FC FT GM GS (53-61) GS (78-Now) HM HT IC IM IT JO LI
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USS Kitty Hawk was named for the site of the Wright Brothers first powered flight in 1903. The second ship by this name, she was commissioned April 21, 1961. After a voyage around South America, the ship joined the Pacific Fleet. Her initial cruises were off the west coast and on to Japan in 1963 and 1964.

The last half of the 1960’s saw the ship in combat operations throughout Southeast Asia. She was given the Naval Unit Commendation for the dedication of her crew during her first Vietnam deployment. In 1973, she underwent an overhaul to make her a multi-purpose carrier.

The rest of the 1970’s saw Kitty Hawk deployed to the Western Pacific. On a single deployment in 1979-1980, the ship was sent to help rescue Vietnamese refugees, provide support after the assassination of the Korean president, and sent to the North Arabian Sea during the Iran hostage crisis.

Throughout the rest of her career, the ship continued operations around the Pacific and Middle East. She was involved with various actions in Iraq from the 1990’s onward. The ship was formally decommissioned on May 12, 2009. It remains in reserve until 2015 when the next carrier comes on line.

CV-63 Deployments - Major Events

Add a CV-63 Shellback Initiation Add a CV-63 Deployment - Major Event
Month Year to Month Year Deployment / Event
DEC 1956 Keel Date: 27 DEC 1956
at New York Naval Shipyard New York City
MAY 1960 Launch Date: 21 MAY 1960
JAN 1961 - OCT 1961 rounding the horn
FEB 1961 - FEB 1961 Builder\'s Trials 21-24 February 1961
APR 1961 - Shellback Initiation - 12 APR 1961 - Pacific Ocean
APR 1961 Commissioned: 29 APR 1961
MAY 1961 - Shellback Initiation - 21 MAY 1961 - Pacific Ocean
AUG 1961 - SEP 1961 Guantanamo Bay 14 AUG to 15 SEP 1961
SEP 1961 - Shellback Initiation - 12 SEP 1961 - Atlantic Ocean
SEP 1961 - Shellback Initiation - 12 SEP 1961 - Atlantic Ocean
SEP 1961 - Shellback Initiation - 15 SEP 1961 - Atlantic Ocean
SEP 1961 - Shellback Initiation - 22 SEP 1961 - Atlantic Ocean
SEP 1961 Shellback Initiation - 15 SEP 1961 - Atlantic Ocean
SEP 1961 - SEP 1961 Crossing The Line 22 September 1961 Atlantic Ocean
SEP 1961 - Shellback Initiation - 15 SEP 1961 - Atlantic Ocean
OCT 1961 - OCT 1961 Brotherhood of Horned Shellbacks
OCT 1961 - OCT 1961 Cape Horn
SEP 1962 - APR 1963 West Pac
SEP 1962 - NOV 1962 Cuban Crises Yokosuka Japan CV 63 first visit to Japan
OCT 1963 - JUN 1964 First carrier group deployed off of Vietnam April 1964
AUG 1964 - JUL 1965 Dry Dock
SEP 1965 - MAY 1966 West Pac
OCT 1965 - MAY 1966 West Pac-Viet Nam
OCT 1965 - JUN 1966 West Pac-Viet Nam
NOV 1966 - JUN 1967 West Pac-Viet Nam
JUN 1967 - JUN 1968 West Pac
DEC 1967 - JUN 1968 West Pac-Viet Nam
DEC 1968 - OCT 1969 West Pac-Viet Nam
DEC 1968 - SEP 1969 West Pac-Viet Nam
SEP 1969 - JUN 1970 Overhaul Bremerton WA
NOV 1970 - JUL 1971 West Pac-Viet Nam
NOV 1971 - FEB 1972 West Pac-Viet Nam
FEB 1972 - NOV 1972 West Pac-Viet Nam
APR 1972 - Shellback Initiation - 1 APR 1972 - Pacific Ocean
JAN 1973 - APR 1973 Dry Dock
NOV 1973 - JUL 1974 West Pac
MAR 1974 - Shellback Initiation - 18 MAR 1974 - Indian Ocean
JAN 1975 - MAR 1975 RIMPAC
MAY 1975 - DEC 1975 West Pac
MAR 1976 - APR 1977 Overhaul Bremerton WA
OCT 1977 - MAY 1978 West Pac
APR 1978 - Shellback Initiation - 5 APR 1978 - Pacific Ocean
APR 1978 - Shellback Initiation - 5 APR 1978 - Indian Ocean
MAY 1979 - FEB 1980 West Pac-Indian Ocean-Persian Gulf
MAY 1979 - FEB 1980 West Pac-Indian Ocean (Korean & Iran Hostage Crisis)
JAN 1980 - Shellback Initiation - 15 JAN 1980 - Indian Ocean
MAR 1980 - SEP 1980 West Pac-Indian Ocean-Persian Gulf
APR 1980 - Shellback Initiation - 5 APR 1980 - Indian Ocean
APR 1981 - NOV 1981 West Pac-Indian Ocean
JUL 1981 - Shellback Initiation - 2 JUL 1981 - Indian Ocean
JAN 1982 - FEB 1983 Overhaul - Bremerton
JAN 1984 - JUL 1984 West Pac
JUN 1984 - Shellback Initiation - 15 JUN 1984 - Indian Ocean
JUL 1985 - DEC 1985 West Pac
OCT 1985 - Shellback Initiation - 8 OCT 1985 - Indian Ocean
JAN 1987 - JUL 1987 World Cruise
APR 1987 - Shellback Initiation - 25 APR 1987 - Indian Ocean
JUL 1987 - AUG 1990 Overhaul Philadelphia Naval Shipyard
JUN 1991 - DEC 1991 South America
NOV 1991 - NOV 1991 Shellback Initiation - 2 November 1991
NOV 1991 - Shellback Initiation - 2 NOV 1991 - Atlantic Ocean
JUN 1992 - JUL 1992 RIMPAC
NOV 1992 - MAY 1993 Desert Shield
APR 1993 - Shellback Initiation - 1 APR 1993 - Indian Ocean
JUN 1994 - DEC 1994 West Pac
OCT 1996 - APR 1997 West Pac
NOV 1996 Shellback Initiation - 30 NOV 1996 - Pacific Ocean
NOV 1996 - Shellback Initiation - 30 NOV 1996 - Indian Ocean
MAR 1997 - Shellback Initiation - 29 MAR 1997 - Pacific Ocean
JUL 1999 - Shellback Initiation - 24 JUL 1999 - Indian Ocean
SEP 2001 - DEC 2001 Operation Enduring Freedom
MAY 2002 - Shellback Initiation - 14 MAY 2002 - Indian Ocean
JUN 2003 - JUL 2006 RIMPAC
JAN 2007 - JAN 2008 West Pac
MAY 2009 Decommissioned: 12 MAY 2009

CV-63 General Specifications

Class: Kitty Hawk-class aircraft carrier

Named for: Kitty Hawk

Complement: 5624 Officers and Enlisted

Displacement: 61351 tons

Length: 1 068.9 feet

Beam: 282 feet

Flank Speed: 33 knots


The second Kitty Hawk (CVA-63) was laid down by the New York Ship Building Corp. Camden N.J. 27 December 1956; and launched 21 May 1960 sponsored by Mrs. Neil H. McElroy; and commissioned 21 April 1961 at Philadelphia Naval Shipyard Captain William F. Bringle in command.

Following shakedown in the Western Atlantic Kitty Hawk departed Norfolk 11 August 1961. After a brief stop at Rio de Janeiro where she embarked the Secretary of the Brazilian Navy for a demonstration of exercise at sea with five Brazilian d estroyers the attack carrier rounded Cape Horn 1 October. She steamed into Valparaiso Bay 13 October and then sailed 2 days later for Peru arriving Callao 20 October where she entertained the President of Peru. At San Diego Admiral George W An derson Chief of Naval Operations landed on her deck 18 November to witness antisubmarine demonstrations by Henry B. Wilson (DDG-7) and Blueback (SS-581) a Terrier missile demonstration by Topeka (CLG-8) and air demonstra tions by Kitty Hawk.

Kitty Hawk entered San Francisco Naval Shipyard 23 November 1961 for alterations. Following operations out of San Diego she sailed from San Francisco 13 September 1962. Kitty Hawk joined the 7th Fleet 7 October 1962 relieving M idway (CVA-41) as flagship.

After participating in the Philippine Republic Aviation Week Air Show Kitty Hawk steamed out of Manila Harbor 30 November 1962 and welcomed Admiral H. D. Felt Commander in Chief Pacific Fleet for a demonstration of modern naval weapons 3 December. The ship visited Hong Bong early in December and returned to Japan arriving at Yokosuka 2 January 1963. During the following 2 months she visited Kobe Beppu and Iwakuni before returning to San Diego 2 April 1963.

On 6 June 1963 President Kennedy with top civilian and military leaders boarded Kitty Hawk to witness a carrier task force weapons demonstration off the California coast. Addressing the men of the task group from Kitty Hawk President Kennedy told them that as in the past control of the seas still means security peace and ultimate victory. He later wrote to President and Madam Chiang Kai-Shek who had witnessed a similar demonstration on board Constellation (CVA -64): "I hope you were impressed as I was on my visit to Kitty Hawk with the great force for peace or war which these mighty carriers and their accompanying escorts provide helping to preserve the freedom of distant nations in all parts of the world."

Following a series of strike exercises and tactics reaching along the California coast and off Hawaii Kitty Hawk again sailed for the Far East. While approaching Japan she learned an assassin had shot President Kennedy. Flags were a t half mast as she entered Sasebo Harbor 25 November 1963 the day of the President's funeral and as senior ship present she had the sad honor of firing memorial salutes. After cruising the South China Sea and ranging to the Philippines in readines s operations with the 7th Fleet she returned to San Diego 20 July 1964.

Kitty Hawk overhauled in Puget Sound Naval Shipyard then trained along the western seaboard. She sailed from San Diego 19 October 1965 for Hawaii thence to Subic Bay P.I. where she prepared for combat operations off the coast of Vietnam.

Kitty Hawk was awarded the Navy Unit Commendation for exceptionally meritorious service from 26 November 1965 to 14 May 1966 while participating in combat operations against the insurgent Communist guerrilla forces in the Republic of Vietnam. The valiant men of her Carrier Air Wing 11 flew over 10 000 sorties and delivered over 10 700 tons of ordnance against enemy forces. The officers and men of Kitty Hawk displayed undaunted spirit courage professionalism and dedication to mai ntain their ship as a fighting unit under the most ardent operating conditions to enable her pilots to destroy vital military targets in North Vietnam despite intense opposition and extremely adverse weather conditions.

Kitty Hawk returned to San Diego in June 1965 for overhaul and training until 4 November 1966 when she again deployed to serve the cause of freedom and national security in waters of Southeast Asia. Kitty Hawk arrived at Yokosuka Japa n 19 November to relieve Constellation as flagship for Rear Admiral David C. Richardson Commander Task Force 77. On 26 November Kitty Hawk departed Yokosuka for Yankee Station via Subic Bay and on 5 December aircraft from Kitty Hawk began their around-the-clock missions over North Vietnam. About this time Kitty Hawk--already accustomed to celebrities as guests--entertained a number of extremely prominent visitors: William Randolph Hearst Jr.; Bob Considi ne; Dr. Billy Graham; and John Steinbeck among others. She remained in the Far East supporting the fight for freedom in Southeast Asia until departing Subic Bay 28 May 1967. Steaming via Japan the carrier reached San Diego 19 June and a week late r entered the naval shipyard at Long Beach for maintenance. Kitty Hawk returned to San Diego 25 August and began a rigorous training program to prepare her for future action.

[Note: The above USS KITTY HAWK (CV-63) history may or may not contain text provided by crew members of the USS KITTY HAWK (CV-63) or by other non-crew members and text from the Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships]