USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69), nicknamed "Ike", is the second of 10 Nimitz-class supercarriers in the United States Navy, named after the thirty-fourth President of the United States, Dwight D. Eisenhower. Originally, she was named Eisenhower, much like her sister, Nimitz. On 25 May 1970, the name was lengthened to Dwight D. Eisenhower. On commissioning, Ike replaced the aged World War II-era carrier in the fleet.
She was laid down as hull number 599 on 15 August 1970 at Newport News shipyard at a cost of $679 million ($4.5 billion in 2007 dollars), launched 11 October 1975 after christening by Mamie Doud-Eisenhower, and commissioned 18 October 1977, Captain William E. Ramsey in command. Ramsey was later promoted to Rear Admiral after commanding the Ike. Since her commissioning, Ike has had 13 Commanding Officers.
As a result of the tensions in the area, Ike stayed on station off the coast of Iran for over 8 months, and was at sea for a total of 254 days. During that period, Sailors and Marines enjoyed 2 beers (1 time) after 45 days without a port call. The term applied to this is called "splicing the main brace." As a result of being at sea for 154 days, they subsequently enjoyed this on two more occasions. This was the first legal consumption of alcohol by US Sailors while underway aboard a US Navy vessel in decades.
Sailors on the Ike affectionately dubbed the areas they patrolled in the Indian Ocean as "Gonzo" and "Kermit" station, after the popular Muppets characters. At one point, she spent 152 days (or 5½ months) at sea without a port call, a new record. She was relieved by the USS Independence. She returned home to Norfolk on 22 December 1980, just in time for her airwing and crew to celebrate Christmas with their families. 29 days after Ike's return home, the hostages were freed. In total, she has completed eight deployments, including two to the Indian Ocean in 1980 and 1991.
For over 20 years, she held the record for the longest peacetime deployment for an aircraft carrier in history. Prior to this, her sister ship, the USS Nimitz, was the previous record holder. Eisenhower's record was broken by another of her "sister ships," the USS Theodore Roosevelt.
On her third deployment in 1982, she returned to the Mediterranean Sea, and spent a number of days at sea once again. Her new Commanding Officer was Captain E.W. Clexton, who was formerly her Executive Officer several years earlier under Captain W.E. Ramsey.
On 29 February 1988, Ike started her fifth deployment to the Mediterranean. She stopped for liberty in Palma De Mallorca, Spain; Toulon, France; Marseille, France; Cannes, France; Naples, Italy; Livorno, Italy; Sigonella, Sicily, Italy; Antalya, Turkey; and Haifa, Israel. While returning to Norfolk, on 29 August 1988, she collided with an anchored Spanish coal ship while entering the harbor to dock at Norfolk Naval Station when wind and currents pushed the carrier off course. Damage was minor to both ships. The commanding officer, Captain Gary Beck was relieved of duty a month later.
Ike entered Norfolk Naval Shipyard (Portsmouth, VA) in September 1988, she returned to the fleet in April 1989. During two of the work-up cruises in Fall 1989, Ike stopped for liberty in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
In 1990, Ike completed her sixth Mediterranean deployment. The deployment became a commemorative event in the worldwide 'Dwight D. Eisenhower Centennial,' celebrating the 100th anniversary of the late president's birth. During D-Day anniversary ceremonies off the coast of Normandy, President Eisenhower's son John Eisenhower and D-Day veterans embarked in the ship, while Carrier Air Wing Seven conducted a memorial flyover of the American cemetery at Omaha Beach.
After completion of an extensive shipyard period and work ups, Ike deployed 26 September 1991 to the Persian Gulf to continue multi-national operations with coalition forces in support of Operation Desert Storm. Ike returned to Norfolk 2 April 1992, and on 12 January 1993, entered Norfolk Naval Shipyard for overhaul and conversion, returning to the fleet 12 November 1993.
One month later, in October 1994, "Ike" departed for a six-month deployment which included flying missions in support of Operation Southern Watch and Operation Deny Flight. This deployment marked the first time that women had deployed as crew members of a U.S. Navy combatant. "Ike", Carrier Wing Three, and COMCRUDESGRU Eight team included more than 400 women.
On 3 October 2006 with Carrier Air Wing 7 (CVW-7), Eisenhower returned to sea as the flagship of Rear Admiral Allen G. Myers, commanding Carrier Strike Group 8. CSG-8 also includes the guided-missile cruiser USS Anzio (CG-68), guided-missile destroyers Ramage (DDG-61) and Mason (DDG-87), and the fast-attack submarine Newport News (SSN-750). She visited Naples, Italy and then Limassol, Cyprus for three days in October 2006 before departing to the east. Ike entered the Persian Gulf in December 2006.
On 8 January 2007, a US AC-130 gunship based out of Djibouti was dispatched to target Al-Qaeda operatives located in Somalia. The USS Dwight D. Eisenhower "was deployed in the Indian Ocean to provide air cover for the operation and, if needed, to evacuate downed airmen and other casualties." It joined other US and allied vessels from Bahrain-based Combined Task Force 150 The US spokesperson did not say what particular ships comprised the cordon, but the task force includes vessels from Canada, France, Germany, Pakistan, the UK and the US. US ships of Combined Task Force 150 include the Arleigh Burke-class destroyer USS Ramage (DDG-61) and the Ticonderoga-class cruiser USS Bunker Hill (CG-52). The aim of the patrols is to "... stop SICC leaders or foreign militant supporters escaping" Somalia.
In March 2007, following the Iranian seizure of Royal Navy personnel, Eisenhower began battle group exercises off the Iranian coastline. In April 2007, the USS Eisenhower was relieved by the USS Nimitz, who will assume the air support missions in the Iraqi theater.