USS Nimitz Commanding Officer Shares Ship’s Legacy

By Capt. Jeff Ruth
Commanding Officer, USS Nimitz (CVN 68)

USS Nimitz, the U.S. Navy’s oldest aircraft carrier in active service, is now operating in the Arabian Gulf.

The aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68) transits the Indian Ocean, June 11. The Nimitz Carrier Strike Group is deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility conducting maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jacquelyn D. Childs/Released)

The aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68) transits the Indian Ocean, June 11. The Nimitz Carrier Strike Group is deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility conducting maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jacquelyn D. Childs/Released)

 

Nimitz was commissioned May 3, 1975, by Rear Adm. Richard E. Rumble, commander, Fifth Naval District, at Pier 12, Naval Station Norfolk, Va., with President Gerald R. Ford and more than 20,000 guests in attendance. Nimitz’s commissioning marked the beginning of a new Nimitz class of aircraft carriers.

Chief of Naval Operations At his desk at the Navy Department, circa December 1945 - December 1947.

Chief of Naval Operations At his desk at the Navy Department, circa December 1945 – December 1947.

Our legacy comes from the rich history of Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, and the long service of the ship-the lead in the Nimitz class of aircraft carriers. Both the man and the ship share deep roots in tradition, dedication and service to the Navy.

Nimitz was a five-star admiral in the Navy. He held the dual command of commander in chief, U.S. Pacific Fleet, for U.S. Naval Forces and commander in chief, Pacific Ocean Areas, for U.S. and Allied air, land, and sea forces during World War II. He was the leading U.S. Navy authority on submarines, as well as chief of the Navy’s Bureau of Navigation in 1939. He served as chief of Naval Operations from 1945 to 1947. He was the United States’ last surviving fleet admiral.

His rise to fleet admiral was not without hiccups. While he was an ensign in command of the destroyer USS Decatur, the ship ran aground on a sand bar in the Philippines. The ship was pulled free. However, Nimitz was court-martialed, found guilty of neglect of duty and issued a letter of reprimand. He obviously recovered from that misstep and continued to develop as a leader, encouraging his Sailors to question authority, while telling them to not worry about what they could not control, and to learn everything they could about their job.

I’d like to share some of my favorite quotes from Admiral Nimitz:

  • “God grant me the courage not to give up what I think is right even though I think it is hopeless.”
  • “Our present control of the sea is so absolute that it is sometimes taken for granted.”
  • “Among the Americans serving on Iwo island, uncommon valor was a common virtue.”

USS Nimitz has been called upon many times to deploy around the world to support both war and peace efforts. The Sailors who have ensured the continued success of this ship and her missions have done so through great effort and dedication to their work and to their country. No matter the generation, no matter the mission, Nimitz Sailors have answered the call. We couldn’t be more proud to be conducting our current mission here in the U.S. Naval Forces Central Command area of responsibility.

Now, as ever, teamwork is our tradition.

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