The USS Harry S. Truman: History & Location

Instructor: Katie Streit

Katie has a PhD in History. She has taught middle school English and college History.

USS Harry S. Truman is one of ten Nimitz class aircraft carriers serving as a cornerstone of United States naval operations around the globe. In this lesson, we will explore the history of USS Harry S. Truman and its contributions to American military operations for the past twenty years.

Ready for Takeoff

Imagine that you are a fighter pilot preparing to land. Instead of landing on solid ground, you have to land on the deck of a moving ship in the middle of the ocean. In order to stop your jet in time, you have to snag your plane's tailhook on one of four high-tensile steel wires - called arresting wires - on the deck.

An F/A-18C Hornet lands on the flight deck of USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75).

Each wire can stop an aircraft weighing up to 60,000 pounds in seconds. When taking off, you will utilize the ship's catapult system to propel your jet from 0 to 165 mph in two seconds. Such exhilarating take-offs and landings have occurred thousands of times on the deck of the United States Navy's aircraft carrier the USS Harry S. Truman. In this lesson, we will learn some general facts about aircraft carriers. We will then explore the history of USS Harry S. Truman, from its construction and naming, to its tours of duty over the past twenty years.

Aircraft Carrier Facts

USS Harry S. Truman passes downtown Norfolk

USS Harry S. Truman (or TRUMAN) is one of ten Nimitz class aircraft carriers in the United States Navy. The first aircraft carrier, USS Langley, was commissioned in 1922. Seven aircraft carrier classes followed before the Nimitz class of 'supercarriers' entered into service on May 3, 1975 with USS Nimitz. The ship and carrier class were named after the United States Pacific Fleet Commander during World War II, Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz.

USS Harry S. Truman

Nimitz class aircraft carriers are the largest warships in the world. Their displacement is approximately 97,000 tons and they measure 1,092 feet long. That is equivalent to over three football fields. With a height of over 200 feet, the carriers stand as tall as a twenty-four story building. Costing about $8.5 billion, each carrier was designed to last 50-years. They are powered by two nuclear reactors and can travel over 30 knots (or 34.5 mph). The crew averages over 4,500 men and women. Carriers can also house 90 aircraft and helicopters.

The U.S. Navy considers aircraft carriers to be the ''centerpiece of the forces necessary for operating forward.'' Carriers support aircraft and strike groups that can attack targets on land and at sea. They also assist with humanitarian aid operations around the world.

Construction of USS Harry S. Truman

Newport News Shipbuilding Company was responsible for constructing all of the Nimitz class carriers.

TRUMAN in dry-dock

They laid TRUMAN's keel - the bottom-most structure of the ship - on November 29, 1993. The ship was christened after the 33rd President of the United States on September 7, 1996. President Truman is most famously known for being the first (and so far only) president to authorize the use of nuclear weapons during World War II. USS Harry S. Truman was launched on September 13, 1996 and was commissioned (entered active duty) on July 25, 1998.

Deployment History

USS Harry S. Truman left for its first deployment on November 28, 2000. The ship and crew assisted with Operation Southern Watch starting in February 2001. Operation Southern Watch maintained a no-fly zone in southern Iraq following the end of the Gulf War. TRUMAN traveled more than 44,000 nautical miles during its six-month deployment.

USS Harry S. Truman

TRUMAN returned to Norfolk Naval Shipyard in May 2003 for a planned incremental availability or PIA. Ship maintenance and system upgrades are the purpose of a PIA. TRUMAN's first PIA cost upwards of $110 million over the course of six months. During the next ten years, TRUMAN received a PIA or DPIA (dry-docked planned increment activity) after each of its deployments.

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