Tag Archives: USS America (CV-66)

Dragging out that Navy Naming Conventions Soapbox

It’s like the Navy’s naming conventions are done with the Magic 8-ball or Ouija board over the past few years. Or perhaps are just hyper-political and just flat-out done for optics. Maybe it’s a blend of all of the above.

Trump’s Acting Secretary of the Navy, Thomas B. Modly, in early 2020 announced the next Ford-class supercarrier will be named after USS West Virginia Pearl Harbor hero PO3 Dorie Miller. Now don’t get me wrong, Miller should have a ship named after him– a destroyer (he previously had a Cold War-era Knox-class frigate named after him) as those vessels are named after naval heroes. Carriers should have names of presidents (a tradition established with the USS Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1945) or historic ships. Yes, I feel that Nimitz should have gotten a destroyer named after him rather than a flattop and both Carl Vinson and John Stennis should not have had any ships named in their honor, except for possibly to grace the hulls of auxiliaries.

Speaking of Pearl Harbor, Moldy was also responsible for bringing the names of the USS Arizona and USS Oklahoma back to the Navy List for the first time since 1942, with the planned USS Oklahoma (SSN-802) and the USS Arizona (SSN-803). While both are state names, matching the convention for the Virginia class these subs will belong to, I’m not sure if the name “Arizona” should ever be re-issued. After all, would you ever expect to see another HMS Hood?

77th SECNAV Kenneth J. Braithwaite, another of Trump’s guys, got a big win in my book when he returned to traditional “fish” names for fleet submarines (or hunter killers in modern parlance), something the Navy did from 1931 through 1973. Hence, we will soon have USS Barb (SSN 804), Tang (SSN 805), Wahoo (SSN 806), and Silversides (SSN 807), all after the numerous esteemed fleet boats that previously carried those marine creatures’ names, and the country’s next frigate will take the name of one of the country’s original six frigates, USS Constellation. Excellent job. This is how you do it. 

Then the “adults” came back to Washington and SECNAV Carlos Del Toro pointed out that the upcoming first Columbia-class ballistic missile submarine, USS Columbia (SSBN 826), will not honor the previous 10 Columbias in current and past naval service but will specifically the first-named “District of Columbia,” which some have pointed out that is as another step in the plan to turn DC into the 51st state, but, hey…

Now enter two additional decisions from Del Toro’s office this week.

The aging Ticonderoga-class cruiser USS Chancellorsville (CG 62) will be renamed USS Robert Smalls (CG 62), to comply with the new push to strip any perceived salutes to the old Confederacy from the modern military. Now, as with Dorie Miller, Smalls is a legitimate naval hero and, as such, should have a destroyer named after him. You know, a nice shiny new one that is ordered but not yet named. One that will serve for another 30 years or so. Instead, Chancellorsville/Smalls is set to retire in a couple of years, scheduled to enter mothballs in FY2026, and by most accounts, is in rather poor material condition.

Besides the terrible disservice to Smalls, the rest of the Ticos are named after battles, with Chancellorsville named after Robert E. Lee’s “perfect battle” near that Virginia town. Therefore, even if only in service for the next few years and arbitrarily stripped of her name in official disgust, why not name her after a more Union-friendly Civil War clash such as USS The Wilderness, which was importantly the first match-up between Lee and Grant (and took place in Virginia) and has never been characterized as a victory for either side? How about the USS Fort Henry, the first ship on the Navy List to honor the final Patriot victory in the Revolutionary War— and also at the time of the action part of Virginia, like the city of Chancellorsville.

Now the biggest of the grumbles.

Also coming from Del Toro this week is the word that the future Virginia-class nuclear-powered attack submarine SSN-808 will be named USS John H. Dalton (SSN 808), after Clinton’s hatchetman SECNAV. You know, the guy who snuffed out the Sprucans before their time, slaughtered the Navy’s cruiser and frigate force, and canceled the scheduled Service Life Extension Program on USS America (CV-66), forcing the mighty carrier to be decommissioned in 1996 and ultimately scuttled at sea rather than keeping her in the line through 2010 as previously planned.

In short, Dalton was a total ass in my book. 

We all remember what happened to USS America…

The justification for Del Toro naming a sub after Dalton was that he had served briefly (active duty from 1964-69) in submarines and “as Secretary of the Navy, he took strong and principled stands against sexual assault and harassment and oversaw the integration of female Sailors onto combat ships.”

Gonna put that soap box up for now. I’m sure I’ll need to drag it out again.

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.

Phinal Trap, 35 years ago

Official caption: A U.S. Naval Air Reserve McDonnell Douglas F-4S Phantom II aircraft from fighter squadron VF-202 “Superheats” lands aboard the aircraft carrier USS America (CV-66) on 18 October 1986.

This was the last operational landing by a U.S. Navy F-4 aboard a U.S. aircraft carrier, piloted by CDR George “Black George” Kraus. VF-202, the last U.S. Navy unit to fly the F-4, then transitioned to the Grumman F-14A Tomcat.

DN-SN-87-02837 Photo by AE3 Jeff Miller, USN

While the Phantom continued to serve around the globe with allies for decades after the above image was snapped, this was its last carrier landing. The only other flattop Phantom drivers were in the Royal Navy, who retired their F4s when HMS Ark Royal (R09) left the fleet in 1978.