By Debbie Gregory.
Supercarrier USS Kitty Hawk, the second naval ship named after the North Carolina site of the Wright brothers’ first powered airplane flight, has been scheduled for disposal.
The fate of the first and last active ship of her class has been in limbo for the last eight years after being decommissioned in 2009. The Kitty Hawk has been held in reserve status at the Inactive Ship Maintenance Facility in Bremerton, Washington.
Still to be determined is when the ship will depart its berthing in Bremerton, where the ship will go to be dismantled, or what company will be awarded the contract, according to Naval Sea Systems Command spokesman Colleen O’Rourke.
The ship was laid down by Camden New Jersey’s New York Ship Building Corp. two days after Christmas, 1956, launched in May of 1960, and commissioned in April, 1961 at Philadelphia Naval Shipyard.
During the ship’s 48 years of active service, the Kitty Hawk participated in combat operations in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War. The ship did six tours in Vietnam between 1963 and 1976, and was the first aircraft carrier ever to be awarded a Presidential Unit Citation. The award, the unit equivalent of the Navy Cross, was presented by President Lyndon B. Johnson on Dec. 20, 1968, to the ship and Carrier Air Wing 11.
Kitty Hawk was the “floating White House” June 7, 1963, when President John F. Kennedy spent the night aboard the ship near southern California.
The ship was also a participant in the Arabian Sea during Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Kitty Hawk nicknames include “Miss Kitty,” “Battlecat” and “Chicken Hawk.”
The Kitty Hawk was the fleet’s only permanently forward-deployed carrier in Yokosuka, Japan, from 1998 to 2008.
At one point, the Navy had once considered the possibility of recommissioning the ship to increase the size of the fleet, but Secretary of the Navy Richard Spencer said that the cost of doing so would be prohibitive.
Despite receiving request from numerous groups interested in preserving the ship as a museum , O’Rourke said the Navy will not be accepting any such applications.