One of the US Navy’s most iconic aircraft carriers, the USS Kitty Hawk, is currently on its way to scrapping after being sold for less than a dollar, a stark reminder that its heyday is over. The ship began its final voyage in January and will arrive at a shipbreaking facility in Texas in May.
Last year, International Shipbreaking Limited of Brownsville, Texas, acquired the vessel from the US Naval Sea Systems Command, which oversees the disposal of decommissioned warships, for less than a dollar.
The Panama Canal cannot accommodate the 1,047-foot-long, 252-foot-wide aircraft carrier. As a result, Kitty Hawk makes her way along the South American coast and across the Gulf of Mexico to her final location.
En route to Texas, the aircraft carrier navigated in Uruguayan waters on April 2. During its years of service, the aircraft carrier not only witnessed numerous combat missions and had a collision with a Soviet submarine.
Quizás alguno más lo vio desde la costa de #Uruguay. Deseamos “buenosviens” al @USNavy #USSKittyHawk, that is in viaje hacia Texas, of which it will be dismantled. Agradecemos al buque por sus años de servicio ya #Uruguay por su autorización para transitar aguas uruguayas. pic.twitter.com/OjFXuhQOMJ
— United States Embassy in Uruguay (@usembassyMVD) April 1, 2022
The carrier, however, was a holdover from a bygone era, as it was the last of its kind in the Navy’s inventory, powered by petroleum rather than nuclear power.
Kitty Hawk, which was launched in 1960 and named after the area of North Carolina where the Wright brothers first flew a powered aircraft, served the United States Navy for nearly 50 years before retiring in 2009.
Vietnam War and race riot
Only a few years after commissioning, the ship was deployed to Vietnam. The boat door 185 major strikes, including 150 against North Vietnam, including 65 against Hanoi and Haiphong regions.
He immediately made a name for himself by earning a Presidential Unit Citation – a unit decoration comparable to the Navy Cross – for his actions during the fierce fighting of the Tet Offensive between December 1967 and June 1968.
“The ship is recognized in professional circles as having been on Yankee Station during the toughest part of the war and against the most heavily defended area in the world,” Adm. John Hyland noticed when receiving the honor, according to a Navy history of the ship.
Meanwhile, as the Vietnam War progressed, the ship was subjected to longer deployments and challenges, which “produced an almost intolerable strain on the crew,” according to the ship’s record. Marine.
Amid rising tensions, race riots broke out on the ship. The events leading up to the incident are described in various ways. Some believe it started when black sailors were questioned for a fight in a Filipino bar the night before the deployment. Others say the situation escalated when a black sailor was denied an extra sandwich in the mess, but a white sailor was not.
According to the Navy’s official history, on the evening of October 11, 1972, “beginning in the mess decks…a series of incidents led to fighting between blacks and whites which spread to a number of areas of the ship, including the sickbay and the flying platform.
“A sea patrol was sent to deal with the situation, but some black sailors perceived this as ‘racist’ and ‘armed themselves with airplane tie-down chains’.
A lot reports suggest that black sailors comprised less than ten percent of the Kitty Hawk’s 4,500 crew at the time. A Naval History Command report said only five of 348 officers were black.
According to the service’s account of the incident, Cmdr. Benjamin Cloud, a black sailor who served as Kitty Hawk’s second-in-command, was instrumental in controlling the situation. When the ship arrived in San Diego in November, the the media said that 27 sailors, all black, had been imprisoned and that 21 had requested a court-martial.
The trials fully concluded in April 1973, “with a handful of black sailors still in Navy jails and others released, but little light has been shed on what caused the racial unrest aboard the carrier. planes last October”.
Meeting with a Soviet submarine
On March 21, 1984, the Kitty Hawk collided with a Soviet 5,000-ton Victor-class submarine, K-314, which was surfacing in the Tsushima Strait between Korea and Japan.
The submarine had been following the aircraft carrier for several days, according to US Navy authorities. Russian military site Top War Explain what happened that day from the point of view of the Soviets.
“The commander (K-314) ordered the start of an urgent dive to avoid a collision. Shortly after the start of the dive, the submarine felt a strong blow. After a few seconds — a second powerful thrust. It was clear that the submarine had no time to go to a safe depth and it was hit by some of the American ships. As we later learned, it was a Kitty Hawk aircraft carrier.
The Navy’s top military official at the time, Admiral James Watkins, said the sub’s commander “showed an unusual lack of seamanship in not staying clear of Kitty Hawk. “.
A small piece of the submarine’s propeller became stuck in the Kitty Hawk’s hull following the incident. It was eventually recovered and turned into a keepsake, which is currently part of the Naval Historical Center’s collection.
After fragments of sound-deadening tiles were recovered from the hull of the aircraft carrier, the US Naval Institute mentioned the collision “provided the United States with intelligence on the anechoic coating of Soviet submarines”.
The USS Kitty Hawk remained an important part of the U.S. Pacific Fleet even after the end of the Cold War, and it was homeported at Naval Base Yokosuka in Japan from 1998 until 2009, when it was retired and replaced by USS George Washington.
In addition, it supported US military activities in Somalia and served as a launching pad for airstrikes against Saddam Hussein’s Iraq in the early 1990s. Its decline began after that, and it gained the nickname “Shitty Kitty” due to her poor condition.