History of USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72)
USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) is America’s fifth Nimitz-class aircraft carrier. The ship was named in honor of our nation’s 16th president and is the second ship in the U.S. Navy to bear his name.
Abraham Lincoln’s keel was laid Nov. 3, 1984 at Newport News, Va. The ship was christened less than four years later and commissioned Nov. 11, 1989 in Norfolk, Va. After shakedown and acceptance trials, the ship departed Norfolk in September 1990 and transited around South America before arriving in Alameda, Calif.
Lincoln’s May 1991 deployment was in response to Iraq’s annexation of Kuwait, but Abe was diverted instead to support evacuation operations following the eruption of Mount Pinatubo on Luzon Island, Republic of the Philippines. Operation Fiery Vigil became the largest recorded peacetime evacuation of active duty military personnel and family members. Lincoln led a 23-ship armada that moved nearly 45,000 people from Subic Bay Naval Station to the Visayas Province port of Cebu. The ship eventually arrived in the Arabian Gulf where Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 11, the embarked air wing, provided combat air patrol, reconnaissance and support for air operations over Kuwait and Iraq in Operation Desert Storm for three months.
In June 1993, Lincoln deployed to the Arabian Gulf in support of Operation Southern Watch, the U.N.-sanctioned enforcement of a “no fly zone” over Southern Iraq. In October 1993, Lincoln was ordered to the coast of Somalia to assist U.N. humanitarian operations. The air wing spent a month flying patrols over the city of Mogadishu in support of Operation Restore Hope.
In April 1995, Lincoln deployed again to the Arabian Gulf to support Operation Southern Watch and Vigilant Sentinel. Upon its return, Abe left Alameda, Calif., for Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Bremerton, Wash., where the ship underwent a one-year comprehensive overhaul. The ship then moved to its current homeport of Everett, Wash., Jan. 8, 1997.
In June 1998, Lincoln began its fourth deployment in support of Operation Southern Watch. Port visits included Perth and Hobart in Australia. After a short break, the ship participated in Fleet Week ’99 in San Francisco, visited Santa Barbara, Calif., and Victoria, British Columbia, before participating in Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercise 2000, a multinational exercise conducted off the Hawaiian Islands.
In August 2000, the ship departed with Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 14 on its fifth deployment to the Arabian Gulf. Lincoln spent more than 100 days on station in support of Operation Southern Watch and maritime interdiction operations. For its performance the battle group earned the Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation.
In July 2002, Lincoln deployed to familiar waters albeit an unfamiliar world after the events of Sept. 11, 2001. Abe assumed duties in the Arabian Gulf in support of Operations Enduring Freedom and Southern Watch. The ship’s deployment was then extended to further support Operation Southern Watch and Iraqi Freedom as U.S. forces occupied Iraq. The marathon deployment ended May 2003 with a historic visit by President George W. Bush, congratulating the ship for its mission accomplishment.
Following renovations and repairs in Bremerton, Wash., Lincoln visited Victoria, British Columbia during an abbreviated inter-deployment workup cycle. Abe then became the first U.S. aircraft carrier to “surge” in recent memory, leaving with Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 2 October 2004 for a seventh deployment, eight months ahead of schedule. When a devastating tsunami struck Southeast Asia in December, the ship was diverted to Operation Unified Assistance, delivering much-needed supplies and aid and saving potentially thousands of lives. Lincoln remained in the Western Pacific Ocean, visiting Hong Kong and Singapore before returning home March 2005.
Lincoln deployed February 2006 with CVW-2 to the Western Pacific to conduct training and exercises, including RIMPAC 2006, which demonstrated joint operability with allied and partner navies and ensured freedom of navigation in the area. Lincoln also participated in a Passing Exercise (PASSEX) with the Japanese navy and Exercise Foal Eagle with the Republic of Korea navy, and was one of three U.S. aircraft carrier strike groups to participate in Exercise Valiant Shield.
Lincoln’s crew enjoyed liberty in the ports of Hong Kong, China; Singapore, and Sasebo, Japan. Abe was the first U.S. aircraft carrier to moor pier side in Laemb Chabang, Thailand. After two visits to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, Lincoln delivered the majority of CVW-2’s squadrons to San Diego Aug. 4, and the ship returned to Everett, Wash., Aug. 8, 2006. The ship then entered Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Bremerton, Wash., for rehabilitation in the dry dock.
The nine-month shipyard period included several alterations, upgrades and installments throughout the ship. Upon completion, the Lincoln headed back to sea to begin certification and training for its next deployment, which began late 2007.
The Lincoln spent the next seven months supporting Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom, as well as maritime security and coalition operations in the U.S. 5th Fleet Area of Responsibility (AOR).
CVW-2 was once again embarked on board the Lincoln and was essential to mission success. The air wing flew more than 7,000 sorties – including 2,307 combat sorties – and dropped in excess of 255,000 pounds of ordnance.
Upon successfully completing its mission of supporting troops on the ground, the Lincoln sailed to the U.S. 7th Fleet AOR and participated in 16 community relations projects, contributing more than 2,000 volunteer-hours to communities in Singapore and Thailand. The Lincoln and its crew returned home to Everett, Wash., October 2008.
After conducting multiple sustainment exercises, the Lincoln once again returned to the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard to begin a nine-month Planned Incremental Availability (PIA). Items completed during this shipyard period included a complete modification of hangar bay one, replacement of all four of the ship’s propellers, a modernization of the flight deck and a comprehensive upgrade to the ship’s computer systems.
The hard work of the Lincoln crew resulted in an early completion of PIA in January 2010, after which the ship returned to Everett. Shortly after returning home Lincoln Sailors and CVW-2 once again began the process of training and certification in order to prepare for a 2010 deployment in support of the nation’s maritime strategy.
In December 2011, Lincoln departed Naval Station Everett, Wash., her home since January 1997, for a scheduled change-of-homeport deployment to Virginia for a 42.5-month Refueling and Complex Overhaul (RCOH) in Newport News, Va.
Lincoln and her embarked Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 2 arrived at Naval Station Norfolk, Aug. 7, 2012 concluding an eight-month deployment to the U.S. Navy's 5th, 6th and 7th Fleet areas of responsibility. While deployed, aircraft assigned to CVW-2 flew more than 11,000 sorties totaling in excess of 32,000 flight hours, including more than 2,400 combat sorties and more than 14,000 hours flown in support of U.S. and coalition ground forces supporting Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF). Since leaving in December 2011, the ship sailed more than 72,000 miles during its 245 days deployed, including 105 days in the Arabian Sea supporting OEF.
On March 28, 2013, Lincoln began her RCOH at Newport News Shipbuilding. Lincoln's RCOH is expected to be complete by the fall of 2016.