USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) (known affectionately as the Big Stick or TR) is the fourth Nimitz-class supercarrier and her call sign is Rough Rider, the name of President Theodore Roosevelt's volunteer cavalry unit during the Spanish-American War. She was launched on 27 October 1984 and saw her first action during Operation Desert Storm in 1991. On 9 June 1990, Capt. Charles S. Abbot became the ship's third Commanding Officer and on 28 December, Theodore Roosevelt and CVW-8 deployed for Operation Desert Shield. With the commencement of Operation Desert Storm on 15 January 1991, Theodore Roosevelt commenced combat operations, eventually flying over 4,200 sorties (more than any other carrier) and dropping more than 4,800,000 pounds of ordnance before the cease-fire on 28 February.
Her history began on 30 September 1980, when a contract was awarded to Newport News Shipbuilding.
Construction began on 31 October 1981, when Secretary of Defense Casper Weinberger authenticated the keel-laying of Theodore Roosevelt by initiating the first weld. Captain Paul W. Parcells was named Prospective Commanding Officer in February 1984, and that October the ship was officially christened. On 25 October 1986, Theodore Roosevelt was placed in active service. Her cost is $4.5 billion dollars in 2007 dollars.
Normally the first ship in a class, in this case Nimitz, would be shock tested prior to deployment. However, Nimitz was never tested and the testing fell to Theodore Roosevelt, or the "T.R." as she is sometimes referred to by her sailors. The T.R. had four explosive charges at various depths, distances and amplitudes detonated underneath her hull. All critical components were videotaped and analyzed. The shock testing was in addition to the standard tests that all newly commissioned ships endure such as high speed runs and turns.
Because of extensive changes between the first three units of the class and "T.R." and all subsequent ships, the latter six are infrequently called "Theodore Roosevelt-class" aircraft carriers.
Capt. Dayton W. Ritt became Theodore Roosevelt's second Commanding Officer on 3 October 1987, and on 30 December 1988, Theodore Roosevelt started her maiden deployment, which was also the maiden deployment of the first 10-squadron air wing, Carrier Air Wing Eight.
On 9 June 1990, Capt. Charles S. Abbot became the ship's third Commanding Officer and on 28 December, Theodore Roosevelt and CVW-8 deployed for Operation Desert Shield. With the commencement of Operation Desert Storm on 15 January 1991, Theodore Roosevelt began combat operations; eventually flying over 4,200 sorties (more than any other carrier) and dropping more than 4,800,000 pounds of ordnance before the cease-fire on 28 February.
When Iraqi forces turned on the Kurds, Theodore Roosevelt and CVW-8 were among the first coalition forces in Operation Provide Comfort, flying patrols over northern Iraq. After a 189-day deployment, with 169 days at sea, Theodore Roosevelt returned to Norfolk on 28 June 1991. On 14 February 1992, the ship won her second Battle "E". This was followed by the award of the Battenberg Cup for 1991 as the Atlantic Fleet's premier ship.
Capt. Stanley W. Bryant became Theodore Roosevelt's fourth Commanding Officer on 27 August 1992.
Theodore Roosevelt and CVW-8 began their third deployment on 11 March 1993, teamed with the Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force (SPMAGTF) to test the concept of embarking a multi-purpose Marine force in a carrier. Theodore Roosevelt hosted President Bill Clinton's first visit to a U.S. Navy ship, then sailed to the Adriatic as CVW-8 planes enforced Operation Deny Flight in the U.S. no-fly zone over Bosnia. In June, on the way to only her second port visit, Theodore Roosevelt was ordered to turn around and transit the Suez Canal en-route to the Red Sea to participate in Operation Southern Watch, enforcing the no-fly zone over Iraq.
Deployed for 184 days, Theodore Roosevelt spent 169 days underway. Her flight deck logged over 16,000 hours, and CVW-8 flew more sorties than during Operation Desert Storm. For her accomplishments, the ship received her second Meritorious Unit Commendation.
In November 1993, Theodore Roosevelt entered Norfolk Naval Shipyard (NNSY) for a Selected Restricted Availability (SRA). Heading back to sea on 14 April 1994, Theodore Roosevelt became the first nuclear carrier to complete an SRA ahead of schedule at NNSY.
Awards for 1993 continued. Theodore Roosevelt received the CINCLANTFLT Golden Anchor Award for the best retention in an Atlantic Fleet carrier. On 10 March 1994, Theodore Roosevelt received its third Battle "E". Then on 3 June, Theodore Roosevelt was awarded her second Battenberg Cup as the best ship in the Atlantic Fleet.
On 8 July 1994, Capt. Ronald L. Christenson became Theodore Roosevelt's fifth Commanding Officer.
TR visited the Caribbean island of St. Maarten for a port call in November 1994 during carrier-qualification exercises.
Theodore Roosevelt and CVW-8 began their fourth deployment in March 1995, operating in the Red Sea in support of Operation Southern Watch. TR returned to Norfolk, Virginia from deployment in September. Theodore Roosevelt also provided a "Forward...from the Sea" presence, conducting flight operations in support of Operations Deny Flight and Sharp Guard over the skies of Bosnia and in the Adriatic operating areas. Deny Flight evolved into Operation Deliberate Force, as CVW-8 aircraft led NATO strikes against strategic Bosnian Serb targets in Bosnia-Herzegovina. During Theodore Roosevelt's transit home, Secretary of the Navy John H. Dalton came aboard and awarded the Theodore Roosevelt Battle Group the Navy Unit Commendation for its Bosnia operations. Ports of call visited during the deployment were Haifa, Israel (twice); Jebel Ali, UAE; Rhodes and Corfu, Greece; and Trieste, Italy. Also during this deployment, King Hussein of Jordan was flown onto the ship via a S-3B Viking aircraft and given a VIP tour of the ship for the day. While TR was anchored in Rhodes, Greece for a port call, Oprah Winfrey, who was vacationing on the island, requested and received a tour of the ship.
In 1996, Theodore Roosevelt received her third consecutive Golden Anchor Award and Commander, Naval Air Force, U.S. Atlantic Fleet's first Security Excellence Award. CVW-3 joined Theodore Roosevelt in May 1996 prior to her port visit to Halifax, Nova Scotia. On 1 November 1996, Capt. David Architzel became Theodore Roosevelt's sixth Commanding Officer. Theodore Roosevelt deployed for her fifth deployment on 25 November 1996, conducting operations in the Mediterranean and Persian Gulf in support of Operation Southern Watch.
On 8 July 1997, Theodore Roosevelt entered the Newport News Shipbuilding yard for a one-year Extended Drydock and Selected Restricted Availability (EDSRA), her first major overhaul since commissioning. In February 1998, Theodore Roosevelt received her fifth Golden Anchor Award while in the shipyard. One year later, Theodore Roosevelt returned to her homeport at the Norfolk Naval Station.
Capt. David R. Bryant became Theodore Roosevelt's seventh Commanding Officer on 22 September 1998.
Theodore Roosevelt began her sixth deployment on 26 March 1999 with CVW-8. They were immediately called to duty in the Ionian Sea to support NATO's Operation Allied Force. Theodore Roosevelt and CVW-8 aircraft conducted air strikes for two months over the skies of Kosovo against the Serbians. TR and CVW-8 were then dispatched to support Operation Southern Watch, enforcing the "no-fly" zone over Southern Iraq. Theodore Roosevelt returned to her homeport of Norfolk, Va., on 24 September 1999.
On 7 January 2000, Theodore Roosevelt entered a Planned Incremental Availability at the Norfolk Naval Naval Shipyard, Portsmouth, Virginia. This six month maintenance period ended on 30 June 2000 when the ship departed on sea trials.
Capt. R.J. O'Hanlon became Theodore Roosevelt's eighth Commanding Officer in 2000.
Theodore Roosevelt successfully completed her Inter-Deployment Training Cycle in August 2001.
Capt. John 'Turk' Green became Theodore Roosevelt's ninth Commanding Officer in 2003.
In February 2004, TR entered a ten-month DPIA (Docked Planned Incremental Availability). Major systems overhauled included AC systems, Steam and CHT (sewage) systems, 1MC (announcing) systems, communication, navigation, and detection suites, weapons elevator overhauls, Propeller replacement, hull cleaning and painting, and sea valve replacement, to name a few. TR came out of the dry-dock in August and completed its availability in December 2004 with all four catapults operational and certified, a first for a carrier.
Capt. John R. Haley became Theodore Roosevelt's tenth Commanding Officer in May 2005.
Shortly after this cruise, the TR earned the "Jig Dog" Ramage Carrier and Carrier Air Wing Operational Excellence Award, which is a Navy-wide award that is selected jointly by Type Commanders (TYCOM) and is presented to the Carrier/Air Wing team with the best performance as an integrated unit.
Captain C. Ladd Wheeler became Theodore Roosevelt's eleventh commanding officer on 11 January 2008.
CVW-8 and Theodore Roosevelt participated in Joint Task Force Exercise 08-4 Operation Brimstone off the coast of North Carolina between 21 July and 31 July 2008. The British carrier , the amphibious assault ship with associated units and the Brazilian Navy frigate Greenhalgh (F-46) and the French submarine Améthyste also participated in the event.
Roosevelt left Norfolk on September 8 for a six- to seven-month deployment to the Middle East. On board were Carrier Air Wing 8 with strike fighter squadrons VFA-15, VFA-31, VFA-87 and VFA-213; tactical electronics warfare squadron VAQ-141; carrier airborne early warning squadron VAW-124; and helicopter anti-submarine squadron HS-3. In transit the ship stopped at Cape Town, South Africa. This was the first visit to Cape Town by a nuclear-powered vessel since the German cargo ship the Otto Hahn in the 1970s.