USS Kitty (CV-63)

The second Kitty Hawk (CVA-63) was laid down by the New York Ship Building Corp., Camden, N.J., 27 December 1956; and launched 21 May 1960, sponsored by Mrs, Neil H. McElroy, and commissioned 21 April 1961 at Philadelphia Naval Shipyard, Captain William F. Bringle in command.

Following shakedown in the Western Atlantic, Kitty Hawk departed Norfolk 11 August 1961. After a brief stop at Rio de Janeiro, where she embarked the Secretary of the Brazilian Navy for a demonstration of exercise at sea with five Brazilian destroyers, the attack carrier rounded Cape Horn 1 October. She steamed into Valparaiso Bay 13 October and then sailed 2 days later for Peru, arriving Callao 20 October where she entertained the President of Peru. At San Diego Admiral George W, Anderson, Chief of Naval Operations, landed on her deck 18 November to witness antisubmarine demonstrations by Wiltz and Blueback, a Terrier Missile demonstration by Topeka, and air demonstrations by Kitty Hawk.

Kitty Hawk entered San Francisco Naval Shipyard 23 November 1961, for alterations. Following operations out of San Diego, she sailed from San Francisco 13 September 1962. Kitty Hawk joined the 7th Fleet 7 October 1962, relieving Midway as flagship.

After participating in the Philippine Republic Aviation Week Air Show, Kitty Hawk steamed out of Manila Harbor 30 November 1962, and welcomed Admiral H. D. Felt, Commander in Chief, Pacific Fleet, for a demonstration of modern naval weapons 3 December. The ship visited Hong Bong early in December and returned to Japan, arriving at Yokosuka 2 January 1963. During the following 2 months she visited Bobe, Beppu, and Iwakuni before returning to San Diego 2 April 1963.

On 6 June 1963, President Kennedy, with top civilian and military leaders, boarded Kitty Hawk to witness a carrier task force weapons demonstration off! the California coast. Addressing the men of the task group from Kitty Hawk President Kennedy told them that as in the past, control of the seas still means security, peace and ultimate victory. He later wrote to President and Madam Chiang Kai-Shek who had witnessed a similar demonstration on board Constellation: "I hope you were impressed as I was, on my visit to Kitty Hawk, with the great force for peace or war, which these mighty carriers and their accompanying escorts provide, helping to preserve the freedom of distant nations in all parts of the world."

Following a series of strike exercises and tactics reaching along the California coast and off Hawaii, Kitty Hawk again sailed for the Far East. While approaching Japan she learned an assassin had shot President Kennedy. Flags were at half mast as she entered Sasebo Harbor 25 November'1963, the day of the President's funeral and as senior ship present, she had the sad honor of firing memorial salutes. After cruising the South China Sea and ranging to the Philippines in readiness operations with the 7th Fleet, she returned to San Diego 20 July 1964.

Kitty Hawk overhauled in Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, then trained along the western seaboard. She sailed from San Diego 19 October 1965, for Hawaii thence to Subic Bay, P.I., where she prepared for combat operations off the coast of Vietnam.

Kitty Hawk was awarded the Navy Unit Commendation for exceptionally meritorious service from 26 November 1965 to 14 May 1966 while participating in combat operations against the insurgent Communist guerrilla forces in the Republic of Vietnam. The valiant men of her Carrier Air Wing 11 flew over 10,000 sorties and delivered over 10,700 tons of ordnance against enemy forces. The officers and men of Kitty Hawk displayed undaunted spirit, courage, professionalism and dedication to maintain their ship as a fighting unit under the most ardent operating conditions to enable her pilots to destroy vital military targets in North Vietnam despite intense opposition and extremely adverse weather conditions.

Kitty Hawk returned to San Diego in June 1965 for overhaul and training until 4 November 1966 when she again deployed to serve the cause of freedom and national security in waters of Southeast Asia. Kitty Hawk arrived at Yokosuka, Japan, 19 November to relieve Constellation (CVA 64) as flagship for Rear Admiral David C. Richardson, Commander Task Force 77. On 26 November Kitty Hawk departed Yokosuka for Yankee Station via Subic Bay, and on 5 December aircraft from Kitty Hawk began their around-the-clock missions over North Vietnam. About this time Kitty Hawk-already accustomed to celebrities as guests-entertained a number of extremely prominent visitors: William Randolph Hearst, Jr.; Bob Considine; Dr. Billy Graham; and John Steinbeck, among others. She remained in the Far East supporting the fight for freedom in Southeast Asia until departing Subic Bay 28 May 1967. Steaming via Japan, the carrier reached San Diego 19 June and a week later entered the naval shipyard at Long Beach for maintenance. Kitty Hawk returned to San Diego 25 August and began a rigorous training program to prepare her for future action.

Since her first deployment, KITTY HAWK and a variety of Carrier Air Wings have completed 17 deployments in support of operations including Vietnam, the Iranian hostage crisis, Operation Restore Hope in Somalia and airstrikes against Iraq. As leader of the joint, coalition offensive strike launched in response to increasing Iraqi violations of United Nations sanctions, KITTY HAWK is the one of the last American aircraft carriers to engage in a combat action.

KITTY HAWK underwent two overhauls in the Bremerton, Wash., Naval Shipyard in 1977 and 1982. The ship's most significant maintenance period, however, was a Service Life Extension Program (SLEP) in the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard beginning in 1987. That rigorous four-year overhaul added an estimated 20 years to the planned 30-year life of the ship. KITTY HAWK displayed the long reach of carrier aviation by completing a world cruise on the way to Philadelphia and returned by rounding the southernmost tip of South America.

After participating in Operation Restore Hope off the coast of Somalia during the 1992-93 deployment, KITTY HAWK led a coalition airstrike launched in response to increasing Iraqi violations of United Nations sanctions.

KITTY HAWK set sail on its 17th and most recent deployment on June 24, 1994. During the six-month cruise, KITTY HAWK, and her airwing (CVW-15), under the direction of the Commander, Cruiser Destroyer Group Five, provided a stabilizing influence in the Western Pacific during a time of great tension in the Far East.

Soon after KITTY HAWK's return from deployment, the ship was awarded the Battle Efficiency Award, or Battle "E," given yearly to the best carrier in the Pacific Fleet.

Throughout her illustrious career, KITTY HAWK has demonstrated the range, sustainability, flexibility and capability that are the hallmark of carrier aviation. With her excellent material condition and top-notch crew, there is no reason to doubt KITTY HAWK will serve the United States with distinction well into the next century.

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