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.
USS KITTY HAWK (CV-63)
The second Kitty Hawk (CVA-63) was laid down by the New York Ship Building Corp.
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
the attack carrier rounded Cape Horn 1 October. She steamed into Valparaiso Bay 13 October and then sailed
2 days later
arriving Callao 20 October where she entertained the President of Peru. At San Diego
Admiral George W
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
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
for a demonstration of modern naval weapons
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
and Iwakuni before returning to San Diego 2 April 1963.
On 6 June 1963
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
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
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
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
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]