USS Forrestal (CVA-59)

USS Forrestal (CVA-59)

Overview


The USS Forrestal (CV-59), formerly AVT-59 and CVA-59, is a supercarrier
Supercarrier
Supercarrier is an unofficial descriptive term for the largest type of aircraft carrier, usually displacing over 70,000 long tons.Supercarrier is an unofficial descriptive term for the largest type of aircraft carrier, usually displacing over 70,000 long tons.Supercarrier is an unofficial...

 that was named after former Secretary of the Navy James Forrestal
James Forrestal
James Vincent Forrestal was the last Cabinet-level United States Secretary of the Navy and the first United States Secretary of Defense....

 and was the lead ship
Lead ship
The lead ship or class leader is the first of a series or class of ships all constructed according to the same general design. The term is applicable military ships and larger civilian craft.-Overview:...

 of her class
Forrestal class aircraft carrier
The Forrestal-class aircraft carriers were a four-ship class designed and built for the United States Navy in the 1950s. It was the first class of so-called supercarriers, combining high tonnage, deck-edge elevators and an angled deck...

 of aircraft carrier
Aircraft carrier
An aircraft carrier is a warship designed with a primary mission of deploying and recovering aircraft, acting as a seagoing airbase. Aircraft carriers thus allow a naval force to project air power worldwide without having to depend on local bases for staging aircraft operations...

s. The other carriers of her class were the , and . She superseded Shinano
Japanese aircraft carrier Shinano
named after the ancient Shinano Province, was an aircraft carrier of the Imperial Japanese Navy during World War II. Initially laid down as the third of the battleships, Shinano′s partially complete hull was converted to an aircraft carrier in 1942, midway through construction. Over the next two...

 of World War II vintage as the largest aircraft carrier ever built by full load displacement and was the first to specifically support jet aircraft.
Discussion
Ask a question about 'USS Forrestal (CVA-59)'
Start a new discussion about 'USS Forrestal (CVA-59)'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Unanswered Questions
Encyclopedia


The USS Forrestal (CV-59), formerly AVT-59 and CVA-59, is a supercarrier
Supercarrier
Supercarrier is an unofficial descriptive term for the largest type of aircraft carrier, usually displacing over 70,000 long tons.Supercarrier is an unofficial descriptive term for the largest type of aircraft carrier, usually displacing over 70,000 long tons.Supercarrier is an unofficial...

 that was named after former Secretary of the Navy James Forrestal
James Forrestal
James Vincent Forrestal was the last Cabinet-level United States Secretary of the Navy and the first United States Secretary of Defense....

 and was the lead ship
Lead ship
The lead ship or class leader is the first of a series or class of ships all constructed according to the same general design. The term is applicable military ships and larger civilian craft.-Overview:...

 of her class
Forrestal class aircraft carrier
The Forrestal-class aircraft carriers were a four-ship class designed and built for the United States Navy in the 1950s. It was the first class of so-called supercarriers, combining high tonnage, deck-edge elevators and an angled deck...

 of aircraft carrier
Aircraft carrier
An aircraft carrier is a warship designed with a primary mission of deploying and recovering aircraft, acting as a seagoing airbase. Aircraft carriers thus allow a naval force to project air power worldwide without having to depend on local bases for staging aircraft operations...

s. The other carriers of her class were the , and . She superseded Shinano
Japanese aircraft carrier Shinano
named after the ancient Shinano Province, was an aircraft carrier of the Imperial Japanese Navy during World War II. Initially laid down as the third of the battleships, Shinano′s partially complete hull was converted to an aircraft carrier in 1942, midway through construction. Over the next two...

 of World War II vintage as the largest aircraft carrier ever built by full load displacement and was the first to specifically support jet aircraft. The ship was affectionately called "The FID", because James Forrestal
James Forrestal
James Vincent Forrestal was the last Cabinet-level United States Secretary of the Navy and the first United States Secretary of Defense....

 was the first ever Secretary of Defense, FID standing for "First In Defense". This is also the slogan on the ship's insignia and patch. She was also informally known in the fleet as the "Zippo
Zippo
A Zippo lighter is a refillable, metal lighter manufactured by Zippo Manufacturing Company of Bradford, Pennsylvania, U.S. Thousands of different styles and designs have been made in the seven decades since their introduction including military ones for specific regiments.-Establishment:George G...

" and "Forrest Fire" or "Firestal" because of a number of highly publicized fires on board, most notably a 1967 incident
1967 USS Forrestal fire
The 1967 USS Forrestal fire was a devastating fire and series of chain-reaction explosions on 29 July 1967 that killed 134 sailors and injured 161 on the aircraft carrier , after an unusual electrical anomaly discharged a Zuni rocket on the flight deck...

 in which 134 sailors died and 161 were injured.

Forrestal was launched
Ship naming and launching
The ceremonies involved in naming and launching naval ships are based in traditions thousands of years old.-Methods of launch:There are three principal methods of conveying a new ship from building site to water, only two of which are called "launching." The oldest, most familiar, and most widely...

 11 December 1954 by Newport News Shipbuilding
Northrop Grumman Newport News
Newport News Shipbuilding , originally Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Company , was the largest privately-owned shipyard in the United States prior to being purchased by Northrop Grumman in 2001...

 and Drydock Co., Newport News, Virginia
Newport News, Virginia
Newport News is an independent city located in the Hampton Roads metropolitan area of Virginia. It is at the southeastern end of the Virginia Peninsula, on the north shore of the James River extending southeast from Skiffe's Creek along many miles of waterfront to the river's mouth at Newport News...

, sponsored by Josephine Forrestal, widow of Secretary Forrestal; and commissioned
Ship commissioning
Ship commissioning is the act or ceremony of placing a ship in active service, and may be regarded as a particular application of the general concepts and practices of project commissioning. The term is most commonly applied to the placing of a warship in active duty with its country's military...

 1 October 1955, Captain R. L. Johnson in command.

Forrestal was the first American aircraft carrier to be constructed with an angled flight deck, steam catapult, and an optical landing system
Optical Landing System
An optical landing system is used to give glidepath information to pilots in the terminal phase of landing on an aircraft carrier...

, as opposed to having them installed after launching.

1956–1962


From her home port, Norfolk, Virginia
Norfolk, Virginia
Norfolk is an independent city in the Commonwealth of Virginia in the United States. With a population of 242,803 as of the 2010 Census, it is Virginia's second-largest city behind neighboring Virginia Beach....

, Forrestal spent the first year of service in intensive training operations off the Virginia Capes
Virginia Capes
The Virginia Capes are the two capes, Cape Charles to the north and Cape Henry to the south, that define the entrance to Chesapeake Bay on the eastern coast of North America....

 and in the Caribbean
Caribbean
The Caribbean is a crescent-shaped group of islands more than 2,000 miles long separating the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea, to the west and south, from the Atlantic Ocean, to the east and north...

. An important assignment was training aviators in the use of her advanced facilities. During this time she often operated out of Mayport, Florida
Naval Station Mayport
Naval Station Mayport is a major United States Navy base in Jacksonville, Florida. It contains a military airfield with one asphalt paved runway measuring 8,001 x 200 ft. ....

. On 7 November 1956, she put to sea from Mayport to operate in the eastern Atlantic
Atlantic Ocean
The Atlantic Ocean is the second-largest of the world's oceanic divisions. With a total area of about , it covers approximately 20% of the Earth's surface and about 26% of its water surface area...

 during the Suez Crisis
Suez Crisis
The Suez Crisis, also referred to as the Tripartite Aggression, Suez War was an offensive war fought by France, the United Kingdom, and Israel against Egypt beginning on 29 October 1956. Less than a day after Israel invaded Egypt, Britain and France issued a joint ultimatum to Egypt and Israel,...

, ready to enter the Mediterranean Sea
Mediterranean Sea
The Mediterranean Sea is a sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean surrounded by the Mediterranean region and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north by Anatolia and Europe, on the south by North Africa, and on the east by the Levant...

 should it 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 "show the flag" and take on board dignitaries and the general public. For military observers she staged 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
North Carolina
North Carolina is a state located in the southeastern United States. The state borders South Carolina and Georgia to the south, Tennessee to the west and Virginia to the north. North Carolina contains 100 counties. Its capital is Raleigh, and its largest city is Charlotte...

 coast in preparation for her first NATO operation, Operation Strikeback
Operation Strikeback
Operation Strikeback was a major naval exercise of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization that took place over a ten-day period in September 1957....

 in the North Sea
North Sea
In the southwest, beyond the Straits of Dover, the North Sea becomes the English Channel connecting to the Atlantic Ocean. In the east, it connects to the Baltic Sea via the Skagerrak and Kattegat, narrow straits that separate Denmark from Norway and Sweden respectively...

. This deployment, between 3 September and 22 October, found her visiting Southampton
Southampton
Southampton is the largest city in the county of Hampshire on the south coast of England, and is situated south-west of London and north-west of Portsmouth. Southampton is a major port and the closest city to the New Forest...

, England, as well as drilling in the highly important task of coordinating United States naval power with that of other NATO nations.

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
Lebanon crisis of 1958
The 1958 Lebanon crisis was a Lebanese political crisis caused by political and religious tensions in the country. It included a U.S. military intervention.-Background:...

 of summer 1958, the carrier was again called upon to operate in the eastern 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 United States Secretary of Defense
United States Secretary of Defense
The Secretary of Defense is the head and chief executive officer of the Department of Defense of the United States of America. This position corresponds to what is generally known as a Defense Minister in other countries...

 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 brought on by international events. Visitors during the year included King Hussein of Jordan
Hussein of Jordan
Hussein bin Talal was the third King of Jordan from the abdication of his father, King Talal, in 1952, until his death. Hussein's rule extended through the Cold War and four decades of Arab-Israeli conflict...

.

Forrestal again went to the 6th Fleet between 28 January 1960 and 31 August, visiting the ports typical of a Mediterranean deployment as well as Split
Split (city)
Split is a Mediterranean city on the eastern shores of the Adriatic Sea, centered around the ancient Roman Palace of the Emperor Diocletian and its wide port bay. With a population of 178,192 citizens, and a metropolitan area numbering up to 467,899, Split is by far the largest Dalmatian city and...

, then in Yugoslavia
Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia
The Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was the Yugoslav state that existed from the abolition of the Yugoslav monarchy until it was dissolved in 1992 amid the Yugoslav Wars. It was a socialist state and a federation made up of six socialist republics: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia,...

. 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.

Forrestal deployed to the Mediterranean again on 3 August 1962 to 2 March 1963 as flagship
Flagship
A flagship is a vessel used by the commanding officer of a group of naval ships, reflecting the custom of its commander, characteristically a flag officer, flying a distinguishing flag...

 for Commander Carrier Division Four (ComCarDiv 4).

1963–1967


Forrestal made history in November 1963 when on the 8th, 21st and 22nd, Lt. James H. Flatley III
James H. Flatley III
James H. Flatley III was a Rear Admiral in the United States Navy. A Naval Aviator, fighter pilot and test pilot, he is the son of Vice Admiral James H...

 and his crew members, Lt. Cmdr. "Smokey" Stovall and Aviation Machinist's Mate (Jets) 1st Class Ed Brennan, made 21 full-stop landings and takeoffs in a C-130 Hercules
C-130 Hercules
The Lockheed C-130 Hercules is a four-engine turboprop military transport aircraft designed and built originally by Lockheed, now Lockheed Martin. Capable of using unprepared runways for takeoffs and landings, the C-130 was originally designed as a troop, medical evacuation, and cargo transport...

 aboard the ship. The tests were conducted 500 miles (900 km) out in the North Atlantic off the coast of Massachusetts
Massachusetts
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America. It is bordered by Rhode Island and Connecticut to the south, New York to the west, and Vermont and New Hampshire to the north; at its east lies the Atlantic Ocean. As of the 2010...

. In so doing, Forrestal and the C-130 set a record for the largest and heaviest airplane landing on a Navy aircraft carrier. The Navy was trying to determine whether the big Hercules could serve as a "Super-COD", or "Carrier Onboard Delivery
Carrier onboard delivery
Carrier Onboard Delivery is a military term used to describe type of aircraft which are able to ferry personnel, mail, and high-priority cargo on and off a naval ship .-History:...

" aircraft. The problem was there was no aircraft which could replenish a carrier in mid-ocean. The Hercules was stable and reliable, and had a long cruising range and high payload.

The tests were more than successful. At 85,000 pounds (38.6 t), the KC-130F came to a complete stop within 267 feet (81 m), and at the maximum load, the plane used only 745 feet (227 m) for take-off. The Navy concluded that with the C-130 Hercules, it would be possible to lift 25,000 pounds (11 t) of cargo 2,500 statute miles (4,000 km) and land it on a carrier. However, the idea was considered too risky for routine COD operations. The aircraft was also too large to fit on the carrier's elevators or in its hangars, severely hampering operations. The C-2 Greyhound program was developed and the first of these planes became operational in 1965. For his effort, the Navy awarded Lt. Flatley the Distinguished Flying Cross. The Hercules used, BuNo 149798, was retired to the National Museum of Naval Aviation
National Museum of Naval Aviation
The National Museum of Naval Aviation is a military and aerospace museum located at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida. The museum opened in 1962....

 at NAS Pensacola, Florida, in May, 2003.

In 1964, in what was known as Operation Brother Sam, US president Lyndon B. Johnson
Lyndon B. Johnson
Lyndon Baines Johnson , often referred to as LBJ, was the 36th President of the United States after his service as the 37th Vice President of the United States...

 sent the Forrestal to support a military Coup d'état
Coup d'état
A coup d'état state, literally: strike/blow of state)—also known as a coup, putsch, and overthrow—is the sudden, extrajudicial deposition of a government, usually by a small group of the existing state establishment—typically the military—to replace the deposed government with another body; either...

 on Brazilian democratically elected progressive president João Goulart
João Goulart
João Belchior Marques Goulart was a Brazilian politician and the 24th President of Brazil until a military coup d'état deposed him on April 1, 1964. He is considered to have been the last left-wing President of the country until Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva took office in 2003.-Name:João Goulart is...

. The USS Forrestal was sent to Rio de Janeiro
Rio de Janeiro
Rio de Janeiro , commonly referred to simply as Rio, is the capital city of the State of Rio de Janeiro, the second largest city of Brazil, and the third largest metropolitan area and agglomeration in South America, boasting approximately 6.3 million people within the city proper, making it the 6th...

 waters with orders to support the Brazilian coupists under the guise of a military exercise. The coup was successful and Brazilian loyalist troops and leaders gave up resisting the coup due to the likelihood of civil war bloodshed due to the presence of American superior military support for the coupists. The coup led to a twenty year lasting military dictatorship in Brazil.

1967 fire




In July 1967, Forrestal departed Norfolk for duty in waters off Vietnam
Vietnam
Vietnam – sometimes spelled Viet Nam , officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam – is the easternmost country on the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia. It is bordered by China to the north, Laos to the northwest, Cambodia to the southwest, and the South China Sea –...

. In the Gulf of Tonkin
Gulf of Tonkin
The Gulf of Tonkin is an arm of the South China Sea, lying off the coast of northeastern Vietnam.-Etymology:The name Tonkin, written "東京" in Hán tự and Đông Kinh in romanised Vietnamese, means "Eastern Capital", and is the former toponym for Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam...

 on 29 July, Forrestal had been launching aircraft from her flight deck. For four days, the planes of Attack Carrier Air Wing 17 flew about 150 missions against targets in North Vietnam
North Vietnam
The Democratic Republic of Vietnam , was a communist state that ruled the northern half of Vietnam from 1954 until 1976 following the Geneva Conference and laid claim to all of Vietnam from 1945 to 1954 during the First Indochina War, during which they controlled pockets of territory throughout...

 from the ship. On 29 July 1967, during preparation for another strike, a Zuni rocket
Zuni (rocket)
The Zuni is a unguided rocket deployed by the United States armed forces. The rocket was developed for both air-to-air and air-to-ground operations. It can be used to carry various types of warheads, including chaff for countermeasures. It is usually fired from the LAU-10 rocket pod holding four...

 installed on an F-4 Phantom, misfired, impacting an armed A-4 Skyhawk, side #405, parked on the port side (U.S. Navy Judge Advocate General Investigation Report of USS FORRESTAL Incident). The rocket's impact dislodged and ruptured the Skyhawk's 400-gallon external fuel tank. Fuel from the leaking tank caught fire, creating a serious conflagration
Conflagration
A conflagration or a blaze is an uncontrolled burning that threatens human life, health, or property. A conflagration can be accidentally begun, naturally caused , or intentionally created . Arson can be accomplished for the purpose of sabotage or diversion, and also can be the consequence of...

 that burned for hours, killing 134, injuring 161, destroying 21 aircraft and costing the Navy US$72 million.

1968–1975


Forrestal was deployed to Mediterranean waters four times between 1968 and 1973. She also sped to Tunisia
Tunisia
Tunisia , officially the Tunisian RepublicThe long name of Tunisia in other languages used in the country is: , is the northernmost country in Africa. It is a Maghreb country and is bordered by Algeria to the west, Libya to the southeast, and the Mediterranean Sea to the north and east. Its area...

 for rescue operations in the flooded Medjerda River
Medjerda River
The Mejerda River is a river in Algeria and Tunisia. With a length of 450 km it is the longest river of Tunisia. It originates in northeastern Algeria and then flows eastwards to Tunisia, then entering the Gulf of Utica of the Mediterranean Sea...

 Valley near Tunis
Tunis
Tunis is the capital of both the Tunisian Republic and the Tunis Governorate. It is Tunisia's largest city, with a population of 728,453 as of 2004; the greater metropolitan area holds some 2,412,500 inhabitants....

.

The ship logged three more Mediterranean deployments between 1973 and 1975. On 22 July 1974, as a result of ongoing conflict
Cypriot intercommunal violence
Cypriot intercommunal violence refers to periods of sectarian conflict between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots on the island of Cyprus from 1963 to 1974.-Background:...

 between Turkish
Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

 and Greek Cypriot forces on Cyprus
Cyprus
Cyprus , officially the Republic of Cyprus , is a Eurasian island country, member of the European Union, in the Eastern Mediterranean, east of Greece, south of Turkey, west of Syria and north of Egypt. It is the third largest island in the Mediterranean Sea.The earliest known human activity on the...

, the U.S. Ambassador to Cyprus Roger Davies
Roger Davies
Roger Davies may refer to:* Roger Davies , Australian-born manager in the music industry* Roger Davies , fictional character in the Harry Potter book series...

 requested the evacuation of U.S. citizens from that island nation. In a joint Navy-Marine Corps effort, HMM-162 from the 6th Fleet amphibious assault ship
Amphibious assault ship
An amphibious assault ship is a type of amphibious warfare ship employed to land and support ground forces on enemy territory by an amphibious assault...

  evacuated 466 people, 384 of them U.S. citizens, in only five hours. Forrestal provided air cover for that operation.

In October 1968, a routine night launch of an E-2A
E-2 Hawkeye
The Grumman E-2 Hawkeye is an American all-weather, aircraft carrier-capable tactical airborne early warning aircraft. This twin-turboprop aircraft was designed and developed during the late 1950s and early 1960s by the Grumman Aircraft Company for the United States Navy as a replacement for the...

 from VAW-123
VAW-123
Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron 123 also known as the World Famous "Screwtops" is a United States Navy Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron based at Naval Air Station Norfolk, Virginia. The "Screwtops" are an operational fleet squadron flying the E-2C Hawkeye...

 led the way for all launches aboard Forrestal. The crew members were LCDR Paul Martin Wright (Operations Officer), LCDR James Leo Delaney (Maintenance Officer), LTJG Howard Booth Rutledge (Personnel Officer), LTJG Frank J. Frederick (Asst. Maintenance Officer), and AT1 David E. Carpenter (Avionics Dept). The flight was routine. All aircraft recovered as usual until the VAW-123 E-2A, which was the last plane to recover. The aircraft boltered
Bolter (aviation)
In naval aviation, a bolter is when an aircraft attempting to land on the flight deck of an aircraft carrier touches down, but fails to catch an arrestor cable and come to a stop...

 and went off the angled deck and into the water, nose first. When it hit the water, the aircraft flipped over onto its back, breaking its radar dome off and sank within minutes. The dome floated and was recovered. Immediately, helicopters moved into the area for search and rescue operations. AT1 David E. Carpenter and LTJG Frank J. Frederick were rescued without serious injury. Lost at sea were LCDR Wright, LCDR Delaney, and LTJG Rutledge.

On 10 July 1972, while moored at Pier 12, Norfolk, the Forrestal was once again the scene of a catastrophic fire in an O-3 level computer room (just under the flight deck) which was set by a crewmember. A hole was cut in the flight deck in order to reach the fire from above and hundreds of gallons of water were pumped into the space. This ruined all of the computer equipment and the ship took on an exaggerated list, prompting concern that she might capsize. The ship returned to the yards at Portsmouth
Portsmouth Naval Shipyard
The Portsmouth Naval Shipyard , often called the Portsmouth Navy Yard, is a United States Navy shipyard located in Kittery on the southern boundary of Maine near the city of Portsmouth, New Hampshire. It is used for remodeling and repairing the Navy's ships...

 and three months later was at last able to relieve the , which had to serve an extended Mediterranean deployment while the Forrestal was being repaired. Electrician's Mate
Electrician's Mate
Electrician's Mate is a United States Navy and United States Coast Guard occupational rating.Electrician's Mates stand watch on generators, switchboards, control equipment and electrical equipment; operate and perform organizational and intermediate maintenance on power and lighting circuits,...

 Robert Horan, who was aboard at the time, recalls in a memoir "[The fire did] over seven million dollars in damage. The news videos...show[ed] the flight deck glowing red. We went back to Portsmouth for repairs and I believe we got most of the CIC and electronics equipment that was supposed to go on board the , then under construction."

1975–1980



On 30 June 1975, Forrestal was reclassified a "Multi-purpose Aircraft Carrier", CV-59. Also in 1975 Forrestal was selected to be host ship for the International Naval Review in New York City on the nation's Bicentennial
United States Bicentennial
The United States Bicentennial was a series of celebrations and observances during the mid-1970s that paid tribute to the historical events leading up to the creation of the United States as an independent republic...

. On 4 July 1976, on Forrestals flight deck, President Gerald Ford
Gerald Ford
Gerald Rudolph "Jerry" Ford, Jr. was the 38th President of the United States, serving from 1974 to 1977, and the 40th Vice President of the United States serving from 1973 to 1974...

 rang in the Bicentennial and reviewed over 40 tall ship
Tall ship
A tall ship is a large, traditionally-rigged sailing vessel. Popular modern tall ship rigs include topsail schooners, brigantines, brigs and barques. "Tall Ship" can also be defined more specifically by an organization, such as for a race or festival....

s from countries around the world.

Shortly after the review, Forrestal participated in a special shock test. It involved the detonation of high explosives near the hull to determine if a capital ship could withstand the strain of close quarter combat and still remain operational.

In September 1977, following a nine month overhaul, Forrestal departed Norfolk and shifted her homeport to Mayport. The carrier left Mayport on Friday, 13 January 1978 for a three-week at-sea period in the Atlantic Fleet Weapons Training Facility (AFWTF) of the Roosevelt Roads Operating Area to complete the third phase of Type Commander's Training (TYT-3), and to undergo the Operational Readiness Evaluation (ORE). Tragedy struck Forrestal on the evening of 15 January as an A-7 Corsair II
A-7 Corsair II
The Ling-Temco-Vought A-7 Corsair II is a carrier-based subsonic light attack aircraft introduced to replace the United States Navy's Douglas A-4 Skyhawk, initially entering service during the Vietnam War...

 from VA-81 crashed on the flight deck, killing two deck crewmen and injuring 10 others. The pilot was operating without communication gear due to an onboard malfunction, and as he was making his approach, he saw that the "ball" was lit, a signal that indicates it is permissible to land. The pilot ejected safely after seeing that the deck was covered with parked and moving aircraft, by which time it was impossible to pull up. He was recovered, suffering only minor injuries. The plane crashed as the pilot attempted to land while the aft portion of the flight deck was crowded with aircraft and when a plane was being "respotted" (moved) to another portion of the ship's deck. The Corsair struck a parked A-7 and an EA-6B
EA-6 Prowler
The Northrop Grumman EA-6B Prowler is a twin-engine, mid-wing electronic warfare aircraft modified from the basic A-6 Intruder airframe. The EA-6B has been in service with the U.S...

 before careening across the deck in a ball of flames. A small fire on the aft portion of the deck, caused by fuel spilled during the crash, was extinguished within seconds. At the time of the accident Forrestal was operating about 49 miles (90 km) off St. Augustine, Florida
St. Augustine, Florida
St. Augustine is a city in the northeast section of Florida and the county seat of St. Johns County, Florida, United States. Founded in 1565 by Spanish explorer and admiral Pedro Menéndez de Avilés, it is the oldest continuously occupied European-established city and port in the continental United...

. A memorial service for the dead was held on board on 19 January. The ship returned to Mayport 3 February.

Forrestal left Mayport for the Mediterranean on 4 April 1978. At 22:00 on 8 April, just minutes after the ship had finished a general quarters drill, the crew was called to G.Q. again, but this time it was not a drill; a fire had broken out in the Number Three Main Machinery Room. Freshly painted lagging in Three Main engine room had been set smoldering by hot steam lines. Watch-standers within the space activated an extinguishing system and had the fire out within seconds.

Three days later the crew again was called to respond to another emergency G.Q. At midnight on 11 April, fire was discovered in a catapult steam trunk in the forward part of the ship at about the 01 level, and another fire was found in an adjoining storeroom minutes later. The at-sea fire brigade, working with area repair lockers, had the fires out within the hour.

On 10 May 1978, flooding which began in a pump room in the aft portion of the ship rose to a height of 20 feet (6.1 m) before it was controlled and spread into food storage rooms, destroying most of the ship's stocks of fresh milk and produce. Divers from the ship's Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) team dropped into the pump room to plug the leak. Total damage from the flooding was estimated at $30,000.

From 19 May to 29 May 1978, Forrestal participated in Operation Dawn Patrol, the first of three NATO exercises the ship would be involved in during the deployment. Dawn Patrol involved air and ground forces and over 80 ships from six NATO countries. Forrestals role during the exercise included protecting a Turkish amphibious task group and working with and the French carrier Foch to defend against simulated "enemy" ships and aircraft.

During this sea period two separate air crashes on successive days left one pilot dead and another injured. On 24 June 1978, LCDR T. P. Anderson, Operations Officer for Carrier Air Wing Seventeen, was killed when his A-7E Corsair II crashed into the sea during a practice bombing mission. On 25 June a pilot from VA-83, also flying an A-7E, ejected shortly after takeoff, suffering minor injuries. A rescue crew aboard an SH-3D Sea King
H-3 Sea King
The Sikorsky SH-3 Sea King is a twin-engined anti-submarine warfare helicopter. It served with the United States Navy and other forces, and continues to serve in many countries around the world. The Sea King has been built under license in Italy and Japan, and in the United Kingdom as the...

 helicopter from HS-3 recovered the pilot and returned to the ship within eight minutes after the crash. Both accidents occurred as the ship was operating in the Ionian Sea
Ionian Sea
The Ionian Sea , is an arm of the Mediterranean Sea, south of the Adriatic Sea. It is bounded by southern Italy including Calabria, Sicily and the Salento peninsula to the west, southern Albania to the north, and a large number of Greek islands, including Corfu, Zante, Kephalonia, Ithaka, and...

, east of Sicily
Sicily
Sicily is a region of Italy, and is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea. Along with the surrounding minor islands, it constitutes an autonomous region of Italy, the Regione Autonoma Siciliana Sicily has a rich and unique culture, especially with regard to the arts, music, literature,...

.

From 4 September to 19 September 1978, Forrestal participated in the massive NATO exercise Northern Wedding
Northern Wedding
Northern Wedding was a NATO Cold War naval military exercise conducted every four years, designed to test NATO's ability to rearm and resupply Europe during times of war.-Exercises:...

, which included over 40,000 men, 22 submarines, and 800 rotary and fixed-wing aircraft from nine NATO countries. Northern Wedding, which took place every four years, practiced NATO's ability to reinforce and resupply Europe in times of tension or war. During the exercise Forrestal and the British aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal
HMS Ark Royal (R09)
HMS Ark Royal was an Audacious-class aircraft carrier of the Royal Navy and, when she was decommissioned in 1978, was the Royal Navy's last remaining conventional catapult and arrested-landing aircraft carrier...

 headed separate task groups, steaming in a two-carrier formation to gain sea control and deploying their aircraft in support of mock amphibious landings in the Shetland Islands
Shetland Islands
Shetland is a subarctic archipelago of Scotland that lies north and east of mainland Great Britain. The islands lie some to the northeast of Orkney and southeast of the Faroe Islands and form part of the division between the Atlantic Ocean to the west and the North Sea to the east. The total...

 and Jutland
Jutland
Jutland , historically also called Cimbria, is the name of the peninsula that juts out in Northern Europe toward the rest of Scandinavia, forming the mainland part of Denmark. It has the North Sea to its west, Kattegat and Skagerrak to its north, the Baltic Sea to its east, and the Danish–German...

, Denmark.

From 28 September to 10 October, Forrestal participated in Display Determination, the third and final NATO exercise of the deployment. The operation, involving ships, aircraft, and personnel from eight NATO countries, was designed to practice rapid reinforcement and resupply of the southern European region in times of tension or war. Forrestal arrived in Rota, Spain, on 11 October for the last overseas port stop of the deployment.

On 13 October 1978, the ship put to sea to conduct a one-day exercise with a task group of deploying U.S. ships headed by the aircraft carrier . Air Wing Seventeen's planes conducted mock attacks on the task group to allow the ships to practice anti-air warfare. Forrestal returned to Rota late in the evening on the 13th.

Before dawn on 15 October, Forrestal departed Rota and outchopped from the Sixth Fleet, having been relieved by Saratoga. On the homeward transit, Forrestal took an extreme northerly course as part of a special operation code-named Windbreak. Commander Second Fleet, Vice Adm. Wesley L. McDonald
Wesley L. McDonald
Wesley L. McDonald was a United States Navy four-star admiral and naval aviator. He led the first air strike against North Vietnam after the Gulf of Tonkin incident and was the commander in charge of Operation Urgent Fury, the invasion of Grenada to rescue U.S. citizens...

, embarked in Forrestal for the exercise. Windbreak was designed to introduce U.S. sailors and equipment to relatively unfamiliar waters and conditions, and to gauge Soviet
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 interest in U.S. ships in transit to and from the Mediterranean. During the exercise, Forrestal traveled as far north as 62 degrees latitude, 150 miles (280 km) south of Iceland
Iceland
Iceland , described as the Republic of Iceland, is a Nordic and European island country in the North Atlantic Ocean, on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Iceland also refers to the main island of the country, which contains almost all the population and almost all the land area. The country has a population...

, encountering seas to 34 feet (10 m), winds in excess of 70 knots (130 km/h), and a wind chill factor that drove the temperature as far down as 0 degrees. Also participating in Windbreak were the guided missile cruiser and the destroyer .

Forrestal returned to Mayport on 26 October 1978. On 13 November Forrestal commenced a four-month period of upkeep and repair known as an Extended Selected Restricted Availability (ESRA), to be conducted as the ship was moored alongside the carrier pier in Mayport. Forrestal ended 1978 as she had started it, moored to the carrier pier in Mayport.

After completing two more Mediterranean cruises, she celebrated her silver anniversary in October 1980.

1981–1987



On 2 March 1981, Forrestal began her 16th Mediterranean deployment and second quarter century of naval service. During the Syria
Syria
Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....

/Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

 missile crisis, Forrestal maintained a high state of readiness for 53 consecutive days at sea. In a Gulf of Sidra
Gulf of Sidra
Gulf of Sidra is a body of water in the Mediterranean Sea on the northern coast of Libya; it is also known as Gulf of Sirte or the Great Sirte or Greater Syrtis .- Geography :The Gulf of Sidra has been a major centre for tuna fishing in the Mediterranean for centuries...

 exercise, two Libya
Libya
Libya is an African country in the Maghreb region of North Africa bordered by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, Egypt to the east, Sudan to the southeast, Chad and Niger to the south, and Algeria and Tunisia to the west....

n aircraft were shot down after firing upon F-14s from Nimitz over international waters. Forrestal aircraft made more than 60% of all the intercepts of Libyan planes. After departing the Mediterranean she operated above the Arctic Circle
Arctic Circle
The Arctic Circle is one of the five major circles of latitude that mark maps of the Earth. For Epoch 2011, it is the parallel of latitude that runs north of the Equator....

 as part of NATO Ocean Venture '81.

After a repair period, Forrestal deployed for her 17th Mediterranean cruise on 8 June 1982, and operated in the eastern Mediterranean in support of the Lebanon Contingency Force of 800 U.S. Marines in Beirut
Beirut
Beirut is the capital and largest city of Lebanon, with a population ranging from 1 million to more than 2 million . Located on a peninsula at the midpoint of Lebanon's Mediterranean coastline, it serves as the country's largest and main seaport, and also forms the Beirut Metropolitan...

. On 12 September 1982, after transiting the Suez Canal
Suez Canal
The Suez Canal , also known by the nickname "The Highway to India", is an artificial sea-level waterway in Egypt, connecting the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea. Opened in November 1869 after 10 years of construction work, it allows water transportation between Europe and Asia without navigation...

 for the first time in her 28-year history, she entered the Indian Ocean. This marked the first time that Forrestal had operated with 7th Fleet since the 1967 Vietnam cruise.

Forrestal completed the five and one-half month deployment with a nighttime arrival at Mayport on 16 November and immediately began preparing for the Service Life Extension Program (SLEP). The ship shifted homeport to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on 18 January 1983, and embarked on the 28-month, $550 million SLEP, designed to extend the life of U.S. aircraft carriers another 15 to 20 years.

During Forrestals SLEP the ship was completely emptied and most major equipment was removed for rework or replacement. Forrestals successful SLEP period was completed on time when the ship left Philadelphia on 20 May 1985. After completing a four-day transit to her homeport of Mayport, Forrestal immediately began a workup cycle in preparation for her first deployment in over four years.

Forrestal departed Mayport on 2 June 1986, on her 18th deployment. During this cruise, Forrestal aircraft frequently operated in the international airspace of the Tripoli
Tripoli
Tripoli is the capital and largest city in Libya. It is also known as Western Tripoli , to distinguish it from Tripoli, Lebanon. It is affectionately called The Mermaid of the Mediterranean , describing its turquoise waters and its whitewashed buildings. Tripoli is a Greek name that means "Three...

 Flight region, the international air traffic control sector of Libya. Forrestal also participated in Operation Sea Wind a joint U.S.-Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

ian training exercise and Display Determination, which featured low-level coordinated strikes and air combat maneuvering training over Turkey
Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

.

In 1987, Forrestal went through yet another period of pre-deployment workups. This included refresher training, carrier qualifications, and a six-week deployment to the North Atlantic to participate in Ocean Safari '87. In this exercise, Forrestal operated with NATO forces in the fjord
Fjord
Geologically, a fjord is a long, narrow inlet with steep sides or cliffs, created in a valley carved by glacial activity.-Formation:A fjord is formed when a glacier cuts a U-shaped valley by abrasion of the surrounding bedrock. Glacial melting is accompanied by rebound of Earth's crust as the ice...

s of Norway.

Forrestal in New Orleans



The ship and crew performed so well in Ocean Safari '87 that the Forrestals commanding officer, Captain John A. Pieno Jr., recommended that the ship be granted a special liberty call in the United States as a reward. Special liberty calls serve to reward Navy personnel with a trip to other parts of the U.S. and provides Americans who would normally never see warships and planes an up close look at life in the United States Navy. Captain Pieno being a native of New Orleans, Louisiana, decided that New Orleans, during her Mardi Gras
Mardi Gras
The terms "Mardi Gras" , "Mardi Gras season", and "Carnival season", in English, refer to events of the Carnival celebrations, beginning on or after Epiphany and culminating on the day before Ash Wednesday...

 celebration, would be the perfect location to show off his pride and joy. During her trip to New Orleans Forrestal broke another record by becoming the largest ship to sail on the Mississippi River
Mississippi River
The Mississippi River is the largest river system in North America. Flowing entirely in the United States, this river rises in western Minnesota and meanders slowly southwards for to the Mississippi River Delta at the Gulf of Mexico. With its many tributaries, the Mississippi's watershed drains...

. Also during her four days in the Big Easy she accommodated tours for over 40,000 visitors. The tour included viewings and descriptions of all her aircraft, damage control demonstrations, and the crowd's favorite, a ride on one of her four aircraft elevators.

1988–1993



Forrestal departed on her 19th major deployment on 25 April 1988. She steamed directly to the North Arabian Sea
Arabian Sea
The Arabian Sea is a region of the Indian Ocean bounded on the east by India, on the north by Pakistan and Iran, on the west by the Arabian Peninsula, on the south, approximately, by a line between Cape Guardafui in northeastern Somalia and Kanyakumari in India...

 via the Suez Canal in support of America's Earnest Will
Operation Earnest Will
Operation Earnest Will was the U.S. military protection of Kuwaiti owned tankers from Iranian attacks in 1987 and 1988, three years into the Tanker War phase of the Iran–Iraq War. It was the largest naval convoy operation since World War II.The U.S. Navy warships that escorted the tankers, part of...

 operations in the region. She spent 108 consecutive days at sea before her first liberty port. During the five and one-half month deployment, Forrestal operated in three ocean areas and spent only 15 days in port. She returned on 7 October 1988, and received the Meritorious Unit Commendation
Meritorious Unit Commendation
The Meritorious Unit Commendation is a mid-level unit award of the United States military which is awarded to any military command which displays exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding service, heroic deeds, or valorous actions....

 for her superior operational performance during the deployment.

After a brief stand down period followed by local operations, Forrestal participated in New York City's Fleet Week
Fleet Week
Fleet Week is a United States Navy, United States Marine Corps, and United States Coast Guard tradition in which active military ships recently deployed in overseas operations dock in a variety of major cities for one week. Once the ships dock, the crews can enter the city and visit its tourist...

 in May 1989, and then commenced preparations for her next deployment. Also in 1989, she won the Marjorie Sterrett Battleship Fund Award
Marjorie Sterrett Battleship Fund Award
The Marjorie Sterrett Battleship Fund Award is presented annually by the U.S. Navy's Chief of Naval Operations to one ship in the U.S. Atlantic Fleet and one in the U.S. Pacific Fleet...

 for the Atlantic Fleet.


Forrestals departure for her 20th major deployment was delayed when a fire caused major damage to a primary command and control trunk space. Through the efforts of the ship's crew and civilian contractors, Forrestal was able to depart for her deployment on 6 November 1989, completing the necessary repairs well ahead of projections. The 9 October 1989 fire caused around $2.5 million in damage and injured 11 sailors.

The final two months of 1989 proved exciting. Beyond the "routine" exercises and training initiatives, Forrestals crew became part of history, as they provided support to President George H. W. Bush
George H. W. Bush
George Herbert Walker Bush is an American politician who served as the 41st President of the United States . He had previously served as the 43rd Vice President of the United States , a congressman, an ambassador, and Director of Central Intelligence.Bush was born in Milton, Massachusetts, to...

 during his Malta Summit
Malta Summit
The Malta Summit consisted of a meeting between U.S. President George H. W. Bush and U.S.S.R. leader Mikhail Gorbachev, taking place between December 2-3 1989, just a few weeks after the fall of the Berlin Wall. It was their second meeting following a meeting that included then President Ronald...

. The support included a three-hour Presidential visit to the ship. Forrestal participated in numerous exercises during this deployment including Harmonie Sud, Tunisian Amphibious and National Week. She returned to Mayport on 12 April 1990, ending a deployment which had included nine port visits in seven different countries. After a post deployment stand down, Forrestal completed a drydocking selected restricted availability at Mayport from 14 May 1990 – 27 August 1990.

From September to November 1990, Forrestal underwent repairs at Norfolk Naval Shipyard
Norfolk Naval Shipyard
The Norfolk Naval Shipyard, often called the Norfolk Navy Yard and abbreviated as NNSY, is a U.S. Navy facility in Portsmouth, Virginia, for building, remodeling, and repairing the Navy's ships. It's the oldest and largest industrial facility that belongs to the U.S. Navy as well as the most...

. Repairs included work on the catapult system, hull and other changes to accommodate the F/A-18 Hornet. Forrestal returned to Mayport 21 November 1990.

One source reports that in 1990, Forrestal took part in Operation Pokeweed in which SEAL Team Six was deployed off the coast of Panama
Panama
Panama , officially the Republic of Panama , is the southernmost country of Central America. Situated on the isthmus connecting North and South America, it is bordered by Costa Rica to the northwest, Colombia to the southeast, the Caribbean Sea to the north and the Pacific Ocean to the south. The...

 to apprehend Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar
Pablo Escobar
Pablo Emilio Escobar Gaviria was a Colombian drug lord. He was an elusive cocaine trafficker and rich and successful criminal. He owned numerous luxury residences, automobiles, and even airplanes...

. However, the ship's history does not show that Forrestal was operating near Panama in 1990.

The year 1991 was a year of anticipation and change for Forrestal and its crew, as she spent the first five months maintaining combat readiness as the east coast ready carrier. Maintaining a hectic and challenging period of at-sea operations, Forrestals anticipated deployment in support of Operation Desert Storm was not to be, and orders to deploy were canceled twice during the conflict.

The call to deploy finally came and Forrestal commenced the 21st and final operational deployment on 30 May 1991.

No less challenging than the months of maintaining readiness for combat, Forrestals deployment was repeatedly referred to as "transitional." During the ensuing nine months, Forrestal was called upon to provide air power presence and airborne intelligence support for Operation Provide Comfort
Operation Provide Comfort
Operation Provide Comfort and Provide Comfort II were military operations by the United States and some of its Gulf War allies, starting in April 1991, to defend Kurds fleeing their homes in northern Iraq in the aftermath of the Persian Gulf War and deliver humanitarian aid to them.-Operation...

, and to initiate, test and evaluate a wide range of innovative Sixth Fleet battle group tactics and new carrier roles.

The year ended with Forrestal making advanced preparations for a change of homeport to Pensacola, Florida
Pensacola, Florida
Pensacola is the westernmost city in the Florida Panhandle and the county seat of Escambia County, Florida, United States of America. As of the 2000 census, the city had a total population of 56,255 and as of 2009, the estimated population was 53,752...

, and the transition into a new role as the Navy's training carrier, replacing . Forrestal was redesignated AVT-59 and arrived in Pensacola on 4 February. The ship and crew returned to New Orleans for a visit in May, 1992. Forrestal arrived in Philadelphia 14 September 1992 to begin a 14-month, $157 million complex overhaul prior to assuming duties as a training carrier. In early 1993, however, the Navy decided to decommission Forrestal and leave the Navy without a dedicated training carrier.

Decommissioning and fate



Forrestal was decommissioned 11 September 1993 at Pier 6E in Philadelphia, and was stricken from the Naval Vessel Register
Naval Vessel Register
The Naval Vessel Register is the official inventory of ships and service craft in custody of or titled by the United States Navy. It contains information on ships and service craft that make up the official inventory of the Navy from the time a vessel is authorized through its life cycle and...

 the same day. After being stricken, ex-Forrestal was heavily stripped to support the rest of the carrier fleet. In 1999, the USS Forrestal Museum Inc. began a campaign to obtain the ship from the Navy via donation, for use as a museum, to be located in Baltimore
Baltimore
Baltimore is the largest independent city in the United States and the largest city and cultural center of the US state of Maryland. The city is located in central Maryland along the tidal portion of the Patapsco River, an arm of the Chesapeake Bay. Baltimore is sometimes referred to as Baltimore...

, but this plan was not successful. The Navy removed the ship from donation hold in 2004 and redesignated it for disposal. According to the NVR, her final status is "donated for use as fishing reef." As of 2007, the ship was being environmentally prepared for sinking as an artificial reef
Artificial reef
An artificial reef is a human-made underwater structure, typically built to promote marine life in areas with a generally featureless bottom, control erosion, block ship passage, or improve surfing....

 as was USS Oriskany. Due to elements of the Forrestal design having led directly to current aircraft carrier design, the ship will be donated to a state and sunk to become a deep water reef, for fishery propagation and so that it will be accessible to divers. The date for the sinking has not yet been announced.

On 15 June 2010, Forrestal departed Naval Station Newport
Naval Station Newport
The Naval Station Newport is a United States Navy base located in the towns of Newport and Middletown, Rhode Island. Naval Station Newport is home to the Naval War College and the Naval Justice School...

 in Newport, Rhode Island
Newport, Rhode Island
Newport is a city on Aquidneck Island in Newport County, Rhode Island, United States, about south of Providence. Known as a New England summer resort and for the famous Newport Mansions, it is the home of Salve Regina University and Naval Station Newport which houses the United States Naval War...

, where she had been stored since 1998, under tow for the inactive ship storage facility in Philadelphia. Forrestal is now tied up at Pier 4 in Philadelphia, next to . It is expected Forrestal will remain there until the Navy decides her final disposition, which will either to be sold as scrap, sunk as a target, or scuttled as an artificial reef
Reef
In nautical terminology, a reef is a rock, sandbar, or other feature lying beneath the surface of the water ....

.

See also



Further reading

  • Freeman, Gregory A. Sailors to the End: The Deadly Fire on the USS Forrestal and the Heroes Who Fought It. New York: William Morrow, 2002. ISBN 0-06-621267-7, ISBN 0-06-093690-8.

External links