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CV 63 Kitty Hawk

These carriers are based on an improved Forrestal class design featuring improved elevator and flight deck arrangement. These ships are larger than those of the Forrestal class and have two elevators forward of the island structure and portside elevator on the stern quarter rather than at the forward end of the angled flight deck. The John F. Kennedy has a number of modifications not inherent to the Kitty Hawk class and is therefore referred to as its own class. Both Kitty Hawk (CV-63) and Constellation (CV-64) were modernized under the service life extension program (SLEP), which extends their projected service life fifteen years beyond their original thirty year service life. America (CV-66) was not upgraded and was decommissioned in 1996.

Kitty Hawk class carriers carried F-14, F/A-18, EA-6B, S-3 A/B, E-2CA aircraft and SH-60 helicopters, which give a multi-dimensional response to air, surface, and subsurface threats.

Each of the four catapults on Kitty Hawk class vessels is directly connected with one of the four main propulsion spaces. Each catapult has their own individual steam accumulator bottle, that needs to be between 510-530 PSI. One Main Machinery Room (1MMR) provides steam to the number one catapult; 2MMR provides for number three catapult; 3MMR provides for number four catapult, and 4MMR provides for number two cat. However, the catapults aren't exclusively powered by its coinciding MMR. If needed any of the spaces can supply one of the catapults by cross connecting lines to the desired holding tank. To cross connect, a series of valves need to be opened or closed, allowing the steam to take a different path.

Kitty Hawk CV-63

The offensive and defensive capability of KITTY HAWK is provided by the Weapons Department. Hawk has over 2,000 tons of ordnance on board, ranging from air- and surface-launched missiles to the state-of-the-art precision-guided weapons. Weapons storage is provided in 54 weapons magazines, accessed by 11 weapons elevators. For underway replenishment of the ship, along Kitty Hawk's starboard side are the primary receivers for fuel transferred from supply ships that steam alongside. Mail, weapons, food and people also can be transferred in that fashion. The Engineering Department serves as Kitty Hawk's utility company and public works center. The engineers provide fresh water, electricity, heating, air conditioning, interior communications and repair services -- all at no charge. The engineers also ensure all eight boilers are on-line, powering the ship's four propellers, four steam catapults and other ship's systems. A small "hospital at sea" is equipped with state-of-the-art medical equipment and a full staff of health care professionals. The 65 inpatient beds, ICU, pharmacy, X-ray, laboratory and operating and emergency room capabilities enable the Medical Department to effectively manage minor to major illnesses and injuries. When the ship is at general quarters, six battle dressing stations, or triage areas, provide on-the-scene medical care.

In January through July 1973, Kitty Hawk changed homeports from San Diego to Hunter's Point. Hawk moved into drydock January 14 of that year and work began to convert the ship from an attack (CVA) to a multi-mission carrier (CV). The "CV" designation indicated that Hawk was no longer strictly an attack carrier in that anti-submarine warfare would also become a major role. Hawk became the first Pacific Fleet carrier to carry the multi-purpose "CV" designation. The conversion consisted of adding 10 new helicopter calibrating stations, installing sonar/sonobuoy readout and analysis center and associated equipment, and changing a large portion of the ship's operating procedures. One of the major equipment/ space changes in the conversion was the addition of the Anti-Submarine Classification and Analysis Center (ASCAC) in the CIC area. ASCAC worked in close conjunction with the ASW aircraft assigned aboard within Carrier Air Wing ELEVEN. During the yard period, the Engineering Department underwent a major change in its propulsion plant. The Navy Standard Oil (black oil) fuel system was completely converted to Navy Distillate Fuel. The Air Department added several major changes to the flight deck, including enlarging the jet blast deflectors (JBD) and installing more powerful catapults in order to handle the new Grumman F-14 Tomcat, which Hawk was standing by to receive for its next deployment. Enlarging JBD#1meant the Number One Aircraft Elevator had to be redesigned, making Hawk the only carrier at the time having an aircraft elevator which tracked from the hangar deck to the flight deck angling out six degrees. Hawk moved out of drydock on April 28, 1973 and the next day, on her 12th birthday, was named a Multi-Purpose Aircraft Carrier (CV).

Kitty Hawk departed San Diego on March 8, 1976 and on March 12 entered drydock at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Bremerton, Wash, to commence a 100-million dollar complex overhaul scheduled to last 12 and a half months. This overhaul configured Hawk to operate with the F-14 and S-3A "Viking" aircraft in a total CV sea control mode. This included adding spaces for storage, ordnance handling and maintenance facilities for the two aircraft. Also included in the work package were more efficient work areas for air frames and a repair facility for ground support equipment and the addition of avionics support capability for the S-3. The ship also replaced the Terrier Surface-to-Air missile system with the NATO Seasparrow system, and added elevators and modified weapons magazines to provide an increased capability for handling and stowing the newer, larger air launched weapons. Hawk completed the overhaul in March 1977 and departed the shipyard April 1 of that year to return to San Diego.

KITTY HAWK underwent another overhaul in the Bremerton Naval Shipyard in 1982. The ship's most significant maintenance period, however, was a Service Life Extension Program (SLEP) in the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard beginning from 1987 through 1991. That rigorous four-year overhaul added an estimated 20 years to the planned 30-year life of the ship.

In preparation for taking over duties as the permanently forward-deployed carrier, Kitty Hawk (CV 63) returned to NAS North Island, CA, after completing a three-month overhaul at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, WA. The yard period included refurbishing the ship's four propellers and shafts, repainting the hull and replacing the rudders with reconditioned ones taken from the decommissioned aircraft carrier Ranger (CV 61). Over a three month period in early 1998, nearly 4,000 shipyard workers, Sailors and contractors completed $65 million in repairs (over 500 major jobs) in the Complex Overhaul of the dry-docked Kitty Hawk. All four of the Hawk's screws were repaired (number three was replaced), and all the line shaft bearings were replaced. Containments were built around the shafts to maintain temperature and humidity levels while complex fiberglass work was completed. For the rudders, large holes were cut through the decks, and the rudders and all associated systems were removed. Refurbished rudders were then removed from the decommissioned carrier USS Ranger while that ship was in the water, to be re-machined and installed on the Hawk.

Constellation CV-64

Built at the New York Naval shipyard as the second ship in the "Kitty Hawk" class of aircraft carriers, USS CONSTELLATION has 40 years of service, which have seen it sail from Yankee Station off the coast of Vietnam to the Gulf of Oman in the Indian Ocean. In February 1990, USS CONSTELLATION departed San Diego, returning to the East Coast for a three-year overhaul. The $800-million Service Life Extension Program (SLEP), completed in the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard in March 1993, added an estimated 15 years to the carrier's operational life. The overhaul saw upgrades to virtually every system on the ship, from the galleys to the engine rooms, and the flight deck to the anchors.

USS Constellation's Combat Systems Suite is one of the most advanced and capable in the fleet. SPS-48E three-dimensional fire control, TAS missile targeting and SPS-49 long-range air search radar systems operate together to allow the ship's Tactical Action Officer to accumulate and assess all hostile contacts. Enhanced by worldwide satellite communications and high frequency data links, information is available for anyplace, at any time. Other state-of-the-art systems, include the Aircraft Carrier Data system, Super High Frequency communications, Automatic Identification and Tracking, Joint Tactical Identification, and Positive Identification, Friend or Foe.

The Electronic Chart Display and Information System (ECDIS) can show charts of most of the world's waterways with the simple click of a button. It automatically plots the ship's position by Global Positioning Satellite and keeps a complete record, alleviating yet another time consuming job aboard ship. Available on less than half of the Navy' ships, ECDIS was installed aboard Constellation before its most recent Western Pacific deployment. Also new to the ship is the Flat Panel Display. Seven such displays, strategically placed around Constellation's Bridge and Auxiliary Conn, give the crew instant access to every piece of ship control data available on one notebook sized screen. The displays also make complex computations, such as what course and speed will create enough head wind to launch aircraft from the waistcatapults, automatically.

The integration of a Commercial Off-The-Shelf (COTS) computer system with the existing UNIX based system is the first step in a project that will ultimately provide a system which is easier to work with and maintain, and which will be substantially smaller and cheaper to operate. New software gives the Aerographer's Mates (AG's) the ability to detect holes in land-based radars and track overhead orbiting polar satellites and download their images. With the new computer, AG's can log onto the classified Internet and check the status of weather, download imagery from orbiting satellites, or "chat" with other Navy weather commands in real time. This new equipment is the prototype to a METOC system that's still on the drawing board - Tactical Environmental Support System Next Century (TESS NC). The Navy is currently using the TESS 3 version. With TESS NC, several Pentium processors in the OA Division office will be linked and provide the same functions as the current equipment, while generating a substantial savings of time and money.

USS Constellation's Intelligence Center (CVIC) augmented its intelligence capabilities with satellite communications and digital imagery technology. These new systems will allow the center to form a more complete and accurate picture of the battle space. The new satellite communication system Challenge Athena III (CA III) allows data to be transmitted and received at the rate of 1.54 megabytes per second, a near real-time connection with the rest of the battle group and other intelligence centers around the world. Digital imaging systems such as the Joint Services Imagery Processing System-Navy allow the battle group commander to plan and execute tactical Tomahawk Land Attack Missile (TLAM) strikes by receiving images over the CA III satellite. Other new imagery systems include a Vexcel Scanner and Digital Camera Receiving Station (DCRS). The DCRS, in combination with the F-14 Tactical Aircraft Reconnaissance Pod System (TARPS) allows CVIC to collect near real time digital images from an airborne F-14 aircraft. Finally, CVIC has installed secure video teleconferencing equipment which can use the CA III satellite. These new systems have made Constellation's CVIC a powerful, versatile intelligence gathering center able to operate independently in a variety of operational situations.

USS Constellation was slated for replacement by the new CVN-76 Ronald Reagan in 2003. In early April 2002 it was reported that the Navy was considering an option to extend the life of the Constellation beyond 2003. According to Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Vern Clark, the extension would require about $150 million in additional maintenance funds, and about $500 million for each additional year of operations. This would provide the Navy with 13 carriers when the Ronald Reagan, joined the fleet in the spring of 2003.

America CV-66

The third America (CV-66) was laid down on 01 January 1961 at Newport News, Va., by the Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Corp. This followed a decision that the next carrier built following the nuclear powered CVAN-65 Enterprise would be conventionally powered. In

January 1960, Admiral Arleigh Burke, Chief of Naval Operations, submitted a report on the attack aircraft carrier as part of his testimony during congressional hearings before the House Committee on Appropriations. According to that report:

"[Nuclear power] does not provide a dramatic new mode of operation for the carrier as it does for the submarine. It does provide a greatly increased endurance before refueling, and the capability for long periods of steaming at high speeds. However, because of the aircraft fuel requirement, the tight logistic bonds of hydrocarbon fuels for the carrier are not severed by the use of nuclear propulsion."

"For this reason, the military tactics for aircraft carriers are not altered nearly so drastically by nuclear power as are those for submarines . . . There are no misgivings about the existence of military advantages in a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier. These have been stated before, and are still true. In light of increasingly accurate knowledge of the additional cost, however, these military advantages simply do not compare well with the military potential in other needed areas which can be purchased for this money."

In regards to the cost of nuclear propulsion, Admiral Burke, who previously had advocated an all-nuclear surface fleet noted in 1960 that:

". . . budgetary considerations have forced us to review and weigh most carefully the inherent advantages of the nuclear-powered carrier against the additional cost involved in its construction. The nuclear-powered carrier would cost about $130 million [$743 million in 1997 dollars] more than an oil-fired carrier. We can build into the conventionally powered carrier all of the improvements that have gone into the nuclear-powered U.S.S. Enterprise (CVN-65). . . except that nuclear plant. . . The funds gained in building this CVA with a conventional rather than a nuclear power plant have been applied in this budget to the procurement of other badly needed ships, aircraft, and missiles for the Navy."

Even though the Navy still wanted nuclear propulsion, increasingly scarce resources necessitated a general belt tightening; the marginal costs of nuclear propulsion were not viewed as justifiable on the basis of the benefits derived, particularly when other needs had to be satisfied.

USS America CV-66, a slightly modified variant of the Constellation, was de-comissioned on 09 August 1996 after a surprisingly short active career spanning three decades, and was moved to the inactive reserve in the Naval Inactive Ship Maintenance Facility (NISMF), Philadelphia, PA. America returned from the last deployment 24 February 1996, where its squadrons flew 250 combat missions over the skies of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The ship and crew also distinguished themselves during Operation Desert Storm. America is the only carrier to have launched strikes against Iraqi targets from both sides of the Arabian Peninsula: Red Sea and Persian Gulf. The aircraft carrier was commissioned Jan. 23, 1965, at Norfolk Naval Shipyard. During its second deployment, America assisted with the rescue and medical treatment of crew members from the technical research ship USS Liberty (AGTR 5) after it was attacked by Israeli torpedo boats and jet fighters, June 8, 1967. America also completed three deployments off the coast of Vietnam, where it spent as many as 112 consecutive days on station.

The de-comissioning of USS America made room in the active fleet for the newly comissioned CVN-74 USS John C.Stennis. USS Kitty Hawk is slated for replacement by the as yet un-named CVN-77 in 2008.

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Page last modified: 07-07-2011 12:43:22 ZULU