On-board USS Nimitz, July 1: A fighter jet takes off every 30 seconds from its flight deck of 4.5 acres. The height from its keel to the mast is 23 storeys. These are just two of the fascinating statistics of the USS Nimitz, the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier bound for the waters off Chennai, amid opposition from some political parties and environmental groups.br /A select group of Indian journalists, which visited the warship when it was over 450 miles from the port of Chennai, was taken around the vessel whose fighter jets are operational for all but four hours a day, when they are taken in for maintenance.br /Powered by two nuclear power plants and with a speed of over 30 knots, the Nimitz accommodates a crew of over 5,000 and more than 65 fighters, surveillance and rescue jets and helicopters.br /Its length of 1,092 feet and width of 252 feet make it a marvel of the seas. Commissioned on May 3, 1975, the Nimitz was named after Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, who commanded the US Pacific Fleet in World War II.br /When sea-sickness struck one of the journalists, there were friendly smiles all around as a medical personnel attended to his problem. A medical department manned by six doctors, including a general surgeon, and a team of five dentists, one of whom is the Indian-American Lieutenant Commander Mohammad Kamil, take care of the medical needs of those on board.br /The warship has a 53-bed hospital ward, and a three-bed intensive care unit, and acts as the hospital ship for its strike group. Fresh drinking water is available in plenty, with four distilling units on board enabling engineers to make over four lakh gallons of fresh water a day.br /This is also used for the propulsion plant and catapults used to launch aircraft. Refrigerated and dry goods for at least 70 days are stocked on the ship. Over one million pounds of mail a year are processed on board the ship, which has its own post office.br /Nimitz receives mail every day either by air or through other ships. There are also three chaplains who conduct daily religious services in an inter-denominational chapel.br /Its nuclear power allows the ship to store 50 per cent more ammunition and almost twice as much aviation fuel as the largest conventional aircraft carrier. Repairs and sheltering of aircraft that are not in use are done in the hangar bay, which extends for the most part of the ship’s length.br /For the Indian journalists, finding their way through the interiors of the ship was an uphill task. Even some crew members were seen asking for directions within the ship.br /The Nimitz resembles a mini-city, fully equipped to defend itself and to maintain security on the high seas.

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