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Kitty Hawk - America's Oldest Active Warship - Turns 44

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS050504-07
Release Date: 5/4/2005 1:10:00 PM

By Culinary Specialist 3rd Class (SW) Diana Smiley, USS Kitty Hawk Public Affairs

YOKOSUKA, Japan (NNS) -- USS Kitty Hawk (the Battle Cat) (CV 63), the Navy’s oldest active ship and only forward-deployed aircraft carrier, celebrated its 44th birthday with a cake-cutting ceremony on its forward mess decks April 29.

Capt. Thomas Parker - Kitty Hawk’s 32nd commanding officer - and several Sailors took time out from a busy operational schedule to honor the warship.

"We take a few minutes to recognize this ship’s historic mark of 44 years, but the work must go on here in the forward deployed naval forces (FDNF),” Parker said.

For the oldest Sailor aboard Kitty Hawk, Storekeeper 1st Class (AW) Elton Truesdale, looking back at the ship's history made him reflect on his own career - past and future.

“I was here when Kitty Hawk turned 43 last year,” said Truesdale of the aircraft intermediate maintenance department, who was born nine years before the ship’s keel was laid. “I’ve seen a lot of ships, but Kitty Hawk has been around the longest. Kitty Hawk is a wonderful place to be stationed. This is my last tour as I will be retiring next year, and it was a pleasure and honor to serve on the oldest active warship.”

“I’m sure there are some people that didn’t expect Kitty Hawk to be around this long,” said Kitty Hawk’s Command Master Chief (AW) Cliff Yager. “But it has been a national asset that has served its country well, and continues to do so today.”

Despite the carrier’s age, Kitty Hawk is still battle ready, according to Parker.

“The dedication and support of Sailors from construction and commissioning to her current mark of 44 years of age is what makes Kitty Hawk the great ship she is today,” he said.

“Kitty Hawk is in superb condition, as has been proven time and time again by an ongoing series of successful inspections throughout the ship, and a proven track record, most recently here in the high operational tempo world of the FDNF,” Parker said. “We continue to be ready for any tasking.”

Kitty Hawk was commissioned April 29, 1961, at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard. With a total building cost of $265 million, it is the second U.S. Navy ship named after the town near which Orville and Wilbur Wright flew the first successful, powered aircraft Dec. 17, 1903.

Since then, Kitty Hawk has participated in combat operations in places such as Vietnam, the Persian Gulf, the Balkans, Afghanistan and most recently, the war in Iraq.

Kitty Hawk became America’s only permanently forward-deployed carrier in 1998, replacing USS Independence (CV 62), which was decommissioned that year.

Highlights from Kitty Hawk’s most recent year include the conventionally powered aircraft carrier’s participation with USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) in the Summer 2004 training exercise Joint Air and Sea Exercises (JASEX) 04. JASEX provided a way for the United States to demonstrate its commitment to peace and stability in the western Pacific Ocean in a joint training environment. The exercise was conducted in conjunction with Summer Pulse ’04, the Navy’s first test of the Fleet Response Plan.

The Kitty Hawk Strike Group is the largest aircraft carrier strike group in the Navy and is composed of the aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk, Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 5, the guided-missile cruisers USS Chancellorsville (CG 62) and USS Cowpens (CG 63), and Destroyer Squadron 15.


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