First Female Nuclear Carrier CO Will Command USS Abraham Lincoln

December 23, 2020 4:03 PM - Updated: December 23, 2020 4:53 PM
Capt. Amy N. Bauernschmidt, then commanding officer of USS San Diego (LPD-22), met with Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Russel Smith during MCPON’s visit to the ship in 2019. US Navy Photo

Capt. Amy Bauernschmidt, a veteran pilot, will take the helm of the Nimitz-class USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72), becoming the first woman to command an aircraft carrier, the Navy announced Wednesday.

Bauernschmidt will take command of Lincoln this summer after she completes nuclear power, aviation and leadership training the Navy require of officers assigned to command its 11-ship fleet of aircraft carriers, according to the service.

“I am incredibly honored and humbled to be selected,” Bauernschmidt said in a Navy news release. “I love leading sailors and I take that responsibility extremely seriously.”

Bauernschmidt, a 1994 U.S. Naval Academy graduate, was the first woman selected by the major command screening board, Task and Purpose reported Dec. 7.

She had already marked another CVN first for female officers, according to the Navy: She was the first woman to serve as executive officer during her September 2016 to January 2019 tour aboard Lincoln. She’s most recently commanded the amphibious warship USS San Diego (LPD-22). She left the ship in October.

Bauernschmidt’s 1994 USNA graduating class was the first whose women were allowed to serve aboard combatant ships and aircraft. A native of Milwaukee, Wisc., she earned her naval aviator wings in 1996, according to her biography. She has tallied more than 3,000 flight hours in naval aircraft.

Assigned to the “Wolfpack” of Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron Light (HSL) 45, an SH-60 squadron at North Island Naval Air Station, Calif., she deployed with the destroyer USS John Young (DD-973) and supported maritime interdiction operations in the northern Arabian Gulf. She served as an instructor pilot and quality assurance officer with the “Seahawks” of HSL-41, a Fleet Replacement Squadron based at North Island.

A young boy watches sailors man-the-rails aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) on Jan. 20, 2020. US Navy Photo

In other squadron tours, she deployed aboard the aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk (CV-63) while serving with the “Warlords” of HSL-51 in Atsugi, Japan. She served as the executive officer with the “Spartans” of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 70 including a deployment aboard USS George H. W. Bush (CVN-77) in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, before taking command of the squadron June 2011. During those assignments, HSM-70 received the 2011 Admiral Jimmy Thach and Captain Arnold J. Isbell awards for tactical innovation and excellence and the 2012 Battle “E” Efficiency award.

Other assignments included aide-de-camp to Commander, Carrier Strike Group 7, deployed aboard USS John C. Stennis (CVN-74); action officer executive assistant to the Director, Joint Staff/J6 at the Pentagon; and senior military advisor to the Office of Global Women’s Issues for the U.S. State Department.

Earlier this year, Lincoln returned home after an extended deployment following a 2019 homeport change and operations in four geographic regions: U.S. 6th Fleet, U.S. 5th Fleet, U.S. 7th Fleet and U.S. 3rd Fleet.

Gidget Fuentes

Gidget Fuentes

Gidget Fuentes is a freelance writer based in San Diego, Calif. She has spent more than 20 years reporting extensively on the Marine Corps and the Navy, including West Coast commands and Pacific regional issues.

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