USS Nimitz touches base in India


Chennai : The USS Nimitz, a nuclear-powered American warship, sailed into waters off Chennai at the break of dawn Monday.

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Known to be the world's largest aircraft carrier, it brought home Mohammed Kamil, an Indian-origin doctor on board, and 5,679 of his American colleagues for a four-day holiday in Chennai.

Chennai Port Trust chairman K. Suresh told the media here that USS Pickney, a non-nuclear ship that is to accompany the Nimitz, has not yet arrived. Boat ferries to the ship are yet to begin, Suresh said.

However, US Navy C-2A Grayhounds aircraft from the Nimitz have been making sorties to airfields here since Saturday and several batches of airmen have come into land. EA-6B Prowler jets are also making sorties out of the Nimitz.

The crew of Nimitz has raised Rs.160,000 to do community work in Chennai in old age homes and orphanages. Kamil, a dentist with the warship, will have a reunion here with his wife and daughter, who too are on a visit to India.

Eighteen stories high from its keel to the bottom of its mast, with a flight deck area of 4.5 acres and a crew of 5,680, Nimitz is the largest US vessel of its class to call at an Indian port.

Commissioned in 1975, the Nimitz can carry close to 90 aircraft and helicopters, including the F-18 Super Hornet that manufacturer Boeing hopes to sell to the Indian Air Force (IAF).