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CV-67 John F. Kennedy Inactivation

The 1991 Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission recommended that the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard [PNSY] be closed but acknowledged that PNSY would perform the Service Life Extension Program for the USS Kennedy from September 1993 until mid-1996. Kennedy was not given the Service Life Extension Program upgrade that other carriers, such as Kitty Hawk and Constellation, received. The overhaul was canceled in 1991, and Congress subsequently appropriated about half of the estimated cost of the upgrade for Kennedy. The work on the USS Kennedy changed to a 24-month complex overhaul, which Congress required to be performed by PNSY. The Secretary of Defense concurred in this plan in September 1991. The Kennedy was hit hard when the $650 million, three-year overhaul aimed at completely refurbishing the carrier was nearly halved, and despite subsequent maintenance work, it never recovered.

The carrier's later maintenance problems started when this major overhaul that was cut short. The Philadelphia Naval Shipyard was shuttered as part of federal base closings of the 1990s and funds allocated for the scheduled 3-year job were cut in half. Crew members then assigned to the ship say low morale at the yard produced some shoddy work. KENNEDY completed a two-year comprehensive overhaul in the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard on September 13, 1995. Following the overhaul, KENNEDY moved to its new homeport at the Mayport Naval Staion in Mayport, Florida.

KENNEDY departed Mayport in April 1997 for its 15th deployment to the Mediterranean Sea, and returned home October 28, 1997 after six months of deployment in the Mediterranean Sea, the Adriatic Sea in support of Operation Deliberate Guard, and the Arabian Gulf supporting Operation Southern Watch. As the sole conventionally powered aircraft carrier in the Atlantic Fleet, JFK deployed with the most advanced command, control, communications, computers and information systems (C4I) in the Navy.

KENNEDY entered a three-month ship's restricted availability at Naval Station Mayport is February 1998 for many upgrades. In April 1998, after extensive repairs and maintenance, KENNEDY got underway for several at-sea periods for carrier qualifications, weapons onload and offload training, student pilot and general shipboard damage control training. KENNEDY also participated in the week long Fleet Week '98 activities, strengthening the Navy's relationship with New York City residents.

During 1999, there were more at-sea periods in preparation for KENNEDY's 16th deployment to the Mediterranean/Arabian Gulf. KENNEDY became the first carrier to combine both COMPTUEX and JTFEX during a six-week at-sea period. During this time, the ship also made a six-day port visit to St. Maarten. KENNEDY and the helicopters of embarked Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron ELEVEN rescued 8 crew members from the sinking ocean-going tug boat, GULF MAJESTY, and assisted in the medevac of another stricken sailor during Hurricane Floyd.

The Kennedy returned to the active fleet in October 2000.

In December 2001 the KENNEDY failed a pre-deployment readiness inspection, and the ship's captain, Capt. Maurice Joyce, was relieved of command. The ship was seriously degraded in her ability to conduct air operations, due to a shortfall estimated at $300 million in maintenance funds since 1995. Three of four aircraft elevators were out of commission, two of four catapults were degraded, and the overall flight deck firefighting capability was seriously degraded. These major system degradations were in addition to a significant number of deficiencies noted in the fueling system. The propulsion plant was evaluated to be extremely unreliable and determined to be routinely operated out of safe parameters and in non-standard configuration. Two shaft seals had unacceptable leakage rates. Topside corrosion, including the condition of the mast, superstructure and catwalks, was the worst observed in three years. The Kennedy was scheduled to depart for Puerto Rico in January 2002 for training, and departed for the Mediterranean on 20 February 2002.

The Kennedy was scheduled for major repairs and was unavailable for service for most of 2003. John F. Kennedy is on the verge of getting a long-overdue overhaul, after having long been short-changed on maintenance and modernization, beginning with an abortive mid-1990s overhaul and continuing when the ship was assigned to the cash-strapped Naval Reserve Force. Starting in January 2003 and for the following nine months, contract workers and the crew began the first half of what the Navy is calling a "split availability." Atlantic Fleet said it would spend $218 million in 2003 - about twice the amount originally programmed - to pay for this initial phase, to be conducted pierside in the ship's home port of Mayport, FL.

The USS John F. Kennedy returned from the MED 04 Deployment in December 2004.

The USS John F. Kennedy was scheduled to begin a complex overhaul (COH) maintenance period in fiscal year 2005, and funds for this COH were authorized and appropriated in fiscal year 2005 for this purpose. The Kennedy was scheduled to spend a year in the yards, including eight months in drydock at Norfolk Naval Shipyard, VA. The work was to add at least another decade to Kennedy's life and extend its service to around 45 years.

In testimony before the Committee on Armed Services in February 2005, the Chief of Naval Operations testified that when he first submitted the proposed Navy budget for fiscal year 2006, it included 12 aircraft carriers. The last two Quadrennial Defense Reviews, in 1997 and 2001, both supported a force structure of 12 aircraft carriers. The reduction to 11 aircraft carriers was made after the Office of Management and Budget directed a budget cut for the Department of Defense.

The Navy cancelled the fiscal year '05 Complex Overhaul (COH) for USS John F. Kennedy (CV 67) 01 April 2005. Resulting from this decision, the homeport shift from Mayport, Fla., to Norfolk, Va., did not occur. Kennedy's Complex Overhaul (COH) was estimated to take more than 15 months. Given the requirement to present a balanced program and under the current fiscal environment, Navy leadership felt the decision to cancel the COH would free resources for other priorities. The final decision on the ship's decommissioning and inactivation status was pending at that time.

Section 126 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2006 (Public Law 109-163) amended section 5062 of title 10, United States Code, to set a minimum carrier force structure of not less than 12 operational aircraft carriers.

The Department of Defense's legislative proposal for fiscal year 2007, included a section that would effectively allow retirement of the conventionally-powered aircraft carrier, USS John F. Kennedy, thereby reducing the carrier force structure from 12 to 11 ships. The Navy's decision to reduce the number of carriers was not based on mission requirements analysis; rather, the decision was based on fiscal constraints.

In February 2006, the Navy announced it was suspending air operations on the carrier because of problems with arresting gear motors, which could make it hazardous for pilots to take off and land. The motors are tied to the cables which Navy planes snag with a tail hook to land. Since that time, the Kennedy had been moored at Mayport except for the times it went to sea for basic seamanship drills.

The House Armed Services Committee believed the aircraft carrier force structure should be maintained at 12 ships in order to meet worldwide commitments. However, the committee would like to explore options for maintaining the USS John F. Kennedy in an operational status either within or outside the U.S. Navy, to include the possibility of transferring operational control to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Therefore, the committee directed the Secretary of Defense to submit a report to the congressional defense committees by March 1, 2007, that examines options for maintaining the USS John F. Kennedy in an operational status both within and outside the U.S. Navy. In examining the NATO option, the Secretary shall coordinate an assessment with the NATO Secretary General. The report shall include the cost and manning required, statutory restrictions that would preclude transfer of the USS John F. Kennedy to organizations or entities outside the U.S. Navy, and a classified annex on how the Navy would meet global operational requirements with an aircraft carrier force structure of less than 12 ships.

The Navy adjusted its ship decommissioning schedule, shedding some ships sooner than originally planned. According to an 08 September 2006 NavAdmin, the changes were made following a June 13 conference to review ship dispositions. The message said "Future changes to decommissioning dates may occur as a result of current Navy [and Defense Dept.] program/budget reviews and/or congressional action." The aircraft carrier John F. Kennedy did not appear on the decommissioning list, though it was on an October 2005 list. The Navy had recently decertified its flight deck due to the poor material condition of its catapults and arresting gear.

House and Senate conferees agreed to language in the 2007 defense authorization bill allowing for the reduction of the Navy's aircraft carrier force from 12 to 11. The Conference Report On H.r. 5122, John Warner National Defense Authorization Act For Fiscal Year 2007 -- (House of Representatives - September 29, 2006) included the following provisions:


(a) Reduction in Minimum Number of Operational Aircraft Carriers Required by Law.--Section 5062(b) of title 10, United States Code, is amended by striking ``12'' and inserting ``11''.

(b) Required Certification Before Retirement of U.S.S. John F. Kennedy.--The Secretary of the Navy may not retire the U.S.S. John F. Kennedy (CV-67) from operational status unless the Secretary of Defense first submits to the Committee on Armed Services of the Senate and the Committee on Armed Services of the House of Representatives the Secretary's certification that the Secretary has received--

(1) a formal notice from the Secretary of Homeland Security that the Department of Homeland Security does not desire to maintain and operate that vessel; and

(2) a formal notice from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization does not desire to maintain and operate that vessel.

(c) Conditions on Status of U.S.S. John F. Kennedy if Retired.--Upon the retirement from operational status of the U.S.S. John F. Kennedy (CV-67), the Secretary of the Navy--

(1) while the vessel is in the custody and control of the Navy, shall maintain that vessel in a state of preservation (including configuration control, dehumidification, cathodic protection, and maintenance of spares) that would allow for reactivation of that vessel in the event that the vessel was needed in response to a national emergency; and

(2) if the vessel is transferred from the custody and control of the Navy, shall require as a condition of such transfer that--

(A) if the President declares a national emergency pursuant to the National Emergencies Act (50 U.S.C. 1601 et seq.), the transferee shall, upon request of the Secretary of Defense, return the vessel to the United States; and

(B) in such a case (unless the transferee is otherwise notified by the Secretary), title to the vessel shall revert immediately to the United States.

The conferees agreed with the Navy's determination that the cost of maintaining 12 operational aircraft carriers by restoring the USS John F. Kennedy (CV-67) to a deployable, fully mission-capable status would significantly impact the Chief of Naval Operations' (CNO) plan to build a future naval force of 313 ships. The conferees also agree with the Navy's proposal to inactivate the USS John F. Kennedy (CV-67) in fiscal year 2007. However, the conferees believe that it is important to retain the ability to reactivate the USS John F. Kennedy (CV-67) in the event that 12 aircraft carriers are required in response to a national emergency.

The conferees expect, therefore, in conjunction with decommissioning the USS John F. Kennedy (CV-67), that the Secretary of Defense, in coordination with the Supreme Allied Commander, Europe and the Secretary of Homeland Security, will evaluate the feasibility of maintaining the aircraft carrier in an operational status by transferring custody and control to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization or the Department of Homeland Security. The Secretary shall provide notification of the findings to the Committees on Armed Services of the Senate and the House of Representatives prior to decommissioning the USS John F. Kennedy (CV-67).

The conferees further expected that, upon decommissioning from the U.S. Navy and completion of the ship's inactivation availability, the Navy will maintain CV-67 in a state of preservation (dehumidification, cathodic protection, and configuration control) pending determination of final disposition. In the event it is determined that CV-67 is to be retired from operational status, the Secretary of the Navy shall evaluate other alternatives for final disposition, to include maintenance in a reduced mobilization status, donation as a museum article, or striking from the naval vessel registry; and report the findings with the Secretary of the Navy's recommendation to the congressional defense committees not later than October 1, 2007. Under all circumstances, the Navy shall retain custody of CV-67 at least until commissioning of CVN-77. If the aircraft carrier is transferred from the custody and control of the Navy, the Secretary of the Navy shall require as a condition of such transfer that the transferee, upon request of the Secretary of Defense, return the vessel to the United States. In such a case, unless the transferee is otherwise notified by the Secretary of the Navy, the title to the vessel shall revert immediately to the United States.

The conferees agreed with the CNO statement in his letter dated August 14, 2006, to the Ranking Member of the Committee on Armed Services of the Senate, that ``Naval Station Mayport and the many resources of the Jacksonville area remain vitally important to Navy readiness,'' and support the CNO commitment ``to maintaining the infrastructure necessary to support the strategic dispersal of the Atlantic Fleet at this key east coast port.'' The conferees noted that the USS John F. Kennedy (CV-67) had served proudly in defense of freedom around the world, in times of peace and in war in the course of her 38 years of service. She has brought great honor to our Nation, to her namesake, and to the tens of thousands of sailors who ``stood the watch'' on her decks these many years. It is most fitting, therefore, that the Navy plan the decommissioning of the USS John F. Kennedy (CV-67) with ceremony befitting her distinguished history of service to our Nation.

The aircraft carrier USS John F. Kennedy (CV 67) was decommissioned in Mayport, Fla., 23 March 2007.

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Page last modified: 07-02-2016 19:41:58 ZULU