165,000 tons of Rock & Roll, Ready for Their Close-up

30 Years Ago Today: A port beam view of Forrestal-class supercarriers, San Diego-homeported USS Ranger (CV-61) with Carrier Air Wing Two (CVW-2) aboard, and her sister, the Japan-based USS Independence (CV-62) with CVW-5 embarked, underway in the Perian Gulf during Operation Southern Watch, a multinational effort establishing a no-fly zone for Iraqi aircraft south of the 32nd parallel in Saddam-era Iraq. Taken on 16 September 1992.

U.S. Navy photo DN-ST-93-00101by PH2 Andrew C. Heuer, via the National Archives.

Note the mix of F-14As (VF-154, VF-21), F-18Cs (VFA-192, VFA-195,), A-6Es (VA-115), SH-3Hs (HS-12), EA-6B Prowlers (VAQ-136), and S-3Bs (VS-21) aboard Indy and the similar complement of aircraft (sans Hornets) of VF-1, VF-2, VA-145, VA-155, VAQ-131, HS-14, and VS-38 on Ranger. These were some of the final deployments for the Tomcat, Intruder, Sea King, and Viking, who would be withdrawn within the next decade.

Indy, commissioned in 1959, had just finished filming Flight of the Intruder aboard prior to her deployment to the Gulf War and was decommissioned only six years after this image. Stricken in 2004, she has since been scrapped.

Ranger, commissioned in 1957, earned 13 battle stars for service during the Vietnam War, and like her sister, was a movie star, having been used to film scenes for Top Gun. She was decommissioned just a year after the above image was snapped, stricken the same day as Indy, and similarly scrapped.

CVW-5 endures, still based in Japan in association with the forward-deployed carrier named after a movie star– USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76).

Meanwhile, CVW-2 is attached to San Diego’s Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 1 and the flagship USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70)– which due to her record of West Coast homeports has been a filming location for JAG, Crimson Tide, Behind Enemy Lines, and her own documentary series, 1995’s excellent Fortress at Sea.

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