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The keel was laid down on 22 June 1968, the vessel was christened on by Catherine Nimitz Lay, the daughter of the late Admiral Nimitz, six years after his death.

Nimitz was delivered to the Navy in 1975, and was commissioned at Naval Station Norfolk on by the 38th President of the United States, Gerald R. Nimitz is part of Carrier Strike Group Eleven (CSG-11) with Carrier Air Wing Eleven (CVW-11) embarked, with Nimitz as the flagship of the strike group and the home of the commander of Destroyer Squadron 23.

On 27 November 1995, Nimitz deployed to the Western Pacific, Indian Ocean and Persian Gulf with Carrier Air Wing Nine (CVW-9); in March 1996, it patrolled the waters off Taiwan amid missile tests conducted by the Chinese in the area, becoming the first American warship to pass through the Taiwan Strait since 1976.

It also cruised the Persian Gulf in support of Southern Watch prior to returning from deployment on .

The cruise was uneventful, and the carrier returned to Norfolk, Virginia on 7 February 1977.

A second uneventful Mediterranean cruise was conducted from 1 December 1977 to 20 July 1978, the third deployment began on 10 September 1979 to the Mediterranean.

Prior to this trip, the ship took part in the shooting of the 1980 film The Final Countdown, whose story was specifically set aboard the Nimitz, after four months on station, Operation Evening Light was launched from Nimitzs decks in an attempt to rescue the U. Embassy staff, the mission was aborted after a helicopter crashed at a refueling point in the Iranian desert.

When flight operations were completed four days later, Nimitz and Carrier Air Wing Nine had carried out 771 strike sorties while dropping 1,337 bombs on target.

Carrier Air Wing Nine flew 975 fixed-wing sorties during this four-day surge operation.

In October, it operated in the North Arabian Sea participating in Operation Earnest Will, the protection of reflagged Kuwaiti tankers.

On 30 November 1988, while in the Arabian Sea, a 20 mm cannon accidentally fired during maintenance, striking a KA-6 Intruder.

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