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Sunday, December 17, 2017

USS Forrestal

Posted to Maritime Musings (by on March 11, 2014

The first super-carrier

The revolutionary USS Forrestal (CV-59) was commissioned in 1959, named for the first Secretary of Defense.  It was the first super-carrier – designed and constructed to handle jet aircraft and with an angled flight deck, steam catapult, and an optical landing system.  It carried approximately 85 aircraft at a time, including fighters, attack aircraft, and surveillance and electronic warfare aircraft, as well as helicopters.  The ship’s motto was “First in Defense”, but it was known affectionately as The FID.  On 29 July 1967, while engaged in combat operations off the coast of Vietnam, a Zuni rocket installed on an F-4 Phantom misfired, striking an A-4 Skyhawk (the pilot of the Skyhawk was LCDR John S. McCain, future prisoner of war, US Senator, and Republican presidential candidate).  The impact dislodged and ruptured the Skyhawk’s 400-gallon external fuel tank, which caught fire.  The fire spread.  It burned for hours, resulting in the deaths of 134 crew members, the injury of 161 more, and the destruction of 21 aircraft.  Forrestal operated primarily in the North Atlantic and the Mediterranean Sea during its 38 years of service.  All subsequent US aircraft carriers were built on its model, although larger and mostly nuclear powered.  It was decommissioned on 11 September 1993 and later made available for use as a museum or memorial.  No viable applications were received.  In 2012, it was made available for dismantling.  In October 2013, the former USS Forrestal was sold for one penny to be scrapped in Brownsville, Texas.  It departed the Philadelphia Naval Yard on 4 February 2014 under tow en route to the welder’s torch.  

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