CVAN-68 USS Nimitz 1975 maiden cruise

An unique set of original 1970’s instamatic type of photographs made during the maiden cruise of the well-known aircraft carrier USS Nimitz. Although the author is unknown by me; the photographs are of such historical importance that I would really like to publish these on my website.

The USS Nimitz was the first of the Nimitz-class nuclear powered super carriers. It’s maiden cruise in 1975 was therefore an important military event, during which it was shadowed by Russian Tu95 Bear aircraft. All sorts of trials were performed, including life firing of (experimental) Sea Sparrow SAM missiles and trials with British F4 Phantom aircraft. The Bears, Sea Sparrows and British Phantoms are all captured on these photographs. Today (2020) the USS Nimitz is still an active serving front line super carrier.

The original photographs were very difficult to scan due to the highly grained type of photo paper used in the 1970's. 

These are the best possible photo shopped scans - reflections by the scanner were in some cases impossible to avoid.

A-6 Intruders, EA-6B Prowlers, F-4J Phantoms and A-7E Corsairs are the main aircraft types.

During its maiden voyage the USS Nimitz operated for a month in the Caribbean and next for a month in the North Atlantic with Nuclear Task Force 75. It carried the Carrier Air Wing 8 which consisted of:

  • VF-31 "Tomcatters" flying orange tailed 'AC' F-4J Phantoms
  • VMFA-333 "Shamrocks" flying US Marines F-4J Phantoms
  • VA-35 "Black Panthers" flying 'AJ' marked A-6 Intruders
  • VA-82 "Marauders" flying 'AJ' eagle marked A-7E Corsairs
  • VA-86 "Sidewinders" flying 'AJ' cobra and checkered marked A-7E Corsairs
  • VAQ-130 "Zappers" flying EA-6B Prowlers
  • RVAH-9 "Hoot Owls" flying RA-5C Vigilantes
  • VAW-116 "Sunkings" flying E-2B Hawkeyes
  • VRC-40 flying a detachment of S-2 trackers used for logistics
  • HS-15 "Red Lions" flying SH-3 Sea Kings for SAR and ASW

RVAH-9 ‘Hoot Owls’ RA-5C Vigilante reconnaissance/strike aircraft

Several different aircraft. HS15 SH3 Sea King Anti-Submarine Warfare helicopters. An airborne E2B Hawkeye.

Royal Navy (F4K) Phantom FG1 of 892 Naval Air Squadron being prepared for take-off (in a somehow strange manner - looks like it drove too far) and in the next photograph taking off.

Also CH46 Sea Knights on deck - used for logistics - and a foreign SH3 Sea King; looks to me like a Belgian Sea King with the camouflage stripes, but would more logically be a British Sea King.

Russian Tu-95 Bear intelligence aircraft circling around the Nimitz, escorted by F4 Phantoms.

The shiny metal skin can clearly be seen as well as the double propeller (vaguely) in the first photograph. The Bear was flying quite low level. 

Also in the final photograph a Kamov Ka26 helicopter with double rotor blades indicating there must also be a Russian vessel nearby.

The Nucelar Task Force 75 also consisted of the nuclear cruiser CGN-37 USS South Carolina. The US Navy operated several nuclear cruisers which were all drawn from service between 1993 and 1999.

The other photographs depict a Sean King hovering over a supply vessel, an Oberon-class (British or Canadian) submarine, a trailing vessel and a close up of a Sea Sparrow installation.