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USS John F. Kennedy (CV-67) (formerly CVA-67), the last American non-nuclear powered aircraft carrier to have been built, is a super carrier of the United States Navy. Nicknamed "Big John", she was named after the 35th President of the United States, John F. Kennedy. Kennedy was originally designated a CVA (Fixed wing attack carrier); however, the designation was changed to CV to denote that the ship was capable of anti-submarine warfare, making her an all-purpose carrier.

After nearly 40 years of service in the United States Navy, Kennedy was officially decommissioned on 1 August 2007. She is berthed at the NAVSEA Inactive Ships On-site Maintenance facility in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She is available for donation as a museum and memorial to a qualified organization.

Ship history

 Caroline Kennedy christens John F. Kennedy. In the background, from left to right—President Lyndon B. Johnson; John F. Kennedy, Jr., Mrs. Jacqueline Kennedy; and Mr. D. A. Holden, President of Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Co.

Contracted as Ship Characteristic Board SBC-127C,the ship's keel was laid on 22 October 1964 by Newport News Shipbuilding. The ship was officially christened 27 May 1967 by Jacqueline Kennedy and her 9-year-old daughter, Caroline, two days short of what would have been Kennedy's 50th birthday.

The Kennedy entered service 7 September 1968.

John F. Kennedy is a modified version of the earlier Kitty Hawk-class aircraft carriers. Originally scheduled to be the fourth Kitty Hawk-class carrier Kennedy received so many modifications during construction, she formed her own class.

Kennedy was ordered as a nuclear carrier, using the A3W reactor, but converted to conventional propulsion after construction had begun. The island is somewhat different from the Kitty Hawk class, with angled funnels to direct smoke and gases away from the flight deck. Kennedy is also 17 feet (5.2 m) shorter than the Kitty Hawk class.


 A view of damage sustained by the aircraft carrier USS John F. Kennedy (CV-67) when she collided with the USS Belknap during night operations

Kennedy's maiden voyage, and several of her subsequent voyages, were on deployments to the Mediterranean during much of the 1970s to help deal with the steadily deteriorating situation in the Middle East. It was during the 1970s that the Kennedy was upgraded to handle the F-14 Tomcat and the S-3 Viking.

In 1974, she won the Marjorie Sterrett Battleship Fund Award for the Atlantic Fleet.

On 20 June 1975, Kennedy was the target of eight arson fires while at port in Norfolk, Virginia. No one was injured by the fires.

On 22 November 1975, Kennedy collided with USS Belknap (CG-26), severely damaging the smaller ship and earning itself the nickname "Can Opener."

On 14 September 1976, while conducting a nighttime underway replenishment 100 miles north of Scotland, the USS Bordelon (DD-881) lost control and collided with Kennedy, resulting in such severe damage to the destroyer that she was removed from service in 1977.

In late 1978, the ship underwent her first, yearlong overhaul, which was completed in 1979.

On 9 April 1979, the aircraft carrier, John F. Kennedy experienced five fires set by arson while undergoing overhaul at Norfolk Naval Shipyard, Virginia. The fires killed one shipyard worker and injured 34 others.

On 5 June 1979, Kennedy was the target of two more fires at Norfolk Naval Shipyard, Virginia. No one was injured in the incident.

In 1979, she won her second Marjorie Sterrett Battleship Fund Award.


An elevated starboard quarter view of the aircraft carrier USS John F. Kennedy during the International Naval Review in New York Harbor, 4 July 1986.

In 1982, the ship sailed on her ninth deployment, and her first visit to the Indian Ocean after transiting the Suez Canal. During this tour Kennedy played host to the first visit of the Somali head of state.

In October 1983 Kennedy was diverted to Beirut, Lebanon from its planned Indian Ocean deployment, after the Beirut barracks bombing took the lives of 241 US Military personnel taking part in the Multinational Force in Lebanon, and spent the rest of that year and early 1984 patrolling the region. On December 4, 1983 ten A-6 aircraft from the Kennedy along with A-6 and A-7 aircraft from USS Independence took part in a bombing raid over Beirut, in response to two US F-14 Aircraft being fired upon the previous day. The Navy lost two aircraft during the raid, an A-7E from the Independence and an A-6E from the Kennedy, were shot down by SAM's. The A-7E pilot was picked up by a fishing boat, however the A-6E pilot Lt. Mark Lange was killed and the B/N Lt. Robert Goodman was taken prisoner. Lt. Goodman was released January 3, 1984, after negotiations by Rev. Jesse Jackson.]

In 1984, the ship was dry-docked at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard for a complex overhaul and much needed upgrades. Setting sail in July 1986, Kennedy participated in the International Naval Review to help mark the Re-dedication of the Statue of Liberty. Kennedy served as the flagship for the armada before departing on an overseas deployment to the Mediterranean in August - highlighted by multiple Freedom of Navigation exercises in the Libya's Gulf of Sidra, and operations off of the coast of Lebanon as a result of increasing terrorist activities and U.S. citizens being taken hostage in Beirut. The ship returned to Norfolk, Va in March 1987.

In August 1988, Kennedy departed on her twelfth overseas deployment. During this deployment, a pair of MiG-23 'Flogger E' fighter bombers from Libya approached the carrier task force which was 130 km off the shore of Libya near the declared Libyan territorial waters of the Gulf of Sidra. The approaching MiGs prompted two Kennedy-launched F-14 Tomcats from VF-32 "Fighting Swordsmen" to intercept the incoming MiGs. Although the U.S. planes were sent to escort the MiGs away from the task force peacefully, what developed was a shooting match between the U.S. and Libyan aircraft, which resulted in both of the Libyan aircraft being shot down.


Laser-guided bombs line the flight deck of the aircraft carrier Kennedy in preparation for air strikes against Iraq during Operation Desert Storm on 23 January 1991. The A-6E Intruder aircraft in the background is armed with laser-guided bombs.

Kennedy returned to the U.S. in time to participate in Fleet Week in New York and Independence Day celebrations in Boston before unexpectedly being mobilized in August 1990 for Operation Desert Shield. Despite having little to no warning, Kennedy prepared for her deployment overseas, where she arrived in September 1990 and became the flagship for the commander of the Red Sea Battle Force. On 16 January 1991, Kennedy's Carrier Air Wing 3 commenced operations against Iraqi forces as part of Operation Desert Storm. Between the commencement of the operation and the cease-fire, Kennedy launched 114 air strikes and nearly 2,900 sorties against Iraq, which delivered over 3.5 million pounds of ordnance.

On 27 February 1991 President George H. W. Bush declared a cease-fire in Iraq, and ordered all U.S. forces to stand down. With the presidential cease-fire in place the Kennedy was relieved, and began the long journey home by transiting the Suez Canal. She arrived in Norfolk 28 March 1991. While at Norfolk the ship was placed on a four month selective restricted availability period as the shipyard workers set about fixing the ship. Extensive repairs to the flight deck were made, as well as to maintenance and engineering systems. Additionally, the ship was refitted to handle the new F/A-18C/D Hornet.

 A close-up view of the banner hanging from the starboard bow missile sponson of the aircraft carrier USS John F. Kennedy, 7 April 1993.

With the upgrades completed, Kennedy departed on her 14th deployment to the Mediterranean, assisting several task forces with workup exercises in anticipation of intervention in Yugoslavia. When Kennedy returned she was sent to the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard, where she underwent a two year extensive overhaul. Upon the completion of the overhaul the ship was transferred to the Mayport Naval Station near Jacksonville, Florida, which remained the ship's home port.

The JFK made a high-profile visit to Dublin during an Atlantic deployment in 1996. Here, more than 10,000 people were invited to tour the ship at anchor in Dublin Bay. The visit was also intended to honor two personalities who made a great impact on history: John F. Kennedy, for whom the ship was named, and Commodore John Barry. Barry was a County Wexford native who played an instrumental role in the early years of the United States Navy. Officers and crew from the Kennedy joined local military and civilian organizations in celebrating Barry's achievements at his statue in Crescent Quay, Wexford, and three F-14 Tomcat fighters flew at low level over the town. Jean Kennedy Smith, a sister of John F. Kennedy, was the U.S. ambassador to Ireland at this time and was among those to welcome the ship to Ireland.

During its visit to Ireland, high winds in Dublin Bay caused the boarding pontoon to tear a large hole into the JFK's hull.

Kennedy's 15th Mediterranean deployment was uneventful, and she returned in time to participate in Fleet Week '98 in New York City.

Kennedy's 16th deployment, however, was eventful. Kennedy became involved in a rescue mission when the tug Gulf Majesty foundered during Hurricane Floyd in mid-September 1999. The ship successfully rescued the crew of the vessel, then headed toward the Middle East, where she became the first U.S. aircraft carrier to make a port call in Al Aqabah, Jordan, in the process playing host to the King of Jordan, before taking up station in support of Operation Southern Watch.

Kennedy was the only conventionally-powered U.S. carrier underway at the end of 1999, arriving at Mayport on 19 March 2000. After a brief period of maintenance, the carrier sailed north to participate in the July 4 International Naval Review (see also Naval review), then headed to Boston for Sail Boston 2000.


Cooperative Engagement Capability, a system that allowed Kennedy to engage targets beyond its original range.

In 2001, during a pre-deployment trial, the Kennedy was found to be severely deficient in some respects, especially those relating to air group operations; most problematic, two aircraft catapults and three aircraft elevators were non-functional during inspection, and two boilers would not light. As a result, her captain and two department heads were relieved for cause.

As the events of September 11, 2001 attacks unfolded, Kennedy and her battle group were ordered to support Operation Noble Eagle, establishing air security along the mid-Atlantic seaboard, including Washington, D.C. JFK was released from Noble Eagle on 14 September 2001.

During the first six months of 2002, Kennedy aircraft dropped 31,000 tons of ordnance on Taliban and al Qaeda targets.

In July 2004, Kennedy collided with a dhow in the Persian Gulf, leaving no survivors on the traditional Arab sailing boat. After the incident the Navy relieved the commanding officer of the Kennedy, CAPT Stephen B. Squires. The carrier itself was unscathed, but two jet fighters on the deck were damaged when one slid into the other as the ship made a hard turn to avoid the tiny vessel. A popular misconception is that CAPT Squires waited to make the turn at the last possible moment to recover aircraft returning from airstrikes that were critically low on fuel. The official review board determined this was not the case and the aircraft could have remained safely aloft until the Kennedy maneuvered to avoid the dhow.

Budget cutbacks and changing naval tactics, combined with the facts that the Kennedy was the most costly carrier in the fleet to maintain and that she was due for an expensive overhaul, prompted the U.S. Navy to retire the Kennedy. On 1 April 2005, the Navy formally announced that the carrier's scheduled 15-month overhaul had been cancelled.

Before decommissioning she made a number of port calls to allow the public to "say farewell" to her, including a stop at her "homeport" Boston Harbor. The Kennedy also took part in the 2005 New York City Fleet Week festivities at the Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum.  She was decommissioned in Mayport, Florida on 23 March 2007.

The ship's unique in-port cabin, which was decorated by Jacqueline Kennedy with wood paneling, oil paintings, and rare artifacts, was disassembled and will be rebuilt at the National Museum of Naval Aviation at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida.

The Kennedy was towed to Norfolk, Virginia on 26 July 2007. She remained in Norfolk until a shoaled area near Pier 4 in Philadelphia could be dredged to enable the ship to safely dock. On 17 March 2008 at about 1700, she was seen leaving Norfolk Naval Station under tow of the Tug Atlantic Salvor. On 22 March 2008 Kennedy arrived, with the afternoon high tide, at the Naval Inactive Ship Maintenance Facility in Philadelphia.  She is currently laid up in the Philadelphia reserve fleet . In November 2009, the Navy placed the Kennedy on donation hold for use as a museum and memorial. A report that showed up in the Boston Herald newspaper on 26 November 2009 mentioned the possibility of bringing the Kennedy to the Boston, MA area, as a museum or memorial at no cost to the city, if desired.

In August 2010, two groups successfully passed into Phase II of the U.S. Navy Ship Donation Program: