The ‘Battle Cat’ still serves
Sailors from the Nimitz-class supercarrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) recently conducted damage control and medical training during three damage control “rodeo” events held aboard the decommissioned carrier ex-USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63) over the past three months, showing that even ships on red lead row can still tap in when needed.
Laid down in 1956, Kitty Hawk became the oldest active warship in the Navy (besides Constitution) in 1998 and held that title for a decade until she was officially decommissioned on 12 May 2009 after almost 50-years in the fleet. Still, her hangar deck is and other passageways are similar enough to the Nimitz-class to work for DC training.
From the Navy’s presser:
John C. Stennis’ damage control and medical departments were unable to hold the “rodeos” on their own ship due to maintenance work being conducted during its planned incremental availability (PIA), but still wanted to give their fellow Sailors the most realistic experience possible.
Enter ex-Kitty Hawk, the Navy’s last conventional-powered aircraft carrier, held at Naval Inactive Ship Maintenance Facility Bremerton, and just a quick walk away from John C. Stennis. Though Kitty Hawk was decommissioned in 2009, it remains largely intact and shares many basic similarities to modern Nimitz-class aircraft carriers, making it an ideal location for this type of training.
Kitty Hawk is officially to be held in Maintenance Category B receiving the highest degree of maintenance and preservation to a retired ship, though with USS Ford entering the fleet, she will likely be downgraded to Category C or X in coming months as the big new carrier moves through a 10-month shakedown and goes through working up for her first deployment.
Though plans have been floated to look into reactivating “Shitty Kitty” the CNO has downplayed that and it is more likely she would be held for museum donation and, should that fall through, scrapped.