This week saw the christening of the new Ford-class carrier, USS John F. Kennedy (CVN-79) sponsored by no less a person than Caroline B. Kennedy, JFK’s daughter, and the late President’s only living child.
As you may well remember, a smaller Ms. Caroline also sponsored the new Kitty Hawk-class supercarrier, USS John F. Kennedy (CVA-67) in May 1967, some 52 years ago.
While CVN-79 is expected to be completed in 2022, CV-67 has been on red lead row since 2007 and is nominally set to be preserved as a museum ship.
Meanwhile, in Portsmouth, HMS Prince of Wales (R09) was commissioned this week as the Royal Navy’s second 65,000-ton Queen Elizabeth-class carrier, the largest class of warships ever to carry the White Ensign.
Aircraft carrier HMS Prince of Wales and HMS Queen Elizabeth at Portsmouth this week
The last HMS Prince of Wales (53), a King George V-class battleship, was famously lost 77 years ago this week on 10 December 1941 by Japanese air attack off Kuantan, in the South China Sea
The stricken battleship’s original bell, salvaged in 2002, is on permanent display in the National Museum of the Royal Navy’s gallery.
The relic will be scanned and cast by Cammell Laird to provide a new bell for the aircraft carrier that bears her name.
While the new Ford-class supercarrier PCU John F. Kennedy (CVN 79) has passed 50 percent structural completion earlier this year, her predecessor, the conventionally-powered USS John F. Kennedy (CV-67) has been laid up since 2007 and is currently berthed at the NAVSEA Inactive Ships On-site Maintenance facility in Philadelphia on
possible museum hold.
The subject of a potential maritime museum in Rhode Island, JFK’s status on the NVR was changed from “hold” to “disposition pending” on 12 December 2016 which likely means the scrappers and dismantlement.
But some behind the decade-long move to have the last conventional aircraft carrier on the Navy’s ledger not already moving towards razor blades preserved isn’t rolling over just yet.
“It’s not unusual for ships to move in and out of donation status as long as there is a viable option in place,” said Frank Lennon, president of the USS John F. Kennedy Project in Rhode Island. “Dismantling and scrapping a ship is a very involved process.”
He said usually when one door closes, another opens. But because the Kennedy is the last conventionally-powered aircraft carrier available, there won’t be any further opportunities for a carrier museum if the Navy decides to go through with dismantlement.