The USS JOHN C. STENNIS (CVN 74) seal was produced from the combined efforts of several crewmembers with historical help from the Stennis Center for Public Service, the John C. Stennis Space Center and the United States Senate Historian. The Seal implies peace through strength, just as Senator 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 ability 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 with which he served 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 eagles' 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 Service 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 State Senate Seal, portrays the birth of over 25 major 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 U. S. 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 nuclear-powered USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) was contracted on 29 March 1988, and the keel was laid on 13 March 1991 at Newport News Shipbuilding Co., Newport News, Va.
The ship was christened on 11 November 1993, in honor of Senator John Cornelius Stennis (D-Mississippi) who served in the Senate from 1947 to 1989. The daughter of the ship’s namesake, Mrs. Margaret Stennis-Womble, was the ship’s sponsor. Stennis was commissioned on 9 December 1995 at Naval Station Norfolk, Va, and she conducted flight deck certification in January 1996. The first arrested landing was by a VX-23F-14B. The ship conducted numerous Carrier Qualifications and Independent Steaming Exercises off the East Coast throughout the next two years. Included among these events was the first carrier landing of an F/A-18E/F Super Hornet on 18 January 1997.
In October 1998, Stennis entered a 6-month Phased Incremental Availability for maintenance and upgrades at North Island, returning to sea in April 1999. During the maintenance period, a jet blast deflector collapsed, severely injuring two sailors.
On 30 November 1999, Stennis ran aground in a shallow area adjacent to the turning basin near North Island. Silt clogged the intake pipes to the steam condensing systems for the nuclear reactor plants, causing the carrier’s two nuclear reactors to be shut down (one reactor by crew, the other automatically) for a period of 45 minutes. Stennis was towed back to her pier for maintenance and observation for the next two days. The cleanup cost was about $2 million.
2000 – Persian Gulf/Pacific Ocean
On 7 January 2000, Stennis deployed to the Persian Gulf to relieve USS John F. Kennedy in Operation Southern Watch. During the deployment, the ship made port visits to South Korea, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Australia, before returning to San Diego on 3 July 2000.