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U.S.S. FORRESTAL

(CV-59)

FIRST IN DEFENCE

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USS Forrestal, named for Secretary of the Navy James Forrestal, was the first ship of the new 56,000-ton aircraft carriers built during the 1950’s. After being built in Newport News, Virginia, the new ship was formally commissioned in October 1955. After her initial shakedown, she was took her first of many voyages to the Mediterranean in January of 1957.

For the next 8 years, she made several more voyages to the Mediterranean, with other cruises in the Atlantic and Caribbean. In June 1967, she went to the Pacific to aid with the Vietnam War effort. This cruise was cut short by a devastating fire on 29 July of that year. Despite the heroic efforts of the crew, 130 men lost their lives.

The repairs took several months. But by the middle of 1968, Forrestal was making her eighth Mediterranean voyage. That sea would be a common destination for her over the next twenty or so years. In 1975, she was reclassified CV-59. In the mid-1980’s, the ship underwent a massive modernization program.

During her lifetime, she participated in flood relief efforts, in confronting Libya, protecting Iraq’s Kurdish population, and she stood standby during the Kuwait war. After her deployment to Kuwait, the ship was re-designated as a training ship carrying a new hull number, ATV-59. The ship was hit by the Navy budget cuts and decommissioned in September 1993.

CV-59 Deployments - Major Events

Add a CV-59 Shellback Initiation Add a CV-59 Deployment - Major Event
Month Year to Month Year Deployment / Event
FEB1941-FEB1941Towed from Phila. Pa. to Brownsville Tx cut up for scrap 2014
JUL1952-Keel Date: 14 JUL 1952
at Newport News Shipbuilding & Drydock Co. Newport News VA
DEC1954-Launch Date: 11 DEC 1954
OCT1955-Commissioned: 1 OCT 1955
MAR1956-APR1956Guantanamo Bay
JUN1956-AUG1956Sea Trials
SEP1956-OCT1956Sea Trials
JAN1957-AUG1957Mediterranean
SEP1957-OCT1957North Atlantic
MAR1958-OCT1958med cruise 3/58
SEP1958-MAR1959Mediterranean
JAN1960-AUG1960Mediterranean
JAN1961-AUG1961Mediterranean
AUG1961-MAR1963Cuban Missle Blockade
AUG1962-MAR1963Mediterranean
MAY1963-OCT1963Cuban Missle Blockade
FEB1964-FEB1964Caribbean
AUG1964-APR1965Mediterranean
JAN1965-JAN1967Mediterranean
AUG1965-APR1966Mediterranean
JUN1967-Shellback Initiation - 19 JUN 1967 - Pacific Ocean
JUN1967-SEP1967USS FORRESTAL/FIRE AND EXPLOSIONS ON FLIGHT DECK/29-7-67.
JUL1967-DEC1968West Pac-Viet Nam
JUL1967-SEP1967West Pac-Viet Nam
JUL1967-Shellback Initiation - 1 JUL 1967 - Atlantic Ocean
JUL1968-APR1969Mediterranean
JAN1969-JAN1970Mediterranean-Indian Ocean-Persian Gulf
DEC1969-JUN1970Mediterranean
MAR1970-SEP1970Mediterranean
APR1970-SEP1970Mediterranean
JAN1971-JUL1971Mediterranean
AUG1972-SEP1973Fire in upper decks
AUG1972-SEP1973Mediterranean
SEP1972-JUL1973Mediterranean
MAR1974-SEP1974Mediterranean
MAR1975-OCT1975Mediterranean
JUL1976-JUL1976INR-OPSAIL July 3-6 1976
JAN1977-MAR1977Mediterranean
APR1978-OCT1978Mediterranean
NOV1979-MAY1980Mediterranean
MAR1980-SEP1981Blue Nose - Arctic Circle
DEC1980-SEP1981Blue Nose - Arctic Circle
JAN1981-JAN1981North Atlantic-Med-Indian Ocean
MAR1981-SEP1981Blue Nose - Arctic Circle
MAR1981-SEP1981Mediterranean-Indian Ocean
MAR1981-SEP1981Mediterranean - Blue Nose - Arctic Circle
MAR1981-SEP1981Mediterranean
MAR1981-SEP1981North Atlantic
MAY1981- Shellback Initiation - 15 MAY 1981 - Atlantic Ocean
MAY1981- Shellback Initiation - 15 MAY 1981 - Atlantic Ocean
MAY1981- Shellback Initiation - 15 MAY 1981 - Atlantic Ocean
MAY1981- Shellback Initiation - 15 MAY 1981 - Atlantic Ocean
JAN1982-NOV1982Mediterranean-Indian Ocean-Persian Gulf
JUN1982-NOV1982Mediterranean-Indian Ocean-Persian Gulf
JUN1982-NOV1982Mediterranean - Indian Ocean
AUG1982- Shellback Initiation - 15 AUG 1982 - Atlantic Ocean
AUG1982-NOV1982Mediterranean
AUG1985-AUG1989Blue Nose - Arctic Circle
JAN1986-SEP1987Mediterranean
JUN1986-NOV1986Mediterranean
SEP1987-OCT1987Blue Nose Artic Circle
APR1988-OCT1988Mediterranean-Indian Ocean-Persian Gulf
OCT1989-APR1990Mediterranean
JAN1991-DEC1991Desert Storm
JAN1991-JAN1992Desert Shield
MAY1991-DEC1991Desert Storm
MAY1991-DEC1991Mediterranean
MAY1991-DEC1991Mediterranean-Indian Ocean-Persian Gulf
MAY1991-DEC1991Desert Storm
JUN1991-DEC1991Mediterranean
OCT1992-SEP1993Regular Overhaul
SEP1993-Decommissioned: 11 SEP 1993

CV-59 General Specifications

Class: Forrestal-class aircraft carrier

Named for: James Forrestal

Complement: 552 Officers and 4988 Enlisted

Displacement: 59650 tons

Length: 990 feet

Beam: 129 feet 4 inches

Flank Speed: 33 knots

Final Disposition: To be sunk as an artificial reef



USS FORRESTAL (CV-59)



Forrestal (CVA-59) was launched 11 December 1954 by Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Co. Newport News Va.; sponsored by Mrs. James V Forrestal widow of Secretary Forrestal; and commissioned 1 October 1955 Captain R. L. Johnson i n command.


From her home port Norfolk Va. Forrestal spent the first year of her commissioned service in intensive training operations off the Virginia Capes and in the Caribbean. An important assignment was training aviators in the use of her advance d facilities a duty on which she often operated out of Mayport Fla. On 7 November 1956 she put to sea from Mayport to operate in the eastern Atlantic during the Suez Crisis ready to enter the Mediterranean should her great strength be necessary. She returned to Norfolk 12 December to prepare for her first deployment with the 6th Fleet in the Mediterranean for which she sailed 15 January 1957.


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 aboard and view the tremendous power for peace she represented. For military observers she sta ged underway demonstrations to illustrate her capacity to bring air power to and from the sea in military operations on any scale. She returned to Norfolk 22 July 1957 for exercises off the North Carolina coast in preparation for her first NATO Opera tion "Strikeback " in the North Sea. This deployment between 3 September and 22 October found her visiting Southampton England as well as drilling in the highly important task of coordinating United States naval power with that of other NATO nat ions.


The next year found Forrestal participating in a series of major fleet exercises as well as taking part in experimental flight operations. During the Lebanon Crisis of summer 1958 the great carrier was again called upon to operate in the ea stern Atlantic to back up naval operations in the Mediterranean. She sailed from Norfolk 11 July to embark an air group at Mayport 2 days later then patrolled the Atlantic until returning to Norfolk 17 July.


On her second tour of duty in the Mediterranean from 2 September 1958 to 12 March 1959 Forrestal again combined a program of training patrol and participation in major exercises with ceremonial hospitality and public visiting. Her guest list during this cruise was headed by Secretary of Defense N. H. McElroy. Returning to Norfolk she continued the never ending task of training new aviators constantly maintaining her readiness for instant reaction to any demand for her services bro ught on by international events. Visitors during the year included King Hussein of Jordan.


Forrestal again brought her imposing presence to the 6th Fleet between 28 January 1960 and 31 August visiting the ports usual to a Mediterranean deployment as well as Split Yugoslavia. Again she was open for visitors at many ports as well as taking part in the patrol and training schedule of the 6th Fleet. Upon her return to the United States she resumed her schedule of east coast and Caribbean operations for the remainder of the year.

[Note: The above USS FORRESTAL (CV-59) history may or may not contain text provided by crew members of the USS FORRESTAL (CV-59) or by other non-crew members and text from the Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships]