Navy sink list includes Forrestal, destroyers


“The Navy plans to sink 15 decommissioned ships and scrap an additional 24 in the next five years, according to the latest shipbuilding plan. In fiscal 2009, the Navy will sink the Yellowstone-class destroyer Acadia, the Spruance-class destroyer Conolly and the acoustic research ship Hayes. The Hayes is still active and will be decommissioned sometime this year, according to the Navy. The service requested $5.4 million to sink the three ships in the fiscal 2009 budget presented to Congress in early February. Two ships in the current plan are slated to sink and become artificial reefs, the plan notes: the Spruance-class destroyer Arthur W. Radford, which rests in Philadelphia, and the auxiliary aircraft landing training ship. Specific sink dates have not been set for these two ships because plans must be coordinated with Congress and other government agencies, the plan states.


The fleet of inactive ships has sunk from 195 in 1997 to 62 today. The cost of maintaining the inactive ships is always one of the big reasons put forward in favor of sinking or scrapping them, but the article states that the Navy currently spends $14 million a year on it. Honestly, that’s peanuts. It’s less than half the cost of one F-35 fighter. For five fewer new jets, the Navy could keep its current inactive fleet mothballed for ten extra years. Now, I’m not arguing that the Navy should ditch some planes to keep old ships in reserve, but don’t tell me that this is a cost-driven issue. And here’s a list of upcoming ships to be scrapped: These decommissioned ships are scheduled to be dismantled in the next five years: destroyer tender Puget Sound; command ship Coronado; submarine tenders Simon Lake, L.Y. Spear and McKee; cruisers Yorktown, Vincennes and Thomas S. Gates; aircraft carriers Independence and Constellation; amphibious transport dock Austin; helicopter amphibious assault ship New Orleans; dock landing ships Anchorage and Fort Fisher; submarine Trout; and nuclear submarines Drum, Omaha, Cincinnati, New York City, Groton, Birmingham, Phoenix and Baltimore. The fast-attack submarine Los Angeles, still in commission, also is on the list to be dismantled” (Ref. 3-SH).


J--Towing and complete dismantlement of multiple CV-59/CV-63 Class Aircraft Carriers in the United States




The Naval Sea Systems Command intends to solicit for the towing and complete dismantlement of multiple CV-59/CV-63 Class Aircraft Carriers in the United States, removal and disposal of hazardous materials in accordance with applicable Federal, State and local laws and regulations, and processing and sale of scrap metals and reusable items. Ownership of the vessels remains with the United States. Towing will be required from the carriers' locations in Philadelphia, PA and Bremerton, WA to the Contractors' facilities in accordance with the U.S. Navy Tow Manual. The contract(s) will be five-year Indefinite-Delivery, Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) contracts awarded on a firm fixed-price basis at the net cost to the government, considering the estimated value to the Contractor of the resulting scrap metals and reusable items.

The Contractor shall retain the proceeds of the sale of scrap metals and reusable items to offset its costs of performance. The government may award one, two or three IDIQ contracts depending on the best value to the government. The first ship to be awarded is ex-FORRESTAL (AVT/CV-[59), located in Philadelphia, PA. The second is ex-INDEPENDENCE (CV-62), located in Bremerton, WA, and the third is ex-CONSTELLATION (CV-64), also located in Bremerton, WA.


Additional aircraft carriers may be solicited during the five-year period if the Navy changes their disposition to dismantling. The hull and all portions of the structure of the vessels must be demilitarized by reduction to scrap dimensions not exceeding five (5) feet.


Any and all weapons systems and communications equipment remaining on the vessels must be demilitarized by reduction to scrap dimensions not exceeding five (5) feet. Any and all weapons systems and communications equipment remaining on the vessels must be demilitarized by complete destruction. The Contractor must obtain a facility security clearance at the CONFIDENTIAL level at minimum from the Defense Security Service.


All employees and others with access to the vessel, to components of the vessels prior to reduction to scrap, and to information regarding the vessels must be U.S. citizens and, for those with access to the third deck and below, possess individual security clearances at the CONFIDENTIAL level at minimum. The Contractor must have facility controls in place to prevent physical access to the vessels and facility by unauthorized persons, and limit visual observation of the dismantling of the third deck and below by unauthorized persons. The Contractor must provide office space for on-site government representatives who will serve as the Contracting Officer's Representative, and to observe and monitor the performance of the Contractor” (Ref. 1-SH)


ESCO MARINE INC IN BROWNSVILLE, TX - Ship recycling plant in Brownsville, Texas contracted to scrap:


The ex-Forrestal (AVT-59), former CV-59 & CVA-59 was scrapped on 15 December 2015.


The ex-Saratoga (CV-60), former (CVA-60) & CVB-60 arrived on 16 September 2014 for final scrapping.


USS Constellation (CV-64) arrived at its final resting place in Brownsville on 16 January 2015.


The ex-seventh USS Ranger (CV-61), former CVA-61 arrived at her final resting place in Brownsville, Tx., on 12 July 2015, awaiting scrapping.


“The ex-USS Independence (CV-62) is scheduled to be towed to Brownsville, Tx. for scrapping later in 2016” (Ref. I-[19]).


“After more than 37 years of service, Forrestal was decommissioned on 11 September 1993 at Pier 6E in Philadelphia, and was stricken from the Naval Vessel Register the same day. After being stricken, ex-Forrestal was heavily stripped to support the rest of the carrier fleet. Two 30 ton anchors were transferred to John C. Stennis, while the ship's four nearly new bronze propellers were installed on Harry S. Truman, then under construction. On 16 June 1999, the Navy announced that the ship would be available for donation to an eligible organization for use as a museum or memorial. The USS Forrestal Museum Inc. began a campaign to obtain the ship from the Navy via donation, for use as a museum, to be located in Baltimore, but this plan was not successful. No other viable applications were received and the vessel was removed from donation hold in December 2003 and redesignated for disposal” (Ref. F-[14]).


“According to the NVR, efforts were made to determine her viability to be "donated for use as fishing reef." In 2007, the ship was environmentally prepared for sinking as an artificial reef as was USS Oriskany” (Ref. F-[15]).


“Due to elements of the Forrestal design having led directly to current aircraft carrier design, it was intended that the ship be donated to a state and sunk to become a deep water reef, for fishery propagation and not be accessible to divers. That plan never materialized” (Ref. F-[16]).


“On 15 June 2010, Forrestal departed Naval Station Newport in Newport, Rhode Island, where she had been stored since 1998, under tow for the inactive ship storage facility in Philadelphia and tied up at Pier 4, next to ex-USS John F. Kennedy (CV-67)” (Ref. F-[17] & F-[18]). 


“On 26 January 2012, the Navy's Naval Sea Systems Command posted a notice of solicitation for the towing and complete dismantlement of multiple CV-59/CV-63 Class aircraft carriers in the United States, to include ex-Forrestal (CV-59), ex-USS Independence (CV-62), ex-USS Saratoga (CV-60), and ex-USS Constellation (CV-64)” (Ref. F-[14] & F-[19]).


“These solicitations were posted in May 2012 and subsequently awarded to three successful offerors, pending their receipt of the facility security clearance required as part of the contract award. After the initial award of one carrier to each successful offeror, this contract provides the Navy with the capability to scrap other decommissioned conventionally-powered aircraft carriers over a five-year period” (Ref. F-[14]).


“In October 2013, it was announced Forrestal would be scrapped by All Star Metals in Brownsville, Texas at a cost of 1 cent” (Ref. F-[14] & F-[20]).


“She left the Philadelphia Naval Yard via a team of tugboats at 5:00AM on 4 February 2014” (Ref. F-[21]).


“She arrived at All Star Metals in Brownsville on 18 February 2014 for final scrapping” (Ref. F-[22]).


“According to the Naval Vessel Register, scrapping was completed December 15, 2015” (Ref. F-[23]). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Forrestal_(CV-59)


USS Forrestal, the Navy's first supercarrier, to be scrapped in 1 cent deal
Ken Killmeyer, USS Forrestal historian

“Here’s a penny for your thoughts: A scrap metal company got one red cent from the Navy to take its first supercarrier, the decommissioned Forrestal, off its hands. The U.S. Navy turned over the 1,067-foot behemoth to a Texas company, All Star Metals, to be dismantled, scrapped and recycled, giving the firm the sum of one penny for its trouble, Navy officials announced. It's an inauspicious fate for a ship with a colorful — and tragic — history. It's perhaps best known for a 1967 incident in which stray voltage triggered an accidental explosion that struck a plane on the flight deck whose cockpit was occupied by a young John McCain. A chain reaction of blasts and fires ultimately killed 134 men and injured more than 300. But its rich past and nearly four decades of service are not enough to spare it. The Navy tried to donate the historic ship for use as a memorial or a museum, but no “viable applications” were received. “It’s something that the Navy is caught between a rock and a hard place,” said Ken Killmeyer, historian for the USS Forrestal Association and a survivor of the 1967 incident. “They have to have these vessels no matter how big or small they are, and they use them as you would your car until they’re no longer financially viable. So, they decommission them.” The company plans to tow the aircraft carrier from its current location at the Navy’s inactive ship facility in Philadelphia to its facility in Brownsville, Texas. All Star Metals gets the proceeds and a penny but now must pay for moving and dismantling the ship, according to a Navy press release. “As crewmembers, we relive July 29, 1967, every time we hear a loud, unexplained noise, whether you’re at the beach or you’re in your office." Named for James Forrestal, the former Navy secretary and the first U.S. Secretary of Defense, the carrier was lauded as the “biggest ship ever built” by Popular Science, which detailed it in its August 1954 issue.


More than 16,000 engineers, draftsmen and builders worked on the ship, which took an estimated $217 million — nearly $2 billion in today's dollars — to build. Readers were amazed to learn that the ship featured enough air-conditioning equipment to cool New York City’s Empire State Building two-and-a-half times over. It launched on Dec. 11, 1954. “Her 3,500 crewmen will use nearly twice as much water as the eight big boilers that feed her main turbines,” Popular Science reported. “To supply both needs, her water tanks must store nearly 400,000 gallons.” The July 29, 1967, incident occurred while the ship was in the Gulf of Tonkin during the Vietnam War. Stray voltage triggered a rocket to launch from an F-4 Phantom on the flight deck, ultimately striking an armed A-4 Skyhawk piloted by then-Lt. Cmdr. John S. McCain III, who would later spend five years as a POW, serve in the U.S. Senate and run for president. A chain reaction of fires and explosions ensued, causing a day-long fire aboard the ship’s deck, which was packed with planes. In addition to the deaths and injuries, 21 aircraft were damaged. The incident prompted changes within the Navy to damage control and disaster response training, as most of the sailors who were trained as firefighters were reportedly killed during the initial blast, forcing the remaining crew to improvise its rescue efforts. After seven months of repairs, the ship later returned to sea for more than two decades before ultimately being decommissioned in 1993.


It was stationed in Newport, R.I., until 2010, when it was moved to Philadelphia’s Naval Inactive Ship Maintenance Facility, where more than 20 decommissioned naval vessels are reportedly being stored for possible foreign sale transfer, donation or artificial reefing. Meanwhile, Navy officials say the award of contracts for two other conventional carriers, the ex-Saratoga and ex-Constellation, are also pending and are contingent upon facility security clearances. Messages seeking comment from Sen. McCain, R-Ariz., were not immediately returned early Wednesday, but Killmeyer, who survived the fire as a 20-year-old sailor, told FoxNews.com that the sale marked a “sad day” for all Americans. While the ship could have made an excellent educational tool, Killmeyer said the “very costly” process to maintain massive aircraft carriers was difficult to overcome. “If they’re not painting them or working on it somehow, it’s an odd day because they’re always maintaining something to keep them afloat,” Killmeyer told FoxNews.com. “The weather plays havoc on their exterior no matter what climate they’re in. The biggest expense is maintenance. ”Killmeyer, now 67, said he can still smell the “total devastation” aboard the ship and the broken sense of security felt by the crewmen, who thought they were much safer at sea compared to their counterparts on land. “As crewmembers, we relive July 29, 1967, every time we hear a loud, unexplained noise, whether you’re at the beach or you’re in your office,” Killmeyer said. “Or, some people are affected by certain odors. When you smell flesh burnt from jet fuel, it kind of stays with you forever. You can’t get away from it”” (Ref. 5-SH).


Saratoga was decommissioned at the Naval Station, Mayport, Florida, , and stricken from the Naval Vessel Registry (Navy List) on 20 August 1994, with Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Boorda the keynote speaker at the decommissioning, having offloaded material and closing out each of the ship's more than 3,500 spaces, the crew prepared to deactivate the ship, upon arrival early in the morning of 24 June 1994. Saratoga was towed out of the Naval Station Mayport basin on 22 May 1995, to the Naval Station Newport, Rhode Island. She was towed from the Naval Station Newport, Rhode Island on 3 August 1998 to Philadelphia Naval Shipyard, then, deactivated at the Philadelphia Navy Yard in August 1998. Saratoga remained at the Naval Education and Training Center from her arrival 7 August 1998, until she returned to donation hold on 19 January 2000, when the Secretary of the Navy placed Saratoga in donation status, thus making her eligible to become a museum and memorial, transferring to the Naval Station Newport in Newport, Rhode Island. While a hulk at Newport, ex-Saratoga, like her sisters, has been extensively stripped to support the active carrier fleet. There was an active effort to make her a museum ship in Quonset Point in North Kingstown, Rhode Island. In April 2010 Saratoga was removed from donation hold and scheduled to be disposed” (Ref. S-[2]).


“Efforts in 1994–95 to establish the ship as a museum in Jacksonville, Florida failed to raise even half of the start up costs. Jacksonville civic leaders attempted to raise funds, but the fundraising campaign, "Save Our Sara", fell short of the $3 million goal. Efforts were abandoned when startup costs increased from $4.5 million to $6.8 million. Officials had wanted to place the ship in downtown Jacksonville, on the St. Johns River along the Southbank Riverwalk” (Ref. S-[24]).


“A major hurdle was competition with the National Football League, who had awarded the city the Jacksonville Jaguars franchise in November 1993. To secure the team as part of the agreement with the NFL, the city had to ensure a large financial commitment to fund re-building of the city's stadium at a cost of $130 million during 1994. This severely limited the city's available funding and support of the "Save Our Sara" effort to bring Saratoga back to its home port. The Jacksonville USS Saratoga Museum Foundation, Inc ceased operating in the summer of 1995” (Ref. S-[25]).


“On 8 May 2014, Naval Sea Systems Command announced that ESCO Marine, Brownsville, Texas, will scrap Saratoga for one cent. This was the minimum amount that could be paid for scrapping the ship” (Ref. S-[26] & S-[27]).


“On 21 August 2014, Saratoga departed Naval Station Newport and made its way down Narragansett Bay to the Atlantic Ocean, en route to the ESCO MARINE INC IN BROWNSVILLE, TX. ship recycling plant in Brownsville, Texas. The vessel arrived at the scrapyard on 16 September for final scrapping” (Ref. S-[28]).


Ex-USS Saratoga Departs NAVSTA Newport for Dismantling and Recycling


“Thousands of spectators lined the shores of Narragansett Bay Aug. 21 to view the final departure from Newport of the ex-USS Saratoga (CV-60) as she left Pier 1, Naval Station (NAVSTA) Newport, en route to her final destination at a dismantling facility in Brownsville, Texas. The ship arrived in Newport Aug. 7, 1998 following 38 years of commissioned service from 1956 to 1994. She arrived to what was then the Naval Education and Training Center Aug. 7, 1998 following four years in storage at the Philadelphia shipyard. The Saratoga, the second carrier of the Forrestal class, completed 22 deployments during her career, including the service off the coast of Cuba during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962 and in the Persian Gulf in support of Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. She was decommissioned Aug. 20, 1994 in Mayport, Florida. "It's sad that she could not be turned into a museum," said Darryl Fern, 51, of Tatamy, Pennsylvania. Fern, a member of the USS Saratoga Association, was videotaping from the shoreline as the commercial tugs guided her into the main channel of the bay. He served as an electrician's mate second class aboard the Saratoga, 1982-1984. "Like all the other older carriers, it's time for her to meet her demise," he said. "She served proudly for a long time," said Mitchell Abood, 48, of Belchertown, Massachusetts. He served as an avionics technician third class with Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron 125 aboard Saratoga from 1985-1987.


"A ship like this shouldn't be taken apart piece by piece," he said. Abood served during the carrier's Mediterranean deployments in 1985 and 1987. Joe Roberts, an explosives safety specialist at NAVSTA Newport, served aboard the Saratoga during Operation Desert Storm/Desert Shield. Roberts recalled his service saying, "there is a bit sadness that the Saratoga will never be seen again." Pier 1 berthed Navy ships until 1973, when the Shore Establishment Realignment program relocated all Newport-based ships to southern ports. The pier was leased to the State of Rhode Island for a period of time and remained vacant of ships between 1992 and 1998 until the Saratoga arrived. The Navy competitively awarded the contract May 8 to ESCO Marine of Brownsville, Texas, for the towing, dismantling and recycling of conventionally powered aircraft carriers stricken from the Naval Vessel Register. As part of the planning process for the relocation, teams from Naval Sea Systems Command Inactive Ships and ESCO Marine arrived at NAVSTA Newport to assess the condition of the vessel and prepare the work plan. Mother Nature was determined to have her way with this operation. It was verified that a pair of Peregrine falcons had yet again decided to start a family in a nest adjacent to the elevators on the ship and, after consultation with the U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife, any movement plans were put on hold until after Aug. 15 to be certain that any fledglings would have ample time to learn to fly and move elsewhere. On Aug. 13, after viewing long range forecasts and performing final equipment checks, the date was set to relocate the ship Aug. 20.


Excess safety lines were severed Aug. 19 when the Newport weather forecast called for clear skies with little wind. NOAA meteorologists checked the forecast throughout the Atlantic seaboard since the ship would depart Newport then head south to Florida and into the Gulf of Mexico prior to her final destination. A low pressure system off the coast of West Africa caused the original plan to be delayed for safety. On the original day of the movement, the teams met again at 4 p.m. for an extensive review of weather patterns. A decision was made to re-evaluate the forecast at 2 a.m. Checking that forecast proved the "go" for the operation as the weather system that was a concern for the tug captain appeared to be weakening. At 5:30 a.m. this morning, the movement team arrived on station with the tugs arriving at 5:55 a.m., a safety brief was completed and the lines began to be pulled up alongside the ship to hold her on the pier as the Anaconda Lines, bow and stern chains and other tethers were disconnected. By 7:30 a.m. the last of the two tugs had arrived on site from Providence, the pilots were on board the ship and the mooring lines at the stern were released to clear the way for the last tug to make the stern connection. By 7:40 a.m. the last line was dropped and the connection that this ship has held to Newport for more than 16 years was severed. The tugs took control of the ship and eased her out to the middle of Narragansett Bay's main shipping lane where the main tow ship, the Signet Warhorse III, was positioned to begin towing. Saratoga was underway to Texas at 9:31 a.m. The trip is expected to take approximately 16 days with an anticipated arrival Sept. 6” (Ref. S-[28] - Ex-USS Saratoga Departs NAVSTA Newport for Dismantling and Recycling - Story Number: NNS140821-05 - Release Date: 8/21/2014 1:43:00 PM - By Lisa Woodbury Rama, Naval Station Newport Public Affairs, NEWPORT, R.I. (NNS). Retrieved 6 June 2016.


“Since the late 1980s defense cuts, Ranger did not undergo the Service Life Extension Program (SLEP) modernization process as did her three sisters and the later Kitty Hawk-class ships, and by the early 1990s, her material condition was declining. Both the outgoing Bush and incoming Clinton administrations recommended cuts to the defense budget, so the retirement of Ranger, along with her sisters Forrestal and Saratoga, was put forth. Ranger was decommissioned on 10 July 1993 after 36 years of service, and is at the Naval Inactive Ship Maintenance Facility, Bremerton, Washington. This decommissioning came instead of a refit scheduled for the same year. Such an extension would have extended Ranger's life into 2002, requiring a reauthorization in 1994” (Ref. R-[21]).


“In September 2010, the not-for-profit USS Ranger Foundation submitted an application to Naval Sea Systems Command proposing the donation of Ranger for use as a museum ship and multipurpose facility, to be located on the Columbia River at Chinook Landing Marine Park in Fairview, Oregon” (Ref. R-[22] & R-[23]).


“However, in September 2012, NAVSEA rejected the foundation's proposal, and redesignated the ship for scrapping” (Ref. [24]).


“Preparations for disposal Ranger were completed 29 May 2014” (Ref. R-[25]). In August 2014, a new attempt began to convince the Navy not to scrap the ship. A petition on Change.org attracted over 2500 signatures. The hope was that Ranger could be located in Long Beach harbor as a museum. However, when asked by the Long Beach Press-Telegram, NAVSEA stated that Ranger was no longer available for donation and was slated to be scrapped in 2015” (Ref. R-[26]).


“On 22 December 2014, the U.S. Navy paid one cent to International Shipbreaking of Brownsville, Texas, to tow and scrap Ranger. International Shipbreaking will pay to tow her around South America, through the Straits of Magellan, as Ranger is too big to fit through the Panama Canal. The tow began on 5 March 2015, and will take up to 5 months from the inactive ships maintenance facility, Bremerton, Washington, to Brownsville. International Shipbreaking is expecting to make a profit from Ranger after the costs of the tow and the actual dismantling of the ship” (Ref. R-[27]).


“On April 7, 2015, ex-Ranger was seen anchored about 3 miles offshore at Panama City, Panama, attracting a lot of wild speculation as President Obama was scheduled to arrive two days later, for the 7th Summit of the Americas. Newspapers went so far as to repeat the local speculation that the ship was there to provide security to Obama. On July 12, 2015, the Ranger arrived at her final resting place in Brownsville” (Ref. R-[28]).


“After decommissioning, Independence remained in mothballs for five and a half years before being struck on 8 March 2004. During her time in mothballs, the ship was said to have been heavily stripped to support the active carrier fleet, especially the remaining Kitty Hawk-class aircraft carriers. Her port anchor and both anchor chains were used on the new Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush. The recycling of parts and the poor material condition of the ship at the time she was withdrawn made a strong argument against retaining her as a potential museum ship. In April 2004, Navy officials identified Independence as one of 24 decommissioned ships available to be sunk as artificial reefs. However, as of February 2008, she was scheduled to be dismantled in the next five years along with USS Constellation” (Ref. I-[16]).


“At that time, she was still available for donation as a reef while awaiting a contract for her dismantling to be awarded” (Ref. I-[17]).


“On 26 January 2012, the Navy's Naval Sea Systems Command posted a notice of solicitation for the towing and complete dismantlement of multiple CV-59/CV-63 Class Aircraft Carriers in the United States, to include ex-Forrestal (CV-59), ex-Independence (CV-62), and ex-Constellation (CV-64)” (Ref. I-[18]).


“The ex-Independence (CV-62) is scheduled to be towed to Brownsville, TX for scrapping later in 2016, following the ex-USS Ranger (CV-61) and ex-Constellation (CV-64) (Ref. I-[19]).


“After 41 years of commissioned service, the USS Constellation was decommissioned at the Naval Air Station North Island in San Diego on 7 August 2003. Constellation was towed to the ghost fleet at the Naval Inactive Ship Maintenance Facility, Bremerton, Washington, by a contracted ocean-going tug operated by Foss Maritime of Seattle, Wash. and became a member of the "mothball fleet" based at Bremerton, Washington; replaced by USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76)Ronnieon 12 September 2003, to be placed in inactive reserve after 41 years of commissioned service. On 2 December 2003, the ship was stricken (formally removed from the Naval Vessel Register) when Admiral Vern Clark decided against expenditure of maintenance costs. Constellation was placed in Reserve Category X, meaning it received no maintenance or preservation, and only security against fire, flooding, and pilferage was provided. Reserve Category X applies to ships that have been stricken and are awaiting disposal by scrap, sale to foreign countries, as a designated target in a live fire exercise, memorial, or donation, as applicable” (Ref. C-[14]).


“According to news reports in February of 2008, Constellation was scheduled to be disposed of by dismantling in the next five years, along with USS Independence” (Ref. C-15]).


“As of 26 January 2012, the Navy's Naval Sea Systems Command posted a notice of solicitation for the towing and complete dismantlement of multiple CV-59/CV-63 Class Aircraft Carriers in the United States, to include ex-USS Forrestal (CV-59), ex-USS Independence (CV-62), and ex-USS Constellation (CV-64)” (Ref. C-[16]).


“The Constellation will be scrapped at Brownsville, Texas in early 2018” (Ref. C-[17]).

“She was towed around Cape Horn on her final voyage” (Ref. C-[18]).


“NASA's Operation IceBridge captured a photo south of Punta Arenas, Chile, of the ship being towed to the scrap yard” (Ref. C-[19]).


Constellation arrived at its final resting place in Brownsville on 16 January 2015” (Ref. [20] ).


Navy Decommissions USS Kitty Hawk


“The aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk (CV-63) arrived at Bremerton, Washington in September and was informally retired on 31 January 2009 and decommissioned on 12 May 2009 at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard & Intermediate Maintenance Facility in Bremerton, Wash., after more than 48 years of service. Members of the final crew lowered the ship's commissioning pennant from the main mast and the U.S. Flag and First Navy Jack from their staffs after Kitty Hawk Commanding Officer Capt. Todd Zecchin closed out the ship's deck log. "It's hard to capture the feeling in words," said Zecchin. "This is the second aircraft carrier that I've decommissioned, and it doesn't hit you immediately until you've lowered the commissioning pennant for the last time." Kitty Hawk's officers of the deck have used the log to track shipboard activities, both in port and at sea, since commissioning April 29, 1961. Zecchin then transferred the ship to the control of shipyard commander Capt. Mark Whitney during a small ceremony aboard the ship. "She has served her country for almost 50 years – 48 years and 13 days, across the globe," said Zecchin. "There have been a lot of Sailors that have crossed her decks, a lot of airmen that have flown off and on her decks."


Kitty Hawk arrived in Bremerton Sept. 2, 2008 to prepare for its eventual decommissioning. The ship spent the previous 10 years operating from Fleet Activities Yokosuka, Japan. While operating from Japan as the Navy's only forward deployed aircraft carrier, Kitty Hawk took part in dozens of exercises and operations, including being the first aircraft carrier to take part in Operation Enduring Freedom in the Arabian Sea, and her aircraft took part in the opening strikes of Operation Iraqi Freedom. She was replaced by USS George Washington (CVN 73), which is only the fourth U.S. aircraft carrier to be forward deployed from Yokosuka, replaced by USS George Washington (CVN-73), which is only the fourth U.S. aircraft carrier to be forward deployed from Yokosuka. Kitty Hawk's voyage to Bremerton started when the ship left Fleet Activities Yokosuka, Japan, May 28, 2008. Since then, the ship made her final port visit to Guam, then on to Hawaii, where it took part in the 21st biennial Rim of the Pacific exercise with nine other nations. On her way to Bremerton, Kitty Hawk made a final stop at Naval Air Station North Island, Calif., where she was homeported for more than 25 years. Dozens of former crewmembers, including 38 plankowners – members of the 1961 commissioning crew – rode the ship from San Diego to Bremerton on its final at-sea voyage. The decommissioning brings back a lot of memories for the 100,000 or so Sailors who served aboard Kitty Hawk as part of ship's company or air wing.


"In January of 1965 at the young age of 17, I came on board the USS Kitty Hawk right out of boot camp," said Kitty Hawk Veterans Association President Jim Melka. "Being from a small town in Iowa, I had never seen anything so massive. The Kitty Hawk was home for me for the next 32 months. I learned a lot in those 32 months. "The Hawk is a great ship and has been very well taken care of by our young men and women in today's Navy," he said. "I'm very proud to have served on the USS Kitty Hawk." Plankowner Jerry Warren made Kitty Hawk's first and final at-sea voyages. "I really felt proud to … say I served on the USS Kitty Hawk, the oldest active ship in the Navy," said Warren, the veteran's association vice president. "She will always have a place in my heart. She has been, and still is, a great ship with a lot of history behind her." Kitty Hawk had been the Navy's oldest active warship since 1998 and turns over the title to the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CVN-65). Kitty Hawk was also the Navy's last remaining diesel-fueled aircraft carrier. Throughout its lifetime, Kitty Hawk has had 407,507 arrested carrier landings and 448,235 catapult launches. Now decommissioned, the ship will remain in Bremerton for the foreseeable future as part of the Navy Inactive Ships Program” (Ref. 1-Kitty Hawk, 72, 76, 84A, 331 & Navy Decommissions USS Kitty Hawk - Story Number: NNS090512-08 - Release Date: 5/12/2009 5:37:00 PM - From Kitty Hawk Public Affairs, BREMERTON, Wash. (NNS)).


Kitty Hawk in 2008 as the forward-deployed carrier in Japan


“On 1 December 2005, the United States Navy announced that George Washington would replace Kitty Hawk in 2008 as the forward-deployed carrier in Japan and it would also assume host carrier duties for forward deployed Carrier Air Wing 5” (Ref. KK-[27]).


“In March 2007, the Navy announced that Captain Todd Zecchin, the captain responsible during the decommissioning of John F. Kennedy, had been tasked with overseeing the decommissioning of Kitty Hawk” (Ref. KK-[28]).


Kitty Hawk left Yokosuka on 28 May 2008 to begin the decommissioning process” (Ref. KK-[29]).


“However on 22 May, a fire seriously damaged George Washington, causing the ship to go to San Diego for repairs. Kitty Hawk participated in the RIMPAC exercise near Hawaii in George Washington's place. The turnover between the two carriers was postponed and took place in August” (Ref. KK-[30]).


“After the turnover, Kitty Hawk arrived at Bremerton, Washington in September and was informally retired on 31 January 2009” (Ref. KK-[31] & KK-[32]).


Kitty Hawk, the USN's last oil-powered aircraft carrier, was finally decommissioned on 12 May 2009” (Ref. KK-[33]).


“A group based in Wilmington, North Carolina is lobbying to bring the ship to the city after her obligatory time in the Navy Inactive Ships Program in order to serve as a floating museum alongside the battleship North Carolina” (Ref. KK-[34], KK-[35] & KK-[36]).


“The Navy will maintain Kitty Hawk in reserve until 2016, when the Gerald R. Ford is commissioned” (Ref. KK-[37] & KK-[38]).


“In January 2013, a group from Pensacola, Florida, which had originally wanted to obtain Forrestal, shifted its efforts to Kitty Hawk, due to that ship's superior condition” (Ref. KK-[39]).


“The current campaign to obtain an aircraft carrier as a Pensacola museum follows a controversial campaign in the early 1990s, when a volunteer effort tried to get USS Lexington. That movement did not succeed, and Lexington now operates as a museum in Corpus Christi, Texas. With the advent of the nuclear carrier, Kitty Hawk and John F. Kennedy are the last two candidate carriers to become museum ships as they have conventional propulsion. Nuclear carriers, such as Enterprise and the Nimitz class, require extensive deconstruction to remove their nuclear reactors during decommissioning, leaving them in an unsuitable condition for donation” (Ref. KK-[40]). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Kitty_Hawk_(CV-63)


Enterprise was deactivated on 1 December 2012 at Norfolk Naval Station, Virginia. The deactivation of Enterprise resulted in a one-time increase of approximately $857.3 million in depot maintenance costs for the U.S. Navy's operation and maintenance budget for Fiscal Year 2013” (Ref. E-[66]).


Enterprise will be the first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier to be decommissioned” (Ref. E-[67]).


“Naval enthusiasts have requested that Enterprise be converted into a museum” (Ref. E-[68] & E-[69]).


“While the costs of doing so regarding her nuclear reactors has yet to be calculated by the United States Department of Defense, by 2012 they had been deemed too expensive to make such an effort practical, in addition to the fact that the ship will need to be partially dismantled anyway to remove the eight reactors safely” (Ref. E-[17]).


“A petition had also been set up for the next carrier (CVN-80) to be named as the ninth USS Enterprise” (Ref. E-[70]).


“At her inactivation ceremony, Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus announced in his taped message that the next Ford-class carrier, CVN-80 would indeed be named "Enterprise"” (Ref. E-[71]).


“Speaking at the ceremony was Chaplain John Owen, Captain William C. Hamilton, Jr. (CO), Vice Admiral David H. Buss (Commander, Naval Air Force Pacific), Admiral John Richardson (Director, Naval Reactors), Matt Mulherin (President, Newport News Shipbuilding), ADM Jonathan W. Greenert (Chief of Naval Operations), a video speech from Ray Mabus, and the Master of Ceremonies was the ship's Executive Officer. SECNAV had to deliver his speech via taped video as he was in China at the time. VIPs present for the ceremony included several former Commanding Officers, a granddaughter of the ship's sponsor, and a former A-6 pilot who had been captured in North Vietnam returning to the ship for the first time that day since he launched. He received a standing ovation at his introduction. Actor William Shatner was scheduled to appear, but canceled. During the ceremony, the representative of the ship's sponsor received a flag flown from the ship during its last underway and a piece of wooden railing leading to the CO's inport cabin.


Also the CNO was presented with a time capsule produced by ship's crew with artifacts and pieces of the ship. Enterprise crew and visitors were encouraged to add the items or messages the week before inactivation. While presenting the capsule, Commanding Officer William C. "Boomer" Hamilton informed the CNO that the only stipulation would be that the capsule could only be opened by the crew of the next ship to be named Enterprise. When it was announced shortly after that CVN-80 would be the 9th Navy vessel to carry the name "Enterprise", the entire crowd cheered and gave a standing ovation. On 8 February 2013, the United States Department of Defense announced that a number of nuclear projects would have to be postponed until the upcoming budget sequestration issue was resolved. These include the planned de-fuelling of Enterprise as well as mid-life overhauls (including nuclear refuelling) for two Nimitz-class ships” (Ref. E-[72]).


“The contract for defueling Enterprise was eventually awarded to Huntington Ingalls Industries in June 2013” (Ref. E-[73]).


Newport News Shipbuilding will deactivate and de-fuel the ship, which will then be formally decommissioned once all nuclear fuel has been removed” (Ref. E-[74] ).


“The process started at the downtown piers in Newport News in order to set the conditions required in the propulsion plant for fuel removal. Huntington Ingalls Industries moved the ship on Saturday, 4 May 2015 from Pier 2 to her original birthplace, Dry Dock 11. Newport News employees will continue the defueling process in the dry dock.


Once the Navy completes fuel removal, the ship will be prepared for open ocean tow to Bremerton, Washington. There, the remaining parts of the ship that are associated with the reactor plant (reactor compartments and associated piping) will be removed and shipped to Hanford site for disposal. The final pieces of the hull are scheduled to be scrapped by 2025. It remains possible the ship's island could be removed and used as a memorial” (Ref. E-[68]).


“As of June 2013, the ship has had all antennas, radars (including the main-mast on top of the island), weapons launchers, anchors, and other miscellaneous items removed from her exterior. Additionally, the inside of the ship has been removed of much gear that can be reused on other ships. All spaces outside of the propulsion block and some office space in the hangar bay have been locked and secured. Certain hatchways and passageways have been welded shut. In October 2014, Newport News Shipbuilding announced that one of Enterprise's anchors, removed from the ship during breaking up, had been transferred to the Nimitz-class Abraham Lincoln during her RCOH” (Ref. E-[75]).


Enterprise, Nimitz-Class Carriers Won't Be Museums


“The USS Enterprise (CVN-65) will inactivate on December 1, 2012, after 51 years of legendary service. A group of Navy veterans want to preserve the USS Enterprise's history, but it appears they'll be doing it without the ship itself. The veterans learned in March that making a museum out of the aircraft carrier, the largest in the U.S. fleet and the first to be powered by nuclear reactors, isn't an option. More recently they learned that a more modest effort to preserve the ship's island, also wouldn't fly. And for the 10 Nimitz-class carriers in the 11-ship U.S. fleet, a future as a museum seems unlikely.


"Inactivation of nuclear-powered aircraft carriers requires removing large sections of ship structure to facilitate reactor compartment removal and disposal," Rear Adm. Thomas Moore, the Navy's program executive officer for carriers, said in a statement emailed to the Daily Press. Converting any one of the carriers, all built in Newport News, Moore wrote, would likely "cost tens of millions of dollars." The Navy already ruled out making a museum out of the Enterprise. At 50 years old, the ship is the oldest carrier in the fleet. Its inactivation ceremony -- a retirement party for ships -- is set for Dec. 1. After that the ship will be defueled and stripped down in Newport News, and eventually towed to Puget Sound, Wash., where its eight reactors will be taken out of the ship for disposal” (Ref. 6-SH).


Enterprise was officially decommissioned on February 3, 2017,[19][20] after over 55 years of service, and with the completion of an extensive terminal offload program.[21][22] She was stricken from the Naval Vessel Register the same day.[23]


Ref. 19 - "Navy to give final farewell to aircraft carrier USS Enterprise during Feb. 3 decommissioning" The Virginia-Pilot, 25 January 2017



Ref. 20 - Brad Lendon. "Carrier turns donor: USS Enterprise gives anchor to USS Lincoln". CNN.com. Retrieved 3 October 2014.



Ref. 21 - "USS Enterprise (CVN 65) Official Web Site". Public.navy.mil. Retrieved 20 April 2013. 


Ref. 22 - "World's First Nuclear-powered Aircraft Carrier, the Big E, makes final voyage". foxnews.com, 10 March 2012.



Ref. 23 - This article includes information collected from the Naval Vessel Register, which, as a U.S. government publication, is in the public domain. The entry can be found here. http://www.nvr.navy.mil/SHIPDETAILS/SHIPSDETAIL_CVN_65_5150.HTML



Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII), an American Fortune 500 shipbuilding company formed on March 31, 2011 as a spin-off of Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding Newport News (NGSB-NN)


NBC Nightly News (4/15/05) Demise of USS America CV-66


“According to the December 4, 2006 issue of the Navy Times; ex-America was in one piece and sitting on its keel, some 476 miles east of Charleston, SC, and about 400 miles west of Bermuda, and 16,860 feet (5,139 meters) below the surface. This information was obtained by the USS America Carrier Veterans Association on 30 October 2000, through a Freedom of Information Act request” (Ref. 324). “Originally scheduled to undergo Navy SLEP in the late 1990s, America fell victim to budget cuts and was retired early by the US Navy and was moored at the Inactive Ship Maintenance Facility in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania awaiting sale to be scrapped. On 18 August 1998, USS SEATTLE (AOE 3) hit the decommissioned America while leaving a slip in Philadelphia, sustaining minor damage. A civilian harbor pilot, not the SEATTLE's regular pilot, was at the helm during the crash. America transferred to the Ready Reserve Fleet in Philadelphia as of 1997. After more than three decades of proud and historic naval service, America was decommissioned in a ceremony at Norfolk Naval Shipyard in Portsmouth, on 9 August 1996 and was stricken from the Naval Vessel Register (Navy List). During the ceremony, and as dictated by Navy tradition, America's final commanding officer, Capt. Robert E. Besal, was presented with the ship's commissioning pennant, marking the end of active service. The guest speaker for the ceremony was Adm. Leighton W. Smith, a former America commanding officer and the recent Commander-in-Chief, Allied Forces Southern Europe, where he was in charge of all NATO military operations in Bosnia. America made three Vietnam. “The U.S. Navy released the exact location for the sinking of the third America (CV-66), former CVA-66, the 66th aircraft carrier of the United States Navy by Hull No. and in order of commission, the 54th, commissioning at the Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Corp. Portsmouth, Virginia, on 23 January 1965, Captain Lawrence Heyworth, Jr., in command. The event occurred at the following location, roughly between the outer banks and Bermuda: 33.09.09 N, 071.39.07 W - Depth = 2810 Fathoms (16,860 Feet)


Map location of USS America CV66


As originally concieved, the purpose of the USS America Museum Foundation, Inc, was to secure the actual ship, to have her placed on "donation hold" by the United States Navy, and then to begin the process of having her refit as a combination museum ship to exhibit memorabilia and other artifacts of her long and honorable career, as well as using the ship's facilities to form a vocational training facility, for a new generation of American Youth to learn the skills and trades necessary for the operation of such a "floating city", for, as all of us who served aboard her know, there was no trade or occupation left out necessary to run a small city of over 5000 individuals, for months at a time.  Sadly, we were unsuccessful, and on 19 April, 2005 the USS America left her pier at the Inactive Ships Facility, located in Philadelphia, Pa., for the last time” (Ref. 7-SH - 1-America, 6, 72, Message from NAVSEA, May 16, 2005 & cvn78.com).


“Before decommissioning she made a number of port calls to allow the public to "say farewell" to her, including a stop at her "homeport" Boston Harbor” (Ref. JFK-[17]).


John F. Kennedy also took part in the 2005 New York City Fleet Week festivities at the Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum” (Ref. JFK-[18]).


“She was decommissioned in Mayport, Florida on 23 March 2007” (Ref. JFK-[19]).


“The ship's unique in-port cabin, which was decorated by Jacqueline Kennedy with wood paneling, oil paintings, and rare artifacts, was disassembled, to be rebuilt at the National Museum of Naval Aviation at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida” (Ref. JFK-[20]).


John F. Kennedy was towed from NS Mayport, Fla., and taken to NS Norfolk, instead of a mothball berth at the old Philadelphia Naval Shipyard, as originally planned. The trip is expected to take about five days. 31 July 2007, arrived at Naval Station Norfolk, Va. She remained in Norfolk until a shoaled area near Pier 4 in Philadelphia could be dredged to enable the ship to safely dock. On 17 March 2008 at about 1700, she was seen leaving Norfolk Naval Station under tow of the tug Atlantic Salvor. On 22 March 2008 Kennedy arrived, with the afternoon high tide, at the Naval Inactive Ship Maintenance Facility in Philadelphia” (Ref. JFK-[21]).


“She is currently laid up in the Philadelphia reserve fleet” (Ref. JFK-[22]).


“In November 2009, the Navy placed Kennedy on donation hold for use as a museum and memorial” (Ref. JFK-[23]).


“A report in the Boston Herald newspaper on 26 November 2009 mentioned the possibility of bringing Kennedy to the Boston, Massachusetts area, as a museum or memorial at no cost to the city, if desired” (Ref. JFK-[24]).


“In August 2010, two groups successfully passed into Phase II of the U.S. Navy Ship Donation Program” (Ref. JFK-[25]).


“Rhode Island Aviation Hall of Fame, Providence, Rhode Island” (Ref. JFK-[26]).


“USS John F. Kennedy Museum, Portland, Maine” (Ref. JFK-[27]).


“On 19 January 2011 the Portland, Maine City Council voted 9–0 to not continue with the project to bring the ship to Maine” (Ref. JFK-[28]).


“Current plans as of September 2014 have the Rhode Island Aviation Hall of Fame working to secure Pier 2 of the Naval Station Newport. These developments come after the former USS Saratoga (CV-60) was sold for scrapping earlier in the year after years of being moored in Newport” (Ref. JFK-[29] & JFK-[30]).


“With the advent of the nuclear carrier, Kitty Hawk and John F. Kennedy are the last two candidate carriers to become museum ships as they have conventional propulsion. Nuclear carriers, such as Enterprise and the Nimitz class, require extensive deconstruction to remove their nuclear reactors during decommissioning, leaving them in an unsuitable condition for donation” (Ref. JFK-[31 & JFK-32).


George H.W. Bush is the 10th and final Nimitz-class aircraft carrier. Commissioned Saturday, Jan. 10, 2009, during an 11 a.m. EST ceremony at Naval Station Norfolk, Va. The 41st President of the United States George H. W. Bush christened the CVN-77 at the christening ceremony at Northrop Grumman Newport News Shipyard on 7 October 2006. The Island lifted into place on 8 July 2006. On 26 January 2001, Newport News Ship building signed a $3.8 billion deal with the Navy to build CVN-77. Keel was laid down on 6 September 2003. The Navy took delivery of its newest aircraft carrier, USS George H.W. Bush (CVN-77), from Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding May 11.


“On 16 June 2006, an amendment added to the National Defense Authorization Act for 2007 proposes that CVN-78, the first ship in the CVN-21 class, be named for the 38th president "Gerald Ford. On 5 September 2006, The Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) and the Program Executive Officer (PEO) held a signature and awards ceremony at the Washington Navy Yard to commemorate the certification of the ship specifications.


Ref. 8-SH - LCDR Gerald Ford, who later became the 38th President of the United States (1974–1977) in uniform, 1945. Ford received his commission as an Ensign in the U.S Naval Reserve on 13 April 1942 and later participated in many actions in the Pacific aboard the fast aircraft carrier USS Monterey (CVL-26). He was eventually released from active duty under honorable conditions in February 1946. President Ford, 93, passed away on 26 December 2006 at his home in Rancho Mirage, Calif. DOD photo (# 061227-N-0000X-003). NS027805a. Robert M. Cieri http://www.navsource.org/archives/02/027805a.jpg


Ref. 8A-SH - CVN-78 is named after Gerald Rudolph Ford, Jr. (1913–2006), 38th President of the United States of America (1974–1977). Gerald R. Ford, Jr. became the fourth consecutive President to have served in the US Navy. He was the first vice president in American history to succeed to the nation's highest office because of the resignation of a president, and he was the first person to occupy the White House without being elected either president or vice president. He viewed himself as "a moderate in domestic affairs, a conservative in fiscal affairs, and a dyed-in-the-wool internationalist in foreign affairs." Ford acted vigorously to maintain US power and prestige after the collapse of Cambodia and South Vietnam. Preventing a new war in the Middle East remained a major objective. Detente with the Soviet Union continued. On Inauguration Day his successor, President Carter, began his speech: "For myself and for our Nation, I want to thank my predecessor for all he has done to heal our land." NS027805. DOD File photo # 061227-D-0000X-001. http://www.navsource.org/archives/02/027805.jpg


“The Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) and the Program Executive Officer (PEO) held a signature and awards ceremony at the Washington Navy Yard to commemorate the certification of the Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) specifications on 5 September 2006” (Ref. 76).


“On 16 January 2007, held the official naming ceremony of the USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78), the first aircraft carrier in the Ford class of carriers. CVN-78 is named after Gerald Rudolph Ford, Jr. (1913–2006), 38th President of the United States of America (1974–1977). Remarks by Dr. Donald C. Winter, Secretary of Navy — Naming of USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78), Pentagon, Arlington, VA, Tuesday, January 16, 2007. NS027807d. Submitted by: Robert M. Cieri” (Ref. 9-SH).


“The Navy awarded Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding a $5.1 billion contract to begin construction of the Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) on 10 September 2008. The keel laying and authentication ceremony for Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) was held at Northrop Grumman Corp.'s Newport News shipyard on 14 November 2009. USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) launched, holding a Christening ceremony at Huntington Ingalls Newport News Shipbuilding in Newport News on 9 November 2013” (Ref. 76).


Operational and Building Data


“Advance construction of the CVN-21 project began on August 11, 2005 with the beveling of a 15-ton metal plate at Northrop Grumman Newport News' shipyards in Virginia. This metal plate was used in the construction of CVN-78. Advance construction took an estimated two years before construction began on the actual ship herself. This gave technicians and engineers the time needed to test and design the ship, and all the new technologies placed into the vessel. The keel of the first unit (CVN-78) was laid on 14 November 2009 and delivery to the Navy is scheduled for 2015, to replace USS Enterprise (CVN-65), inactivated in 2012 after 51 years of service. CVN-78 was officially named Gerald R. Ford, after the nation's 38th President, on 16 January 2007. On 10 September 2008 Northrop Grumman Corporation received a $5.1-billion, 7-year cost plus incentive fee contract award for detail design and construction of CVN-78. Second unit (CVN-79) is scheduled to start construction in FY2012 and slated to be placed in commission in FY2019. CVN-79 would feature several improvements over CVN-78. Third and final (?) unit (CVN-80), would be procured "a few years after" CVN-79 (estimated delivery in FY2023). Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus announced, 1 December 2012 that she will be named Enterprise. The Gerald R. Ford-class aircraft carrier will be 1,092 feet in length and have a beam of 134 feet. The flight deck will be 256 feet wide, and the ship will be able to operate at speeds in excess of 34 knots. Enterprise will be built by Huntington Ingalls Industries-Newport News Shipbuilding in Newport News, Va.


Advance Construction Begins for CVN-21


“The beveling of a 15-ton metal plate kicked off advance construction of the newest class of aircraft carrier, the CVN-21 project, Aug. 11 at Northrop Grumman Newport News' shipyards in Virginia. The new carrier is designed to modernize the “flat tops” for the 21st century. Advance construction will take an estimated two years before construction can begin on the actual ship itself. This gives technicians and engineers the time needed to test and design the ship, and all the new technologies that will be put into the vessel. “We’re going to kind of mark [the occasion of] the first cutting of steel,” said Matt Mulherin, vice president of programs at Northrop Grumman Newport News. “We’re starting advance construction today, and it’s the construction needed to kind of learn your lessons, validate your capacity assumptions...see how things are working out in your new facility.” “Remember, this is the lead ship,” Mulherin added. “Historically, they take a little bit longer. There’s a little bit of a learning curve that needs to be learned and implemented.” Besides being larger than today’s Nimitz-class carriers, the new generation will switch the steam-powered catapults to electromagnetic catapults; redesign the island structure, which merges the separate island and mast of the old carriers into a single, smaller compact unit; and a newly designed nuclear power plant.


These and other systems will be designed to maximize efficiency and reduce costs, manning and weight while enhancing the ship’s operational capabilities. “[The ship] will have improved capabilities over the Nimitz class, a class of ships that has proven very capable,” said Mike Petters, president of Northrop Grumman Newport News. “CVN-21 is designed for efficiency over the 50-year lifecycle while providing America with the kind of forward presence unique to aircraft carriers and so critical in today’s uncertain world.” The metal plate cut during Thursday's ceremony will eventually be used in the construction of CVN-78, the first aircraft carrier to be built under the CVN-21 project. Along with the first-cut ceremony, the shipyard held its grand opening for several new facilities to be used in the construction of the new warships. New facilities include a heavy-plate bay facility, a covered modular-assembly facility and others to protect employees and components from the weather, and additional cranes to allow modular pieces to be built more complete prior to attaching it to the rest of the ship” (Ref. 10-SH & Navy NewsStand - In-Depth Coverage - Story Number: NNS050812-13 - Release Date: 8/12/2005 1:57:00 PM - By Journalist 1st Class Donald P. Rule, Naval Media Center Mobile Det. 3, NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (NNS)).


The US Navy -- Fact File: Aircraft Carriers - CVN



The aircraft carrier continues to be the centerpiece of the forces necessary for operating forward. In times of crisis, the first question leaders ask in a crisis is: "Where are the carriers?" Often the presence of an aircraft carrier has deterred potential adversaries from striking against U.S. interests. Aircraft Carriers support and operate aircraft that engage in attacks on airborne, afloat and ashore targets that threaten free use of the sea and engage in sustained power projection operations in support of U.S. and coalition forces. The aircraft carrier and its strike group also engage in maritime security operations to interdict threats to merchant shipping and prevent the use of the seas for terrorism and piracy. Aircraft carriers also provide unique capabilities for disaster response and humanitarian assistance. The embarked carrier air wing provides helicopters for direct support and C4I assets to support them and ensure aid is routed quickly and safely. The 10
Nimitz class aircraft carriers are the largest warships in the world, each designed for an approximately 50-year service life with one mid-life refueling. USS Nimitz (CVN-68), USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69), USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70) and USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) have all completed their refueling complex overhauls (RCOH) at Newport News, Virginia, with USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) having commenced RCOH in 2013. The next generation of aircraft carrier, the Gerald R. Ford class (CVN-78) was ordered in 2008 and is slated to be delivered in 2016 as the force structure replacement for USS Enterprise (EX-CVN 65) which inactivated in 2012.

Gerald R. Ford class

Gerald R. Ford class is the future aircraft carrier replacement class for Enterprise and Nimitz class aircraft carriers. Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) was ordered from Newport News Shipbuilding Sept. 10, 2008, and is scheduled to be delivered in 2016. The Gerald R. Ford class will be the premier forward asset for crisis response and early decisive striking power in a major combat operation. Gerald R. Ford class aircraft carriers and carrier strike groups will provide the core capabilities of forward presence, deterrence, sea control, power projection, maritime security and humanitarian assistance. The class brings improved warfighting capability, quality of life improvements for our Sailors and reduced total ownership costs.

Each ship in the new class will save more than $4 billion in total ownership costs during its 50-year service life, compared to the
Nimitz-class. The CVN-78 is designed to operate effectively with nearly 700 fewer crew members than a CVN-68-class ship. Improvements in the ship design will allow the embarked air wing to operate with approximately 400 fewer personnel. New technologies and ship design features are expected to reduce watch standing and maintenance workload for the crew.


Gerald R. Ford is the first aircraft carrier designed with all electric utilities, eliminating steam service lines from the ship, reducing maintenance requirements and improving corrosion control. The new A1B reactor, Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS), advanced arresting gear (AAG) and dual band radar (DBR) all offer enhanced capability with reduced manning.


The Gerald R. Ford class is designed to maximize the striking power of the embarked carrier air wing. The ship's systems and configuration are optimized to maximize the sortie generation rate (SGR) of attached strike aircraft, resulting in a 33 percent increase in SGR over the Nimitz class. The ship's configuration and electrical generating plant are designed to accommodate new systems, including direct energy weapons, during its 50- year service life.


The Gerald R. Ford class builds upon the Navy's legacy of aircraft carrier innovation stretching back to the first aircraft carrier, USS Langley (CV-1) and continuing to the present day. The introduction of jet aircraft, angled decks and nuclear power were all innovations that kept the fleet relevant for Cold War needs. Gerald R. Ford continues the aircraft carrier history of innovation and adaptability that will enable her to serve our country for decades to come” (Ref. 4-SH).


Carrier Air Wing (CVW) – Ref. 4-SH


Point Of Contact

Naval Sea Systems Command

Office of Corporate Communications

Washington, D.C. 20376


General Characteristics, Nimitz class


Builder: Huntington Ingalls Industries Newport News Shipbuilding Co., Newport News, Va.

Date Deployed: May 3, 1975 (USS Nimitz).

Unit Cost: About $8.5 billion in constant year FY 12 dollars.

Propulsion: Two nuclear reactors, four shafts.

Length: 1,092 feet (332.85 meters).

Beam: 134 feet (40.84 meters); Flight Deck Width: 252 feet (76.8 meters).

Displacement: Approximately 97,000 tons (87,996.9 metric tons) full load.

Speed: 30+ knots (34.5+ miles per hour).

Crew: Ship's Company: 3,000-3,200, air wing: 1,500, other: 500.

Armament: Multiple NATO Sea Sparrow, Phalanx CIWS, and Rolling Airframe Missile (RAM) mounts.

Aircraft: Approximately 60+.


Ships – Ref. 4-SH


USS Nimitz (CVN-68), Bremerton, WA

USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69), Norfolk, VA

USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70), San Diego, CA

USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-[71), San Diego, CA

USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72), Newport News, VA

USS George Washington (CVN-73), Norfolk, VA

USS John C. Stennis (CVN-74), Bremerton, WA

USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75), Norfolk, VA

USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76), Yokosuka, Japan

USS George H.W. Bush (CVN-77), Norfolk, VA


General Characteristics, Gerald R. Ford class


Builder: Huntington Ingalls Industries Newport News Shipbuilding, Newport News, Va.

Propulsion: Two nuclear reactors, four shafts.

Length: 1,092 feet

Beam: 134 feet, Flight Deck Width: 256 feet.

Displacement: approximately 100,000 long tons full load.

Speed: 30+ knots (34.5+ miles per hour)

Crew: 4,539 (ship, air wing and staff).

Armament: Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile, Rolling Airframe Missile, CIWS.

Aircraft: 75+.



USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78)

PCU John F. Kennedy (CVN-79)

Enterprise (CVN-65)


Ref. 4-SH - The US Navy -- Fact File: Aircraft Carriers - CVN - Features - The aircraft carrier continues to be the centerpiece of the forces necessary for operating forward. http://ipv6.navy.mil/navydata/fact_display.asp?cid=4200&tid=200&ct=4


Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78)


Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) launched and transit to Newport News Shipyard pier 3 for final stages of construction and testing on 17 November 2016


On 12 May 2005, Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) completed 22 no-load tests of Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS)


The second quarter of FY2016, Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) commission date as not been reported as of 11 February 2017.




Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) is slated to complete Initial Operational Test & Evaluation before entering service in 2017” (Ref. 76).


“The Navy will commission its newest aircraft carrier, the future USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78), during a 10 a.m. EDT ceremony Saturday, July 22, 2017 at Naval Station Norfolk.  

USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) is the lead ship of the new Gerald R. Ford class of aircraft carrier, the first new class in more than 40 years, and will begin the phased replacement of Nimitz-class carriers when the ship is commissioned.
CVN-78 honors the 38th president of the United States and pays tribute to his lifetime of service in the Navy, in the U.S. government and to the nation. During World War II, Ford attained the rank of lieutenant commander in the Navy, serving on the light carrier USS
Monterey (CVL-26). Released from active duty in February 1946, Ford remained in the Naval Reserve until 1963. Ford was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1948, where he served until President Nixon tapped him to become Vice President in 1973. Ford became president in the aftermath of the Watergate scandal and served in the country's highest office from 1974-1977.

President Donald J. Trump will deliver the ceremony's principal address. Susan Ford Bales, President Ford’s daughter, serves as the ship’s sponsor. 

“The nation's going to be very proud of USS Gerald R. Ford,” said Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson. “I am incredibly thankful for the shipyard workers and sailors who worked amazingly hard to bring this mighty ship to life. This Saturday will be a huge day for our Navy and our nation. The new technology and warfighting capabilities that Ford brings will transform naval warfare, making us a more lethal Navy. The increased combat power will enable new ways to combine information, ships, aircraft and undersea forces, changing how we operate and fight.”

The Navy plans to spend $43 billion developing and building the three new Ford-class ships—Ford, the future
USS John F. Kennedy (CVN-79), and the future USS Enterprise (CVN-80). Built by Huntington Ingalls Industries, the Gerald R. Ford class is designed with significant quality-of-life improvements and reduced maintenance. These innovations are expected to improve operational availability and capability compared with Nimitz-class carriers.
Gerald R. Ford class incorporates advances in technology such as a new reactor plant, propulsion system, electric plant, Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS), Advanced Arresting Gear (AAG), machinery control, Dual Band Radar and integrated warfare systems. Compared to Nimitz-class carriers, the Gerald R. Ford-class carriers have more than 23 new or modified systems.
The ceremony can be viewed on the Navy Live blog at

Media may direct queries to the Navy Office of Information at 703-697-5342. Additional information on aircraft carriers is available online at

Learn more about the naval service and life of Gerald Ford here:



John F. Kennedy (CVN-79)


“Northrop Grumman Newport News Shipyard received a $374 million cost type contract award for construction preparation of the CVN-79 on 15 January 2009


“First Cut of Steel” ceremony at Northrop Grumman Newport News Shipyard on 25 February 2017


Proposed budget being considered by Congress would change that date to September 2022 on 20 March 2012


$4 billion construction contract could be delayed a year. Instead, the Navy will pay an additional m$296 million to extend a 2010 advanced construction contract announced on 13 September 2013


FY 2013: Full scale construction to begin


FY 2018: Launched


FY 2022: Commissioned” (Ref. 76).


Enterprise (CVN-65)


The future USS Enterprise, designated CVN-80, will be the ninth ship to bear the name.


The future USS Enterprise, designated CVN-80, will be the ninth ship to bear the name.


Navy's Next Ford-Class Aircraft Carrier to be Named Enterprise


“Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus announced today via video message at the USS Enterprise (CVN-65) inactivation ceremony that the third Gerald R. Ford-class aircraft carrier will be named Enterprise.


Mabus selected this name to honor USS Enterprise (CVN-65), the Navy's first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, which was inactivated today in Norfolk, Va. Commissioned in 1961, CVN 65 served for more than five decades. It participated in the blockade of the Cuban Missile Crisis, launched strike operations in Vietnam, and conducted combat missions in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.


"The USS Enterprise was the first of its kind, and for 51 years its name has been synonymous with boldness, readiness and an adventurous spirit," said Mabus. "Rarely has our fleet been without a ship bearing the name. I chose to maintain this tradition not solely because of the legacy it invokes, but because the remarkable work of the name Enterprise is not done."


USS Enterprise and subsequent Gerald R. Ford-class aircraft carriers will provide improved warfighting capability, quality of life improvements for Sailors and reduced life cycle costs” (Ref. 11-SH).


FY 2018: Laid Down / FY 2023: Launched / FY 2025: Commissioned / FY 2027: FY 2027: replace USS Nimitz (CVN-68)” (Ref. 76).




Ref. U.S. Navy Deployment History Resources





Operations Evening Light and Eagle Claw, A Sailors tale of his Tour of duty in the U.S. Navy (August 1977 to February 1983)


A Sailors tale of his Tour of duty in the U.S. Navy - Operation Evening Light And Eagle Claw -


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Operations Evening Light and Eagle Claw (24 April 1980) Iran and Air Arm History (1941 to Present)


Operations Evening Light and Eagle Claw (24 April 1980) Iran and Air Arm History (1941 to Present)






































HISTORY (1920 to 2016)


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(Book Version)









(1953 to 2016)




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(Book Version)