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USS Nimitz Racks Up 350,000th Landing

Capt. Craig Sicola, commanding officer of Nimitz, and Cmdr. Luke Edwards, commanding officer of Strike Fighter Squadron VFA 22, piloted the landing in a Super Hornet on the morning of April 22
Courtesy U.S. Navy

Published Apr 25, 2023 9:21 PM by The Maritime Executive

On Saturday, the commanding officer of the USS Nimitz personally performed the supercarrier's 350,000th landing, setting a new record for a U.S. Navy carrier currently in service. 

Capt. Craig Sicola, commanding officer of Nimitz, and Cmdr. Luke Edwards, commanding officer of Strike Fighter Squadron VFA 22, piloted the landing in a Super Hornet on the morning of April 22. The CO's decision to conduct the historic flight himself had an element of symmetry: Nimitz’s first arrested landing was conducted in 1975 by Capt. Bryan Compton, her first commanding officer.

First-in-class USS Nimitz celebrates her 48th year in service and her 30th deployment this year. Fittingly, her 350,000th trap occurred during operations in the South China Sea, the front line of the U.S. effort to deter Chinese expansionism. Nimitz is no stranger to flashpoint areas: over the span of her five-decade career, she was involved in the response to the Iran hostage crisis in 1979; helped with the resolution of the TWA Flight 847 hijacking in Lebanon; provided protection for Kuwaiti tankers during Operation Earnest Will; ensured the enforcement of a no-fly zone over Iraq after the first Gulf War; supported air operations over Iraq and Afghanistan after September 11; and provided air support for the fight against Islamic State in Iraq. 

"As we sail through the South China Sea, we celebrate this once in a lifetime achievement, 350,000 arrested landings, over a hundred years of innovation in the U.S. aircraft carrier, and the determination, sacrifice and winning spirit of all past and present naval aviators and our sailors," said Rear Adm. Christopher Sweeney, commander of Carrier Strike Group 11. "This landmark is a testament to the nation's commitment to fly, sail and operate around the globe promoting peace and security just as [Nimitz] has done for the past 48 years."

The carrier's long tenure in service is coming to a close soon. The Navy has begun plans for her decommissioning and defueling, which should begin in 2025-27. She will be replaced in service by a Ford-class carrier. For now, though, the carrier and her crew are on a well-earned break: Nimitz arrived Monday at Laem Chabang, Thailand for a port call ahead of a series of exercises with the Royal Thai Navy.