Saturday, May 14, 2011
Six years ago today we lost a Desert Storm Vet
The USS America CV-66 was sunk in a controlled scuttling on May 14, 2005 at approximately 11:30, although the sinking was not publicized until six days later. At the time, no warship of that size had ever been sunk, and effects were closely monitored; theoretically the tests would reveal data about how super carriers respond to battle damage. The ship rests 16,860 feet below the Atlantic Ocean surface, roughly 250 mi off the North Carolina coast. The name America will live on though, as the Navy's newest amphibious assault ship will be named USS America.
The fifth USS America (CVA/CV-66) was one of four Kitty Hawk-class super carriers built for the United States Navy in the 1960s. Commissioned in 1965, she was a veteran of Vietnam, Desert Shield and Desert Storm. The America also held the distinctions of being the last U.S. super carrier built not named after a person.
Nicknamed the 'Big A', her motto was "Don't Tread On Me".
She was decommissioned in a ceremony at Norfolk Naval Shipyard in Portsmouth, Virginia on 9 August 1996. America was planned to be sold for scrapping. However, she was chosen to be a live-fire test and evaluation platform in 2005, to aid the design of future aircraft carriers. There was some objection to a ship being named for the nation being deliberately sunk at sea, and a committee of her former crew members and other supporters attempted to save the ship for use as a museum ship. Their efforts were ultimately unsuccessful. In a letter to them, Vice Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John B. Nathman explained:
"America will make one final and vital contribution to our national defense, this time as a live-fire test and evaluation platform. America's legacy will serve as a footprint in the design of future carriers — ships that will protect the sons, daughters, grandchildren and great-grandchildren of America veterans. We will conduct a variety of comprehensive tests above and below the waterline collecting data for use by naval architects and engineers in creating the nation's future carrier fleet. It is essential we make those ships as highly survivable as possible. When that mission is complete, the America will slip quietly beneath the sea. I know America has a very special place in your hearts, not only for the name, but also for your service aboard her. I ask that you understand why we selected this ship for this one last crucial mission and make note of the critical nature of her final service."
Although I am sad to see such a noble lady pass in a 'live fire' exercise, her sacrifice will give data on how to give our super carriers an even better chance to survive attack, Meaning even more service men and women will be able to come home.
After 40+ years of defending America, her passing will defend our sailors and marines for decades to come.
Goodbye to the USS America.
Dan Emplit WBFD
USN 1986 - 1992