USS Kitty Hawk (CV-63)

Kitty Hawk, around the turn of the millennium. US Navy photo.

Ship Class
Ship Type
Laid Down

The USS Kitty Hawk (CV-63) was named for the site of the Wright brothers first flight. Lead ship of her class, the "Battle Cat" was laid down in 1956, and commissioned in 1961. She spent most of her career in the Pacific, frequently based in Japan. She served several tours off Vietnam, between 1965 and 1972. Kitty Hawk was the first Pacific Fleet carrier to return to the general-purpose CV designation in 1973, instead of the CVA (attack carrier) that had been used since the early 1950s. During exercises in the Sea of Japan, a Soviet submarine surfaced directly in front of Kitty Hawk, resulting in a collision. Several bits of the sub were embedded in Kitty Hawk's hull, providing good materials analysis. A service life extension overhaul from 1987 to 1990 allowed her to continue in service, and Kitty Hawk would provide air support during the invasion of Iraq in 2003. She was decommissioned in 2009, with 48 years of service behind her. Kitty Hawk was the last active oil-burning carrier in the US Navy, and holds the record for third-longest serving American ship, behind the USS Constitution, and the USS Enterprise (CVN-65). She was kept in reserve for several years, and several groups tried to preserve her as a museum. However, plans fell through, and she is slated to begin scrapping in 2021.

Bonus Information

Fun Fact: Scenes for several movies were filmed aboard Kitty Hawk, including Seven Days in May, and Lt. Robin Crusoe, U.S.N.