USS Constellation (CV-64)

Like her famous namesake, the current USS CONSTELLATION (CV-64) has a long and proud record of service. Built at the New York Naval Shipyard as the second ship in the "KITTY HAWK" class of aircraft carriers, CONNIE has more than 30 years of service, which have seen her sail into harm's way from Yankee Station off the coast of Vietnam to the Gulf of Oman in the Indian Ocean.

Commissioned on October 27, 1961, CONSTELLATION sailed west to her homeport of San Diego in July of 1962.

On August 4, 1964, the American destroyers MADDOX and TURNER JOY were attacked by North Vietnamese patrol boats in the international waters of the Gulf of Tonkin. CONSTELLATION, visiting Hong Kong on a regularly-scheduled port visit, set sail immediately and began launching strikes against North Vietnamese vessels and bases.

Over the next eight years, CONSTELLATION would return to the South China Sea for a total of seven combat cruises, conducting air strikes against heavily fortified North Vietnamese positions, engaging naval targets and shooting down enemy aircraft.

The first American aces of the Vietnam war, LT Randall Cunningham and LTjg Willie Driscoll of Fighter Attack Squadron 96, flew off CONSTELLATION's decks. Their success came during the ship's seventh WESTPAC - her sixth combat cruise.

For her actions in Southeast Asia, CONSTELLATION was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation.

In 1975, CONNIE was redesignated "CV" from "CVA," following modifications to her flight deck and equipment which enabled the ship to deploy with S-3A Viking (anti-submarine) and F-14 Tomcat (fighter) aircraft.

In 1982, CONSTELLATION returned to the yards, this time in Bremerton, Washington. Naval aviation had undergone vast changes since 1961, and when CONNIE came out of the yards in 1984, two weeks early and under budget, she was fully modernized. One facet of the ship's upgrade was the ability to carry the Navy's newest striker fighter, the F/A-18 Hornet.

During WESTPAC 87, CONSTELLATION once again found herself in the limelight, this time in the role of providing vital air cover for the escort of US-flagged tankers through the Arabian Gulf.

In February 1990, CONSTELLATION departed San Diego, returning to the East Coast for a three-year overhaul. The $800 million Service Life Extension Program, completed in the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard in March 1993, added 15 years to the carrier's operational life. The overhaul saw upgrades to virtually every major system on the ship, from the galleys to the enginerooms and the flight deck to the anchors.

CONSTELLATION returned to San Diego on July 22, 1993, following her third transit around Cape Horn at the tip of South America.

From her birthplace at the New York Naval Shipyard to her homeport of San Diego and her rebirth at Philadelphia; from the troubled waters of the Gulf of Tonkin to the North Arabian Sea, USS CONSTELLATION has written an impressive record for the world to see. And it's been a stellar record, to say the least.

From: USS CONSTELLATION (CV-64) SLEP / Around the Horn Cruisebook; USS CONSTELLATION (CV-64) 94-95 Western Pacific / Arabian Gulf Cruisebook

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