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Smart Bombs: Military, Defense and National Security

History Made: The US Navy Now Has a Female Aircraft Carrier Captain

Aircraft Carrier
ARABIAN SEA (May 24, 2012) The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) transits the Arabian Sea. Abraham Lincoln is deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility conducting maritime security operations, theater security cooperation efforts and support missions as part of Operation Enduring Freedom. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Amanda L. Kilpatrick/Released)

Right at this moment, an American nuclear aircraft carrier of more than 105,000 tons is sailing the waters of the Indo-Pacific. At its helm is the first female flattop captain in history. 

A few weeks into the deployment of the USS Abraham Lincoln, Captain Amy Bauernschmidt has already faced an almost fatal crash involving the most advanced fighter jet in the U.S. military’s arsenal but also a rare opportunity to showcase American military power in one of the most contested waterways in the globe. 

Making History at the Helm of An Aircraft Carrier  

In early January, the Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group left its homeport for deployment in the Indo-Pacific area of operations in support of global maritime security operations. At the helm was Captain Bauernschmidt, who assumed command of the nuclear aircraft carrier last August

“These Sailors are incredible professionals who have trained exceptionally hard to ensure they are ready for any operational obligations required of us on deployment. They are absolutely prepared for today’s deployment, and I have no doubt they will represent our nation proudly as we defend our national interests,” Captain Amy Bauernschmidt, the commanding officer of the USS Abraham Lincoln, had said in a press release earlier in January. 

The Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group is centered around the USS Abraham Lincoln, a Nimitz-class aircraft carrier, and supported by the USS Mobile Bay, a guided-missile cruiser, and the USS Fitzgerald, USS Gridley, USS Sampson, and USS Spruance guided-missile destroyers.

So far, the deployment has had ups and downs. The carrier strike group joined four additional capital flattops, including another U.S. Navy aircraft carrier, in a rare show of force in the South China Sea. 

But disaster struck when on Tuesday, an F-35C Lightning II stealth fighter jet had a landing mishap, forcing the pilot to eject and injuring seven more sailors. 

“The entire CSG 3 team is trained and ready to deter and, if necessary, win conflicts as called upon by our nation’s leaders. As we leave today on this routine, scheduled deployment, I know the Sailors and Marines of this team will continue to serve this great nation and its people. It is our honor to do so,” Rear Admiral J.T. Anderson, the commanding officers of Carrier Strike Group 3, had stated at the beginning of the deployment. 

Making Skipper

Getting picked up for a command in the Navy isn’t easy. It’s less easy to get chosen to command a nuclear aircraft carrier, and only a select few get the privilege and responsibility

For starters, one has to be a naval aviator (rotary- or fixed-wing), which requires at least two years of training to become. Then, one has to stay in uniform to reach O-6 (Captain), which takes more than 20 years, be an excellent performer throughout one’s service, and also be fortunate to reach O-6 at the same time an aircraft carrier skipper post opens up. 

Throughout her career, Captain Bauernschmidt has clocked over 3,000 hours in the cockpit of helicopters, has served as an instructor, has commanded Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 70, and has been the executive officer of her current command, the USS Abraham Lincoln.

1945’s New Defense and National Security Columnist, Stavros Atlamazoglou is a seasoned defense journalist specializing in special operations, a Hellenic Army veteran (national service with the 575th Marine Battalion and Army HQ), and a Johns Hopkins University graduate. His work has been featured in Business InsiderSandboxx, and SOFREP.

1945’s Defense and National Security Columnist, Stavros Atlamazoglou is a seasoned defense journalist with specialized expertise in special operations, a Hellenic Army veteran (national service with the 575th Marine Battalion and Army HQ), and a Johns Hopkins University graduate. His work has been featured in Business Insider, Sandboxx, and SOFREP.