In October 1985 after her fourth deployment, IKE sailed into Newport News Shipbuilding for a complex overhaul. The 18-month shipyard period included the addition of the Close-in Weapons System, NATO Sea Sparrow Missile System, Navy Tactical Data System, Anti-Submarine Warfare Module, and communications upgrades. IKE rejoined the fleet in April 1987.
In 1990, IKE completed her sixth Mediterranean deployment, coinciding with a worldwide Dwight D. Eisenhower Centennial celebrating the late president’s 100th birthday. During D-Day anniversary ceremonies off the coast of Normandy, IKE’s son, John Eisenhower, and D-Day veterans embarked the ship while Carrier Air Wing 7 conducted a memorial flyover of the American cemetery at Omaha Beach.
In response to Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990, IKE became the second nuclear-powered aircraft carrier to transit the Suez Canal and the first carrier to conduct sustained operations in the Red Sea. IKE served as a ready striking force in the event Iraq invaded Saudi Arabia, and participated in maritime interception operations in support of a United Nations embargo against Iraq.
After an extensive shipyard and training period, IKE deployed September 26, 1991, to the Arabian Gulf to continue multinational operations in support of Operation Desert Storm. IKE returned to Norfolk April 2, 1992, and entered Norfolk Naval Shipyard for overhaul and conversion January 6, 1993. IKE returned to the fleet November 12, 1993.
In September 1994, IKE and the U.S. Army 10th Mountain Division made history with the concept of “adaptive force packaging.” The division’s soldiers and equipment were loaded on board, and the IKE Army and Navy team headed for Port-au-Prince to spearhead Operation Uphold Democracy, the U.S.-led effort to restore the democratically elected government of Haiti.
One month later, IKE departed for a six-month deployment, which included flying missions in support of Operations Southern Watch and Deny Flight. This deployment marked the first time that women deployed as crew members of a U.S. Navy combatant ship, as the IKE/Carrier Air Wing 3/COMCRUDESGRU Eight team included more than 400 females.
In February 2000, IKE departed Norfolk for a millennium cruise to the Mediterranean Sea and Arabian Gulf. During this deployment, the air wing performed the ship’s first combat ordnance delivery while operating in support of Operation Southern Watch in Iraq.
On May 24, 2001, IKE began her mid-life, comprehensive refueling complex overhaul in the shipyard at Newport News, returning to Naval Station Norfolk Jan. 25, 2005.
On October 3, 2006, IKE deployed for seven months to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations in support of ground troops in Iraq and Afghanistan and to conduct maritime security operations. In July 2009, IKE completed a six-month deployment to the Mediterranean and Arabian Gulf, returning again in January 2010 for another six-month deployment in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. In September 2010, IKE began a regularly scheduled planned incremental availability at Norfolk Naval Shipyard in Portsmouth, returning to Norfolk in June 2011.
In December 2012, IKE completed another six-month deployment in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, redeploying for an additional four months beginning Feb. 21, 2013. IKE returned home July 3, 2013.
On Sept. 10, 2013, IKE entered Norfolk Naval Shipyard to begin a 14-month scheduled docking planned incremental availability (DPIA).