Prior to the introduction of America’s new Ford class of carriers, America’s fleet of Nimitz class vessels held the distinction of being the largest and most technologically advanced aircraft carriers on the planet. In fact, new and massive as the USS Gerald R. Ford may be, it still weighs just about the same as its Nimitz predecessors, giving America the distinction of boasting both the first and second largest classes of aircraft carriers on the planet.
The old adage, “4.5 acres of Sovereign American Territory” offers a bit of perspective into just how massive these ships truly are. If you’re not great at picturing acres, you can use football fields as an approximate stand in. That’s right, you could play four and half simultaneous football games on the deck of one of the carriers — you know, if you don’t mind calling time out every once in a while to launch a sortie of Super Hornets.
Among America’s fleet of Nimitz class carriers, none has spent more time in service that the class namesake, USS Nimitz. First launched back in 1972, the 1,092 foot long vessel has been parked recently at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Bremerton, Washington, for a bit of incremental maintenance. Placing one of these huge ships in dry dock is no small undertaking — in fact, Russia previously possessed only one floating dry dock large enough to support their much smaller (and chronically troubled) aircraft carrier, the Admiral Kuznetsov. The dock was lost in a fire that caused considerable damage to the ship itself last month, leaving Russia without an operational carrier or the means to repair it.
In the case of the Nimitz, however, Puget Sound’s shipyard has had no such trouble — and as work progressed on the behemoth, they released a number of pictures that can help offer a bit more perspective into just how huge these warships really are.
The Nimitz boasts four massive propeller shafts powered by the ship’s on board nuclear reactors. These massive props can move the vessel through the water at an estimated 30 knots, which is essential for not only keeping the ship tough to hit from anti-ship missiles, but also to provide launching aircraft with enough lift to safely takeoff.