America’s 1966 New Year’s Deck Log

The tradition of Navy and Coast Guard vessels logging a special New Year’s poem probably reached its peak in the Vietnam era and has been, sadly I feel, declining ever since. The Sextant noted that “In 2016, fewer than 30 ships made a New Year’s Eve mid-watch verse; in 2017 that number dwindled to fewer than 20.”

Here is one from that golden era– from the newly-built Kitty Hawk-class supercarrier USS American (CVA-66), which was in the Med tied up in Italy on New Years 1966, just beginning her first stint with the 6th Fleet– courtesy of the National Archives who has been hard at work saving and digitizing historic deck logs:

A visitor boarding
new from the East!
To the OOP a report
is due at least.

“Reporting for duty
and full of good cheer,
Permission to board sir,
for I’m the new year.”

“Permission granted,
and welcome to the crew.
But be assured, friend,
your name is not new.

“For 66 here,
with numbers of gold
Has had a head start –
almost a year old.

She’s taut and she’s bold;
her performance is true.
Her record stands out
above quite a few.

“From Commissioning thru Shake Down
on into the Fleet,
She’s sailed and she’s flown
a record to meet.

In service of country, far from home this night,
She stands a mighty vanguard
in the half-moon’s shimmering light.

“In 10 fathoms of water
at anchorage XRay-3
America is anchored
at Liverno, Italy.

With 90 fathoms
of chain to her bow
She’s anchored –
secure from the Northwind’s howl

“The Liverno light at 028.8°
shines its silent goria
And America lies 293°
from Torre Della Meloria.

“The quartermaster
is recording the lore.
Her reading tonight
is condition Four.

“The Marines are on guard,
that you may bet
And the engineers provide
us with condition Yoke set.

“In Liverno tonight
your eyes will meet
Various units of the
U.S. Sixth Fleet

“Naturally SOPA has
chosen the best.
Rear Admiral COBB, CCDII,
makes America his nest.

“Under the keen eye
of Polaris to the north
Her lights thier [sic] good will
are sending forth.

“Her reputation with
hard work was won,
For being 66
means being number one.

“I’m proud to be aboard
this brave and true ship.”
Our visitor impressed,
he replied with a tip.

“I offer you hope –
as the spirit of peace.
Together we’ll sail
from Naples to Greece.

“By joining our missions
of peace and of strength,
We’ll make this a year
with happiness in length!”

With all best wishes for the year of the “66”!

 

Per DANFS on America’s first deployment, once the New Year started:

Over the ensuing weeks, the ship visited Cannes, France; Genoa, Italy; Toulon, France; Athens, Greece; Istanbul, Turkey; Beirut, Lebanon; Valletta, Malta; Taranto, Italy; Palma, Majorca, Spain; and Pollensa Bay, Spain. She sailed on 1 July for the United States. Early in the deployment, from 28 February to 10 March, America participated in a joint Franco-American exercise, “Fairgame IV,” which simulated conventional warfare against a country attempting to invade a NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Oragnization) ally. She arrived at NOB, Norfolk, on 10 July.

USS America (CV-66) underway in the Indian Ocean on 24 April 1983. Photographer: PH2 Robert D. Bunge. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval History and Heritage Command. Catalog #: NH 106552-KN

As for America, conducted the carrier service certifications for the new A-7A Corsair II in 1966 as well as the F/A-18 Hornet in 1979, made several combat deployments to Vietnam sending aviators out on dangerous sorties from Yankee Station while earning five battle stars, would return often to the Med where she had tense interactions with Soviet surface ships, ride El Dorado Canyon against Libya and helped with the evacuation of Lebanon– later returning there in 1983; then see the swan song of her career in Desert Shield/Desert Storm where her air group conducted 3,008 combat sorties and dropped over 2,000 tons of ordnance while suffering no aircraft losses during the conflict.

Appropriatedly, her 20th and final deployment was to the Med, from 1995-96. She was scuttled in a SINKEX in deep water rather than go through a SLEP that would have seen her serve well into the 2010s.

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