Wednesday, January 19, 2022

The Kitty Hawk aircraft carrier is on its way to the scrapyard

Two of the eight photos posted by Atomic Aerails with the comment:
Former aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk, drifting through the fog like a ghost ship, departing Bremerton for the last time today.
If you look closely in a few of the photos you will see her four propellers have been removed and are sitting at the rear end of the flight deck.
Launched in 1960, she served for 49 years before being decommissioned and joining the reserve of inactive vessels (mothball fleet) at Puget Sound Naval Yard. 
The last carrier of her class to be decommissioned, her fate is to be towed to Brownsville, Texas by Foss Maritime Company for scrapping. She became the sole responsibility of the salvage company as soon as she left the naval yard. 
As her beam is too wide for the Panama Canal, Foss has the duty of taking her clear down to the tip of South America, through the Strait of Magellan, and back up to the Gulf Coast. Kitty Hawk will be towed by a single tug, the Michelle Foss (not pictured). 
This trip will take at least 129 days, cover more than 16,000 miles, and take three separate crews, changed out in Valparaiso and Trinidad. Her towed speed will be somewhere between 5 and 8 knots, depending on weather. 
The carrier will be boarded by representatives of the salvage company at port stops, otherwise she will be 100% unmanned for the voyage. Salvage crews have spent months prepping the ship, which includes adding a generator to run some interior lights, bilge and de-watering pumps, and the motor for the anchor's windlass in case of an emergency. 
Not only is the carrier too wide for the Panama Canal, she is too big for any salvage yard on the West Coast of the United States, necessitating the voyage to Texas.
This was a really amazing event to shoot, unfortunately the fog was so low that I couldn't get a clear shot above the flight deck, and several times the superstructure disappeared entirely into the fog. Even more meaningful than taking the photos was meeting and spending time with people around the move. Whether it was fellow photographers, neighbors of Bainbridge Island, or the tremendous family at Foss, I learned more new names and was introduced to more fascinating individuals today than in the last entire year. You are all amazing, and I thank you for your time and effort.
Mike Hurlock: The screws were removed to create less drag while being towed.
Willie Gettit shared

Eddie Martens commented on Atomic Aerials' post
Loved serving as Photographer's Mate on the Kitty Hawk from 1985 to 1988. Here's a picture I took of her leaving Subic Bay during the World Cruise in 1987 (taken from another Helo with HS-2).

Mahlon Miller commented on Atomic Aerials' post
I served as the Photo Lab LCPO from '96-'99. One of the best tours of my career. This is a shot I took in August of 1999 as we were returning to Yokosuka from our (unexpected) six-month deployment to the Persian Gulf. This is how I want to remember the Hawk; fully manned, underway, and ready for anything!

Kenny Jaynes commented on Atomic Aerials' post
The Kitty Hawk and the Constellation out to sea.

Ej Krenk commented on Atomic Aerials' post
My dad Commissioned the Kitty Hawk, here is a picture of her coming out of Philadelphia. He always said it was the best time of his life seeing the world. When she was decommissioned we flew up for the ceremony. I watch my dad stand and get recognized as a plank owner. Dad gone now but the memories will always be there.

Atomic Aerials commented on the first photo

Stephen Wayne commented on the second photo
Better remembered like this!!

I've been following the Battleship New Jersey videos and they have a couple about this scrapping.

Since the JFK and the Kitty Hawk were the last conventional powered (non-nuclear) carriers, I presume these have already been scrapped.
National Naval Aviation Museum posted
USS Independence (CVA 62) joins USS Saratoga (CVA 60) and USS Intrepid (CVA 11) underway commemorating the 50th anniversary of U.S. Naval Aviation in 1961.

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