(CVA-67: dp. 75,000; 1. 1046'; b. 129'4"; ew. 249'; dr. 3517"; s. 30 k.; cpl. . 3,297; cl. Kitty Hawk)
USS JOHN F. KENNEDY (CV 67) is named for the 35th President of the United States. The ship's keel was laid October 22, 1964, at the Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Company in Virginia. President Kennedy's 9-year-old daughter, Caroline, christened the ship in May 1967 in ceremonies held at Newport News, Virginia; the ship subsequently entered naval service on September 7, 1968.
KENNEDY was originally designated as CVA 67, attack aircraft carrier. In the early 1970s, the classification was changed to CV 67, indicating the ship was capable of supporting anti-submarine warfare aircraft, making it an all-purpose, multi-mission aircraft carrier.
KENNEDY's maiden voyage was to the Mediterranean sea. She subsequently made another seven deployments to this area of the world through the '70s in response to a deteriorating situation in the Middle East. The ship's fourth Mediterranean cruise included her first visit to a North Atlantic port, Edinburgh, Scotland.
By the mid-'70s, KENNEDY had been upgraded to handle both the F-14 "Tomcat" and the S-3 "Viking." KENNEDY underwent her first year-long major overhaul in 1979. The ship's ninth deployment, in 1981, was her first to the Indian Ocean. KENNEDY transitted the Suez Canal, hosted the first visit aboard a United States ship by a Somali head of state, and achieved its 150,000th arrested landing.
In 1982, KENNEDY won an eighth Battle "E" efficiency award and fourth Golden Anchor retention award. In 1983, as a result of growing crisis in Beirut, Lebanon, KENNEDY was called upon once again to support efforts that would define the ship's operations into the next year. Awards received during that period included a ninth Battle "E," the Silver Anchor Award for Retention, the RADM Flatley Award for Safety and the Battenburg Cup for being the overall best ship in the Atlantic Fleet.
KENNEDY spent the winter of 1984 in drydock for a complex overhaul at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard. In 1985, the ship received a fifth Golden Anchor Retention Award and several departmental efficiency awards. While in the shipyard, the ship was also awarded the inaugural Department of Defense Phoenix Award, signifying a level of maintenance excellence above all other Department of Defense components worldwide. In July 1986, KENNEDY served as the centerpiece for a vast international naval armada during the international Naval Review in honor of the 100th Anniversary and Rededication of the Statue of Liberty. KENNEDY departed for the Mediterranean in August 1986 and returned in March 1987.
KENNEDY departed Norfolk, Virginia, for her 12th major deployment to the Mediterranean in August 1988. On January 4, 1989, while conducting routine operations in international waters, F-14s TOMCATs from the embarked air wing shot down two Libyan MIG-23s that were approaching the battlegroup in a hostile manner.
After spending the first half of 1990 participating in a variety of exercises, KENNEDY paid visits to New York for Fleet Week '90 and Boston for the Fourth of July. In August, with just four days notice, KENNEDY deployed in support of Operation Desert Shield.
KENNEDY entered the Red Sea in September 1990 and became the flagship of the Commander, Red Sea Battle Force. On January 16, 1991, aircraft from the ship's Carrier Air Wing THREE began Operation Desert Storm with attacks on Iraqi forces. The ship launched 114 strikes and 2,895 sorties, with aircrews of CVW-3 flying 11,263 combat hours and delivering more than 3.5 million pounds of ordnance in the conflict.
After the cease fire, KENNEDY transited the Suez Canal for the fourth time in seven months and began its journey home. KENNEDY arrived in its homeport of Norfolk on March 28, 1991, to the greatest homecoming celebration and outpouring of public support since World War II.
KENNEDY then entered a four-month shipyard restricted availability at Norfolk Naval Shipyard. The ship departed the shipyard at the end September with extensive repairs and maintenance accomplished on engineering systems, flight deck systems and equipment. Additionally, the ship was ready to handle F/A-18 HORNET aircraft to replace the A-7E CORSAIR IIs that had flown on their last deployment from the deck of KENNEDY.
The 1992-93 deployment, from Oct. 7, 1992 until April 7, 1993, marked KENNEDY's 14th to the Mediterranean area. The tone of the deployment was set by turmoil in the former Republic of Yugoslavia. The ship conducted multiple exercises with the armed forces of Mediterranean littoral nations, hosted a great number of visitors in port and at sea and spent substantial operating time in the Adriatic Sea. On December 8, 1992, KENNEDY passed a milestone by making its 250,000 trap of an aircraft.
USS JOHN F. KENNEDY completed a two-year comprehensive overhaul in the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard on September 13, 1995. Following the overhaul, KENNEDY moved to its new homeport at the Mayport Naval Station in Mayport, Florida.
KENNEDY departed Mayport in April 1997 for its 15th deployment to the Mediterranean Sea and returned to Mayport in late October 1997.
After their return, KENNEDY entered a three-month ship's restricted availability at Naval Station Mayport is February 1998 for many upgrades. In April 1998, after extensive repairs and maintenance, KENNEDY got underway for several at-sea periods for carrier qualifications, weapons onload and offload training, student pilot and general shipboard damage control training. KENNEDY also participated in the week long Fleet Week '98 activities, strengthening the Navy's relationship with New York City residents.
During 1999, continuing at-sea periods prepared Kennedy for its 16th deployment to the Mediterranean Sea/Arabian Gulf. After a heroic rescue of the crew from the foundered tug Gulf Majesty, during Hurricane Floyd in mid-September, Kennedy carried the banner of freedom to our friends and allies overseas, making history, once again. The ship made the first carrier port call to Jordan, and hosted the King of Jordan, allowing him to experience life at sea. JFK then participated in Operation Southern Watch, flying combat missions while enforcing the no-fly zone over Iraq. The JFK/CVW-1 team set new records in bombing accuracy while employing the most lethal combination of precision weaponry ever put to sea, amassing 10,302 arrested landings along the way.
On Jan. 1st, JFK became the “Carrier of the New Millennium” by being the only carrier underway as the year 2000 arrived. Her triumphant return to Mayport on March 19, 2000, marked the completion of yet another successful forward deployment as one of our nation’s most visible guarantors of support for our allies and freedom of the seas.
Kennedy returned to Mayport, March 19, 2000, and after a few weeks in port, Kennedy returned to the sea headed north for New York where ‘Big John’ participated in the 2000 International Naval Review over the July 4 holiday. After Independence Day, JFK went even further north to Boston for Sail Boston 2000.
Upon returning to Mayport, Kennedy underwent a brief, but extensive availability period, installing components of the most recent technology. As a test bed for Cooperative Engagement Capability (CEC), “Big John” is flagship to the most technologically-advanced battle group in history. CEC enables battle group ships and aircraft to share sensor data and provide a single, integrated picture to all. With CEC, Kennedy can see and respond, with fire-control accuracy, to air contacts further from the ship than was previously possible. Secretary of the Navy, Gordon England, recognized Kennedy Battle Group members for their participation in the test and evaluation of CEC January 2002 with a Meritorious Unit Citation.
Kennedy's 17th deployment was accelerated by three weeks in response to terrorist attacks on America; Kennedy deployed Feb. 7, 2002 to the North Arabian Sea in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. During Kennedy’s four months in the North Arabian Sea, their air wing, CVW 7, dropped more than 64,000 pounds of ordnance on Taliban and al Qaeda targets. Kennedy’s air wing flew day- and night-missions over Afghanistan, supporting American and coalition Forces on the ground with close air support. In early April, Kennedy became the only aircraft carrier operating in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
Big John returned in mid-August, after more than six months away from homeport. The ship continues to support, serving as the east coast platform for carrier qualifications and will begin an extensive maintenance period in 2003.
In July 2004, Kennedy collided with a dhow in the Gulf, leaving no survivors on the traditional Arab sailing boat. After the incident the Navy relieved the commander of the Kennedy, Capt. Stephen B. Squires. The carrier itself was unscathed, but two jet fighters on the deck were damaged when one slid into the other as the ship made a hard turn to avoid the tiny vessel. Capt. Squires waited to make the turn at the last possible moment to recover aircraft returning for airstrikes that were critically low on fuel.
Budget cutbacks and changing naval tactics, combined with the facts that the Kennedy was the most costly carrier in the fleet to maintain and that she was due for an expensive overhaul, prompted the U.S. Navy to retire the Kennedy. On April 1, 2005, the Navy formally announced that the carrier's scheduled 15-month overhaul had been canceled. .
Before decommissioning she made a number of stops to allow the public to "say farewell" to her, including a stop at her "homeport" Boston Harbor. She was decommissioned in Mayport, Florida on March 23, 2007.