U.S. Navy Captain Becomes First Woman to Command Nuclear Carrier

by Matthew Memrick
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Capt. Amy Bauernschmidt became the first woman to lead a nuclear carrier in U.S. Navy history when she left with the USS Abraham Lincoln from San Diego this week.

Bauernschmidt is no stranger to the ship, having served as the USS Abraham Lincoln’s executive officer from 2016 to 2019. She made history then as the first female executive officer of a U.S. Navy nuclear aircraft carrier.  

According to The Associated Press, she relieved Capt. Walt “Sarge” Slaughter of his duties Aug. 19 during a change of command ceremony in California.

CBS 8 reported on the event. The Task and Purpose website reported Bauernschmidt’s future assignment back in 2020.

“There is no more humbling sense of responsibility than to know you are entrusted with the care of the people who have chosen to protect our nation,” Bauernschmidt said, according to a Navy news release. “Thank you, Capt. Slaughter, for turning over the finest ship in the fleet.”

The carrier deployed Monday from Naval Air Station North Island as part of the Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group.

Woman Captain A Former CO  

The Milwaukee, Wis. native is a 1994 U.S. Naval Academy graduate with a Bachelor of Science. That was the same year women were allowed to serve on combat ships and planes.

“That law absolutely changed my life,” Bauernschmidt told CBS News in 2018. “We were the first class that graduated knowing and feeling honored with the privilege to be able to go serve along the rest of our comrades in combat.”

After achieving her naval aviator status in 1996, she continued her education with a Masters’s Degree in national security and strategic studies at the Naval War College.

The 51-year-old woman previously served as the commanding officer of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 70 and the amphibious transport dock San Diego.

CBS 8 reported that Bauernschmidt had completed more than 3,000 flight hours during her career. Notably, she also has several personal awards like the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, Navy/Marine Commendation Medal, and Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal.

Abraham Lincoln Repaired And Back To Service

In April, the nuclear carrier finished its maintenance, right after a 294-day, world-crossing deployment. The ship has a crew of nearly 5,000 servicemembers, according to Task and Purpose.

According to The Associated Press, Carrier Strike Group 3 command staff leads the Carrier Strike Group. That group consists of the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier along with the Carrier Air Wing 9, the guided-missile cruiser USS Mobile Bay and the four Destroyer Squadron 21 guided-missile destroyers. Those ships are the USS Fitzgerald, USS Gridley, USS Sampson, and USS Spruance.

The carrier and strike group is bound for the Indo-Pacific region. The Navy is touting the group as its “most advanced air wing.”  

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