USS John C. Stennis

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The Stennis (CVN-74) is a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier in the United States Navy. It was commissioned on December 9, 1995. Its home port is San Diego. full-sized image full-sized image

Mission and Capabilities

The mission of USS John C. Stennis and her embarked Air Wing (Carrier Air Wing Nine) is to conduct sustained combat air operations while forward deployed in the global arena. The embarked Air Wing consists of eight to nine squadrons. Attached aircraft are the F/A-18 Hornet, F-14 Tomcat, EA-6B Prowler, S-3 Viking, E-2C Hawkeye, and SH-60 Seahawk.

The Air Wing can destroy enemy aircraft, ships, submarines, and land targets, or lay mines hundreds of miles from the ship. USS John C. Stennis' aircraft are used to conduct strikes, support land battles, protect the Battle Group or other friendly shipping, and implement a sea or air blockade. The Air Wing provides a visible presence to demonstrate American power and resolve in a crisis. The ship normally operates as the centerpiece of a Carrier Battle Group commanded by a flag officer embarked in USS John C. Stennis and consisting of four to six other ships.

USS John C. Stennis' two nuclear reactors give her virtually unlimited range and endurance and a top speed in excess of 30 knots. The ship’s four catapults and four arresting gear engines enable her to launch and recover aircraft rapidly and simultaneously. The ship carries approximately three million gallons of fuel for her aircraft and escorts, and enough weapons and stores for extended operations without replenishment. USS John C. Stennis also has extensive repair capabilities, including a fully equipped Aircraft Intermediate Maintenance Department, a micro-miniature electronics repair shop, and numerous ship repair shops.

For defense, in addition to her Air Wing and accompanying vessels, USS John C. Stennis has NATO Sea Sparrow short-range, surface-to-air missile systems, the Phalanx Close-in Weapons System (an extremely rapid firing 20mm gun) for cruise missile defense, and the SLQ-32 Electronic Warfare System.


Length of flight deck: 1,092 ft 
Width of flight deck: 257 ft 
Height keel to mast: 244 ft (equal to 24-story building) 
Area of flight deck: 4.5 acres 
Weight of carrier: 97,000 tons 

Propulsion system

Type: Nuclear reactor 
Number of reactors: 2 
Maximum speed: More than 30 knots 
Number of screws: 4 (5 blades each) 
Weight of screws: 66,200 lbs each 

Flight deck/air wing

Number of catapults: 4 
Number of aircraft elevators: 4 
Size of Air Wing: 80+ tactical aircraft 


Builder: Newport News Shipbuilding Co. 
Sponsor: Mrs. Margaret Stennis Womble 
Contract Date: March 29, 1988 
Keel laid: March 13, 1991 
Christened: November 11, 1993 
Commissioned: December 9, 1995 
Crew size: 5,000 (including air wing) 
Meals served daily: 16,600 
Number of compartments: 2,700 
Number of anchors: 2 (From USS FORRESTAL (CV-59)) 
Weight of anchors: 30 tons each 
A/C plant capacity: 2,900 tons (enough to service 950 homes) 
Distillation plant capacity: 400,000 gals (enough to serve 2000 homes) 
Number of telephones: 2,000 
Tons of structural steel: More than 60,000 tons 
Miles of cable and wiring: over 900 
Number of light fixtures: more than 30,000 
Required technical manuals: A stack as high as the Washington Monument (555 feet) 
Bed mattresses: If lined up end-to-end, they would stretch more than nine miles. 
Sheets: 28,000 
Pillow Cases: 14,000 
Cost: $3.5 billion; projected service life: 50 years 

Ship's seal

USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) Seal was produced from the combined efforts of several crewmembers with historical help from Stennis Center for Public Service, John C. Stennis Space Center and United States Senate Historian. The Seal implies peace through strength, just as Senator John C. Stennis was referred to as an "unwavering advocate of peace through strength" by President Ronald Reagan, when the ship's name was announced in June 1988.

The circular shape signifies the NIMITZ class aircraft carrier's unique capability to circle the world without refueling while providing a forward presence from the sea. The predominant colors are red, white, blue and gold, the same as our country and our Navy. The outer border, taken from one version of a U. S. Senate crest, represents the strength through unity of the ship's crew. The four gold bands and eight ties denote John C. Stennis' four decades (41 years) in the Senate and the eight presidents he served with, from President Truman to President Reagan. The seven stars in the blue border represent his seven terms in the Senate and characterize USS John C. Stennis as the seventh NIMITZ class aircraft carrier. The red and white stripes inside the blue border represent our flag and the American people USS John C. Stennis serves. They also honor the courage and sacrifice of our country's armed forces.

The eagle and shield is a representation of the gilt eagle and shield overlooking the Old Senate Chamber, which Senator Stennis' dedicated efforts helped to restore. The shield represents the United States of America, the country USS John C. Stennis and her Air Wing serves and protects. The twenty stars represent our twentieth state, Mississippi, the home of John C. Stennis. The three arrows in the eagle's talons symbolize the Ship and Air Wing's awesome ability to project power. They also represent Senator John C. Stennis' over three decades on both the Senate Armed Services Committee (37 years) and Appropriations Committee (33 years), where he oversaw our country's military capabilities and earned the title "Father of America's modern Navy". The burst of light emanating from the shield, representative of the emergence of a new nation in the United States Senate Seal, portrays the birth of over 25 major Naval Aviation programs under Senator Stennis' leadership, including all aircraft carriers from USS FORRESTAL (CV 59) to USS HARRY S. TRUMAN (CVN 75), and aircraft from the F-4 Phantom to the F/A-18 Hornet. The eagle is representative of John C. Stennis' stature in the Senate, where he was respected and admired as a "soaring eagle" by his colleagues. It also symbolizes independence and strength, and depicts the constant readiness of USS John C. Stennis and her Air Wing to preserve, protect and defend freedom.

The carrier, cutting her powerful swath through the sea, exemplifies Senator Stennis' philosophy of "Look Ahead". Embodied in the ship are the principles of honor, courage, and commitment, principles that John Cornelius Stennis constantly upheld in his service to America, and values the ship's crew will uphold in their service. The carrier's path also evokes John C. Stennis' pledge to "plow a straight furrow down to the end of my row", just as the ship will steer a steady course to complete all missions in the preservation and defense of freedom.

The Seal, after selection by the ship's crew, was submitted to Mrs. Margaret Stennis Womble, the ship's Sponsor and daughter of Senator Stennis, and to Mrs. John Hampton Stennis, the Matron of Honor and wife of Senator Stennis' son, for their approval. In February 1995 they graciously approved the design.

See also: John C. Stennis Battle Group

Sources: US Navy web site; ship images from TimShell