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.
The first crew members for aircraft carrier PCU John F. Kennedy (CVN-79) have arrived at Newport News Shipbuilding and the unit has stood up.
The 100,000-ton+ behemoth is the second in the Ford-class and is expected to take to the water later this year at launching. Commissioning is set for 2024, which hopefully is enough time to get the bugs worked out of the series.
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.
The huge new RN carrier and pending flag, HMS Queen Elizabeth, prepares to sail from Rosyth dockyard for the first time to begin sea trials after seven years of construction. The 65,000-ton carrier is the largest warship ever constructed for the Royal Navy.
HMS Queen Elizabeth, left, next to the stricken Harrier carrier HMS Illustrious while under construction. The Queen is more than three times Lusty’s size.
Meanwhile, the Ford-class supercarrier PCU John F. Kennedy (CVN 79) has reached 50 percent structural completion this week with her 70-foot long lower stern lifted into place at Newport News Shipbuilding using the company’s 1,050-metric ton gantry crane. The carrier is on track to be completed with 445 sectional lifts, 51 fewer than Ford and 149 less than USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77), the last Nimitz-class carrier.
Image via Chris Powell shared Research Library, USS Midway Museum’s photo
18 October 1985: This congregation of carriers moored in numerical order from front to back at Piers 11 and 12 at Naval Station Norfolk, Virginia, are the nuclear-powered aircraft carriers USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69) and USS Nimitz (CVN-68) (both Nimitz-class), and the conventionally-powered USS John F. Kennedy (CV-67) and the Kitty Hawk-class USS America (CV-66).
While Ike and Nimitz are still on active duty and will be for some time, JFK 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.
America, on the other hand, was decommed in 1996 as a cost saving measure as she was up for refit and is the largest warship and only supercarrier ever to be sunk, scuttled in very deep water after live-fire testing 14 May 2005.
Atlantic Ocean (May 14, 2005) – The decommissioned aircraft carrier, USS America (CV 66) was “laid to rest” after being sunk at sea. America was the target of a series of tests designed to test new defense and damage control systems for the CVN-21 program. The conventionally-powered carrier, left active service in 1996. U.S. Navy photo by Photographer’s Mate 2nd Class Michael Sandberg (RELEASED)