Military


John F. Kennedy Strike Group
John F. Kennedy Battle Group
CV 67 John F. Kennedy
"Big John"

The aircraft carrier USS John F. Kennedy (CV 67) was decommissioned in Mayport, Fla., March 23.

Kennedy's maiden voyage was to the Mediterranean in response to a deteriorating situation in the Middle East. Subsequently, she made another seven deployments to this area of the world during the '70s. By the mid-'70s, Kennedy was upgraded to handle the F-14 Tomcat and the S-3 Viking. Kennedy underwent her first, yearlong, major overhaul ending in 1979. The ship's ninth deployment, in 1981, marked her first trip to the Indian Ocean. Kennedy transited the Suez Canal, hosted the first visit aboard a United States ship by a Somali head of state, and achieved its 150,000th arrested landing.

In 1983, as a result of growing crisis in Beirut, Lebanon, Kennedy was called upon to support what would define the ship's operations into the next year.

Kennedy spent the winter of 1984 in drydock for a complex overhaul at Norfolk Naval Shipyard. In July 1986, Kennedy served as the centerpiece for a vast international naval armada during the International Naval Review in honor of the 100th Anniversary and Rededication of the Statue of Liberty. Kennedy departed for the Mediterranean Aug. 1986 and returned March 1987.

Kennedy departed Norfolk, Va. for her 12th major deployment to the Mediterranean in August 1988. On Jan. 4, 1989, embarked F-14 Tomcats shot down two Libyan MIG-23s that were approaching the battlegroup in a hostile manner. Following a variety of exercises in early 1990, Kennedy paid visits to New York for Fleet Week and Boston July 4. In August, with just four days notice, Kennedy deployed in support of Operation Desert Shield.

Kennedy entered the Red Sea in September 1990 and became the flagship of the Commander, Red Sea Battle Force. On Jan. 16, 1991, aircraft from the ship's Carrier Air Wing Three began Operation Desert Storm with attacks on Iraqi forces. The ship launched 114 strikes and 2,895 sorties, with aircrews of CVW-3 flying 11,263 combat hours and delivering more than 3.5 million pounds of ordnance in the conflict.

After the cease fire, Kennedy transited the Suez Canal for the fourth time in seven months and began its journey home. Kennedy arrived in its homeport of Norfolk on March 28, 1991, to the greatest homecoming celebration since World War II. Kennedy then entered a four-month restricted availability period at Norfolk Naval Shipyard. The ship departed the shipyard in September with extensive repairs and maintenance to engineering systems, flight deck systems and equipment. The ship was readied to handle F/A-18 Hornet aircraft to replace A-7E Corsair IIs that had flown on their last deployment from the deck of Kennedy.

The 1992-93 deployment, from Oct. 7, 1992, until April 7, 1993, marked Kennedy's 14th to the Mediterranean area. The tone of the deployment was set by turmoil in the former Republic of Yugoslavia. The ship conducted multiple exercises with the armed forces of Mediterranean littoral nations, hosted a great number of visitors in port and at sea, and spent substantial operating time in the Adriatic Sea. On Dec. 8, 1992, Kennedy passed a milestone by achieving its 250,000th aircraft trap. Upon her return from cruise, JFK celebrated her Silver Anniversary, then moved north for a two-year, comprehensive overhaul in the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard. The overhaul was completed Sept. 13, 1995, whereupon Kennedy moved to its new homeport at Mayport Naval Station in Florida.

After a brief maintenance period, Kennedy participated in Fleet Week '98 in New York City.

The John F. Kennedy Battle Group completed a successful operational evaluation of the Cooperative Engagement Capability (CEC) system from May 2000 to May 2001, and became the first battle group to deploy with the production version of this important system. The Cooperative Engagement Capability System (CEC) enables Kennedy's battle group ships and aircraft to share sensor data, at speeds never seen before, providing the entire battle group with a single integrated air picture. This revolutionary capability doesn't require additional radars or weapons but instead, shares information with existing systems.

CEC brings significant improvements in several areas:

  • Air contact tracking accuracy.
  • A more continuous track.
  • Maintains consistent air contact identification.

These pieces of information, collected and shared by assets throughout the battle group, increase the size of battle space protection. They enable the battle group to more accurately identify air contacts before they can threaten the battle group. With the shared information, every ship in the battle group is capable of seeing the same target many miles away. This could never happen using the ship's own organic sensors.

CEC extracts data from sensors aboard surface ships and aircraft throughout the battle group operating region and displays fire control quality data, within microseconds, to every asset in the battle group. Having a fire control quality track on a target as it approaches the battle group enables all ships to engage at their maximum intercept range, taking into account the performance characteristics of each of the missiles. CEC gives the battle group commander an umbrella to protect all the ships and aircraft in the battle group and extends that umbrella of protection well beyond the outermost sensors of the battle group.

Kennedy completed a series of tests including the successful completion of Operational Testing and Evaluation (OPEVAL) conducted May 2001. OPEVAL was the final exam prior to the introduction of a new system in the fleet. JFK Battle Group is ready to take this system on deployment and confident situational awareness across the entire area of operations will be significantly enhanced.

Ship's Seal

The ship's seal was designed by Kennedy's first Commanding Officer, Rear Adm. (Ret.) Earl P. Yates. The ship's seal is based on the coat of arms of the Kennedy and Fitzgerald families. These ancient symbols represent the stability that stems from tradition. Modern symbols have been incorporated to show the progress that stems from innovations. Both stability and progress were notable characteristics of the policies of President John F. Kennedy, and are essential to the continued accomplishment of our mission. The black shield with three gold helmets are the traditional coat of arms of the O'Kennedy of the Ormonde. The helmets represent the original Gaelic word from Kennedy, Ceinneide, which means, "helmeted head." The red and white borders are the colors of Fitzgerald of Desmond. Above the shield is the single helmet crowned with a wreath of the Kennedy colors: black and gold, flanked by the red and white mantel in Fitzgerald colors, symbolic of courage.

The crest of the coat of arms is a mailed forearm, holding a sheaf of arrows and framed by olive branches, symbolizing power and peace.

The bottlenose dolphins holding the banner at the bottom are traditional symbols of the sea and seaman. They represent our freedom to roam the seas, freedom essential to progress in the world community. Dolphins are friends of man, but deadly enemies of aggressors.

The shamrock-shaped banner symbolizes good luck, President Kennedy's Irish ancestry and our ties with Ireland. Written on the banner in Latin is the ship's motto, Date Nolite Rogare, which means "Give, be unwilling to ask." The phrase represents the spirit of President Kennedy's inaugural address and specifically the famous line: "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country..." The wings are symbols not only of Kennedy's air power, but also of progress and the freedom to roam the skies. Stars representing the 50 states surround the shield. A 51st star, the topmost in the seal, represents the high state of readiness sought by Kennedy. When Kennedy receives Navy "E" for efficiency, this top star will gold in color.



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