(CVA-59 / CV-59 / AVT-59):
Forrestal (CVA-59) was laid down on 14 June
1952 at Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company at Newport News,
Virginia; launched on 11 December 1954; sponsored by Josephine Forrestal,
widow of Secretary Forrestal; and commissioned at Norfolk Naval Shipyard at
Portsmouth, Virginia, on 1 October 1955.
Chronology and Significant Events:
1 Oct 1955:
Secretary of the Navy Charles S. Thomas, RADM Ingolf N. Kiland, Commandant of
the Fifth Naval District, and W.E. Blewett, Jr., President of the Newport News
Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company, attended the ceremony when the ship
hoisted aloft her commissioning pennant at 1430 at Norfolk Naval Shipyard at
Portsmouth, Virginia; Captain Roy L. Johnson was the first commanding
officer. The huge aircraft carriers of the Forrestal class were so large when
compared to previous carriers that veterans referred to them as
‘supercarriers.’ Forrestal commissioned with four steam catapults–two forward
and two on her angled flight deck–enabling her to launch aircraft more rapidly.
During the post-World War II period several developments prepared naval
aviation to provide a credible nuclear deterrent against East Bloc expansion:
building Forrestal, reducing the weight and dimensions of nuclear weapons,
and developing aircraft capable of dropping them, including Douglas A-3
Skywarriors. From her home port in Norfolk, Virginia, Forrestal spent the
first year of her commissioned service in intensive training operations off
the Virginia capes and in the Caribbean. An important assignment became
training aviators in the use of her advanced facilities, a duty on which she
often operated out of Mayport, Florida.
Dec 1955–Jan 1956: Helicopter Utility Squadron (HU)-2 Detachment 42
operated a pair of Piasecki (Vertol) UH-25B Retrievers on board for search
and rescue purposes to winch survivors of downed aircraft out of the water.
Meanwhile, a pair of McDonnell Douglas A-4 Skyhawks, one a night attack
variant and the other an electronic warfare conversion, together with a
couple of Beech TC-45J Kansans, also flew from the ship to qualify their
pilots to operate from carriers. Just after the New Year Fighter Squadron
(VF)-41 flew 11 McDonnell F-2C Banshees on board for carrier qualifications,
joined by 14 Douglas A-1H Skyraiders and one Kansan from Attack Squadron
(VA)-42 and 13 Vought F7U-3M Cutlass’ from VA-86. These became the first
aircraft to operate from the carrier.
3 Jan 1956: CDR Ralph L. Werner, commanding Air Task Group-1, made the
first fixed wing aircraft landing on board Forrestal when he made three
touch-and-go landings after which he made the first full-stop landing, in his
North American F-1C Fury during the afternoon watch at about 1440. A few
hours later he piloted the same aircraft to make the first catapult launch
from the huge carrier. Meanwhile, CDR William M. Harnish, commanding officer
of VF-21, made the second landing, also in a Fury, at approximately 1445. LT
Vincent Darcey of the air group was the landing signal officer for both
traps. Sailors painted both aircraft in the Navy's new white and gray
'atomic' paint scheme. The ship sailed to the east of Norfolk.
24 Jan–28 Mar 1956: Forrestal completed her shakedown cruise in
Caribbean waters, operating principally off Guantánamo Bay in Cuba.
23–27 Apr 1956: The ship accomplished her final acceptance trials in
4 May 1956: The carrier entered the yard for repairs which included
replacing her original propeller shafts. Forrestal’s Command History Report
noted that completing this work “greatly improved her performance.”
29 Oct–12 Dec 1956: Worsening tensions in the Middle East erupted into
Operation Kadesh, Israeli attacks against the Egyptians in the Sinai
Peninsula and along the Suez Canal. The next day the British and French
issued an ultimatum to the Israelis and Egyptians to pull their forces back
10 miles from either side of the vital waterway “…to bring about the early
cessation of hostilities and to safeguard the free passage of the canal.” The
Israelis accepted the terms of the ultimatum but the Egyptians angrily
refused to comply. ADM Arleigh A. Burke, the Chief of Naval Operations,
alerted the Sixth Fleet to standby to evacuate Americans stranded by the
crisis in Haifa and Tel Aviv, Israel, Beirut, Lebanon, and Alexandria, Egypt.
By 4 November, ships evacuated 1,702 people, naval helos took out 165 more
and Air Force crews pulled 310 refugees from harm’s way, often during
extremely perilous situations from gunfire, errant bombs or navigational
hazards. Just as destroyer Strong (DD-758) arrived at Gaza and anchored 3,000
yards off the port to disembark 21 members of a UN truce inspection team, an
Egyptian ammunition dump exploded, showering the area with molten fragments
and debris. From their vantage point crewmembers also observed mortar and small
arms fire as the Israelis and Egyptians fought over the strategic city,
culminating in strafing and bombing runs by Israeli aircraft against Egyptian
troops who refused to surrender. The sailors also witnessed the pitiable
spectacle as the fighting forced hundreds of people to leave on foot,
carrying their few belongings as they drove sheep and goats before them.
Meanwhile, the Anglo-French ultimatum expired at 0430 on Halloween, and the
two allies dispatched a huge expeditionary force that bombarded Egyptian
forces across Egypt. At dawn on 5 November they began Operation Musketeer,
landing commandoes, marines and specialized troops at key points along the
strategic canal to prevent the Egyptians from closing it by sinking ships or
laying mines. The fighting raged into the next day, when British Prime
Minister Sir Anthony Eden announced a cease-fire notice to take effect at
midnight of the 6th. Canadian Secretary of State for External Affairs Lester
B. Pearson proposed the creation of a UN peacekeeping force to separate the
combatants, and a majority of that body’s members agreed to support his
resolution. Orders directed a vast number of American ships to rendezvous and
concentrate in Atlantic waters off east coast ports, including Forrestal,
which put to sea from Mayport. Due to concerns over possible Soviet submarine
attacks should the crisis escalate, CINCLANTFLT authorized ships proceeding
independently to do so at high speed “consistent with weather and sea
conditions.” Ships set sail from various U.S. ports, arriving at holding
areas and mustering ports as type commanders desired by 10 December. By 17
November, RADM Murr E. Arnold, Commander, Carrier Division 4 and Task Force
26, broke his flag from Forrestal in command of a powerful concentration of ships
that rendezvoused near 36°30’N, 27°18’17”W, in the eastern Atlantic around
the Azores Islands, also including; attack aircraft carrier Franklin D.
Roosevelt (CVA-42), heavy cruiser Des Moines (CA-134), radar picket
destroyers Charles P. Cecil (DDR-835), Corry (DDR-817), O’Hare (DDR-889) and
Stickell (DDR-888), destroyers Douglas H. Fox (DD-779), Healy (DD-672), John
Hood (DD-655), Laffey (DD-724), Lowry (DD-770), Robinson (DD-562), Sigourney
(DD-643) and Stormes (DD-780), store ship Rigel (AF-58) and oiler Severn
(AO-61). Additional ships relieved some of these vessels during the following
days to enable the original ships to take on fuel or achieve repairs. The
carriers conducted air operations ‘as practicable’ to enhance their
readiness, and utilized their aircraft to evaluate experiments determining
the maximum air group loading for ‘executing war missions’ as they maintained
readiness to enter the Mediterranean should their presence be necessary.
CINCLANTFLT tentatively scheduled attack aircraft carrier Lake Champlain
(CVA-39) to relieve Franklin D. Roosevelt. Forrestal returned to Norfolk to
prepare for her first deployment with the Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean.
15 Jan–22 Jul 1957: The ship made her first deployment to the
Mediterranean. On this, as on her succeeding tours of duty in the
Mediterranean, Forrestal visited many ports to allow dignitaries and the
general public to come on board and view the tremendous power for peace she
represented. For military observers, she staged underway demonstrations to
illustrate her capacity to bring air power to and from the sea in military
operations on any scale.
2–3 Feb 1957: The ship passed through the Strait of Gibraltar for the
first time and entered Mediterranean waters. During this deployment she also
conducted underway demonstration cruises for Prince Rainier III and Princess
Grace of Monaco, and for Mohammad R. Pahlavi, the Shah of Iran.
29 Mar–3 Apr 1957: Forrestal steamed off the Greek isle of Rhodes.
5–7 Apr 1957: The ship appeared briefly off Beirut, Lebanon.
17 Apr 1957: VADM Charles R. Brown, Commander, Sixth Fleet, escorted
Sir Robert Laycock, the British Governor of Malta, and 26 other high ranking
British government and military officials including VADM Durnford Slater, RN,
RADM Geoffrey Brittian, RN, and RADM Lee Barber, RN, onto the ship to witness
flight operations and aircraft demonstrations. The British officials visited
as guests of RADM Arnold and CAPT William E. Ellis, the commanding officer of
Forrestal, and VADM Brown arrived on board from his flagship, the heavy
cruiser Salem (CA-139).
24 Apr–5 May 1957: A crisis occurred in the Middle East concerning
rising pan-Arab nationalism, the withdrawal of European colonial powers and
intrigues between Western and East Bloc factions, which threatened the throne
of Jordanian King Hussein bin Talal (also known as King Hussein I). On the
evening of the 25th Admiral Burke directed VADM Brown to deploy his forces to
the eastern Mediterranean to ensure that the Jordanians maintained their independence
and not be subverted from within or attacked from without. “Once again”
explained VADM Brown in a message to all hands of the Sixth Fleet, “we find
ourselves dropping everything and rushing to the scene of the fire.” By the
next day Forrestal, Lake Champlain, heavy cruisers Des Moines and Salem and
their destroyers rendezvoused and proceeded eastward at best possible speed
into the crisis. Crew members worked at a feverish pace to prepare for action
and at 0705 on the 27th, VADM Brown reported that he could launch attack
aircraft and fighters at “first light tomorrow” should the emergency
escalate. Concerns that they would have to evacuate Americans within the
country prompted planning to deploy marines into the Jordanian capital of
Amman as armed escorts while helicopters flying from Forrestal covered the
evacuations. Meanwhile, amphibious forces made for Beirut, Lebanon, and upon
arriving they stood ready to deploy additional troops and equipment ashore or
to evacuate United States civilians. These two groups of ships continued to
maintain station in the eastern Mediterranean until diplomats diffused the
tension. “In ten short days” VADM Brown told his men as they returned on the
5th, “from the time of our sudden departure for the eastern Mediterranean the
striking fleet is back in Italian waters, for a NATO exercise which begins
tonight. While everyone must be pleased to be back, I hope no one loses sight
of the larger significance of what has happened. In the brief period of time
we have successfully carried out an important national mission in the eastern
Mediterranean and we have met an important NATO commitment in the central
Mediterranean. The distance between the two assignments is about 1,500 miles
as the crow flies. This performance has been a dramatic demonstration of the
mobility and flexibility of the fleet and one in which all can be proud to
have had a part.”
13–14 Jul 1957: The ship passed through the Strait of Gibraltar into
the Atlantic. Attack aircraft carrier Randolph (CVA-15) relieved Forrestal at
the British dockyard and naval station at “The Rock” on 14 July.
22 Jul 1957: Forrestal returned to Norfolk for exercises off the North
Carolina coast in preparation for her first NATO exercise in the North Sea,
24 Jul–11 Aug 1957: The carrier completed work at Norfolk Naval
3 Sep–22 Oct 1957: During Strikeback, Forrestal drilled in the highly
important task of coordinating United States naval power with that of other
NATO nations. Forrestal steamed off the Clyde River Estuary in Scotland
(14–16 September) and visited Southampton in England (30 September–11
October). Observers estimated that as many as 65,000 people visited or viewed
the ship at the latter port, including U.S. Ambassador to the Court of St.
James John H. Whitney.
20 Dec 1957–20 Feb 1958: Forrestal’s crew and shipyard workers
accomplished repairs and upkeep at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard.
28 Mar–24 May 1958: The ship participated in a series of major fleet
exercises off the North Carolina, Georgia and Florida coasts, as well as
taking part in experimental flight operations. She also made a brief visit to
Miami, Florida (19–21 May). During LantRaEx 1-58 in May, LTJGs Strang and
Woods of VA-85 flew two A-1H Skyraiders from Forrestal as she steamed off the
coast of Jacksonville nonstop to NAS North Island in California. They
completed their flight normally flying at altitudes below 1,000 feet to
demonstrate the low level and long range capabilities of their squadron, and
then returned nonstop to the carrier two days later.
11–17 Jul 1958: Rival Lebanese political and religious factions
clashed resulting in rioting that threatened that Levantine country. Tensions
produced a crisis when Muslims rebelled against the Lebanese government at
the same time that Iraqi army officers overthrew the pro-Western Hashemite
monarchy in a coup d’état in Baghdad on 14 July. Lebanese President Camille
Chamoun requested assistance from President Dwight D. Eisenhower and the
latter initiated Operation Blue Bat on the following day, which included the
Sixth Fleet and supporting Air Force and Army commands landing over 14,000
marines and soldiers at Beirut to restore order and protect Americans trapped
in the fighting. During the crisis Forrestal operated in the eastern Atlantic
to back-up naval operations in the Mediterranean, and to be ready to
intervene if the crisis escalated. She sailed from Norfolk to embark CVG-10
at Mayport two days later, and then she patrolled the Atlantic until
returning to Virginian waters when the crisis subsided and the Americans
ultimately withdrew most troops from Lebanon.
2 Sep 1958–12 Mar 1959: Setting sail from Norfolk at 0800 Forrestal
began her second tour of duty in the Mediterranean as she combined a program
of training, patrol, and participation in major exercises with ceremonial
hospitality and public visiting. The A-4Bs of VA-12 became the first Skyhawks
to deploy on board the ship.
12 Sep 1958: The ship passed through the Strait of Gibraltar.
16–17 Sep 1958: Forrestal relieved attack aircraft carrier Saratoga
(CVA-60) at Augusta Bay, Sicily.
14–27 Oct 1958: The carrier encountered “a major failure” of her No. 1
Catapult, however, and her crew and civilian technicians accomplished the
extensive repairs while visiting Naples, Italy, the first time that they
attempted such work outside of a shipyard. Secretary of Defense Neil H.
McElroy led her guest list during this cruise.
2 Dec 1958: RADM Roy L. Johnson relieved RADM Charles D. Griffin as
Commander, Carrier Division 4, during a ceremony on board Forrestal at
18 Dec 1958–3 Jan 1959: The crew and civilian workers again
accomplished extensive repairs to a catapult while visiting Naples,
Italy–this time to No. 2. The ship then led Task Force 60 in Operation Big
Deal, a joint Second and Sixth Fleet exercise.
1–2 Mar 1959: Franklin D. Roosevelt relieved Forrestal at Pollensa Bay
at Palma de Mallorca in the Balearic Islands.
3–4 Mar 1959: Forrestal passed through the Strait of Gibraltar westbound.
12 Mar 1959: Returning to Norfolk, Forrestal continued to train new
aircrew, constantly maintaining her readiness for instant reaction to any
demand for her services brought on by international events.
28 Mar 1959: King Hussein I of Jordan visited the ship for a luncheon
while she moored to Pier 12 at Norfolk.
1 Apr 1959: Forrestal entered Norfolk Naval Shipyard for her first
30 Sep–1 Oct 1959: Forrestal sortied to evade Hurricane Hannah as the
storm swept toward the Virginia area with winds that peaked at 130 mph on 1
October, however, the hurricane turned to eastward and dropped to an extra
tropical storm south of Iceland.
Nov 1959: The ship completed a weapons evaluation exercise with USAF
14 Feb 1960: Forrestal relieved Saratoga at Pollensa Bay. Among the
ports she subsequently visited usual to a Mediterranean deployment the ship
put into Split, Yugoslavia, a port-of-call that generated heated controversy
in the media due to the tensions still existing between the communists and
7 Mar 1960: The Bureau of Ships issued a report concerning the
endurance of Forrestal and her sister ships, which stated in part that
“Conventionally powered Aircraft Carriers should have sufficient range and
endurance to allow approach to the target, high-speed run-in, attack,
retirement, and a sufficient amount of reserve fuel to replenish Escorts.”
9 Sep–22 Oct 1960: The carrier completed repairs and maintenance in
drydock at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard.
26 Oct 1960: RADM Forsyth Massey relieved RADM Robert E. Dixon as
Commander, Carrier Division 4, during a ceremony on board at Norfolk.
21 Mar 1961: Archbishop Makarios III, President of Cyprus and ethnarch
[national leader] of Greek Cypriots, visited the ship as the guest of VADM
George W. Anderson, Jr., Commander, Sixth Fleet, and RADM Massey.
9 Aug 1961: Secretary of the Navy John B. Connally visited the ship
and spoke to the crew over her closed circuit television system,
congratulating the men for achieving their second coveted Battle Efficiency
25 Aug 1961: By the time Forrestal returned from her fourth deployment
to the Mediterranean, CVG-8 amassed 26,000 flight hours, the equivalent of
almost three years flying during less accelerated operations. In addition,
the ship herself celebrated her 60,000th arrested landing. USMC LTV F-8
Crusaders from Marine Fighter Squadron (VMF)-333 also qualified for carrier
operations on board Forrestal.
Sep 1961–13 Jan 1962: Forrestal completed work at Norfolk Naval
18 Jan–late Feb 1962: The ship accomplished a six-week refresher
training cruise off the east coast that extended down into Caribbean waters,
focusing upon the Guantánamo Bay area. She also visited Port-au-Prince,
Haiti. In addition, Mercury-Atlas 6 [MA-6] launched from Cape Canaveral in
Florida at 0947 on 20 February 1962. LCOL John H. Glenn, Jr., USMC, the
40-year-old astronaut, completed three orbits about the earth in four hours
55 minutes to become the first American to orbit the planet. Glenn flew spacecraft
Friendship 7 in her 75,679 mile voyage at a maximum speed of 17,544.1 miles
per hour. Describing his re-entry as a “real fireball” Glenn splashed down in
the Atlantic some 166 miles east of Grand Turk Island in the Bahamas, about
800 miles southeast of Bermuda. Destroyer Noa (DD-841) recovered the
astronaut after he spent 21 minutes in the water, and a helo flew him on to
antisubmarine warfare support aircraft carrier Randolph (CVS-15) at 1745.
Although Glenn did not land nearby, Forrestal stood ready as one of the
potential tracking and measuring stations for the epochal flight.
9–14 Apr 1962: Forrestal combined operations with aircraft carrier
Enterprise (CVAN-65) for a presidential cruise. President John F. Kennedy and
his entourage arrived on board Enterprise on 14 April. The busy day included
sea and air power demonstrations for the President and many distinguished
guests, including most of his cabinet, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, many
congressmen and about 30 foreign ambassadors, all hosted by VADM John M.
Taylor, Commander, Second Fleet. About 20 ships participated in the exercise
off the Virginia and North Carolina coasts. A “spectacular display”
culminating in a mass flyby and recovery by naval aircraft entertained
guests. CDR Joseph P. Moorer, commanding officer of VF-62, LCDR Joseph S.
Elmer, LT Richard C. Oliver and LT William F. Heiss of that squadron shook
hands with President Kennedy on board Enterprise at the conclusion of the
demonstration. Forrestal also hosted Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson and
several senators and congressmen during the cruise.
Mid to late Apr 1962: Following the Presidential Cruise, Forrestal
returned to the Caribbean for the Atlantic Fleet exercise LantPhibEx 1-62,
and took advantage of the opportunity to visit Port of Spain, Trinidad, where
the Carrier Division 4 band entertained crowds.
Jul 1962: The ship visited New York City for Independence Day
festivities. During one of the days of her week-long stay, almost 22,000
“curious” visitors swarmed on board.
6–12 Jul 1962: Leaving New York waters, Forrestal participated with
Enterprise in LantFlex 2-62, a nuclear strike exercise under the command of
RADM Reynold D. Hogle, Commander, Carrier Division 4 and Commander, TF 24.
Enterprise launched eight “pre-planned” strikes and six call strikes while
operating in the Virginia capes area against targets ranging from the
Tidewater area to central Florida.
3 Aug 1962: Forrestal weighed anchor and set sail for another Med
deployment. This sail included 12,900 officers and men from commands along
the east coast assigned initially to the Second Fleet, manning Enterprise and
Forrestal, guided missile heavy cruiser Boston (CAG-1), from which RADM
Robert H. Weeks, Commander, Cruiser Destroyer Flotilla 10, broke his flag,
heavy cruiser Newport News (CA-148), from which VADM John M. Taylor,
Commander, Second Fleet, broke his flag, 13 destroyers from Destroyer
Squadrons 8 and 14, ammunition ships Shasta (AE-6) and Suribachi (AE-21) and
oiler Chukawan (AO-100). This became the last time that A-1 Skyraiders of
VA-85 deployed on board Forrestal, and her first deployment with Mach 2.2
capable McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom IIs of VF-74. Soviet Tupolev Tu-95
[Tu-20] Bears would fly the huge journey–hundreds of miles–from their fields
near Murmansk in the Kola Peninsula to find the ship as she crossed the
Atlantic. Russian electronic specialists operated their sophisticated sensors
probing for the carrier’s radar, and when they discovered her they would drop
down for a closer look, but Phantom IIs from the ship would intercept the
intruders and escort them out of the area. Even during the tensions of the
Cold War most of these encounters were professional and the rivals often
waved to each other.
13–17 Aug 1962: Forrestal participated in RipTide III, an exercise
with allied aircraft carriers in the eastern Atlantic that demonstrated
interchangeability, compatibility and reliance with NATO allies including the
British, French and Portuguese.
7 Sep 1962: Forrestal participated in Lafayette II, an exercise that
involved 14 scheduled conventional strikes coordinated with aircraft from
Enterprise against multiple targets to the French Low Level Route in southern
France. French air force and naval aircraft opposed them.
6 Oct 1962: NATO chiefs of staff embarked Forrestal for a one-day
16–17 Feb 1963: Enterprise relieved Forrestal at Pollensa Bay.
2 Mar 1963: Forrestal returned to Norfolk. Russian reconnaissance
bombers overflew the carrier en route her return home. Her aircraft flew over
10,300 missions and logged over 23,000 hours in the air during this
Early-May–Mid-Jun 1963: The ship completed repairs and upkeep at the
Norfolk Naval Shipyard.
9–19 Sep 1963: Forrestal and ships of Task Force 23 visited Boston,
Massachusetts, for the annual convention of the East Coast Navy League. The
ship moored at the South Boston Naval Annex on the 12th. The next day RADM
John J. Hyland, Commander, Carrier Division 4, welcomed more than 400
delegates to the League and their families as they boarded his flagship for a
day’s cruise. The carrier stood out of the port on the 16th to return home.
12 Oct 1963: RADM Samuel R. Brown, Jr., one of the ship’s former
skippers, relieved RADM Hyland in hanger deck ceremonies.
30 Oct, 21–22 Nov 1963: LT James H. Flatley, III, and LCDR Walter W.
“Smokey” Stovall from the Naval Air Test Center at NAS Patuxent River,
Maryland, and ADJ1 Ed Brennan, a flight engineer from Fleet Tactical Support
Squadron (VR)-1, completed 29 touch-and-go landings and 21 full-stop landings
and takeoffs in a Lockheed C-130F Hercules (BuNo 149798) on board Forrestal.
Flatley and his crew, who also included at times Ted H. Limmer, Jr., a
civilian safety test pilot from Lockheed-Marietta, made some minor
modifications to the Hercules–which marines loaned to them–by replacing its
standard C-130 antiskid braking system with the Hytrol Antiskid Braking
System Mk II used in Boeing B-727s and by removing refueling pods from the
wings. Crewmembers painted a white center line along the ship’s axial deck
from bow to ramp to aid Flatley in guiding the huge aircraft. As they made
their first landing on the 30th, surface winds of 25 to 30 knots and the
resulting choppy sea caused moderate deck motion with a “noticeable” yaw,
which forced Forrestal to increase speed an additional 10 knots to reduce the
yaw motion and to stabilize wind direction. “I was up on the captain’s
bridge” recalled Lockheed-Georgia Engineering Vice President Arthur E. Flock.
“I watched a man on the ship’s bow and that bow must have gone up and down 30
feet.” Although the Hercules crew encountered 40 to 50 knot winds over the
deck, their problems “considerably lessoned” as they landed. The plane’s
right wing tip cleared the ship’s island control tower by just under 15 feet
as it roared down the flight deck. As Flatley brought the aircraft to a halt
crewmembers gathered topside cheered their arrival, and many commented upon
the message specially painted on the starboard nose of the fuselage for the
occasion: “Look ma, no hook.” Lieutenant Flatley received the Distinguished
Flying Cross for his efforts. From these tests the Navy concluded that
Hercules’ could carry 25,000 pounds of cargo and people approximately 2,500
miles and land on board a Forrestal-class or larger carrier, accomplishing
their missions with gross weights of up to 121,000 pounds. Analysts also
decided, however, that using the huge aircraft for Carrier On-board Delivery
(COD) flights would be too risky.
6–16 Nov 1963: In between the Hercules trials the ship engaged in
various task force operations off the east coast.
4–6 Dec 1963: Forrestal operated with Enterprise in StrikEx I, a
combined strike, antisubmarine and air defense exercise conducted in the
southeastern United States under Commander, Carrier Division 2.
29 Jul 1964: The ship relieved Enterprise at Pollensa Bay, enabling
the latter to rendezvous with guided missile cruiser Long Beach (CGN-9) and
guided missile frigate Bainbridge (DLGN-25) for Operation Sea Orbit, the
first global circumnavigation by nuclear-powered ships.
29 Nov 1964: LT John F. Barr of VA-83 made the 100,00th landing on
board, in his A-4E Skyhawk as the ship steamed in the Mediterranean.
1 Mar 1965: Attack aircraft carrier Shangri-La (CVA-38) relieved
Forrestal at Pollensa Bay.
11 May 1965: Miss America 1965 Vonda Kay Van Dyke, Miss Virginia 1965
Mary Montgomery, Miss Portsmouth 1965 and 13 contestants for the Miss
Portsmouth crown visited the ship.
21 Nov 1965: RADM Allan K. Fleming, Commander, Carrier Division 4,
shifted his flag to Franklin D. Roosevelt at Golfo di Palmas, Sardinia.
14–15 Jan 1966: An Air Force Douglas C-47 Dakota crashed up at 7,680
feet atop Mount Helmos in the Peloponnesian Peninsula in Greece. Later that
evening the Sixth Fleet alerted two Kaman UH-2 Seasprite crews (BuNos
149741–an A model–and 150142–a B) from Helicopter Combat Support Squadron
(HC)-2 Detachment 59 embarked in Forrestal, to stand by to assist in the
search and rescue. Helo crewmembers assigned included CDR Russell–a
doctor–LCDRs Raymond K. McCullough and William S. Munro, LTs Mullen–also a
doctor–and L.R. Grant, II, LT(JG) Michael E. Howe, ADJ1 Ests P. Morrow, ADJ3
John E. Keto, AE3 Richard T. Ream and AMS3 George T. “D and S” Vaughn, III.
Lieutenant Commander McCullough flew the ‘A’ Seasprite and LCDR Munro piloted
the ‘B.’ The men flew to the Royal Hellenic Air Force Base at Araxos
overnight, lifting off from Forrestal at around 2000. After an Air Force
captain briefed them on the weather and terrain conditions peculiar to the
area, the rescuers set off at 0840 the next morning. Although they enjoyed
clear weather, bitter cold, high winds up to 35 knots and dangerous
turbulence at the mountain crest hampered the helo crews, who also needed to
exercise caution while landing due to their concerns regarding the strength
of the ice-crusted snow and whether it would bear their weight. LCDR
McCullough persevered through six approaches and had to dump his fuel and
auxiliary tanks to lighten the aircraft. He finally found a barely adequate
landing spot on a saddle-back ridge a few hundred feet above the crash site
where the snow leveled off just enough to allow him to touch down. They
rescued two Air Force crewmembers from the wreckage, LCOL Dick N. Crowell,
USAF, and CAPT Thomas D. Smith, USAF, and LCDR Munro and LT Grant flew in
right behind them and pulled SSGT J.L. Ferguson out in a litter. All of the
survivors suffered from frostbite and fatigue. The two crews refueled and
returned to the scene and retrieved their crewmembers on the ground–who
disembarked to assist the victims to board the helos–and the bodies of the
victims, returning with them to the base camp at 4,000 feet. The weather
remained clear until later in the afternoon, when clouds and visibility
closed in and caused problems. Because the atmospheric conditions caused
their UHF radios to fail, the helo crews relied on a Grumman E-1B Tracer,
known as a ‘Willy Fudd’ and ‘Stoof With A Roof’ to its crew, from Carrier
Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW)-12, and AF 783, an Air Force plane, to
relay communications between the rescuers and Forrestal. The Tracer also
guided the helos to Araxos during the darkness as the operation began. In
addition, an Air Force Kaman H-43 Huskie and Greek mountain climbers assisted
the rescuers, and the Huskie evacuated LCOL Frank Bailey, USAF, the last
survivor, as well as transporting the bodies down the mountain from the base
camp. An Air Force Hercules waited for them at Araxos and when they returned
the C-130 flew the casualties out for intensive medical care. Six other
crewmembers perished during the crash, and the searchers could not locate two
of the bodies due to the extreme circumstances of the crash site.
24 Jan 1966: Forrestal sailed from Taranto, Italy, and in company with
guided missile destroyer Conyngham (DDG 17) and destroyers Forrest Royal (DD
872), McCaffery (DD 860), Charles R. Ware (DD 865) and Yarnall (DD 541)
comprised Task Group 60.2.
2 Feb 1966: Early in the evening Backwash 100, an F-4B Phantom II,
(BuNo 152285), LT William H. Brinks and LT Edward E. Weller of VF-74,
launched for a routine night intercept training mission while Forrestal
steamed in the Tyrrhenian Sea, at 1802. As 100 climbed through 1,500 feet
with both engines at full thrust, a “loud explosion” shook the aircraft. The
Phantom II immediately began to decelerate, though it finished its climb to
2,200 feet before descending inexorably back to earth. Both men checked their
instruments, however, they could not regain control of the F-4B and they
ejected, approximately three miles from the ship. A UH-2A crew from HC-2
Detachment 59, LT(JG) Howe, LT Louis R. Grant, AME3 Gary Steele and ATN3 Bill
Toth, spotted the survivors within four minutes, thanks largely to the flares
and strobe lights which the aircrew deployed fortuitously, and rescued the
pilot and radar intercept officer and returned the shaken men to the ship.
5–12 Feb 1966: While Forrestal visited Naples a group of men from the
ship attended an audience with Pope Paul VI at Vatican City in Rome.
26–27 Feb 1966: Spanish LGEN Avales, that country’s air defense force
commander, visited Forrestal for an underway orientation.
28 Feb–3 Mar 1966: The ship participated in Fairgame IV, a joint
exercise with the French, including their aircraft carrier Arromanches
(R-95), in the Mediterranean. RADM Leslie J. O’Brien, Jr., Commander, Cruiser
Destroyer Flotilla 10, transferred over to guided missile frigate MacDonough
(DLG-8) on the last day of Fairgame IV, from which he broke his flag until
returning to the carrier.
22 Mar 1966: Forrestal put into Taranto for a fleet commander’s
conference with the Sixth Fleet. Officers and men from numerous commands
arrived on board attack aircraft carrier America (CVA-66).
30–31 Mar 1966: Saratoga relieved Forrestal at Pollensa Bay. The next
day the latter passed through the Strait of Gibraltar beginning at 2100 on 31
March into the Atlantic en route her home port. The ship completed a
deployment that the Navy extended by an additional two weeks. During this
deployment, pilots logged 19,000 flight hours and flew over 11,000 sorties.
11–14 Apr 1966: Forrestal offloaded her ammunition prior to entering
Norfolk Naval Shipyard for an overhaul.
15 Apr 1966–27 Jan 1967: Forrestal sailed up the Elizabeth River as
tugboats then eased her into her berth to prepare for what the ship’s Command
History Report referred to as a “massive facelifting” at Norfolk Naval
Shipyard. Vice Admiral Charles T. Booth, II, Commander, Naval Air Force
Atlantic Fleet, inspected the ship on 10 June 1966. The admiral took the
opportunity to award CDR Joe D. Adkins, the ship’s air operations officer,
the Distinguished Flying Cross for his bravery while flying missions over
North Vietnam as the commanding officer of VA-72, embarked in attack aircraft
carrier Independence (CVA-62). Forrestal completed about one-third of the
overhaul when she floated from drydock on 10 July. Beginning on 1 August
sailors and civilian technicians commenced installing the Naval Tactical Data
System (NTDS) into the ship’s systems. The NTDS, an automatic combat
direction system designed to eliminate human error by doing away with
“grease-pencil plotting,” became the principal system of her Combat
Information Center. The speed of modern warfare demanded an increase in
plotting and disseminating information and the Navy intended NTDS to provide
a comprehensive picture of ships, aircraft and subs. Meanwhile, RADM Harvey
P. Lanham, Commander, Carrier Division 2, shifted his flag to Forrestal,
which relieved Carrier Division 4 (19 October). The admiral awarded LCDR
Richard T. Theriault, Forrestal’s First Lieutenant, with the Bronze Star for
his distinguished service in Vietnam, on 28 October. The crew celebrated
their gradual return to operational status when they lit-off one of their
eight boilers on Halloween, which provided the men their own steam and
electrical power after receiving pierside services after seven months.
Tragedy struck the men at the shipyard at 1333 on 1 November, however, when a
UH-2B (BuNo 152193) from amphibious assault ship Guadalcanal (LPH-7), moored
across from Forrestal at Berth 35 at Pier 5, crashed onto the pier between
the two ships. The Seasprite entered what investigators determined to be an
“uncontrolled flight immediately upon lifting” off from the flight deck of
Guadalcanal for a brief test ‘hop’ to NAS Oceana; after barely reaching four
to five feet into the air the helo’s rotor blades struck the flight deck and
then the aircraft careened over the starboard side of Guadalcanal onto the
pier. The Seasprite’s impact threw debris and shards–including lethal metal
fragments from the helo’s disintegrating rotor blades–at people working in
the vicinity, killing four men: three Navy; LCDR John C. Thoma, AN Joseph A.
Anzalone, AN Garry A. Whipp; and one civilian, Mannie McCutcheon of the
yard’s riggers and laborers shop, and injured 19 more men. Debris also flew
into a railroad car on the pier and at both ships, damaging a pair of boats
on the flight deck of Forrestal, and hurtled into nearby buildings with such
force that they tore holes into cement block walls. Forrestal’s crew joined
other men from across the yard to help their shipmates to provide damage
control and to aid victims, and over 100 crewmembers volunteered to donate
blood to injured men. Following the catastrophe, the crew held a ‘fast
cruise’–which simulates at sea operations while still moored to a pier (10–11
December). Just after the New Year’s the ship stood down the channel for the
first time since her overhaul began for post repair trials off the Virginia
capes (0800 on 9–15 January 1967). The ship actually completed her trials,
which included limited air operations, at 1300 on Saturday 14 January,
however, dense fog rolled in and the shipyard refused the carrier permission
to moor due to navigational hazards, so the carrier anchored off Pier 12 at
the naval station until the next day, when the shipyard allowed her to
return. Forrestal sailed from the yard on the 23rd and returned to Norfolk.
6–10 Feb 1967: The carrier reached the ammunition anchorage to load a
full complement of ammunition for the first time since her repairs.
14 Feb–16 Mar 1967: The ship completed refresher training in Cuban
waters. Forrestal anchored out at NS Guantánamo Bay (17–18 February). She
attained her 120,000th arrested landing on the third day of actual refresher
training (22 February).
11 Apr–6 May 1967: Forrestal completed a series of exercises in the
Atlantic Fleet Weapons Range designed to simulate the grueling conditions her
men could expect during the Vietnam War, including alpha strikes against
major targets. In addition, she took part in Operation Clovehitch III,
providing support for ground forces in the all-service exercise.
13 May 1967: While testing her automatic carrier landing system off
the Virginia Capes the ship recorded her 124,000th landing using that system,
when LT Howard L. Reedy of VA-65 trapped on board.
6 Jun 1967: Embarking CVW-17 the ship sailed at 1630 from Pier 12 at
Norfolk for her only western Pacific deployment. Forrestal held drills on
most days while sailing into harm’s way and pilots and aircrew studied charts
and held briefings during the voyage. Grumman A-6As of VA-65 and Grumman
E-2As from VAW-123 embarked as the first Intruders and Hawkeyes,
respectively, to deploy on board Forrestal.
13–16 Jun 1967: RADM Lanham and observers from Independence led the
ship’s Operational Readiness Inspection.
19–20 Jun 1967: Forrestal’s Command History Report observed that 4,330
pollywogs “fearing for their lives” revolted and held 500 Loyal Shellbacks
captive.” Just after midnight the pollywogs stole many of the shellback’s
cards and held a mock initiation during an “illegal ceremony.” The next day
as the ship crossed the equator, however, the shellbacks gained their justice
against the “disloyal and scurvy Pollywogs,” many of the latter sans hair and
sporting red tails.
23–25 Jun 1967: While rounding South America en route to Pacific
waters Forrestal anchored at Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The air wing presented
an air show for distinguished visitors including United States Ambassador
John W. Tuthill and Brazilian ADM Rademaker, Minister of that Navy, during
the morning watch on 23 June, following which the ship anchored in Guanabara
Bay, at 1300.
16 Jul 1967: Detachment Charles, a briefing team which flew out from
the South Vietnamese capital of Saigon, boarded to brief the men on the war
18–21 Jul 1967: At 0530 the ship moored to Leyte Pier at NAS Cubi
Point, at Subic Bay, Philippines. The wing examined survival gear and conducted
survival training, installed additional electronic countermeasures equipment
and made final aircraft modifications before entering battle.
22 Jul 1967: Forrestal sailed from Subic Bay into war. RADM Lanham
broke his flag from the carrier in command of Task Group 77.6, which also
included destroyers Henry W. Tucker (DD-875) and Rupertus (DD-851). Aircraft
practiced night operations, coordinated attacks and honed bombing accuracy
while en route to Vietnamese waters.
25 Jul 1967: Forrestal arrived at Yankee Station and at 0600 she
launched her first strikes in the Vietnam War against an enemy often just a
few miles over the horizon from the ship. The Americans created two carrier
operating areas to prosecute the war in Southeast Asia. Initially designating
the northernmost one in the Gulf of Tonkin as Point Yankee, they redesignated
it Yankee Station as the primary operations area from which carriers operated
against North Vietnam. Evolving as the war continued, Yankee Station actually
consisted of several stations. In April 1966, the Navy moved it northward to
125 miles east of Dong Hoi at 17º30’N, 108º30’E, which reduced the distance
aircraft had to fly to reach their targets in North Vietnam, but subsequently
reassigned it to its original position in 1968. When the Americans resumed
intensive bombing against the north in 1972 they again moved the station
northward, and designated it as North, Mid and South, at 19º, 17º and 16º N,
respectively. The carrier rearmed from ammunition ship Diamond Head (AE-19)
later that evening.
25–29 Jul 1967: The North Vietnamese supplied communist forces
fighting in South Vietnam through a variety of well-defended and highly
secretive routes collectively known as the Ho Chi Minh Trail. To cut these
routes pilots flew alpha strikes, reconnaissance, armed reconnaissance and
barrier combat air patrol missions against key transportation nodes and
supply points supporting the trail, as well as flying radar patrols, from
Forrestal as she steamed in the Gulf of Tonkin. Although many of their
targets lay within heavily defended areas bristling with North Vietnamese
anti-aircraft gunners and surface-to-air missiles, CVW-17 flew more than 150
missions over North Vietnam without losing a single aircraft. Their most
significant strike became a massive raid against the Thanh Hoa Bridge
Railroad Bypass and Ferry Terminals.
29–30 Jul 1967: Forrestal spent barely five days ‘on the line’ when
tragedy struck on Saturday. SN K. Dyke of 1st Division fell overboard over
the starboard side at 0316. The ship immediately stopped and backed-up 1/3,
then maneuvered slowly in the area searching for SN Dyke. At the same time
she launched a helo to scour the area, which spotted the man and directed
Rupertus to him, which lowered a motor whaleboat to recover the shaken man,
the carrier securing from her man overboard orders by 0513. The ship then
launched her first strike of the day. Shortly thereafter during the morning
watch Forrestal swung her bow into the wind and the crew prepared to launch
their second strike as the ship steamed 050° at 27 knots about 150 miles off
the North Vietnamese coast, at approximately 19°9’5”N, 107°23’5”E, at 1050;
she began an “early launch” of two Douglas KA-3B Skywarrior tankers from
Heavy Attack Squadron (VAH)-10 Detachment 59, a Grumman E-2A Hawkeye from
VAW-123 and a Grumman EA-1 Tracer. Two of the four aircraft launched when
suddenly, a Zuni 5” rocket accidentally fired, probably from Aircraft No.
110, a McDonnell Douglas F-4B Phantom II (BuNo 153061), LCDR James E. Bangert
and LT(JG) Lawrence E. McKay from VF-11, and slammed into either Aircraft No.
405 or 416, an A-4E Skyhawk, further aft on the port side waiting to launch,
less than two minutes later. Within five seconds, the fire, fed by a ruptured
400-gallon fuel tank, rapidly enveloped the Skyhawks on either side of the
wounded aircraft. Barely two minutes into the unfolding holocaust the first
of many high and low level detonations erupted as the heat started to
cook-off bombs, rockets and 20 mm rounds. An explosion shattered the windows
of Primary Flight Control, almost bowling CDR David B. Lember over. Rockets
and shells shot across the deck, and ejection seats fired into the air. Seven
major explosions shook the ship during the first four minutes of the horrific
crisis, and some 40,000-gallons of JP-5 jet fuel from aircraft on deck spread
the inferno. Huge clouds of black smoke billowed upward, blinding crewmembers
racing to battle the flames, which engulfed the fantail and spread to below
deck on the 01, 02 and 03 levels, touching off ordnance, trapping some men
and wreaking havoc with the crew and ship. Survivors attested to bombs that
appeared to be growing red from the heat dropping to the flight deck and
blasting holes into the ship. More ruptured fuel tanks spewed volatile jet
fuel from beneath aircraft onto the deck, feeding the flames. Some of the
liquid sloshed down into the hanger deck where it posed a deadly hazard for
men stationed there. Huge gusts of fire shot into the air along the flight
deck, trapping pilots in their aircraft with no recourse but to escape
through the flames or be incinerated in their cockpits. LCDR Fred D. White,
waiting to launch in Aircraft No. 405, leapt out of his Skyhawk. Other men
came to his aid but as the first bomb exploded it killed the pilot. LCDR
Herbert A. Hope of VA-46 (and operations officer of CVW-17) jumped out of the
cockpit of his Skyhawk between explosions, rolled off the flight deck and
into a safety net. Making his way down below to the hanger deck, he gallantly
took command of a firefighting team. “The port quarter of the flight deck
where I was” he recalled, “is no longer there.” LCDR John S. McCain, III,
sitting in Aircraft No. 416 preparing to launch, afterward described the
horror: “I thought my aircraft exploded” he recounted as the first blast
ripped through the aircraft assembled on the flight deck. “Flames were
everywhere”. The young pilot climbed out of his Skyhawk, poised perilously on
the A-4C and then leapt through the flames and ran for his life. As he did so
the naval aviator saw another pilot jump and roll clear of his aircraft but
the flames caught his uniform ablaze. LCDR McCain turned back to help the man
when a bomb exploded and knocked him off his feet and backward about 10 feet.
He never saw his shipmate again. The son of the famed pioneering admiral in
naval aviation, LCDR McCain would survive being shot down and held as a
prisoner of war by the North Vietnamese (1967 through 1973); he eventually
received the Distinguished Flying Cross, Silver Star and Purple Heart, and
went on to a prominent political career. Nearby LT(JG) Lee V. Twyford also
ran in to help a couple of men play a hose onto the conflagration as the
detonation bowled him over. Climbing to his feet he saw the hose torn and
spilling water over the deck, both men struck down saving their ship. Another
man stumbled by LT(JG) Twyford. “He had no clothes, he had no skin” explained
the lieutenant. Wounded in his ankle and unable to walk, he crawled below to
lend a hand among sailors and marines gathering there. A burst of flames
which AE3 Bruce Mulligan of VA-106 described as a “fireball” hurtled toward
the crewman, who hit the deck and barely survived as it roared over him.
Looking around he spotted two men rolling over on fire, and several near him
began to tear at their uniforms in fear and pain as their fabric ignited. As
he prepared to help his friends a second explosion knocked him down, and the
sailor found himself literally by himself. Undaunted, the young (22-year-old)
petty officer headed for a fire hose when fragments flew into him.
Nonetheless, AE3 Mulligan helped a friend wounded in the leg down to Sick
Bay, and returned to help battle the blaze. Twice more he made his way below
to rest, at one point noting that he felt “kinda groggy,” but returned to
help his fellows. AE3 Mulligan passed out the second time but a friend
brought him topside, where he finally collapsed from exhaustion later that
evening, trying to sleep on a life preserver he used as a pillow up on the
flight deck, though only resting fitfully. When a chief ran from burning
Hanger Bay No. 3 to call for five volunteers, 30 men joined him to attack the
raging fires. LT James J. Campbell recoiled for a few moments in stunned
dismay as burning torches tumbled toward him, until their screams awoke him
to the peril of his shipmates enveloped in flames and he leapt into action to
help them. Repeated explosions blew some men overboard, and others made the
deadly leap from the flight deck high above the cooling waters below to
escape the inferno. Within the first minute the crew had two hoses on deck,
and with the crash and salvage officer and chief directing their efforts,
already began to ply one of the lines to battle down the flames; mute
testimony to their determination to save their ship. Nonetheless, the first
bomb explosions hurtled fire and molten fragments into the hose teams,
shredding skin and cutting down the men, which temporarily drove back the
firefighters moving toward the scene on the flight deck and cost the crew
precious minutes as their shipmates bravely advanced into the fray to take
their places. Sailors resolutely manned firefighting equipment and played
water upon live ordnance to chill it while others braved the flames to disarm
bombs and missiles or roll them overboard, and others moved aircraft forward
and out of danger. Men frantically jettisoned ordnance from the ‘bomb farm’
located on the ramp outboard of the island, as well as from the hanger bay
and on loaded aircraft, as the fire began to move up the starboard side aft
through the row of parked North American RA-5C Vigilantes from Reconnaissance
Attack Squadron (RVAH)-11. Fear and the urgency of their emergency produced
superhuman strength in some men, and survivors recalled seeing 130-pound LT
Otis G. Kight single-handedly carry a 250-pound bomb to the edge of the
hanger deck and heave it overboard! LT John E. Carpenter of VA-106 escaped
from his aircraft only to discover a man lying on the flight deck with severe
arterial bleeding. The pilot remained alongside his shipmate applying a
tourniquet to staunch the flow of the precious fluid while bombs and rockets
exploded around him, until a corpsman arrived and took over his life-saving
efforts. Throughout the day the ship’s medical staff appeared in the midst of
fire and smoke to sacrificially assist their comrades. HM2 Paul Streetman,
one of 38 corpsmen assigned to the carrier, spent over 11 grueling hours on
the mangled flight deck tending to his shipmates. Investigators noted that
survivors recalled that ADJ3 James G. Smith “seemed to be
everywhere”–throwing bombs over the side, manning hoses in the hanger bay,
carrying the wounded out of the 03 level, and at one point hauling a man so
badly burned that no one wanted to touch him to first aid, an action that
probably saved the wounded man’s life. ABH3 Larry W. Cope of V-1 Division
jumped up onto a forklift and completely disregarding his own safety
persisted in pushing a Vigilante over the side while flames surrounded him.
His shipmates watered him down with a constant stream from a hose while ABH3
Cope persevered through his ordeal. “I am most proud” CAPT John K. Beling
observed “of the way the crew reacted.” At 1117 the ship passed over her 1MC
that all men trapped aft by the flames should try to make their way forward
via the hanger deck and second deck levels. Beginning at noon the radar
systems failed for four crucial minutes, though operators assiduously
restored them. SN Milton Parker of S-6 Division fought the fires topside for
nine hours, and discovered that the heat of the charred deck literally burned
the soles off of his shoes, but commented that “my feet are okay because I
put on some flight deck shoes and went back in.” Down in Hanger Bay No. 2,
SFC Daniel H. Ringer of R Division joined a team that could not open the
hanger bay doors and had to first cool them down, finally going through the
side. At one point they applied salt water to a bulkhead only to watch in
dismay as the water turned to steam from the intense heat. The chief made his
way up to the flight deck and gathered some men to cut their way through with
torches. He finally grabbed some sleep by 1100 on Sunday, but he awoke five
hours later to note that fire still re-flashed. “The majority of the men were
all right” remembered SFC Ringer. “There was no trouble in getting them to
fight the fire. Most of them were eager to help in any way they could.” The
heat, however, became unbearable for many men, and without proper protection
some suffered frightful burns as fire ignited their uniforms or literally
melted material onto their skin. RADM Lanham reached the bridge and gazed
down in horror at the carnage below, noting that the firestorm engulfed the
aft end of the flight deck and that men fought to halt the inferno from moving
forward. A bosun grabbed his arm and pulled him down, mentioning that the
Plexiglas would not be safe. “As I dropped down” reflected the admiral,
“another explosion shook the ship. A large piece of shrapnel crashed through
the plexiglass where my face was.” CDR John R. Dewenter, Commander, CVW-17,
proudly noted that most of his men “chipped right in” and fought alongside
Forrestal’s crew. LTJG Francis R. Guinan observed: “No one had better say to
me that American youth are lazy. I saw men working today who were not only
injured, but thoroughly exhausted and they had to be carried away. They were
trying so hard to help, but were actually becoming a burden.” Different men
reacted to the stress in different ways and the fires trapped 13 sailors in
compartment 1-217-4-Q port side aft. As they tried to escape via an
alternative door blasts and flying objects forced them back within, and some
men bravely attempted to rally their shipmates and seek a way out, while
others prayed and still others wept or struggled with their fears. The men
finally stumbled over aircraft and yellow equipment and escaped from the
hatch near the shop on the hanger deck. The smoke became so thick that even
with a few flashlights they could not see more then a couple of feet in front
of them and some sailors became separated in the confusion. The large number
of casualties quickly overwhelmed the ship’s Sick Bay staff, who worked
diligently to treat the ghastly wounds which the disaster inflicted.
Meanwhile, the stricken ship signaled her attendant destroyers, Henry W.
Tucker and Rupertus–the latter acting as her plane guard–to “Close to assist
at best speed.” Rupertus raced in and her men valiantly played hoses onto the
fire, staunchly keeping close aboard to Forrestal’s starboard side, although
flames lapped out at them and smoke rapidly enveloped the destroyer. Other
ships and aircraft came to the rescue. Destroyer George K. MacKenzie (DD-836)
steamed eight miles away as one of attack aircraft carrier Oriskany’s
(CVA-34) plane guards when a lookout spotted the smoke, which her historian
described as rising up “hundreds of feet into the air,” from the wounded
ship, at about 1100. Oriskany and George K. MacKenzie gathered destroyer
Samuel N. Moore (DD-747) and all three ships sped to the scene. George K.
MacKenzie recovered three men from the water and took another trio on board
from Rupertus’ motor whaleboat, before the destroyer took station on
Forrestal’s starboard quarter. The destroyer’s busy crew also directed Samuel
N. Moore to pick up a further 11 survivors they spotted in the water. For
almost an hour and a half George K. MacKenzie’s firefighting parties sprayed
the carrier with as many hoses as they could bring to bear. Henry W. Tucker
retraced Forrestal’s route searching for survivors floundering in the water.
A Kaman UH-2A Seasprite, ENS Leonard M. Eiland, Jr., ADJ3 James O. James,
Jr., and AN Albert E. Barrows of HC-1 Detachment Golf embarked in
Oriskany–but flying as an additional plane guard for Forrestal–picked up five
men from the water in the first hour alone, and later flew other men to sick
bays of nearby ships. Helos from attack aircraft carriers Bon Homme Richard
(CVA-31) and Oriskany and from the Da Nang area of South Vietnam also raced
in to help. Firefighters discovered to their horror that they used their
available oxygen breathing apparatuses quickly, but helos from the carriers
dropped-off additional apparatuses and canisters to enable men to continue
the fight. Antisubmarine warfare support aircraft carrier Intrepid (CVS-11),
embarking CVW-10, learned of the fire while en route to Yankee Station from
Japanese waters, and she arrived alongside of Forrestal later in the day. Men
from Intrepid transferred fog-foam to the smoldering carrier by helos, and
sent a medical team over to Oriskany to assist her crew with treating
casualties. Explosive ordnance disposal sailors carefully defused unexploded
bombs. When LT(JG) Robert P. Cates, the ship’s explosive ordnance demolition
officer, noted two bombs–a 500 and a 750 pounder–still smoking in the midst
of the flight deck, he disregarded the danger, resolutely walked over to
them, defused the bombs and worked with other men to jettison them overboard.
The sailors and marines who survived brought the flames under control on the
flight deck by 1215, although they continued to clear smoke and to cool hot
steel on the 02 and 03 levels until they reported all fires under control by
1342, and finally declared the fire defeated at 0400 the next morning, due to
additional flare-ups. Crewmembers searched through smoky or flooded
compartments below deck for their fallen friends. Some 132 officers and men
died in the catastrophe, two disappeared (missing, presumed dead), and
another 62 suffered injuries. Sixteen ANM-65 1,000, four M-117 750 and eight
Mk-82 500 pound bombs ripped seven frightful holes through the armored flight
deck, and scorches from the intense heat marked the flight deck, while melted
and twisted debris and wreckage choked the area. Twenty-one aircraft also
sustained enough damage from fire, explosions and salt water to be stricken
from naval inventory, including: seven Phantom IIs (BuNos 153046, 153054,
153060, 153061, 153066, 153069 and 153912); eleven A-4E Skyhawks (149996,
150064, 150068, 150084, 150115, 150118, 150129, 152018, 152024, 152036 and
152040); and three Vigilantes (148932, 149282 and 149305). The crew fought
back heroically, however, the men compounded errors due to their lack of
intensive firefighting training, and on at least one instance a team beat the
fire by laying down a protective covering of foam, only to have a second
(well intentioned) team follow them up and wash it away with water, with the
flames leaping up almost immediately again and cutting the sailors off. The
Navy circulated the lessons which the men of Forrestal re-learned at such
cost throughout the Fleet, and the flight deck film of the flight operations,
subsequently entitled Learn Or Burn, became mandatory viewing for fire
fighting trainees for years. Although investigators could not identify the
exact chain of events behind the carnage, they revealed potential maintenance
issues including concerns in circuitry (stray voltage) associated with LAU-10
rocket launchers and Zunis, as well as the age of the 1,000 pound ‘fat bombs”
loaded for the strike, shards from one of which dated it originally to the
Korean War in 1953. The fire also revealed that Forrestal required a heavy
duty, armored forklift to jettison aircraft more efficiently, particularly
heavier types such as Vigilantes. Investigators did, however, absolve LCDR
Bangert and LT(JG) McKay of any errors and noted their exemplary service
prior to the catastrophe. Henry W. Tucker escorted Forrestal to rendezvous
with hospital ship Repose (AH-16) at 2054, allowing the crew to begin transferring
their dead and wounded shipmates at 2253. Shortly thereafter destroyer
Bausell (DD-845) also reached the carrier to help.
30 Jul 1967: “I don’t apologize for my inability to talk to you quite
clearly” explained LCDR Geoffrey E. Gaugham, a Benedictine chaplain who held
mass on board Forrestal in a cluttered hanger at noon. “I was self-contained
about this tragedy until I heard confessions this morning. Your emotions
became my emotions. We must pray for the dead amongst us, and pray also that
we deserve to have lived.” Crewmembers finished transferring their stricken
comrades over to Repose at 0220, which allowed the hospital ship to detach at
1410, however, the carrier continued to suffer several brief flash fires,
though without casualties. Meanwhile, Intrepid served as host ship for media
representatives and VIPs flown out to the scene during the day.
31 Jul–11 Aug 1967: During murky skies laden with monsoon rains
Forrestal somberly moored at Subic Bay on the evening of the 31st to make
emergency repairs, however, a minor blaze erupted briefly during her
navigation and sea and anchor details. As the crew manned the rails and edged
the carrier closer in toward Leyte Pier, a fire broke out among a pile of
still smoldering mattresses. Some men stepped away from their stations to
respond and quickly extinguished the fire without casualties, though with
little of the urgency they displayed during the previous disaster. “They’re
probably immune to it by now” mused an officer standing on the pier
concerning the reactions of the weary crew, as the fire alarm announcement
over the 1MC became clearly audible to people waiting ashore. The damage from
the main fire proved to be beyond the means of the facilities there to
repair, and the ship continued on to the United States to heal from her
wounds. Meanwhile, Henry W. Tucker faithfully shepherded Forrestal to the
area and then detached to escort attack aircraft carrier Constellation
(CVA-64) toward Vietnamese waters, and Intrepid relieved Forrestal’s place on
the line at Yankee Station. Skywarriors from VAH-10 Detachment 59 flew back
to NAS Whidbey Island in Washington for immediate redeployment, and Grumman
A-6A Intruders from VA-65 transferred to VA-196 embarking Constellation.
About 450 relatives and friends of men on board Forrestal attended an
inter-faith memorial service at the Chapel of the Good Shepherd at NAS
Oceana, on 3 August. As the people left the chapel 16 jets from CVW-17 flew
overhead to honor their fallen shipmates. The Navy later dedicated its Farrier
Fire Fighting School Learning Site at Norfolk for ABC Gerald W. Farrier, who
made the ultimate sacrifice for his fellow crewmembers that terrible day. As
the fire erupted the chief grabbed a CO2 bottle and courageously rushed past
stunned crewmembers toward the burning aircraft, but the initial explosions
killed him instantly.
12–13 Sep 1967: Forrestal returned to the United States when she
sailed up the St. John’s River and arrived at NS Mayport at 1830. The ship
unloaded aircraft and the crews of squadrons based in Florida, before
continuing on at 1300 the next day for Virginian waters. CAPT Beling ordered
speed increased to an average of 27 knots to enable the carrier to reach home
and loved ones as planned.
14 Sep 1967: As the ship hove into sight during the afternoon watch
over 3,000 family members and friends gathered on Pier 12 and on board
Randolph, Forrestal’s host ship, burst into frenzied cheering to welcome home
their loved ones to Norfolk following the tragic deployment.
19 Sep 1967–8 Apr 1968: Forrestal completed extensive repairs at
Norfolk Naval Shipyard. She entered Drydock No. 8 (21 September 1967–10
February 1968). While in the yard the crew manned their battle stations for
general quarters drills every other Friday morning, and over 1,000 men
attended the five-day dual firefighting and damage control course at the
Philadelphia Naval Shipyard, Pennsylvania. The ship floated from drydock and
shifted to Berths 42 and 43 in front of the drydock to complete repairs.
8–15 Apr 1968: CAPT Robert B. Baldwin sailed the carrier down the
Elizabeth River and out into the waters off the Virginia capes for her post
repair trials, the ship’s first time at sea in 207 days. RADM John D.
Bulkeley,[iv] President of the Board of Inspection and Survey, and his staff
inspected the ship for any discrepancies or concerns requiring additional
repairs. While accomplishing trials the ship also recorded her first arrested
landing since the fire when CDR Robert E. Ferguson, Commander, CVW-17,
trapped on board.
23 Apr–22 May 1968: Forrestal completed refresher training in
Caribbean waters. The ship loaded and unloaded her wing at Mayport en route
on both voyages, and the crew also went ashore for liberty at Montego Bay in
11–27 Jun 1968: The carrier completed a variety of training exercises
and pre-deployment work-ups off Jacksonville, Florida. Although the Navy
originally scheduled her training through 5 July, the ship suffered problems
with a steam turbine, which forced her to terminate her training before
1–20 Jul 1968: Forrestal repaired the turbine at Norfolk Naval
27 Jul 1968: Forrestal relieved Shangri-La and commenced operations in
the Med, her first return to that sea in three years since the summer of
17 Aug 1968: LT Robert P. Eicher of VA-34 completed the ship’s
130,000th trap in an A-4C Skyhawk one day out from Marseilles, France, where
the ship made a brief stop (9–15 August).
1–3 Oct 1968: Forrestal anchored in Argostoli Bay in Greece for a
fleet commander’s conference held on board Independence.
20 Nov 1968: VADM David C. Richardson, Commander, Sixth Fleet, and
Senator John C. Stennis of Mississippi, Chairman of the Senate Armed Services
Committee, visited the ship.
3 Jan–13 Jan 1969: Following a visit to Cannes, France (23 December
1968–3 January 1969) Forrestal operated in the Ionian Sea, before anchoring
at the Grand Harbor of Valletta on Malta. Poor weather and high winds caused
a cancellation of boating and only allowed a single day of general visiting
for curious Maltese.
17–22 Feb 1969: The ship operated in the Aegean Sea after visiting
Istanbul in Turkey (10–17 February).
1–17 Mar 1969: Operations in the Adriatic Sea through the 11th
afforded the crew the unique opportunity of visiting Trieste in northeastern
Italy (11–17 March).
15–19 Apr 1969: Although the ship experienced several uneventful
visits to harbors during this deployment, she encountered her second burst of
poor weather while making port at Marseilles, when the boating conditions so
much that Forrestal cancelled general public visitation.
22 Apr 1969: Attack aircraft carrier John F. Kennedy (CVA-67) relieved
Forrestal during the morning at NS Rota, Spain. At 1900 Forrestal weighed
anchor and set sail for home.
29 Apr 1969: Forrestal moored to Pier 12 at Norfolk after an
uneventful seven day voyage from the Mediterranean through the Strait of
Gibraltar and across the Atlantic, completing a nine-month deployment–her
longest to the Mediterranean to date.
5–9 May 1969: Following her return the ship spent several days
9 May–1 Aug 1969: Forrestal completed a restricted availability at
Norfolk Naval Shipyard.
11 Aug–27 Sep 1969: The ship accomplished a combination of exercises
and training evolutions designed to ready her for battle, including refresher
training, which took her to Caribbean and western Atlantic waters. Forrestal
anchored at Guantánamo Bay on 20 August, and again on 13 September. She also
stopped by both times on her way southward and again returning to Pier 12,
Norfolk, to load and offload aircraft and their crews from the wing and
ammunition at Mayport.
13–17 Oct 1969: The carrier conducted a firepower demonstration for
400 guests of various service colleges. She spent the first two days
rehearsing and performed the demonstration on the 16th and 17th.
11–12 Dec 1969: The ship passed through the Strait of Gibraltar and
entered the Mediterranean overnight, relieving John F. Kennedy at Pollensa
Bay the next morning. Forrestal then proceeded to operate in the western
Mediterranean, Tyrrhenian and Ionian Seas.
10–20 Jan 1970: The carrier visited Marsaxlokk at Malta. Occasional
foul winter weather plagued this visit and the crew could only complete two
of their four planned days of general visiting for the public, and limiting a
third day, due to the dangerous boating conditions.
16 Feb–2 Mar 1970: Forrestal operated in the Ionian Sea (16–23
February) and then again visited Trieste (23 February–2 March). CDR Douglas
C. Coleman of RVAH-13 made the 150,000th arresting landing on board Forrestal
as she steamed in the Ionian Sea, in a Vigilante on 20 February.
10–19 Mar 1970: Heavy weather again restricted boating conditions for
visitors and for liberty parties going ashore, when the ship put into
Barcelona, Spain, reducing boating visitation from three days to two.
9–15 Apr 1970: After sailing in the Tyrrhenian and Ionian Seas (2–9
April), Forrestal anchored at Argostoli Bay in Greece. RADM George C. Talley,
Jr., relieved RADM William H. House as Commander, Carrier Division 4, during
a ceremony on board, on 10 April.
20 Apr–1 May 1970: The ship anchored off Valletta and St. Paul’s Bay,
Malta. Crewmembers contributed to a variety of charitable projects to help
people whenever they made port, but this particular visit included a hitherto
distinctive event. Some men from the carrier displayed their love of romance
when they provided the funds and help to hold a wedding celebration, cake,
band and a dowry of $380.00 collected from their shipmates, for the marriage
of two Maltese at an orphanage at Gozo.
1–23 May 1970: Following her Maltese call the carrier steamed in the
Ionian Sea, broken by a call at the Greek capital of Athens (7–18 May). Chief
of Naval Operations (Designate) VADM Elmo R. Zumwalt, Jr., visited the ship to
observe flight operations overnight on 22 and 23 May. During his stay the
affable admiral also answered questions from the crew and sailors from
WFOR-TV, the ship’s television station, interviewed the prospective and
23–27 May 1970: Forrestal anchored at Argostoli Bay. Unfortunately,
the ship did not hold liberty call for her disappointed crew.
28 May–4 Jun 1970: The ship put into Corfu.
4–21 Jun 1970: After steaming in the Ionian Sea for Operation Dawn
Patrol, a joint NATO readiness exercise to prepare for possible East Bloc
attacks in the event of a European war, Forrestal anchored in Souda Bay at
Crete (4–9 June). The Sixth Fleet intended Forrestal to visit Naples on 16
June, however, civil strife erupted in Jordan, forcing the ship to curtail
her visit and rush to the eastern Mediterranean. The carrier patrolled that
area and prepared to provide air support to cover evacuations of Americans
from Jordan, but the situation calmed and she came about and made for her
abbreviated visit to Naples, on the 21st.
28–29 Jun 1970: Forrestal departed the Mediterranean and conducted an
underway turnover with Saratoga the next day.
13 Jul–25 Sep 1970: The ship offloaded her ammunition at Norfolk
ammunition anchorage through 17 July; she then moored to Pier 5, Norfolk
Naval Shipyard, to complete a restricted availability.
30 Sep 1970: Forrestal hosted the change of command ceremony for
Commander in Chief Atlantic Command and Commander in Chief, Atlantic Fleet,
when ADM Charles K. Duncan relieved ADM Ephraim P. Holmes, at Pier 12 at NS
Norfolk. Secretary of the Navy John H. Chaffee, Jr., led the entourage of
1–9 Oct 1970: The carrier stood out of Norfolk for post repair trials,
returning to onload ammunition (5–9 October).
16–30 Oct 1970: Whenever carriers assigned to the Atlantic Fleet
completed restricted availabilities at this time, they normally conducted
their refresher training and carrier qualifications in Caribbean waters. As
an experiment and economy measure, however, Forrestal accomplished her
scheduled training and qualifications off the Virginia Capes, broken only be
a brief return to Norfolk on 22 October.
30 Nov–7 Dec 1970: While training and working-up, Forrestal witnessed
a unique operation when two Air Force pilots, MAJ George Weeks, USAF, an
exchange officer assigned to VF-11, and LCOL Clifford Allison, USAF (the
radar intercept officer serving from the staff of Commander, Second Fleet)
flying with that squadron, landed their F-4B Phantom IIs for what the ship’s
Command History Report referred to as an “all-Air Force carrier landing,” on
5–24 Jan 1971: While en route to the Mediterranean, Forrestal onloaded
VA-81, VA-83 and RVAH-7, the remaining squadrons of CVW-17, at Mayport on the
7th; she then conducted an operational readiness inspection (13–15 January),
and anchored off St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands on the 15th. The carrier
then continued onward steaming easterly courses, arriving at NS Rota to
relieve Independence on 24 January. Grumman EA-6B Prowlers of Marine Tactical
Electronics Warfare Squadron (VMAQ)-2 embarked for this initial phase of the
deployment. Forrestal steamed through the Strait of Gibraltar in the
Mediterranean that night.
29 Jan–3 Feb 1971: The ship made her first visit to a Mediterranean
port during this deployment to the Sixth Fleet when she anchored off
Valletta’s sea wall. Choppy seas interfered with liberty ashore and
visitation by the normally friendly Maltese, however, and forced Forrestal to
3–8 Feb 1971: While steaming in the Ionian Sea Forrestal received word
that Panamanian-flagged ore ship Flamingo lost power and drifted at the mercy
of the wind and tide off southern Italy, on 7 February. Sixth Fleet
destroyers attempted to take her in tow, however, rough seas prevented them
from aiding the stricken ship. Forrestal sent four Sikorsky SH-3D Sea Kings
from HS-3 through winds gusting up to 60 knots and over what the ship’s
Command History Report described as “extremely heavy seas” to rescue all 20
crewmembers and passengers from Flamingo. The carrier’s crew fed and provided
medical attention to the survivors, who they flew on to Naval Air Facility
(NAF) Sigonella in Sicily the next day to be transported to reunions with their
8–10 Feb 1971: As Forrestal anchored in St. Paul’s Bay at Malta,
Secretary of the Navy Chaffee and VADM Isaac C. Kidd, Jr., Commander, Sixth
Fleet, paid the ship a visit. The secretary appeared on Forrestal’s WFOR-TV
for a question and answer session with the crew and presented medals to the
16 men who participated in the rescue of the people from Flamingo. Secretary
Chaffee also gave the crew the exciting news that they could wear civilian
clothing while on liberty and to store them on board as a feasibility study
for wider circulation. The concept proved so popular amongst sailors that the
Sixth Fleet later adopted the policy throughout the Mediterranean.
Previously, only officers, chiefs and first class petty officers enjoyed that
10–22 Feb 1971: The carrier operated in the Ionian Sea, during which
she hosted a visit on the 18th by the American ambassador to the Netherlands
and the Dutch Foreign Minister Joseph Luns, who later became the Secretary
General of NATO.
22 Feb–2 Mar 1971: As Forrestal put into Valletta poor weather
12–17 Mar 1971: The ship steamed in the Aegean Sea. Former West German
Air Force Chief of Staff GEN Johannes Steinhoff, newly-elected as the
Chairman of NATO Military Committee, Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers
Europe [SHAPE], visited for a carrier orientation (12–13 March).
1–3 Apr 1971: Following a brief visit to Athens, Forrestal transited
the Strait of Messina and anchored off Naples to off-load a damaged aircraft,
however, rough seas precluded the transfer from the carrier to a barge, so
Forrestal stood out of the bay into the Tyrrhenian Sea before she could
return the next day as the weather calmed to complete the transfer.
28 Apr–17 May 1971: Forrestal participated in Operation Dawn Patrol, a
NATO air and sea exercise involving more than 60 ships and submarines and
over 300 aircraft from the American, British, Greek, Italian and Turkish
forces. Dawn Patrol took the carrier from the western Mediterranean to the
Tyrrhenian Seas and back again as the struggle for supremacy between the
‘rival powers’ sea-sawed across the region during the simulated war. A VF-11
Phantom II, LT William G. Pfeiffer and LT(JG) Jake T. Walters, Jr., lost its
right main landing gear after bolstering, on 2 May. The crew erected the
emergency barricade and LT Pfeiffer landed the Phantom II safely. Deputy
Secretary of Defense David Packard visited during his tour of American
military installations ashore in Europe and ships operating in European
16–22 May 1971: The ship visited Naples. Before Forrestal entered port
aircraft performed a “massive” flyover as the height of the 20th anniversary
celebration of the establishment of Allied Forces South Europe [AFSOUTH].
25–26 May 1971: Following a transit of the Strait of Messina the
carrier anchored at Argostoli. ADM Horacio Rivero, Jr., Commander-in-Chief
South, RADM Pierre N. Charbonnet, Jr., Commander, Fleet Air Forces
Mediterranean, and RADM George L. Cassell, Deputy Commander, Naval Striking
and Support Forces Southern Europe, stayed on board overnight.
11–13 Jun 1971: Following a visit to Corfu (3–11 June) the ship
steamed in the Ionian Sea to hold flight operations, during which Belgian
MGEN Avi I. Du Monceau, commanding their Tactical Air Force, visited the
carrier, on the 12th and 13th.
14 Jun 1971: Forrestal entered the western Mediterranean. Cartoonist
Henry K. “Hank” Ketchum, a chief photographic specialist during World War II
who created the cartoon character Half Hitch, a naval counterpart to the
Army’s Sad Sack, and who went on after the war to develop his more popularly
known comic protagonist Dennis the Menace, visited the ship at the behest of
ADM Zumwalt to interview sailors concerning changes in their service and
lifestyles since 1945.
27–30 Jun 1971: Saratoga relieved Forrestal at Rota, and VMAQ-2
crossdecked over to Saratoga. The ship then immediately sailed for home on
the same day. While en route to the United States three days later, RADM
Donald D. Engen relieved RADM Talley as Commander, Carrier Division 4.
Meanwhile on the same day, Forrestal attempted an evolution she hitherto
never before completed when she offloaded most of her ordnance to ammunition
ships while still returning from deployment, alleviating the need to spend time
at the ammunition anchorage and the back-breaking hours that her men would
spend after doing so after completing an exhausting deployment and while
needing rest and time with their families.
2 Jul 1971: At about 1300 Forrestal rounded Sewell’s Point in Hampton
Roads and moored to Pier 12 at Norfolk.
16 Jul 1971–10 Apr 1972: Shortly after noon the ship stood down the
channel to offload her remaining ammunition, and then she entered Norfolk
Naval Shipyard for an overhaul. Forrestal completed work in drydock (28
August–2 December 1971). Among the many projects which the crew and shipyard
workers completed while she remained in drydock, they removed the posts for
both rudders to check them for wear, the first time that such work was
accomplished since the ship commissioned. She then moored to Pier 5 at the
yard, where she remained until 10 April, when ongoing international tensions
generated by NATO and Warsaw Pact rivalry over the European balance of power
forced her to curtail her work two months earlier than originally scheduled
to relieve America, herself ordered to relieve John F. Kennedy, which became
overdue to return home.
10 Apr–28 Jun 1972: At various times during this period the ship
completed her type training and carrier qualification exercises off the
Virginia Capes instead of in Cuban waters, because her accelerated deployment
precluded the usual refresher training conducted off Guantánamo Bay. RADM
Frederick C. Turner relieved RADM William D. Hauser as Commander, Carrier
Division 2, during a ceremony on board, on 18 May. During these trials (16–28
June), the ship also celebrated her first operations with Grumman F-14As when
two Tomcats (BuNos 158613 and 158614) completed a number of trials on board
10 Jul–18 Aug 1971: A fire broke out on the 03 Level in Flag Country
during the early morning hours. The blaze gutted the flag mess and galley, as
well as flag living quarters. Peripheral heat and smoke damage extended
considerably after and slightly forward of the main fire area. Firemen from
Naval Station Norfolk valiantly backed-up crewmembers who rushed to contain
and extinguish the blaze, which they finally controlled by about 1500 during
the afternoon watch, however, investigators could not penetrate the heat and
smoke adequately for almost two days, so heavily did the blaze engulf the
area. Although the ship did not report any casualties, investigators later
apprehended and charged YNSN Jeffrey Allison, a yeoman assigned to the staff
of Commander, Carrier Division 2, for setting the fire, which gutted spaces,
destroyed sophisticated CIC electronics equipment and wiring, and inflicted
total damages estimated at $7.5 million. Forrestal steamed under her own
power to Norfolk Naval Shipyard for repairs, returning to Pier 12,Norfolk.
29 Sep 1972: Forrestal arrived at Rota during her 10th Mediterranean
deployment. Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA)-531, flying F-4B Phantom
IIs, relieved VF-74, which transitioned to F-4Js on board Forrestal. The
latter squadron deployed with CVW-8 embarking America.
6 Oct 1972: The ship rendezvoused with attack aircraft carrier
Franklin D. Roosevelt (CVA-42) at Pollensa Bay. Both carriers conducted
cross-decking to transfer flag officers and their staffs as Commander,
Carrier Division 6 and his staff left Forrestal to embark in Franklin D.
Roosevelt, and Commander, Carrier Division 2/Commander, Task Force 60
embarked in Forrestal.
20 Feb 1972: When Forrestal sailed from Istanbul, Turkey, her first
visit to that crossroads of the Orient since 1969, she departed without a
pair of marines from VMFA-531, who the Turks detained in Istanbul on charges
of possession of drugs. The Turks later returned one of the men to U.S.
custody, however, the other man remained in the notorious Turkish prison
22 Oct 1972: An Olympic Airways NAMC YS-11 airliner crashed after
taking off from Athens International Airport during reduced visibility
conditions, off the coast of Voula near Athens. Four SH-3D Sea Kings from
HS-3 embarking Forrestal, the only helicopter crews in the immediate area
qualified for night rescues, flew to the scene and assisted in the rescue of
three crewmembers and 16 passengers, however, 37 people (one crewmember and
36 passengers) died during the crash or by drowning–although the Sea King
crews did not locate survivors they recovered one of the bodies. Ironically,
throughout this period controversy concerning the homeporting of a Sixth
Fleet carrier in Athens manifested itself through adverse publicity by the
media, and servicemembers on liberty ashore experienced a number of
altercations with Greek taxicab drivers during several visits to Athens,
though not during a stop at Thessaloniki. One of the reasons that the
situation gradually diffused became the practice by Forrestal crewmembers of
renting a civilian nightclub (a closed discothèque) near the fleet landing,
which offered sailors and marines a reasonable alternative to civilian
establishments, of arranging a direct-dial overseas telephone and of
improving shore patrol communications system.
8 Nov 1972: A Sea King crew from HS-3 conducted an anti-submarine
exercise with Italian guided missile escort cruiser Andrea Doria (C-553).
12–19 Nov 1972: Forrestal participated in National Week 14, a
multi-national NATO exercise involving the Sixth Fleet and a number of
countries bordering the Mediterranean designed to improved tactics in modern
naval warfare, assist NATO commands in training for operations, and to find
weaknesses in concepts and communications. A post exercise brief and general
board meeting on board the carrier at Souda Bay at Crete concluded the
exercise, on the 18th and 19th. In addition, two Sea King crews from HS-3
detached from the carrier to fast combat support ship Seattle (AOE-3) to fly
experimental anti-submarine missions from a “non-aviation ship” during the
20 Nov 1972: As Forrestal prepared to leave Souda Bay a ground
accident interrupted her departure. Crewmembers taxied Helo No. 007, a Sea
King (BuNo 156499) from HS-3, to a wash rack in close proximity to a hanger,
when suddenly the rotor blades struck the hanger door. Flying pieces of 007’s
rotor blades killed two men, including HM1 Richard H. Nadeau of the ship’s
company, and seriously injured a third sailor.
21–27 Nov 1972: When the ship visited Athens unfavorable media
reaction reached its peak due to another confrontation between a Greek
taxicab driver and a pair of sailors from Forrestal. The Greek government
prosecuted the sailors, despite the efforts of CAPT James B. Linder to return
the men to U.S. jurisdiction. The attention this incident received across
European media prompted the rapid enforcement of the policies ashore that the
crew developed during this deployment. During subsequent visits, including an
extended stay over Christmas and New Years to enable the crew and their
dependents to enjoy charter flights to loved ones, the crew succeeded in
reducing these liberty incidents.
28–30 Nov 1972: Aircraft conducted two days of cross-deck operations
with their British counterparts from aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal (R-09) in
the southeastern Mediterranean.
6–10 Dec 1972: The ship visited Rhodes, however, high seas and a
strong tidal current in the Bay of Rhodes prevented normal boating, making it
possible only for dependents and their sponsors to disembark the carrier. In
addition, AN C.E. Roberts of VAQ-135 leapt into the bay on the 8th. Two helo
crews from HS-3 conducted an extensive search but could not recover their
shipmate due to the extremely heavy seas, high winds and poor visibility.
18 Feb 1973: Beginning on this date Forrestal participated in National
Week 15, conducting the post exercise de brief in Augusta Bay.
28–31 Mar 1973: While preparing to take part in NATO exercises,
Forrestal received orders directing her to proceed to Tunisian waters at
speed to assist victims of a flood in the Medjerda River Valley of that North
African country. The carrier led two other Sixth Fleet ships, a destroyer and
an amphibious assault ship, toward Tunis, where Forrestal appeared at first
light on the 29th (about 13 hours after receiving the request) ready to
assist the beleaguered people of the area. Altogether, helo crews flew about
40 sorties, pulling 729 persons from the rapidly rising waters, moving 27
tons of cargo, lifting 17 doctors to evacuation centers, carrying an
emergency appendectomy to the carrier, and evacuating the entire sheep
herd–227 sheep–from one flooded village. Sea Kings flying from Forrestal
evacuated about 200 people and airlifted four tons of relief supplies to
flood victims. In addition, the carrier's bakery provided 1,200 loaves of
bread for distribution, and crew members contributed money to buy supplies
for homeless children. Many of the ship’s air traffic controllers joined men
from the Operations and Air Operations Departments as a detachment ashore at
Tunis Airfield, where they worked from the control center directing flights.
In addition to the danger the men faced due to the bitter weather, they also
exercised considerable skills dealing with Tunisians who desired to remain
with their homes and livestock, regardless of the rising flood waters or
incessant downpours. As the crisis began to subside on the third day,
Tunisian President Habib Bourguiba decorated RADM Turner and CAPT Linder for
their efforts on behalf of his countrymen. French, Italian, Libyan and
Tunisian disaster relief teams also supported the efforts of Sixth Fleet
14 Apr 1973: The ship anchored at Kithira, accompanied by several
Soviet ships. Forrestal conducted flight operations while anchored, an
unusual evolution that appeared to greatly interest the Russians.
4–14 Jun 1973: The ship participated in Dawn Patrol NATO exercises.
25–27 Jun 1973: Forrestal stood out of Palma de Mallorca, where she
put in for a brief visit (16–24 June), and from where her “early bird”
charter flight flew off for home, and steamed westerly courses to Rota. After
turning over to her relief, she passed through the Strait of Gibraltar and
into the Atlantic.
6 Jul 1973: By the time the ship returned to Pier 12 at NS Norfolk,
aircraft completed 11,957 recoveries and flew 28,355 total flight hours,
accomplishing 13,731 sorties, during this deployment. The carrier steamed
underway 148 days, and made port 140 days at anchor.
Aug–2 Nov 1973: The first week of the month found Forrestal in Norfolk
Naval Shipyard for a three-month overhaul, during which a major project
became replacing the hanger bay sprinkler system and other firefighting
equipment with more modern systems. The crisis that erupted in the Middle
East due to the Arab attack against the Israelis (known variously as the Yom
Kippur, October, Ramadan or Fourth Arab-Israeli War, 6–26 October),
precipitated frenzied shipyard activity and crewmembers joined civilan
laborers working at what the ship’s Command History Report described as a
“feverpitch” for seven days a week for a month. Shipyard workers went into
extra shifts and these collective efforts brought Forrestal out of overhaul
two months earlier then planned.
26 Nov 1973: Lockheed S-3A Vikings accomplished their first landings
on board Forrestal during carrier qualifications as the ship steamed off the
Virginia capes. In addition, crewmembers claimed that the ship attained
34-knots during these trials, exceeding her designed speed after years of
service and wear.
14 Dec 1973: Tomcats returned to the ship during carrier
qualifications on board off the Virginia capes. LCDR Commander Warren B.
Christie, Jr., however, ejected from his LTD A-7E when the Corsair II
malfunctioned at 22,000 feet. The carrier’s plane guard helo rescued the
pilot during his ordeal.
31 Dec 1973–1 Jan 1974: The crew saw the old New Year out and welcomed
the new one in with a party in Hanger Bay No. 1, while moored at Pier 12,
which many men from ships berthed in company also attended.
7–18 Jan 1974: The ship underwent carrier qualifications off the east
coast in preparation for her operational readiness evaluation. Of
significance concerns her urgent need to moor at Mayport on the 19th, to
investigate Corsair II minor engine problems.
14 Mar 1974: Forrestal relieved Franklin D. Roosevelt in mid-Atlantic
waters while en route to the Mediterranean.
20–21 Mar 1974: Forrestal passed through the Strait of Gibraltar and
arrived for duty in the Mediterranean, putting into Rota. Extended
deployments and long line periods produced a nearly intolerable strain on
sailors and marines, fueled by racial tensions endemic throughout the armed
forces, and a racial incident flared up on board Forrestal. LTJG Abraham R.
Stowe, the ship’s Assistant Electronics Material Officer, recalled that they
learned about racial crises on board other ships including attack aircraft
carriers Constellation and Kitty Hawk (CVA-63), and then began to experience
problems during this deployment. The officer–himself an African American–related
how the operations officer announced during an all-officer’s meeting in the
operations department that sailors had discovered a burning cross on board.
When the men discussed the hateful symbol and how it could insult shipmates,
Stowe replied: “…as a black man I’m going to advise this group that when a
burning cross is found, a white person might wonder, or possibly construe
that as a racial slur. But a black person, there is no question about what
the meaning of that is.” Stowe recommended to his chain of command that they
approach what he described as a systemic problem and quickly diffuse it,
though they (apparently) did not locate the culprits of the hate crime, and
he spent most of the remainder of the cruise on “pins and needles.” The crew
did not experience any additional problems, however, and Stowe noted that
most of his shipmates served proudly, and that they returned to a routine of
pride and professionalism as quickly as the men could under the trying
22 Mar 1974–5 Jun 1975: RADM Brian McCauley arrived in Cairo, Egypt,
with a small military planning staff to clear the Suez Canal of wreckage and
unexploded ordnance resulting from fighting between the Arabs and Israelis
since 1967 (the Six-Day War, War of Attrition and Yom Kippur or October War),
which closed the vital artery to international shipping. Operations Nimbus
Star directed Navy minesweeping efforts of the canal; Nimbus Moon (water)
focused on training and assisting Egyptian mine clearance and salvage
operations, and Nimbus Moon (land) directed Army explosive ordnance disposal
teams to train and supervise Egyptians ashore. The British and French also
participated in the extensive program. The Navy established contingency Task
Force 65 on 8 April 1974, the first teams of which began their crucial work
from amphibious assault ship Iwo Jima (LPH-2), initially anchored in Port
Said harbor. A Sikorsky RH-53D Sea Stallion from Helicopter Mine
Countermeasures Squadron (HM)-12 lifted off from Iwo Jima, picked up a Mk 105
magnetic minesweeping sled from support people ashore, and began sweeping the
approaches to Port Said, on the 22nd. Task Force 65 grew proportionately to
the magnitude of the problem and tank landing ships Barnstable County
(LST-1197) and Boulder (LST-1190), salvage ships Escape (ARS-6) and Opportune
(ARS-41) and heavy lift craft Crilley (YHLC-1) and Crandall (YHLC-2) were
among vessels that later joined Nimbus Star, and amphibious assault ship
Inchon (LPH-12) relieved Iwo Jima in mid-May 1974. Meanwhile, through Operation
Nimrod Spar they cleared 10 large ships and a number of smaller vessels such
as dredges which the Egyptians scuttled as blockships in 1967. The canal
finally reopened to maritime commercial traffic on 5 June 1975. Whenever
Forrestal operated in the Mediterranean during this period, her aircraft
often received tasking regarding flying reconnaissance, combat air patrol and
support missions for Task Force 65.
1 Apr 1974: Forrestal operated in the central Mediterranean to back-up
America, which steamed in the eastern Mediterranean to be ready to respond to
a Middle East crisis. Israeli and Syrian tanks and artillery dueled and
Israeli aircraft bombed Syrian troops along the Golan Heights many times
during this tense period.
4 Apr 1974: Helos from HS-3 joined with destroyer Davis (DD-937) to
track and make simulated attacks against attack submarine Greenling
(SSN-614). The exercises afforded crewmembers the opportunity to evaluate
coordinated aircraft tactics.
28 Apr–2 May 1974: Forrestal participated in Dawn Patrol, a two-phase
11 May–16 Jun 1974: Following a visit to Athens (5–11 May), the ship
covertly transited the Mediterranean to take part in Umpire’s Decision (15–27
May), a carrier strike exercise in the eastern Atlantic and western
Mediterranean. Passing through the Strait of Gibraltar on the 15th, she
conducted what HS-3’s Command History Report emphasized as “special
coordinated operations” in the vicinity of the Canary Islands. Aircraft
played cat-and-mouse with the men of Tinosa (SSN-606) as they hunted the
attack submarine in simulated wartime conditions. An HS-3 helo from the
carrier rescued a man overboard from escort ship Patterson (DE-1061) within
six minutes after he entered the water, on 30 May. Forrestal passed through
the Strait of Gibraltar and returned to the Mediterranean the next day, in
time to commence International Week II, a major NATO exercise with four other
countries in the western Mediterranean over 4 and 8 June. Forrestal anchored
in Soudha Bay on Crete to allow her first group of midshipmen to disembark
and a second group to embark, after which she continued on to Corfu for a
brief visit (10–16 June). At least once during this period she also operated
17–20 Jun 1974: While the ship participated in Operation Poopdeck, an
exercise with the Spaniards, HS-3 crews flew Spanish President Don Carlos A.
Navaro, Duke of Calabria, and VADM Daniel J. Murphy, Commander, Sixth Fleet,
out to the ship to view the flight operations, on the 19th.
8–9 Jul 1974: An F-4J Phantom II, LT Irwin H. Nelson and LTJG Bruce A.
Ridley of VF-74, crashed while conducting operations from Forrestal. Although
SH-3D crews from HS-3 searched the area for 40 hours, they failed to locate
either of the men. In addition, the harried Sea King crewmembers also
assisted a merchant ship afire.
11 Jul 1974: An RA-5C Vigilante (BuNo 156614), LT Wesley N. Rutledge
and LTJG Larry S. Parr of RVAH-6, experienced a bomb bay fire that caused a
loss of hydraulics, about four minutes after launching from Forrestal. A helo
from HS-3 rescued both men after they ejected.
15 Jul–2 Sep 1974: Greek Cypriot National Guardsmen and their officers
from the Greek Army seized control of the government of Cyprus. The Americans
held America at Rota (the Navy originally scheduled her to return to Norfolk)
and Forrestal (initially anticipating a visit to Athens, Greece) in the
central Med due to the rapidly deteriorating situation on the island. By the
19th Forrestal steamed southwest of Crete, about a day’s sail from Cypriot
waters. The next day Turkish troops began landing at the Kyrenia area of
northern Cyprus and their paratroopers stormed down near Nicosia. Fighting
continued between rival Greeks, Turks and Cypriots–some of whom supported the
Greeks and some fought with the Turks–until they agreed upon a cease fire
which took effect at 1700 on 22 July (though violations occurred afterward).
The Turks halted their offensive as they took control of the northern third
of the island, digging-in along their ‘Atilla Line’ extending from Lefka on
the west through Nicosia to Famagusta on the east. Meanwhile on 20 July, a
helo flying from Forrestal spotted Douce Folie 2, a small yacht crippled by a
recent storm and adrift. The crew suffered in dire straights without fresh
water and the helo crew dropped the survivors a container of cold water
alongside, which they eagerly retrieved. Through that day and into the next
helo crews also participated in a 30-hour search for a downed Sea Stallion
flying from Inchon. In addition, the next day the busy SH-3D men of HS-3 also
retrieved a man who fell overboard from the carrier. As a result of the
Cypriot conflict United States Ambassador Roger Davies requested the
evacuation of Americans trapped by the fighting, on the 22nd. Vice Admiral
Murphy broke his flag from guided missile light cruiser Little Rock (CLG-4),
from which he directed sailors and marines from Task Force 61 for Operation
Patience, the U.S. response. People journeyed from the capital of Nicosia to
a British installation at Dhekelia in a convoy of private vehicles, where
helos from Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron (HMM)-362 operating from Inchon
evacuated 466 persons, 384 of them United States citizens, in 22 sorties over
only five hours, to amphibious transport dock Coronado (LPD-11) steaming
offshore. Coronado carried the evacuees to Beirut, Lebanon, in an 11-hour
transit, disembarking her passengers there the next day. Amphibious transport
dock Trenton (LPD-14), dock landing ship Spiegel Grove (LSD-32) and tank landing
ship Saginaw (LST-1188) also participated in the evacuations. Aircraft flying
from Forrestal including Phantoms of VF-11 and VF-74 covered the dangerous
operation. Meanwhile, British helos from a task force including aircraft
carrier HMS Hermes (R-12), destroyer HMS Devonshire (D-02), frigates HMS
Brighton (F-106) and HMS Ryl (F-129) and a tanker and a supply ship rescued
at least 1,630 people from beaches around Kyrenia and along the northern
coast of the island. British Royal Air Force (RAF) Hercules’ and additional
aircraft also flew people out from King’s Field. Hermes carried 219
people–114 Americans and the balance foreign nationals from 19 countries–to a
British field at Akrotiri. From there landing craft transferred the people in
a little over four hours to Trenton as she anchored offshore. Trenton then
moved to a point south of Dhekelia where British helos from Hermes lifted an
additional 85 evacuees to her. Accompanied by escort ship Blakely (DE-1072)
she then made for Beirut, where the ship offloaded her passengers the next
day, on the 25th. Forrestal steamed to the south of Cyprus with guided
missile frigate William H. Standley (DLG-31) and escort ships Jesse L. Brown
(DE-1098) and Patterson (DE-1061), monitoring the situation as the firmness
of the cease-fire remained in doubt among observers. Aircraft carrier
Independence, which sailed with CVW-7 from the east coast on the 19th,
arrived off the southwest of Crete after a hurried transit to support
Forrestal, on 4 August. The ships subsequently came about to depart from the
area, however, during mob rioting a sniper shot and killed Ambassador Davies
in Nicosia on 19 August. Marines stood to at the embassy to hold back the
angry crush and urgent messages recalled Sixth Fleet ships including Forrestal,
Independence and Inchon, which returned from their duties across the
Mediterranean to again operate off the embattled island. Among some of the
ships that participated in these operations were: Independence, Inchon,
Coronado, Trenton, Saginaw, Spiegel Grove, guided missile frigates Dahlgren
(DLG-12) and William H. Standley, destroyer Richard E. Kraus (DD-849) and
escort ships Blakely, Bowen (DE-1079), Jesse L. Brown and Patterson.
Altogether, the Americans handled 752 evacuees including 498 United States
citizens. The Turkish invasion forced Archbishop Makarios to escape from the
island to seek international support during the crisis, and he could not
return to resume his obligations until 7 December 1974.
9 Sep 1974: Tropical Storm Elaine threatened to overtake Forrestal and
her escorts with winds reaching 70 mph as they returned home across the
Atlantic, beginning about 1,000 miles southeast of Norfolk. The ship also
rendezvoused with America, which allowed VAW-126 to cross-deck over to the
latter during a potentially dangerous evolution.
10 Sep 1974: A boiler explosion ripped through tanker Eliane of Global
Bulk Carriers, Inc., of Liberian registry. Forrestal responded to her
distress and evacuated two crewmembers to Sick Bay, and sailors took them
from there on to the mainland. One man died from his horrendous burns, though
the other survived his ordeal. Some crewmembers noted the similarities
between the names of the storm and ship.
11 Sep 1974: Forrestal returned from her deployment to Pier 12 at
Norfolk. Aircraft completed 8,750 sorties, 16,906 flight hours and 8,121
traps during the deployment.
5–16 Mar 1975: En route to the Mediterranean, Forrestal received a
call for assistance from Liberian freighter Freights Queen, which suffered a
catastrophic explosion. Searchers discovered one body, a life raft and some
debris. During this deployment four EA-6B Prowlers of VAQ-134 also embarked
with CVW-17, an important reorganization of the wing.
17 Mar–16 May 1975: The ship relieved Saratoga at Rota on the 17th.
Forrestal barely arrived in the Mediterranean, however, when her No. 1 shaft
support bearing failed, requiring a hitherto unprecedented decision to bring
shipyard workers all the way from Norfolk to replace the bearing and worn
shaft while continuing her operations underway. Arrangements and planning
took time, and the carrier stopped briefly at Augusta Bay before she anchored
at Taranto for a few days to enable workers and crewmembers to bring her back
to full duty, on 16 May. In the interim, Forrestal took part in Shabaz 75.
22 May 1975: Forrestal sailed from Taranto and conducted a joint ship
attack exercise with Franklin D. Roosevelt. Aircraft flew low level
navigation over Sicily and southern Italy during the exercise.
25–28 Jun 1975: Forrestal stood out of Palma de Mallorca for flight
operations in the western Mediterranean. Shortly before nightfall on the
25th, Buckeye 511, an A-6E (BuNo 152918), LTJGs Lloyd T. Hunt and Brian L.
Cardiff of VA-85, collided in mid-air with Aircraft No. 611, a Grumman EA-6B
(BuNo 158814), LCDR Joseph R. Capute, LT William B. Bierbower and LTJG Robert
W. McConchie from VAQ-134. Although the crew enjoyed a mostly clear evening,
lookouts reported some haze. The aircraft launched by 1855 but flew separate
missions–the Prowler crew investigated a shipping contact during their
submarine and surface surveillance coordination plan, and the Intruder flew
spar bombing and ‘basic airwork practice.’ As the two aircraft completed
their runs and returned to Marshal (Forrestal), they turned into a 30° left
bank turn toward the inbound heading and slammed into each other, near
38°40’N, 4°30’E, at 2001. Buckeye 511 rolled three to five times to the left
and 611 pitched down and rolled left, at which point the crew ejected. Although
searchers rescued the other men they could not recover LTJG Cardiff, and
despite an exhaustive search overnight they terminated further efforts and
declared the naval aviator “lost at sea” at 1740 on the 26th. The crew held a
memorial service for their fallen shipmate two days later as the ship
transited the Strait of Messina.
2–18 Jul 1975: Following a visit to Naples (2–6 July) the carrier
spent a week operating in Mediterranean waters before she anchored off Bari,
Italy, for a four-day visit, and then she moved on to Augusta Bay. While
Forrestal anchored briefly there (17–18 July), Commander, Task Force 60
shifted his flag to John F. Kennedy, and Commander, Cruiser Destroyer Group
12 broke his flag from Forrestal.
26 Jul–16 Aug 1975: Forrestal extended a stay in Naples (26 July–7
August) as her arrival coincided with Settima Aeromotonautica week, a series
of celebrations which the Neapolitans set aside within the Bay of Naples area
involving water and motor sports. The ship then participated in National Week
exercises with John F. Kennedy. An Intruder experienced a mishap on the 10th,
however, both men escaped without serious injuries. A highlight of National
Week became a strike force tactics exercise with John F. Kennedy on the 13th.
17 Aug 1975: Another A-6E suffered an accident, though both men
31 Aug 1975: Aircraft took part in a close air assault exercise over
12–13 Sep 1975: Forrestal arrived at Rota, put in for 12-hours and
then sailed for home.
22 Sep 1975: By the time Forrestal returned to Pier 12 at Norfolk,
aircraft flew 13,433 sorties and 24,946 flight hours and made 12,321
recoveries during the deployment.
27 Oct 1975–1 Feb 1976: The carrier completed a selective restricted
availability at Norfolk Naval Shipyard. She spent several days anchored
offloading ammunition (27–30 October) and the remainder of the time in the
1–20 Feb 1976: The ship accomplished sea trials.
17–26 Mar 1976: CVW-17 embarked for refresher training off the east
1–8 Jul 1976: Forrestal sailed from Norfolk with Task Force 200 to New
York harbor as the host ship for the International Naval Review, to celebrate
the bicentennial anniversary of the Declaration of Independence of the United
States from the British crown. The carrier arrived on the 3rd and Governor
Brendan T. Byrne of New Jersey and Mayor Abraham D. Beame of New York City,
visited the ship. From the flight deck the next day President Gerald R. Ford,
Jr., rang in the Bicentennial 13 times, symbolizing the original Thirteen
Colonies and triggering the simultaneous ringing of bells across America, and
then beginning at 1406 he delivered an address as the keynote speaker during
ceremonies on board Forrestal honoring the birth of the Republic. The
President then reviewed 40 “tall ships” from countries across the globe from
the carrier. A huge entourage of distinguished guests also attended including
Vice President Nelson A. Rockefeller, Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger,
Secretary of the Navy J. William Middendorf, III, Chief of Naval Operations
ADM James L. Holloway, III, ADM Isaac C. Kidd, Jr., Commander-in-Chief of the
Atlantic Fleet, Chairman Emil Mosbacher, Jr., of Operation Sail, Governor
Byrne, Mayor Beame, John W. Warner, Administrator of the American Revolution
Bicentennial Administration, Prince and Princesses Rainier III [Rainier
L.H.M.B. Grimaldi], Grace and Caroline [Louise Marguerite] of Monaco, and
Crown Prince and Princess Harold and Sonya of Norway.
23–26 Aug 1976: The ship took part in a special shock test, which
involved detonating high explosives near her hull to determine if a capital
ship can withstand the strain of close quarter battle and remain operational.
1 Oct 1976–24 Jun 1977: The carrier completed a nine-month overhaul at
Norfolk, during which many men lived ashore at Dale Hall barracks in
Portsmouth, Virginia. Crewmembers worked two daily shifts and civilian
workers manned three shifts around-the-clock. The New Year found the ship in
Drydock No. 8, which shipyard workers flooded up to the 17-foot level on
Forrestal’s hull to test sea valves and hull work they performed, and lit-off
the emergency diesels, over 14 and 15 January. Workers pumped-up the drydock
the next day due to excessive leaks in some of the ship’s pipes. Forrestal
left the drydock and moored starboard side to Pier 5 at the shipyard, on 22
January. The ship sailed to complete sea trials over 15 to 20 June, returning
to Pier 5. The next day the carrier left the shipyard en route to the
Virginia capes for work slated to include a full power run, testing the
anchors and a test of the flight deck wash down system. Forrestal returned to
Pier 12 , Norfolk, on 24 June.
6 Sep 1977: The ship onloaded over 900 tons of ammunition, the first
time that the crew loaded live ordnance on board in over a year, during an
underway replenishment with ammunition ship Suribachi (AE-21).
8–19 Sep 1977: Forrestal anchored off Norfolk, and three days later
she moored to Pier 12 in preparation to shift her home port to Mayport. The
crew spent days laboriously loading automobiles, motorcycles and household
goods on board. The ship sailed on 17 September and moored to Pier C-1 at
Mayport. Many male dependents up to age eight accompanied the carrier during
her shift. Two days later, Jacksonville Beach and the USO rolled out the red
carpet and held a “Welcome to Florida” reception and dance for crewmembers.
27 Sep–24 Oct 1977: The ship embarked CVW-17 and sailed from Mayport
for refresher training in Caribbean waters. Forrestal anchored off Guantánamo
Bay over 1 and 2 October, and then she stood out of the bay to continue
operations. After an intense ten days of evaluations with Fleet Training
Group sailors, the carrier visited Port-Au-Prince in Haiti (7–10 October).
Haitian President Jean-Claude Duvalier, known as Bébé Doc [Baby Doc], and
Ambassador William B. Jones led a delegation including members of the Haitian
armed forces chief of staff on board during the visit. Fine weather enabled
the crew to complete most of their assignments and for aircraft to fly almost
daily missions while underway before and after their visit to the island
12 Nov 1977: Dr. Lynn E. Davis, Deputy Assistant of the Secretary of
Defense (International Security Affairs) and an entourage of key defense
officials completed an orientation tour of the ship.
22 Dec 1977: Forrestal served as the host ship for Saratoga as the
latter returned from a deployment to the Mediterranean.
13 Jan–3 Feb 1978: Forrestal stood out of Mayport for a three-week at
sea period in the Atlantic Fleet Weapons Range of Roosevelt Roods Operating
Area to complete the third phase of type commander’s training. The crew
accomplished general quarters drills, and an air-to-air missile, ‘downed
pilot’ and ship-sinking exercises. Tragedy struck the ship on the evening of
15 January, however, as she steamed about 49 miles off St. Augustine,
Florida. A Corsair II of VA-81 crashed on the flight deck, killing two flight
deck crewmen, ABH2 Jesse R. Puente and ABH3 Johnny C. Gill, and injuring 10
others. The Corsair II struck a parked Corsair II and a Prowler on the aft
portion of the deck packed with aircraft, and careened across the ship in a
ball of flames. Crewmembers rapidly extinguished a small fire aft caused by
fuel spilled onto the deck during the mishap. The pilot ejected and a helo
crew from HS-3, LT Brian K. Young, LTJG Leland S. Kollmorgen, AW3 Lawrence L.
Johnson and AW3 Michael E. Meier, recovered the man, who suffered only minor
injuries. Sea Kings also flew all night to evacuate their injured shipmates
to hospitals ashore, and scoured the sea for possible victims blown
overboard. The crew held a memorial service for their fallen friends on 19
January. A man fell overboard on the 25th, but another HS-3 Sea King crew, LT
Stephen G. Hawkins, LTJG Frank S. Cina, AW3 Johnson and AW3 Michael D. Kurtz,
retrieved the sailor.
4–11 Apr 1978: The carrier deployed from Mayport to the Mediterranean.
Forrestal rendezvoused with six other ships southeast of Bermuda to form Task
Group 20.6, on 6 April. RADM William F. Clifford, Commander,
Cruiser-Destroyer Group-12, took command of the task group and broke his flag
from the carrier. Twice en route to the Mediterranean she suffered mishaps,
however; the first a fire that erupted in No. 3 Main Machinery Room, as hot
steam lines set freshly painted lagging in No. 3 Main Engine Room smoldering,
at 2200 two days later. Fortuitously, the fire occurred just minutes after
the crew secured from a general quarters drill, so that many men already were
at or near their stations and firefighting equipment, and watchstanders
within the space activated an extinguishing system and put out the fire
within seconds without casualties. Three days later a fire broke out in a
catapult steam trunk in the forward part of the ship at about the 01 level,
around midnight just after crewmembers relieved their shipmates for the
midwatch. Within the first few minutes as the at-sea brigade responded, men
also discovered a second fire erupting in an adjoining storeroom, however,
working with area repair lockers, responders defeated both fires within the
14–19 Apr 1978: The ship visited Rota to begin operating with the
Sixth Fleet during this deployment, and relieved America. RADM Robert F.
Schoultz, Commander, Task Force 60, broke his flag from Forrestal. The
admiral’s deployment became an affable one with crewmembers as he previously
commanded the ship (1971–1972) and knew her well. Meanwhile, RADM Clifford
departed for aircraft carrier Nimitz (CVN-68) to assume his duties as
Commander, Task Group-60.2. In addition, a detachment from VA-83 embarking
the ship, detached to operate with British Royal Air Force crews flying from
their station at Lossiemouth, Scotland, to exchange tactical techniques.
19–29 Apr 1978: Forrestal conducted training exercises in the Western
Mediterranean basin and the Tyrrhenian Sea, focusing upon anti-submarine
warfare during a specially prepared program entitled “ASW Week.” Vikings and
Sea Kings flying from the ship hunted subs and fired practice torpedoes,
passing on data they collected to the ship’s Tactical Support Center. In
addition, the carrier opened ‘Seamart,’ a walk-in and larger supply store for
her men then any previous designs, that operated like shore-based servmarts,
on the 21st. LTJGs Eric A Hitchcock and John A. Barnet, III, of VF-74
completed the ship’s 227,000th arrested landing, in a Phantom II, as
Forrestal steamed in the Mediterranean the next day. Meanwhile, one of
Forrestal’s escorts gained sonar contact on a possible submarine. A Sea King
from HS-3 quickly attained an active sonar contact and criteria for a hover
torpedo attack. A second helo joined their shipmates, and verified via their
magnetic anomaly detection gear the submarine’s maneuvers as the latter
attempted to escape her hunters. This boat became the first of several more
submarines from a number of different countries that the determined
helicopter crews tracked during the course of their deployment. As the ship
steamed in the Tyrrhenian Sea while conducting night flight operations on the
29th, a Grumman KA-6D tanker from VA-85, crashed, though an HS-3 Sea King, LT
William E. Christman, LT Michael N. Lewis, AW3 Brad A. France and AWAN Gary
R. Gearhart, recovered the pilot, while a second squadron crew, LTJGs John F.
McKean and Julian A. Ferguson, AW1 Grant H. Morrison and AWAN Eugene C.
Crowley, III, retrieved the bombardier/navigator.
9–18 May 1978: Following a visit to Naples (30 April–8 May), the ship
completed an anti-air warfare exercise in the eastern Mediterranean,
principally steaming to the north of Crete and into the Ionian Sea. On the
10th, however, flooding began in an aft pump room and the inrushing water
rose to a height of 20 feet before crewmembers could control the influx. In
the interim, flooding also spread to adjacent food storage rooms, which
destroyed most of Forrestal’s stocks of fresh milk and produce. Divers from
the ship’s explosive ordnance disposal team valiantly risked their lives by
dropping into the pump room to plug the leak. The flood inflicted total damages
estimated at $30,000, though the ship did not report casualties. As the
exercise culminated, the carrier integrated into another set of (separate)
19–29 May 1978: Over 80 ships and submarines from six NATO countries:
the Americans, British, French, Greeks, Italians and Turks, tangled in Dawn
Patrol, one of the largest NATO exercises that Forrestal participated in to
date, stretching across the central and eastern Mediterranean. Forrestal’s
aircraft tested their mettle against their counterparts flying aircraft from
aircraft carriers Nimitz and French FS Foch (R-99), as well as against Air
Force and NATO aircraft, as they protected a Turkish amphibious task group.
30 May–22 Jun 1978: Following a visit to Catania, Sicily (30 May–5
June), Forrestal steamed across the Ionian Sea and made port at Marseilles,
France (7–22 June), to conduct an intermediate maintenance availability for
some minor repairs. The visit generated media attention, especially among
European journalists, however, due to her mooring at the pier rather then
anchoring out, as the first U.S. carrier to do so for sometime, and her stay
became a cause of concern to environmental and anti-American activists.
Nonetheless, 125 French shipyard workers replaced armored covers for jet fuel
pipes on the skin of the ship, made structural repairs to the flight deck,
repaired about 15 watertight doors and worked on maintaining the ship’s
22–26 Jun 1978: Forrestal took part in an anti-submarine and mine
warfare exercise in the western Mediterranean and Ionian Seas, a training
evolution that proved costly to the men on board. At 1508 on the 24th, LCDR
Thomas P. Anderson, the operations officer of CVW-17, died when his A-7E
Corsair II (BuNo 157561), crashed into the sea during a practice bombing
mission against Pachino Target, a buoy anchored approximately two miles to
the south of Sicily. The pilot flew as a wingman on a two plane daytime dive
bombing mission with a section leader. The weather was clear with good
visibility, but with no definite horizon due to haze. During his second run
LCDR Anderson began a steep dive of almost 60° and continued until below the
altitude normally considered optimal for recovering from such descents. The
pilot apparently attempted to pull up during the final moments of his plunge,
however, his Corsair II slammed into the water tail first about one-quarter
of a mile beyond the buoy. A Sea King crew from HS-3, LTJG Thomas J.
Henderson, ENS David P. Smouse, AW2 James H. Cox and AWAN Harold R. Rhodes,
performed the sad duty of retrieving LCDR Anderson’s body, which rescuers
located beneath his life raft in the midst of a slick created by the crash.
The next day another pilot from VA-83, also flying a Corsair II, crashed
shortly after takeoff during the day. A rescue crew from an SH-3D Sea King
from HS-3, LCDR Donald A. Wright, LTJG Russell E. Hall, AW2 Cox and AWAN
Gearhart, recovered the man, who suffered only minor injuries in the crash,
and returned him to the ship in barely eight minutes. Both crashes occurred
while the ship sailed in the Ionian Sea.
5–11 Jul 1978: The ship led a task group of six vessels into Tridente,
a joint exercise in the eastern Mediterranean and the northern Ionian Sea
with the British, French, Germans, Greeks and Italians, that focused on
establishing sea control in the face of simulated opposition forces. The
carrier anchored at Augusta Bay to enable RADM Schoultz to depart for John F.
Kennedy, while RADM Clifford embarked Forrestal, on the 8th.
12–17 Jul 1978: The ship anchored in the bay at Naples, where
folksinger Harry Chapin entertained the crew in the Hanger Bay on the 16th.
In addition, RADM William R. Smedberg, IV, relieved RADM Clifford during a
ceremony on board.
19–20 Jul 1978: During Operation BuzzardEx, aircraft and ships
attempted to intercept and shoot down RIM-8 Talos surface-to-air missiles
fired by guided missile cruiser Albany (CG-10). The Talos’ represented enemy
aircraft attacking at speeds of Mach 2.
23–31 Jul 1978: Forrestal completed National Week XXV training with
southern NATO members, including sea control, power projection and
anti-submarine warfare. John F. Kennedy, Albany, two nuclear-powered attack
submarines, Lockheed P-3 Orions and French and Italian forces were among the
commands which joined Forrestal as they wrestled for control of the western
1–14 Aug 1978: Forrestal moored for the first time at a
newly-completed deep-draft pier at Valencia, Spain. Over 30,000 visitors
toured the ship, but the highlight for the men on board undoubtedly occurred
when the Miss America Variety Show, highlighting Miss America 1978, Susan
Perkins, and reigning beauty queens Linda Hallstrom from Nebraska, Mary
D’Arcy from New Jersey, Kathy Fleming from North Carolina, Catherine Hinson
from South Carolina, Lori Smith from Texas and Kristy Deakin from Utah, sang
and danced before a crowd packed into the hangar bay, on the 4th.
15–23 Aug 1978: The ship completed training exercises in the western
Mediterranean. A Phantom II from VF-74 crashed over 60 nautical miles from
Forrestal to the south of France on the 17th. A helo crew from HS-3, LCDR
Ormond C. Fowler, Jr., LT Christman, AW2 Robert G. Purinton and AW3 Dante F.
Quinquinio, rescued both men, who survived without serious injuries. At about
noon on the 21st the general quarters alarm sounded as widespread smoke
appeared on the third deck amidships. Shortly thereafter, fire brigade
members discovered burning boxes in a fourth deck storeroom. The responders
extinguished the blaze within 10 minutes of the initial alarm. During Dasix
the next day, aircraft participated in an air defense exercise against French
Air Force pilots, flying mock attacks on the French coast, which allowed the
men of CVW-17 to practice fighting their way through enemy defenses and the
French the experience of attempting to stop them and defend their homeland.
24 Aug–27 Sep 1978: After a brief stop in Palma (24–28 August), the
ship left the Mediterranean en route to the Atlantic and the North and
Norwegian Seas to take part in the huge NATO exercise Northern Wedding (4–18
September). En route she put into Rota to allow RADM Norman K. Green,
Commander, Carrier Group-6, to embark, and for RADM Smedberg to disembark and
transfer his flag to guided missile cruiser Harry E. Yarnell (CG-17).
Northern Wedding involved over 40,000 men and women, 22 subs and 800 aircraft
from nine NATO countries. Planners geared the exercise to simulate allied
abilities to reinforce Western Europe in the event of an East Bloc attack.
Forrestal and HMS Ark Royal led separate task groups that steamed in a
two-carrier formation to gain sea control and deploy their aircraft to
support amphibious landings in the Shetland Islands and the Danish Jutland
Peninsula. Heavy seas and high winds, however, curtailed flight operations
during the first phase of the exercises, but conditions improved just barely
enough in the harsh northern climbs to permit the ship and her embarked air
wing to support the planned objectives. The professionalism and dedication to
completing their tasks which the British and Canadians displayed especially
impressed crewmembers, who noted these specific allies’ pride in more than
one report. Forrestal conducted sea control, power projection, air support
and reconnaissance missions. VADM Wesley L. McDonald, Commander, Second
Fleet, gave a news conference to a group of both U.S. and international
journalists in the carrier’s ‘War Room’ on the 9th, describing in some detail
the significance of the exercise–which NATO normally held every four years–in
preparing the allies to resist a Soviet-led attack against the West. After
completing the exercise the ship returned to the Mediterranean, pausing in
the Spanish port of Malaga (22–27 September).
28 Sep–8 Oct 1978: The carrier participated in Display Determination,
a NATO southern region exercise involving eight countries practicing rapid
reinforcement and resupply of the alliance’s southern flank during wartime,
and the third and final exercise of this deployment. Aircraft flew a large
number of sorties principally against their British, Italian and Portuguese
11–15 Oct 1978: Forrestal transited the Strait of Gibraltar by
steering westerly courses to Rota. The ship put to sea on the 13th to conduct
a one-day exercise with Saratoga and her task group, which enabled aircraft
to practice mock attacks against the ships and for the latter’s gunners to
train in anti-air warfare. SN Williams from the deck department of fast
combat support ship Detroit (AOE-4) fell overboard just as the ship completed
refueling the carrier that night and the vessels broke away from each other,
but a Sea King crew, LT Henderson, LTJG Smouse, AW2 Purinton and AWAN Bryan
K. Bailey, retrieved him. Their rescue became especially difficult and
challenging due to the lack of a visible horizon for pilot reference and
insufficient wind to aid hovering, and in addition, the sailor did not wear
reflective tape on his flotation garment and did not use signaling devices.
Nonetheless, the helo crew preserved and saved his life. The shaken seaman
recovered in the carrier’s sick bay, and a helo returned him the next day to
Detroit. The next day Saratoga relieved Forrestal, enabling the latter to
begin her voyage home before dawn on the 15th.
15–26 Oct 1978: On her homeward transit, Forrestal steered an extreme
northerly course to participate in Operation Windbreak, a special program
designed to introduce sailors and their equipment to relatively unfamiliar
waters and conditions, and to gauge how well the Russians monitored American
ships sailing to and from Mediterranean waters. Forrestal steamed as far
north as 62°N, about 150 miles south of Iceland, where seas raging to 34-feet
and winds in excess of 70-knots slammed into the ship. The wind chill factor
dropped to 0° and drove sailors inside to avoid frostbite and exposure.
Guided missile cruiser Harry E. Yarnell (CG-17) and destroyer Arthur W.
Radford (DD-968) also joined the carrier for the unique exercise, and VADM
McDonald embarked Forrestal during Windbreak.
13 Nov 1978–early 1979: Forrestal completed a four-month extended
selected restricted availability at Mayport. In addition to several different
shore establishments, destroyer tender Yosemite (AD-19) agreed to take on
over 700 “intermediate-level” repairs involving welding and pipe fitting. On
the eve of the Gator Bowl contest, Ohio State University football coach Wayne
W. “Woody” Hayes, a World War II Navy veteran known for bringing his
experiences from the Fleet into his coaching style, led an entourage of 100
team members on board, on 28 December. Sailors noted that Coach Hayes “had a
smile and handshake” for shipmates as he “eagerly roamed” the ship. On 28
January 1979, however, hydrogen sulfide fumes overcame four civilian workers
from Pepper Industries of Jacksonville, and two sailors, while the workers
pumped out a fuel tank. The two men from the ship gallantly rushed to aid the
civilians when the fumes overcame them, though all six victims recovered
without serious injuries. A spokesman from Forrestal noted that “hydrogen
sulfide is not stored in any form aboard ship.”
12 Apr 1979: The first jets to land on board following her
availability roared over the fantail and hooked the arresting cable.
27 Apr–May 1979: Forrestal sailed from Mayport for several weeks of
refresher training in Caribbean waters. The carrier and fast combat support
ship Savannah (AOE-4) collided while refueling on 9 May. A resistor/capacitor
in the 400 cycle power supply to the master gyro on board Savannah failed,
which prevented the automated shift of power from 400 cycle to battery power.
The gyro failure alarm did not actuate in the pilot house on board the
replenishment ship until the collision. Both ships sustained minor damage but
no casualties among their crews, and the impact inflicted limited damage on
Forrestal’s port side which affected her refueling rigs and hoses. Savannah
continued to fulfill her busy schedule and replenished guided missile cruiser
Texas (CGN-39) that afternoon, while the carrier continued to match her
previous records while under the auspices of the Fleet Training Group
4 Jun 1979: Secretary of the Navy W. Graham Claytor, Jr., visited the
1 Jul 1979: AA Melton H. Coleman was murdered and his body thrown
overboard, off the coast off Jacksonville. Despite an intensive search
rescuers could not retrieve him. In early September investigators sentenced
SA Wayne A. Bishop to life imprisonment for conspiracy to commit murder, and
charged a second crewmember, Michael K. Nicolson, with conspiracy to commit
murder and premeditated murder.
2–16 Aug 1979: RADM Bryan W. Compton, Jr., commanded Forrestal as she
participated in CompTuEx 3-79, a Second Fleet readiness exercise. Training
included missile, surface, anti-air, anti-surface and anti-submarine warfare
and gunnery exercises. British frigates HMS Alacrity (F-174) and HMS Galatia
(F-18) also joined the carrier. Undersecretary of the Navy R. James Woolsey
embarked overnight (15–16 August).
21 Sep 1979: Aircraft No 100, an F-4J, LCDR Curry M. Lawler and LTJG
Joseph M. Foster from VF-11, struck the ramp, sheering the starboard
mainmount, and crashed on the flight deck during nighttime flight operations
off the Jacksonville Operating Area at 2123, near 30°56’1”N, 79°34’6”W. Helo
searchers picked-up LCDR Lawler and returned him to the ship, where
crewmembers treated the pilot for shock in sick bay. LTJG Foster also ejected
but the co-pilot landed on the flight deck, where their burning Phantom II
pinned him beneath the wreckage before his shipmates could release the man
from his harrowing ordeal. The naval aviator suffered fractured ribs and
internal injuries which required several weeks of recovery in a hospital.
Nov 1979: During this period the pro-Western Iranian government
collapsed, forcing the Shah into exile in the United States. Tensions among
opposing groups produced a state of near-anarchy within the troubled land.
One of the more radical groups, “Students Following the Imam’s Line,” blamed
America for the discord, and sought to mobilize support for their policies by
seizing the U.S. Embassy in Teheran on 4 November 1979. Receiving tacit
approval from the Ayatollah R. Khomeini, the extremists continued to hold 52
hostages. The crime outraged Americans and the U.S. government responded by
ordering naval forces to the region, tentatively to include Forrestal.
30 Nov 1979: Secretary of the Navy Edward Hidalgo visited the ship to
view flight operations and also spoke to crewmembers via the ship’s closed
5–6 Dec 1979: While she steamed en route to the Med, Forrestal
launched simulated air strikes against Independence as the latter returned
from deployment. Forrestal ten conducted a ‘blue-water turnover’ with
9–13 Dec 1979: The ship visited Rota to accomplish briefings tailored
to the Mediterranean and NATO environment, and which enabled RADM Robert F.
Dunn, Commander, Carrier Group 10, to break his flag from the carrier.
14–20 Dec 1979: As they prepared for contingencies due to the Iranian
crisis, Forrestal and Nimitz participated in MultiPlEx, an exercise
incorporating two carrier task forces in combined operations in the
Mediterranean. Both carriers operated as adversaries and sent mock air
strikes against each other, and in addition, they hunted attack submarines
Shark (SSN-591) and Italian Gianfranco Gazzana Priaroggia (S-502).
21 Dec 1979–4 Jan 1980: The ship visited Marseilles. French families
flooded the U.S. consulate there with offers to invite sailors and marines
into their homes during the Christmas holidays. On New Years, however,
Forrestal sailed for Naples to relieve Nimitz, which enabled Nimitz to
respond to the Iranian crisis by leading a nuclear-powered battle group
comprising guided missile cruisers California (CGN-36) and Texas from the
Mediterranean to the Indian Ocean. Their voyage left Forrestal as the only
American carrier deployed to the Mediterranean during this time of heightened
2 Mar 1981: Forrestal sailed on her 16th Mediterranean deployment and
second quarter century of service to the Republic. During a crisis between
the Israelis and Syrians the crew maintained a heightened state of readiness
as the ship steamed for 53 consecutive days at sea.
18–19 Aug 1981: Libyan strongman CAPT (later COL) Muammar al-Qadhafi,
encouraged and supported an ongoing series of terrorist attacks against
Westerners during the 1970s and 80s, which heightened friction between the
West and the dictator across the region. Forrestal and Nimitz conducted an
open ocean missile exercise in the Gulf of Sidra, and aircraft from both
ships intercepted potentially threatening Libyan aircraft on a number of
occasions. On the 19th newspapers across the nation proudly carried the
headlines: “U.S. 2 – Libya 0,” as two F-14A crews, CDR Hank Kleeman and LT
Dave Venlet and LTs Larry Muczynski and Jim Anderson (VF-41), shot down a
pair of Libyan Sukhoi Su-22 Fitters. The Libyans threatened Nimitz during a
tense encounter in the Gulf of Sidra, and the Tomcat crews splashed them with
AIM-9L Sidewinder air-to-air missiles.
1981: After departing from the Mediterranean the ship steamed above
the Arctic Circle to participate in NATO exercise Ocean Venture ’81, which
gave many crewmembers the opportunity to become ‘Bluenoses.’
1981: Forrestal operated in the Mediterranean in support of the
Lebanon Contingency Force of 800 marines at Beirut.
12 Sep 1982: Forrestal transited the Suez Canal for the first time and
relieved Ranger in the eastern Indian Ocean, in an urgent surge deployment.
Forrestal and her screen turned out to be a temporary reinforcement because a
little over a month later Enterprise relieved her. Nonetheless, this became
her first time to operate under the command of the Seventh Fleet since her
ill-fated cruise in 1967.
16 Nov 1982: The ship returned home for an unusual nighttime arrival.
12–18 Jan 1983: Forrestal shifted her home port to the Philadelphia
Naval Shipyard in Pennsylvania, to embark upon a 28-month, $694 million
Service Life Extension Program (SLEP) project, designed to extend her life an
additional 15 to 20 years. The ship sailed from Mayport on the 12th,
supplementing her crew and stores with additional loads including over 1,000
of her crew’s personal automobiles. In addition, crewmembers set up a special
area in the aircraft intermediate maintenance department’s jet shop to
accommodate crewmember’s small pets. The carrier arrived at Pier 6 at
Philadelphia and crewmembers completed the offload they began at Mayport.
28–30 Jan 1983: Forrestal shifted to Drydock No. 5 at Philadelphia.
Crewmembers moved ashore to the base while many of their dependents relocated
into the city. Two days later the ship began cold iron status as the crew and
workers shut down the last of her internal power sources and services.
15–18 Jul 1983: The crew held their first annual Forrestal reunion.
Over 400 former crewmembers and their families attended, some of whom flew-in
from the West Coast. Shipmates held a memorial service honoring all of those
men who gave their lives for freedom during the carrier’s 28-year history.
14–17 Sep 1983: The ship’s ceremonial color guard opened the Miss
America Pageant by presenting the colors.
10 Oct 1983: Pennsylvanian Senator Arlen Specter visited the ship.
Nov 1983: Some crewmembers participated as extras in the film George
Washington, which CBS aired on national television several months later.
27–29 Jan 1984: Forrestal undocked. Tugs pulled the carrier from the
drydock and maneuvered her over to moorings at Pier 6. Two days later Forrestal
returned to Drydock No. 5.
7 May 1984: Some 1,200 crewmembers began moving back on board, aft.
Supply services started their return and the crew celebrated the opening of
the galley with a ribbon-cutting ceremony.
18 Jul 1984: Bob Hope and Ann Jillian entertained several thousand
crewmembers and shipyard workers with a 45-minute show on the flight deck.
12–15 Sep 1984: The ship’s ceremonial color guard opened each night of
the Miss America Pageant, at Atlantic City, New Jersey.
9 Oct 1984: The crew lit-off Boiler 2A, the first time that the ship
experienced steam in her boilers in upward of two years.
10 Nov 1984: Forrestal shifted berths to the east side of Pier 6 at
28 Jan–2 Feb 1985: The ship completed a fast cruise; a series of
evolutions simulating getting underway without actually leaving the pier, an
important step toward accomplishing her SLEP and becoming ready for sea.
3–15 Feb 1985: Three helicopters from NAS Jacksonville landed on board
at 1653 on the 3rd, the first operational aircraft to do so in more than two
years, to support Forrestal’s shipyard sea trials. The next day the ship got
underway for the trials and for material inspections, her first time at sea
under her own steam since arriving in Philadelphia. In addition to
accomplishing boiler, evaporator and ship’s service generator testing, the
carrier also completed full power trials, before returning to Pier 6.
10–18 Apr 1985: Forrestal transited the Delaware River and
accomplished sea trials.
20–23 May 1985: The ship completed SLEP as she sailed from
Philadelphia. Dependents, pets and personal vehicles joined crewmembers for
the three-day transit to Mayport.
4–14 Jun 1985: Forrestal accomplished aircraft carrier landing system
trials. At 0803 on the 5th, a Grumman C-1A from VRC-40 landed to become the
first fixed-wing aircraft to recover on board in more than 30-months. The
Trader launched seven minutes later. After inspectors certified the arresting
gear, several aircraft from NAS Patuxent River in Maryland recovered, the
first aircraft piloted by CAPT Carter B. Refo of CVW-6. The initial jet
launching from the carrier since November 1982 took off at 1133. Following
additional trials, the last test aircraft departed on the 10th. The ship
welcomed on board her new air wing as the rest of CVW-6, which recently
completed a Mediterranean deployment on board Independence, began to arrive
the next morning, joining HS-15.
22–29 Jun 1985: The carrier accomplished cyclic flight operations, a
NATO Sea Sparrow missile tracking exercise and electronic countermeasures
exercises with EA-6B Prowlers from VAQ-133.
29 Aug–3 Sep 1985: Following a series of drills and exercises in
Caribbean waters, the ship returned to sea for carrier qualifications.
Hurricane Elena, however, swept eastward across Florida and into the
Jacksonville Operating Area on the 31st, forcing Forrestal to move south into
the Cape Canaveral Operating Area. Although the carrier suspended flight
operations for a day due to the fierce weather, she completed the
qualifications before returning to Mayport.
13 Sep–20 Dec 1985: Forrestal completed a post-shipyard availability
and selected restricted availability period which brought 800 civilian
shipyard workers on board from the Jacksonville area. Together with the crew
they put the finishing touches on work accomplished during SLEP, including
the installation of three Phalanx 20 mm close-in-weapons systems (CIWS). Some
715 Forrestal sailors gathered in formation on the morning of 27 September to
form a 280-foot by 200-foot “30” on the carrier’s flight deck in recognition
of Forrestal’s 30th anniversary. Helos from HS-15 flying overhead
photographed the event. The crew celebrated the anniversary with a huge
picnic ashore at the naval station. RADM Diego E. Hernandez, Commander,
Carrier Group 6, broke his flag from the carrier on 4 October. Forrestal
completed two days of full power runs, high speed steering trials and
demonstrations of her newly-installed CIWS.
17 Mar 1986: A fire erupted from a KA-6D tanker as the crew prepared
to launch, though responders defeated the blaze without casualties.
9–30 Apr 1986: The ship participated in FleetEx 2-86, an exercise
featuring over 17,000 sailors and marines and 31 vessels including battleship
Iowa (BB-61). Tomcats from VF-31 pitted themselves against Air Force
McDonnell Douglas F-15C Eagles flying from Homestead AFB in Florida, and
marine Boeing (McDonnell Douglas) F/A-18 Hornets flying from MCAS Beaufort,
South Carolina. In addition, they flew low level tactical reconnaissance
missions and fighter escort throughout operating areas ranging from Florida
to Puerto Rico during the demanding exercises.
14–17 Jun 1986: Forrestal transited the Strait of Gibraltar and
entered the Mediterranean. Three days later she relieved Enterprise at
Augusta Bay. Correspondent Roger Mudd of NBC visited the ship on the 17th. In
addition, during this deployment aircraft frequently flew in international
airspace of the Tripoli Flight region, the international air traffic control
sector for the Libyans.
18 Jun 1986: Just after Forrestal set out from Augusta Bay during the
afternoon and first dog watches, Aircraft No. 202, a Tomcat from VF-31 (BuNo
161854), attempted to rendezvous with the ship but departed controlled flight
and crashed in the Ionian Sea, at 1824, near 37°8’8”N, 15°44’4”E. Both men
ejected, and although the radar intercept officer survived his ordeal with
minor injuries, the pilot perished.
25–27 Jun 1986: The ship conducted dual carrier operations with
America in the Tyrrhenian Sea.
4–18 Aug 1986: Following Forrestal’s visit to Palermo, Sicily (24
July–3 August), Rear Admiral Raymond P. Ilg relieved RADM Hernandez as
Commander, Battle Force Sixth Fleet/Commander, Carrier Group 6, on the 5th.
Meanwhile, aircraft flew Alpha strikes in excess of 300 miles against their
French counterparts during an exercise off the coast of southern France.
French Dassault-Breguet Mirage 2000s proved formidable opponents, however,
the Tomcat crews from the ship emerged victorious in the closely-fought
scenarios. The ship visited Cannes (8–18 August), where over 10,000 people
visited the ship in three days and the liberty ashore became so popular that
a VF-31 chronicler noted: “Ten days on the French Riviera speaks for itself.”
23–28 Aug 1986: The ship took part in Operation Sea Wind, a joint U.S.
and Egyptian training exercise that involved aircraft flying a variety of
tactical air reconnaissance, low level strike escort and air combat
maneuvering sorties against their Egyptian opposite numbers, and practicing
joint strikes against Egyptian airfields and port facilities. In addition,
Viking and Sea King crews honed their antisubmarine skills against Egyptian
submarines. At the commencement of the training, VADM Ali Gad, the
Commander-in-Chief of the Egyptian Navy, visited the carrier. As the exercise
concluded, CVW-6 aircraft participated in an air show at Wadi El-Natrun, a
desert site 50 miles to the northwest of Cairo, where the men demonstrated their
bombing, rocketing and strafing capabilities against ground targets.
31 Aug–10 Sep 1986: Four Abu Nidal hijackers attempted to take control
of Pan Am Flight No. 73 when the Boeing B-747 commercial airliner landed at
Karachi, Pakistan, after a flight from Bombay, India, en route to Frankfurt
in Germany and then on to John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York,
on 5 September. At about 0600 the hijackers rushed the aircraft, but the
flight crew escaped through the cockpit escape hatch. The thugs demanded that
the flight crew return and fly them on to Larnaca on Cyprus, where they would
arrange for the release of Palestinian terrorists detained on that island, or
they would massacre their hostages. When authorities refused to accede to the
terrorist’s demands, the hijackers brutally opened fire upon their helpless
hostages and began lobbing grenades into the crowded cabins, murdering at
least 20 people including two Americans, Rajesh Kumar and Surendra M. Patel,
and wounding dozens more. The Department of Justice later posthumously
conferred the 2006 Special Courage Award upon Pan Am flight attendant Neerja
Bhanot, who died while trying to save children during the carnage. While
visiting Naples, Forrestal issued an emergency recall of crew members to respond
to the crisis–especially should she be needed if the hijackers flew on to
Cyprus–and stood out to conduct flight operations in the Tyrrhenian Sea.
Sadly, the incident ended tragically before the carrier could intervene
6–13 Oct 1986: Forrestal participated with John F. Kennedy in
Operation Display Determination ‘86, which included low-level coordinated
strikes and air combat maneuvering training over Turkey.
29–31 Oct 1986: The ship sailed from the Mediterranean and passed
through the Strait of Gibraltar.
1 Jan–30 Apr 1987: Forrestal completed a selected restricted
availability at Mayport. While there she also served as the host ship for
aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal (R-07) when the British ship visited the port
1–5 May 1987: Forrestal conducted sea trials in the Jacksonville
29 Jul 1987: Each year Forrestal crewmembers remember their shipmates
who gave their lives during the fire of 1967, however, this year marked the
20th anniversary of the tragedy and the crew held a special memorial service,
for which former crewmembers and family members from across the country
arrived to pay tribute to their fallen friends and loved ones.
31 Jul–17 Aug 1987: The ship completed advanced phase training
evolutions in the Atlantic.
28 Aug–8 Oct 1987: As part of her pre-deployment work-ups, the ship
took part in Ocean Safari ’87, which included a six-week cruise in the North
Atlantic, highlighted by operations with NATO forces posing as aggressors
lurking in Norwegian fjords. The cruise also afforded the crew the
opportunity to visit Portsmouth, England (22–26 September), where they hosted
a traditional ‘Sunset Parade.’
29 Dec 1987: Members of the University of South Carolina and the
Louisiana State University football teams visited the carrier.
11–25 Jan 1988: The ship participated in FleetEx 1-88 in Puerto Rican
waters. The program consisted of launching air strikes against simulated
enemy targets, mine exercises, anti-terrorist exercises and teaming up with
other navies and the Air Force. Undersecretary of the Navy Dennis R. Shaw
visited the ship (21–23 January).
13–16 February 1988: Forrestal sailed up the Mississippi River and
visited New Orleans, Louisiana.
7–18 Apr 1988: The carrier took part in Ocean Venture ’88 in the Gulf
25 Apr 1988: Forrestal deployed to the Mediterranean and the North
Arabian Sea, steaming directly there via the Suez Canal. During the Persian
Gulf War between the Iranians and Iraqis both sides attacked ships steaming
in international waters in the Gulf. The Iraqis attacked Iranian economic
shipping and oil installations with Exocet equipped Dassault-Breguet Super
Etendards on 27 March 1984, which escalated the conflict until the Iranians
and Iraqis launched almost constant air, missile, small boat and mine attacks
against ships in the region. The Kuwaitis grew increasingly anxious and their
oil minister Sheikh Ali Khalifa openly sought aid. The Soviets intervened in
early March and offered to protect five Kuwaiti tankers, but the Kuwaitis
wisely realized that their oil lifeline reached to the West, not to the
Russians, and that the Americans had the strongest naval forces in the Gulf,
so they made overtures to Washington, asking the Americans to match the
Soviet offer. “It smacked a little bit,” noted National Security Advisor
Frank C. Carlucci, III, “of blackmail.” Partly to stave off the Russians,
partly to avoid an Iraqi or Iranian collapse–enabling the other to dominate
the region–and partly to ensure the uninterrupted free trade of the Gulf, the
U.S. authorized Operation Private Jewels, later redesignated Earnest Will,
designed to maintain freedom of navigation within that body of water. The
crisis escalated when the Iranians mined guided missile frigate Samuel B.
Roberts (FFG-58) during the first dog watch on 14 April 1988. Although her
crew valiantly saved the ship, the blatant assault incensed President Ronald
W. Reagan and his advisors, who authorized Operation Praying Mantis, a
“measured response” designed to attain retribution against Iranian crimes.
Enterprise spearheaded American strikes against the Iranians during Praying
Mantis on 18 April, so that Forrestal arrived during an especially anxious
time, which forced her pilots to fly extensive aerial reconnaissance and combat
air patrol missions, and for her crew to monitor aircraft and vessels very
carefully for potential threats. The ship also deployed for the first time
with the Air-Launched Decoy system, which crewmembers made numerous
modifications to, passing along their suggestions to evaluators for
6 May 1988: The ship steamed past the Rock of Gibraltar on the 6th and
completed Open Gate ’88.
8–9 May 1988: As the carrier sailed through Tunisian waters en route
to the Indian Ocean, she operated with Tunisian forces in a passing exercise.
13–20 May 1988: Forrestal transited the Suez Canal and entered the Red
Sea. Seven days later she relieved Enterprise in the Indian Ocean. The ship
fell under the auspices of the Combined Joint Task Force Middle East, though
her crew humorously dubbed the ship’s operating area “Beno Station.”
Crewmembers reported that they served laboriously under the “long and humid”
summer. Their only break during these difficult operations occurred when the
Navy authorized the men a “beer day” in June. In addition, the weapons
department utilized the Gator mine system for their first time while sailing
in the Indian Ocean, and the operations department provided training services
to 22 U.S. and allied vessels.
24 May 1988: Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed of the United Arab Emirates
visited the ship.
4 Jun 1988: French RADM Guy Labouerie visited Forrestal.
20 Jul 1988: RADM Anthony A. Less, Commander, Combined Joint Task
Force Middle East, visited the ship.
24 Jul 1988: Secretary of the Navy William L. Ball visited the
28–31 Jul 1988: Aircraft carrier Carl Vinson (CVN-70) relieved
Forrestal in the North Arabian Sea. As Forrestal sailed en route to the Suez
Canal she passed the second milestone of the ship’s 50th consecutive day at
sea, which entitled the crew to their second “beer day.”
6 Aug 1988: The ship passed through the Suez Canal and returned to the
17–19 Aug 1988: After visiting Naples (11–16 August), the crew’s first
time ashore in 108 days, Forrestal took part in National Week ’88 in the
31 Aug–22 Sep 1988: Following a visit to Benidorm on the Spanish Costa
Blanca (23–27 August), the ship steamed through the Strait of Gibraltar and
into the North Atlantic and the Norwegian Sea as part of two carrier battle
groups to participate in Teamwork ’88. Over 200 ships and submarines, about
500 aircraft and 45,000 people from nine nations took part in the massive
series of maritime and amphibious exercises, with Forrestal moving into the
Norwegian Sea from the south and aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71)
sailing easterly courses from American and Canadian waters through the
Atlantic around Greenland and the gap between Iceland, the Faeroe Islands and
the British Isles, before operating off Vestfjord, Norway. Meanwhile,
Forrestal visited Portsmouth (25–26 August). The ship also passed over the
Arctic Circle during these operations, which afforded many crewmembers the
opportunity to become ‘Bluenoses.’
7 Oct 1988: Forrestal returned home after sailing in three oceans and
spending 202 days underway, one of her longest such commitments to date, at
one point spending 108 consecutive days at sea, with only 15 days in port
through the whole cruise. She completed 71 of these consecutive days at sea
steaming at Beno Station supporting Earnest Will and additional exercises and
operations. The Navy recognized these additional sacrifices by later awarding
Forrestal and her crew a Meritorious Unit Commendation for their “superior
performance” in this deployment.
7 Nov 1988–28 Feb 1989: The ship completed a selected restricted
availability at Mayport.
7–11 Mar 1989: Forrestal completed sea trials off Jacksonville.
29 Apr–4 May 1989: Forrestal participated in Fleet Week ’89
celebrations in New York City. The carrier became the centerpiece of the
event as she led the parade of ships up the Hudson River and into the harbor.
Forrestal moored to New York Passenger Ship Terminal, an evolution that her
Navigation Department described as “difficult.” CVW-17 arranged for a
representative selection of aircraft from the wing to embark for the cruise.
17 Jul–11 Aug: The ship took part in advanced phase training in
Caribbean waters, with a brief stop in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands (26–31
July). The training taxed sailors and marines in many aspects of ship and air
wing combined operations against a full spectrum of wartime threats, and also
enabled the crew to operate with ships and aircraft already participating in
Unitas 30-89, a series of exercises designed to integrate U.S. and Latin
American naval forces.
24 Aug–9 Sep 1989: Forrestal participated in Fleet Exercise 4-89 in
the Puerto Rico Operating Area.
9 Oct 1989: As the ship made preparations for deploying a fire erupted
in her primary command and control trunk space. The blaze severely damaged
electrical cabling in an uptake compartment affecting several navigation,
weapons and ship control systems, though the rapid response of firefighters
prevented further damage. The ship did not report casualties resulting from
the conflagration, which nonetheless delayed her departure. Electricians from
the shipyards at Philadelphia and Norfolk lent their expertise to those of
Jacksonville Shipyard, Inc., the prime contractor, and accomplished repairs
to enable Forrestal to return to sea. In the interim, Commander, Carrier
Group 6 shifted his flag to guided missile cruiser Wainwright (CG-28) three
days later, and remained there until the carrier arrived in the
Mediterranean, when he broke his flag from Forrestal on 12 November.
3 Nov 1989: Forrestal set sail for the Mediterranean. RADM Richard C.
Allen, Commander, Carrier Group-6, broke his flag from the carrier in command
of the battle group. The ship deployed for the first time with the AGM-84
Standoff Land Attack Missile (SLAM), and in addition, at one point Forrestal
directly supported Donald B. Berry (FF-1085), which enabled the frigate to
complete an exercise with the Israelis.
20–25 Nov 1989: The ship participated in Harmonie Sud Est with the
French in the Mediterranean, her first such experience of that exercise.
27 Nov–3 Dec 1989: The final two months of the year proved to be a
strenuous and exciting time for her crew as Forrestal provided crucial
support to U.S. diplomats during the Malta Summit. President George H.W. Bush
and Soviet General Secretary Mikhail S. Gorbachev met just weeks after the
fall of the Berlin Wall concerning the collapse of the East Bloc and its
impact upon global security. President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s habit of
meeting key world leaders at sea during WWII purportedly served as the
inspiration for President Bush to arrange the summit on the strategic island,
the scene of fierce fighting during that conflict, and led to some media
representatives describing the summit as “Malta to Yalta and Back.” Soviet
Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze, Secretary of State James Baker,
National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft, Senior Director of Soviet, East
European Affairs [National Security Council] Dr. Condoleezza Rice and
Ambassador to the Soviet Union John F. Matlock, Jr., were among the leaders
who also attended the summit. Warships from many fleets joined the
proceedings at various times, and American sailors shared the crowded Maltese
waters with their East Bloc counterparts. Guided missile cruiser Belknap
(CG-26), which received the honor of serving as the host ship for the chief
executive, anchored barely 400-yards in Marsaxlokk Bay from Soviet guided
missile cruiser Slava (CG-70) for most of the summit. Ships also operated
within the Grand Harbor at Valletta. The President arrived on board Forrestal
on 1 December, and visited the flight deck, watched aircraft launch and
recover, and ate lunch with crewmembers on the mess decks. At 1345 he began a
speech to officers and crewmembers assembled in the ship’s hanger bay,
including ADM Jonathon T. Howe, Commander-in-Chief, Naval Forces Europe, VADM
James D. Williams, Commander, Sixth Fleet, and RADM Allen. The President, a
decorated naval aviator from World War II, amused his audience with good
natured humor directed at his fellow shipmates. Motioning to the officers
nearby, he chided them: “I know that some of you have meals to eat. Frankly,
I’d like to get Chairman Gorbachev to get an idea of what U.S. Navy food is
like. Maybe not – what I’m trying to do is ease tensions.” At 1425 Marine I
touched down onto the flight deck of Belknap as President Bush arrived on
board the cruiser in his helicopter, maintaining a hectic schedule. Stormy
weather and choppy seas forced planners to cancel or reschedule subsequent
meetings, however, resulting in some journalists referring to the conference
as the “Seasick Summit.” That morning began pleasantly but as the day
progressed the weather deteriorated as a storm swept in with winds that
peaked at 55-knots by the evening of the 2nd. The foul conditions forced the
President to shift his meetings with the General Secretary from Belknap and
Slava to Soviet cruise ship Maxim Gorky, moored pierside and a more stable
platform as the tempest battered ships in the harbor. The admiral’s barge
safely carried the President over to Maxim Gorky, but as the seas became
rougher they rendered boating conditions unsafe and compelled the President
to remain on board the cruiser, where he chatted amiably with watchstanders on
the foc’sle and fantail despite freezing rain and pounding swells that forced
Belknap to shift berths by the 3rd. The crew persevered through the morning
when the storm began to subside, which enabled them to transport the
President over to the cruise ship to complete his meetings with the General
Secretary. President Bush publicly expressed American support for the Russian
leader’s glasnost [openness] and perestroika [restructuring] policies, and
both men acknowledged the lessening of Cold War anxieties. “For 45 years”
noted General Secretary Gorbachev, “we have been managing to avoid a big war.
This single fact alone says that not everything was bad in the past.”
Aircraft from Forrestal flew airborne early warning and combat air patrols
overhead during much of the summit. President Bush also met with Maltese
Prime Minister Fenech Adami.
4–6 Dec 1989: Forrestal visited Naples, which became a unique
evolution when she required simultaneous usage of a port anchor, 10 mooring
lines, two kedge anchors and two mooring buoys to stay in the inner harbor of
the crowded port.
13–19 Dec 1989: The ship participated in an amphibious exercise with
the Tunisians. Aircraft from the carrier flew 193 sorties and Forrestal
coordinated USMC McDonnell Douglas AV-8B Harrier IIs during a crucial phase
of the exercise.
11–13 Jan 1990: Forrestal took part in Operation Last Chance in the
17–21 Jan 1990: The ship participated in exercise Petit Poi in the
29–31 Jan 1990: Forrestal operated with the British, French and
Italians in the western Mediterranean.
10 Feb 1990: The Naples Squadron of the Association of Naval Aviation
held their establishment ceremony in the ship’s hanger bay.
7–8 Mar 1990: The ship and her crew trained with the Tunisians.
23–28 Mar 1990: Forrestal took part with Dwight D. Eisenhower in the
large NATO exercise National Week 90B in the western Mediterranean. On the
final day Dwight D. Eisenhower dropped anchor in Augusta Bay to relieve
10 Apr 1990: AN Tony C. Smith fell overboard from No. 4 Aircraft
Elevator near 32°18’N, 70°59’E. The weather was clear. Three helos from HS-15
launched and searched for the man for over four and a half hours before they
called-off the search more than two hours after dusk. A sailor spotted AN
Smith in the water near a life ring and a smoke float that a shipmate threw
into the sea to mark his location for searchers. Although the airman
apparently wore his required life vest, eyewitnesses could not ascertain as
to whether or not he inflated it.
12 Apr 1990: By the time Forrestal returned to Mayport she anchored at
such diverse ports as Marseilles, Valencia, Naples, Cannes, Alexandria,
Egypt, Augusta Bay and Haifa, Israel.
14 May–27 Aug 1990: The ship completed a drydocking selected
restricted availability at Mayport. Former Forrestal crewmembers held their
inaugural meeting of the USS Forrestal Reunion Association on board and
ashore at Mayport, overnight (22–23 June). Meanwhile, James M. Doohan, an
actor famous for his role as Chief Engineer Montgomery “Scotty” Scott on
board starship Enterprise (NCC-1701) in the TV series Star Trek, visited the
ship on 27 July. The same day that CAPT Robert S. Cole relieved CAPT Louis E.
Thomassy, Jr., as commanding officer of Forrestal (2 August), however, Iraqi
tanks and troops poured across the borders from Iraq into Kuwait as Saddam
Hussein seized the tiny country. The dictator’s troops raped and looted
helpless Kuwaitis; sailors on board guided missile frigate Robert G. Bradley
(FFG-49), patrolling in the Persian Gulf barely 50 miles offshore, could hear
the victims’ pleas for help via their bridge-to-bridge radio, “over and over
again,” but restrictive rules of engagement constrained the crew until the
U.S. responded by forming a coalition of 29 nations, that rushed
reinforcements to the region during Operation Desert Shield, designed to
protect the region from Iraqi aggression. “Saddam Hussein won the toss, “
noted CAPT Lyle G. “Ho Chi” Bien, Commander, CVW-15, detailed to Central Command
as the Navy’s senior strike planner, “and elected to receive.” The Navy
augmented the Red Sea Battle Group’s mission to include maritime interception
operations to enforce UN Security Council Resolution 51, which imposed an
embargo upon ships entering or leaving Iraqi-occupied Kuwaiti and Iraqi
ports. The crisis forced the crew and workers to toil at an increased pace to
ready Forrestal for contingencies, and to race to complete work six months
earlier then they originally planned.
28–31 Aug 1990: The ship completed sea trials and flight deck
certification in the Jacksonville Operating Area.
7–11 Sep 1990: Forrestal transited to Norfolk Naval Shipyard.
8 Nov 1990: President Bush announced a decision to double the number
of carrier battle groups deployed in support of Operation Desert Shield. The
announcement rushed America, CVW-1 embarked, Ranger (CV-61), CVW-2 embarked,
and Theodore Roosevelt with CVW-8 to reinforce John F. Kennedy (CV-67), CVW-3
embarked, Midway (CV-41) with CVW-5 and Saratoga, CVW-17 embarked, by 15
January 1991. During these hectic days leading up to the war the Navy twice
issued orders to Forrestal to deploy and twice cancelled the orders, which
frustrated many crewmembers who worked at an intense pace to prepare
themselves and their ship to sail into harm’s way, as well as disrupting
family plans for their dependents. Sailors and marines coined the slogan
“Will we stay or will we go?” to describe their situation. Nonetheless, the
crew expanded their dedicated selected restricted availability into a second
phase to prepare for their impending sail into harm’s way. This work included
installing flush deck catapults designed to accommodate F/A-18 Hornets.
16–21 Nov 1990: The ship returned to Mayport.
18–20 Dec 1990: RADM Walter J. Davis, Commander, Carrier Group 6,
visited. On the 18th, however, an A-14A Tomcat (BuNo 161862), of VF-31,
separated from Catapult No. 4 during the initial part of launching. The
weather was calm, with visibility out to seven nautical miles. Both men ejected
as the aircraft stopped on the leading edge of the angled flight deck. The
pilot landed on the flight deck and suffered scrapes and bruises and a
sprained ankle, while the radar intercept officer’s parachute caught on the
forward top of the ship’s island and he survived the harrowing trial with
minor scrapes and a good sea story.
1 Jan 1991: Forrestal began the year as the ‘east coast ready
carrier,’ a role she fulfilled through the first five months.
12 Jan 1991: Congress voted 52 to 47 in the Senate and 250 to 183 in
the House on a joint resolution that gave the President his support for
military action against the Iraqis.
16–17 Jan 1991: The Iraqis ignored the UN deadline, and the next day
six battle groups, two battleships and a 31-ship amphibious task force
steaming in the Red and Arabian Seas and Persian Gulf, comprising over 100
ships and submarines, 75,000 sailors and 85,000 marines afloat and ashore,
launched strikes against the disobedient Iraqis. Nine ships and subs fired
over 100 R/UGM-109 Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles (TLAMs), the first combat
launchings of the all-weather subsonic cruise missiles, and America, John F.
Kennedy and Saratoga in the Red Sea, Midway and Ranger in the Persian Gulf
and Theodore Roosevelt en route to the Gulf, launched 228 combat sorties.
21 Jan 1991: The President signed an executive order designating the
Arabian Peninsula areas, airspace and adjacent waters as a combat zone.
4–6 Mar 1991: ADM Paul D. Miller, Commander-in-Chief, Atlantic Fleet,
visited the ship. Two days later First Lady Barbara P. Bush visited
11 Apr 1991: While turning over his security watch in Forrestal’s
marine guard shack a marine of the ship’s security detachment, CPL Jason
Pricer, accidentally discharged his weapon and shot himself in the head.
Although a life-flight helo transported him from the ship berthed at Mayport
to University Trauma Center, emergency staff pronounced him dead there at
19–27 Apr 1991: Forrestal worked-up for her deployment in the
Jacksonville Operating Area. Aircraft flew air combat maneuvering against
their British counterparts from aircraft carrier HMS Invincible (R-05).
30 May 1991: Following numerous disappointing rumors, Forrestal
finally deployed from Mayport to relieve Theodore Roosevelt, which
participated in Desert Shield/Storm/Sabre and Operation Provide Comfort, the
latter coalition efforts to aid Kurdish refugees whom the Iraqis viciously
attacked in the wake of Gulf War I. Theodore Roosevelt joined other forces
including amphibious assault ship Guadalcanal (LPH-7) positioned off Turkey
to support an estimated 7,000 American troops helping the Kurds. These
operations could become very deadly, as Iraqi gunners previously demonstrated
on 7 and 8 May when they fired on a pair of Intruders flying a reconnaissance
mission from Theodore Roosevelt over the northern part of the country
observing Iraqi atrocities against the Kurds. These became the first
confirmed incidents of Iraqi violations of the cease-fire since allied troops
began occupying a designated security zone for Kurdish refugees. The Iraqis
missed the A-6Es, which completed their mission and returned to the ship.
These incidents set the stage for Forrestal’s final entry into battle, and
the demanding missions her aircraft completed. CVW-6 embarked between 64 and
69 aircraft for the war, including VF-11 and VF-31 (F-14A Tomcats), VFA-132
and VFA-137 (F/A-18A Hornets), VA-176 (A-6E and KA-6D Intruders), VS-28 (S-3B
Vikings), VAW-122 (E-2C Hawkeyes), VAQ-133 and VAQ-142 (EA-6B Prowlers) and
HS-15 (SH-3H Sea Kings). Tomcats from VF-31 flew uniquely equipped with the
Tactical Air Reconnaissance System (TARPS), which they used to observe a
variety of Iraqi and Russian forces and their operations.
8–9 Jun 1991: Forrestal conducted an anti-air warfare and weapons
exercise with French aircraft carrier Clemenceau (R-98).
8–21 Jun 1991: A Tomcat crew and their maintainers from VF-11 detached
from the ship to participate in the Paris Air Show.
12 Jun 1991: A Tomcat from VF-31 flew a long-range, 2,000 nautical
mile round trip TARPS mission to the Gulf of Sollum anchorage to monitor the
12–13 Jun 1991: VADM William A. Owens, Commander, Sixth Fleet, visited
14–15 Jun 1991: The ship began to support Provide Comfort in the
eastern Med. Commanders called upon Forrestal to provide air power presence
and airborne intelligence support, and to initiate, test and evaluate a wide
range of innovative Sixth Fleet battle group tactics and new aircraft carrier
roles. In particular, aircraft searched for Iraqi weapons of mass destruction
sites and stockpiles, Iraqi troops, surface-to-air missiles, tanks and
artillery to destroy or deter them from committing their crimes against
Kurdish refugees, and to direct humanitarian aid workers toward the displaced
persons. Their most common targets became the military barracks at Dahuk,
which housed reservist Republican Guardsmen, T-72 main battle tanks
attempting to slip past vigilant pilots, troop encampments in and around
Mosul and Irbil, and major roadways and towns throughout northern Iraq. Some
VF-31 Tomcats equipped with TARPS also flew many of these missions from
Incirlik AB in Turkey. In addition, at one point two Tomcat crews flew a
seven-hour TARPS mission to the eastern Mediterranean, where they spotted and
photographed a Russian Kara class guided missile cruiser. During this period
the ship relieved Theodore Roosevelt of her duties in Provide Comfort, and at
various times she operated with a number of U.S. vessels including attack
submarine Gato (SSN-615), as well as with French guided missile frigate Jean
de Vienne (F-643), Italian guided missile frigate Espero (F-576) and Spanish
guided missile frigate Santa Maria (F-81).
19 Jun 1991: A fire broke out in No. 2 Burn Room, which contained an
incinerator for burning classified material, as a result of crewmembers
accidentally igniting excess material that they improperly brought to the
space to destroy. The fire party extinguished the blaze without casualties.
8 Jul 1991: While Forrestal steamed in the eastern Mediterranean to
the south of Turkey supporting Provide Comfort a Hawkeye, LCDR John M.
Yurchak, LT Vicent C. Bowhers, Jr., and LTJGs Robert A. Forwalder, John S.
Lemmon and Terry S. Morris from VAW-122 flying a routine reconnaissance mission
suffered a fire in the starboard engine that the crew could not extinguish.
All five crewmembers ejected and helos from Forrestal and guided missile
cruiser Yorktown (CG-48) recovered them within 10 minutes. The unmanned
Hawkeye continued on flying on ‘autopilot’ to the southeast of Cyprus, and
since the E-2C presented a hazard to aerial navigation, a Hornet from VFA-132
flying from the carrier shot the aircraft down with 20 mm guns. The Hawkeye
crashed roughly half-way between Cyprus and Syria in international waters,
about 40 nautical miles from land, in water that measured a depth of
approximately 3,000 feet. The fire threatened the lives of the crew and
forced them to bail out, especially due to the possibility of the flames
igniting a catastrophic explosion. They made a courageous and correct
decision to place the aircraft on autopilot to facilitate just the
destruction of the aircraft that occurred, and Yorktown recovered a few small
pieces of debris that otherwise did not prove hazardous to shipping.
10–13 Jul 1991: BGEN General Anthony C. Zinni, USMC, Chief of Staff,
Combined Joint Task Force Provide Comfort, visited the ship overnight on the
10th and 11th, and LGEN John M. Shalikashvilli, USA, commanding the force,
visited the next day. French marine MGEN Maurice LePage, commanding French
troops serving in the force, visited Forrestal overnight on the 12th and
17–20 Jul 1991: Aircraft trained at the Greek range at Avgo Nisi in
preparation for President Bush’s visit to Athens and Souda Bay (18–20 July).
The President met Greek Prime Minister Konstantinos Mitsotakis, and spoke
with U.S. and Greek servicmembers. After flying training runs on the Greek
range, aircraft flew presence and combat air patrol overhead during the
President’s stay. Forrestal sailed to the south of Crete on the 19th, and at
about 1430 an A-6E Intruder from VA-176 crashed into the sea in international
waters while on a routine training mission, about two miles northwest of Avgo
Nisi. Both men ejected, and searchers rescued LT John W. Musaus the
bombardier/navigator, who recovered from his ordeal with left arm and leg
injuries at Naval Hospital, NS Rota. Forrestal, Yorktown, guided missile
frigate De Wert (FFG-45), Milwaukee (AOR-2) and Greek forces combed an area
of 1,600 square miles for almost two days, however, they could not recover
the pilot, LT Steven J. Cullen, nor any debris from the downed aircraft.
22 Jul 1991: Tomcats from VF-31 flew a TARPS flight over a trio of
Iraqi MiG-23 Floggers sheltering in their hardened bunkers at an airfield on
the southern end of Mosul.
7 Aug 1991: An S-3B Viking from VS-28 slid into the ship’s port
catwalk at about 1200 while taxing to Catapult No. 3 for a noon launch. One
of the men ejected into the water and a helo recovered him, while the other
three aircrew escaped from the aircraft onto the flight deck. Forrestal
reported that all four men recovered in “good condition.”
17 Sep 1991: Italian President Francesco Cossiga made an orientation
visit to Forrestal.
24 Sep 1991: Aircraft completed their last Provide Comfort missions.
2–15 Oct 1991: The ship participated in anti-air warfare, overland
dissimilar air combat training and low level training during Display
Determination ‘91. In addition, five aircraft–two Tomcats, two Hornets and a
Prowler–detached ashore to the Turkish airfield at Akhisar to fly opposition
missions. On the 6th, however, a Hornet, CDR Michael Groothousen, suffered a
malfunction which forced the commander to eject. Rescuers recovered him and
returned the pilot to the ship within 15 minutes.
19–27 Oct 1991: Six aircraft–two Tomcats and four Hornets–flew ashore
to Ramstein AB in Germany, where they pitted their skills against Air Force
General Dynamics F-16C Fighting Falcons in dissimilar air combat training.
Maintainers and their equipment left the ship on the 19th to set-up the
detachment, while aircraft flew off Forrestal two days later. USAF tankers
provided “outstanding” support refueling the aircraft during both legs, which
allowed the men to fly 2,000 nautical mile non-stop round trips. Meanwhile, a
Tomcat from VF-31 flew over Sollum Anchorage, on 22 October, where they
photographed Russian guided missile helicopter cruiser Moskva (CHG-108).
Forrestal kept close tabs on Moskva throughout the latter’s deployment,
monitoring the Russians as they sailed normally between Sollum and Tartus,
Syria. When VF-31 imaged the Russians on this date Moskva conducted
helicopter operations over the Gulf of Sollum, and pilots spotted five Kamov
Ka-25 Hormones on her deck, three spinning up and two parked with their
6–15 Nov 1991: The ship took part in two exercises with the French,
Harmonie Sud Est and Iles D’Or. British and Italian forces joined the carrier
for the second exercise. French RADM Bonet D’Oleon, commanding that nation’s
forces participating in the exercises, visited Forrestal on the 12th.
2–6 Dec 1991: Russian guided missile aircraft carrier Admiral Flota
Sovetskogo Soyuza Kuznetsov (CVG-113) sailed from the Black Sea via the
Dardanelles en route to her new homeport within their Banner Northern Fleet.
Nine aircraft–two Tomcats, two Hornets, three Vikings, one Prowler and a
Hawkeye–flew over 330 miles from Forrestal south of Marseilles to intercept
the elusive ship. Tomcats from VF-31 flew a TARPS mission 3,000 feet over the
carrier as they caught up to her in the western Mediterranean about 65 miles
north of Jijel, Algeria, at 37°40’N, 5°80’E, on the 6th. Although aircrew did
not spot Russian aircraft on the flight deck, their imagery provided analysts
extremely rare and detailed views of the new carrier and her weapons and
systems. Shortly thereafter America relieved Forrestal after the latter
sailed from the Mediterranean through the Strait of Gibraltar for home for
the last time.
23 Dec 1991: The ship arrived at Mayport in time for crewmembers
approved leave to join their families for the Christmas holidays. During the
days following, the ship’s marines stood down their security detachment and
departed from the ship after faithfully protecting her since commissioning.
Mid-1991–mid 1992: The crew made advanced preparations to change the
ship’s homeport to NAS Pensacola, Fla., and to transition from an operational
aircraft carrier to relieve auxiliary aircraft landing training ship
Lexington (AVT-16). In addition, the crew integrated over 300 female sailors
into the ship’s company for the first time, including 25 chiefs.
20–31 Aug 1992: Hurricane Andrew, the most destructive United States
hurricane recorded to date as it blasted its way across southern Florida on
24 August 1992, forced Forrestal to emergency sortie to avoid it.
14 Sep 1992: Forrestal arrived at Philadelphia to begin a 14-month,
$157 million complex overhaul and conversion prior to assuming duties as the
Navy’s new auxiliary aircraft landing training ship (AVT-59). Her final
Command History Report defined these missions as “to lead the Navy in
sea-going training strategies, emphasizing Naval Aviation, Surface Force and
Reserve training, and to provide an operational platform capable of executing
multi-mission tasking in support of national interests.” The crew made the
move with over 400 personal vehicles stored on board.
1 Feb–10 Sep 1993: When Forrestal received orders that the Navy
decided to decommission her (thus leaving the Fleet without a dedicated
training carrier), crewmembers and workers already removed thousands of feet
of redundant cable, removed the shafts to the shipyard, where workers
refurbished them in preparation for returning them to the carrier, and they
completed many machinery repairs in the main engineering spaces. The Navy
directed that crewmembers and workers should be ready to inactivate and
decommission the ship by the same day, 30 September, and they did so by the
22nd of that month (holding the actual ceremony at the beginning of the
month–see below). In addition, crewmembers assisted a number of other crews
with training during this period, including those of America and John F.
Kennedy. Sailors also transferred a great deal of equipment to other
commands, including sending the ship’s starboard and port anchors and chains
to Newport News Shipbuilding for use on board aircraft carrier John C.
Stennis (CVN-74), screws and propellers and fire mains to John F. Kennedy,
and the TV system to Enterprise, as well as donating their library to combat
stores ship USNS Concord (T-AFS-5) and Theodore Roosevelt. Nearly 1,700
crewmembers processed orders detailing them to other commands across the
globe, in many instances involving considerable hardship for families, and over
200 more opted to take the “early out” program and discharged. A crewmember
died in a service elevator accident in Building No. 620, adjacent to
Forrestal at the shipyard, on 28 February. Sailors and workers flooded
Drydock No. 5 at Philadelphia on 9 June, and six days later Forrestal shifted
berths over to Pier 6E. Throughout July crewmembers also spent over 200
man-hours helping to restore former light cruiser–second line Olympia
(IX-40), berthed nearby as a floating memorial at Penn’s Landing on the Delaware
River. Sailors made extensive hull and structural repairs to return the
cruiser’s watertight integrity, which suffered during the intervening years
following her removal from active service due to neglect generated by a lack
of funds. The volunteers also installed an operational announcing system on
board Olympia. The ship’s 50 state flag team and color guard participated in
the “Welcome America” picnic at Fort Mifflin on the Delaware on 3 July, and
then took part the next day in Philadelphia’s Independence Day parade. On the
29th the crew held their final on board memorial service for their fallen
shipmates from 1967 in Hanger Bay No. 1, during which a security-rifle squad
from the Security Department fired a 21-gun salute.
11 Sep 1993: Forrestal was decommissioned at Pier 6E, Philadelphia,
and she was stricken from the Naval Vessel Register the same day. VADM Henry
H. Mauz, Jr., Commander-in-Chief, Atlantic Fleet, was the principal speaker,
and VADM Less, Commander, Naval Air Forces Atlantic Fleet, administered the
decommissioning order to CAPT Robert L. “Bunky” Johnson, Jr., the commanding
officer. ADM Stanley R. Arthur, Vice Chief of Naval Operations, also
attended. The Navy presented the Meritorious Unit Commendation to the crew,
covering the period of 31 January through 14 September 1992. The citation
states in part: “Despite a manning reduction of more than 1,000 personnel,
two homeport changes, and the first-ever integration of more than 300 women
to the crew, the officers, men and women of Forrestal exercised tremendous
flexibility, resourcefulness and professionalism in meeting every operational
commitment.” During her service to the Republic the ship logged nearly
400,000 nautical miles and attained more than 376,500 arrested aircraft
landings. Secretary of Defense Leslie “Les” Aspin sent a letter to CAPT
Johnson and his crew, proudly noting that Forrestal earned her motto of
“First in Defense,” and that her heritage endures as a “bold ship ready to
sail in harm’s way in defense of American freedom.”
1993: The ship transited to Newport in Rhode Island to be on
"donation hold" as a museum and memorial.
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. Forrestal is now tied up at Pier 4 in Philadelphia, next to
USS John F. Kennedy (CV-67). It is expected Forrestal will remain there until
the Navy decides her final disposition, to be either sold as scrap, sunk as a
target, or scuttled as an artificial reef.
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), ex-Saratoga (CV60), and
ex-Constellation (CV 64). 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.
In October 2013, it was announced the Forrestal had been sold for a
penny and would be scrapped in Brownsville, Texas. She left the Philadelphia
Naval Yard via a team of tugboats on 4 February 2014.
Homeport assignments / Dates:
Norfolk, Virginia / October 1, 1955
Mayport, Florida / September 1977
Philadelphia Naval Shipyard, Pennsylvania / January 18, 1983
Mayport, Florida / May 23, 1985
Philadelphia Naval Shipyard, Pennsylvania / January 30, 1992
Commanding Officers / Date assumed command
CAPT Roy L. Johnson / 1 Oct 1955
CAPT William E. Ellis / 1 Jun 1956
CAPT Richard L. Kibbe / 4 Jul 1957
CAPT Allen M. Shinn / 25 Jul 1958
CAPT Samuel R. Brown, Jr. / 9 May 1959
CAPT Robert E. Riera / 28 Apr 1960
CAPT Donald M. White / 16 Jun 1961
CAPT Lawrence R. Geis / 4 Jun 1962
CAPT Dick H. Guinn / 4 May 1963
CAPT Michael J. Hanley, Jr. / 26 Mar 1964
CAPT Howard S. Moore / 27 Mar 1965
CAPT John K. Beling / 7 May 1966
CAPT Robert B. Baldwin / 18 Sep 1967
CAPT James W. Nance / 11 Dec 1968
CAPT Charles F. Demmler / 25 Nov 1969
CAPT Leonard A. Snead / 13 Nov 1970
CAPT Robert F. Schoultz / 23 Jun 1971
CAPT James B. Linder / 1 Nov 1972
CAPT James H. Scott / 10 May 1974
CAPT Joseph J. Barth, Jr. / 28 Aug 1975
CAPT Peter B. Booth / 26 Aug 1977
CAPT Edwin R. Kohn, Jr. / 21 Mar 1979
CAPT CE. Armstrong, Jr. / Aug 1980
CAPT Bobby C. Lee / Feb 1982
CAPT Daniel P. March / 30 Apr 1984
CAPT Timothy W. Wright / 10 Dec 1985
CAPT John A. Pieno, Jr. / 23 Jul 1987
CAPT Louis E. Thomassy, Jr. / 23 Feb 1989
CAPT Robert S. Cole / 2 Aug 1990
CAPT Robert L. Johnson, Jr. / 22 Jan 1992
Changes in armament and major systems (Weapons and radar/sonar
Sep 1961–13 Jan 1962, modifications: reduced
her arresting gear from six wires to four with sheave dampers; removals:
forward 5” gun mounts and sponsons; installations: jet engine test facility
on the fantail, SPS-43A long range air search radar on the starboard side of
the island, Van Zelm bridle arrestors and Fresnel lens landing system.
15 Apr 1966–23 Jan 1967, overhaul, installations: Naval Tactical Data System
(NTDS); new electronic repair shops; new arresting gear–which required
widening by 15 feet the final 120 feet of the angled flight deck due to the
longer run-out; and Integrated Operational Intelligence System (IOIS) to
operate with North American RA-5C Vigilantes for enhanced strategic and
19 Sep 1967–8 Apr 1968, post-fire repairs: Removed the remaining 5” guns and
replaced them with a NATO Sea Sparrow Basic Point Defense Missile System
16 Jul 1971–10 Apr 1972, overhaul, installations: Two new jet blast
deflectors to enable her to operate Grumman F-14A Tomcats; satellite
communications equipment; a new and bigger evaporator; and a new telephone
exchange; conversion: from black oil to Naval Distillate Fuel.
1 Oct 1976–24 Jun 1977, installation: BPDMS on the port quarter;
replacements: SPS-48 long range three-dimensional air search radar replaced
23 Jul–10 Dec 1982 post shakedown availability, installations
12 Jan 1983–20 May 1985, Service Life Extension Program (SLEP),
installations: New Mark 3, Mod 3 arresting gear engines and the accompanying
sheave system; Anti-Submarine Warfare Tactical Support Center; Mk-29 NATO Sea
Sparrow launchers replaced the outdated Mk-25 launchers; and extended No. 4
Catapult by 42-feet.
13 Sep–18 Dec 1985, post-shipyard availability and selected restricted
availability period, installations: Three Phalanx 20 mm close-in-weapons
systems (CIWS); Nixie anti-torpedo protection system.
1991–15 May 1992, dedicated selected restricted availability, installations:
Converted to accommodate night-configured F/A-18 Hornets and SH-60 Seahawks,
as well as marine CH-53D Sea Stallions and UH-1N Iroquois; and Tactical Flag
7 Mar 2007 planned incremental availability: 90 major modifications,
including the RIM-116A Rolling Airframe Missile [RAM] system – a lightweight
quick-reaction “fire-and-forget” missile designed to counter anti-ship
missiles attacking in waves or streams – modification to CIWS, a local area
network upgrade, alteration of the JP-5 fuel system and installation of a new
electronic throttle system in her propulsion plants.