Tag Archives: USS Kitty Hawk

870 Love, Sh-tty Kitty Edition

Official caption: “A Marine armed with shotgun and ammunition belt stands guard at a rail aboard the aircraft carrier USS KITTY HAWK (CV-63), 12/15/1984”

Dig those crisp cammies and leather shell bandolier. Talk about Cold War esthetic. Photo 330-CFD-DN-ST-87-09135 by PH3 Davidson via NARA 

While many just talk about the Marines going from the Winchester 97 Trench Gun in WWI, to the Winchester 12 in WWII and the Mossberg 590 and Benelli M4 today, for years the Corps fielded a specialized version of the Remington 870, dubbed the M-870, Mark 1, complete with a bayonet lug forend over a lengthened mag tube. These guns are highly collectible when encountered in the wild today.

USNS JOSHUA HUMPRHEYS (T-AO-188), Marine FAST team member with an M870 MK1 Remington shotgun, notably missing the front sight post

A Marine demonstrates a standing firing position with a Remington 870 M-870, Mark 1 12-gauge shotgun, 5.3.1989. Note the kevlar, woodland BDUs, and Bianchi M84 holster with the M9 Beretta. DM-SN-93-00537 et.al via NARA.

As for Kitty Hawk, one of the Navy’s last conventional supercarriers, she was decommissioned in 2009 and is awaiting disposal. The Navy recently said she will undergo a drydocking in early 2021 at Puget Sound NSY’s Dry Dock 6 to remove sea life in anticipation of being moved to the breakers. She long outlived shotgun-wielding Marine Dets, which were pulled from flattops and disestablished in 1998.

Topeka’s Terriers looking for turkey, 56 years ago today

Official U.S. Navy Photograph. Catalog #: KN-3632

This image, shows the converted light cruiser USS Topeka (CLG-8) firing a Terrier guided-missile on 18 November 1961, during weapons demonstrations for the Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral George W. Anderson, a week before Thanksgiving. Photographed from on board USS Kitty Hawk (CVA-63). Planes preparing for launch on the carrier’s flight deck are a F8U Crusader jet fighter, at left, and an AD-6 Skyraider attack plane (Bureau # 137588), in the lower center.

While probably not aiming at Thanksgiving dinner, Topeka was known for warming up some VC and NVA on occasion.

USS Topeka (CLG-8) fires her forward turret’s 6/47 guns at the Viet Cong, while steaming slowly in the South China Sea on an in-shore fire support mission, April 1966. Official U.S. Navy Photograph. Catalog #: K-31264

Battle Cat headed to the scrapper, and likely a park in South Texas

Blast from the past, first, from a decade ago:

Sailors man the rails aboard the aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63) as the ship leaves San Diego, Aug. 28 2007. Kitty Hawk is making its final voyage after 47 years of service to Bremerton, Wash., where it will prepare to decommission early next year. Approximately 1,600 Sailors are making the deployment, along with nearly 70 former Kitty Hawk Sailors, including a few dozen of the ship's original crew, known as plankowners. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Lily Daniels/Released)

Sailors man the rails aboard the aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63) as the ship leaves San Diego, Aug. 28 2007. Kitty Hawk is making its final voyage after 47 years of service to Bremerton, Wash., where it will prepare to decommission early next year. Approximately 1,600 Sailors are making the deployment, along with nearly 70 former Kitty Hawk Sailors, including a few dozen of the ship’s original crew, known as plank owners. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Lily Daniels/Released)

Now, from the Kitsap Sun:

The Kitty Hawk (CV 63) will be disposed of by dismantling, according to Naval Sea Systems Command spokeswoman Colleen O’Rourke.

O’Rourke cited an annual report to Congress that outlines the Navy’s five-year shipbuilding plans. In this fiscal year’s edition, released in April 2016, the Kitty Hawk was listed as one of the Navy’s inactive ships slated for scrapping.

The Navy has not yet determined when the Kitty Hawk will depart its berthing in Bremerton, where the ship will go to be dismantled or what company will be awarded the contract, O’Rourke said.

Laid down in 1956, Kitty Hawk became the oldest active warship in the Navy (besides Constitution) in 1998 and held that title for a decade until she was officially decommissioned on 12 May 2009 after almost 50-years in the fleet. Between her launch date and now, 57.4 years have passed.

Kitty Hawk is currently held in Maintenance Category B receiving the highest degree of maintenance and preservation to a retired ship, though with USS Ford entering the fleet, she will likely be downgraded to Category C or X in coming months as the big new carrier moves through a 10-month shakedown and goes through working up for her first deployment. She recently has been used to help train ship-less carrier crews on the West Coast.

Though plans have been floated to look into reactivating “Shitty Kitty” the CNO has downplayed that and she now will most likely head to Texas, where all the conventional carriers in the past few years have gone.

As a result the city of Laguna Vista is set to unveil the Rio Grande Valley’s first ever Aircraft Carrier Memorial. As noted by the Brownsville Herald the memorial will include bollards, or posts that secured the ships, from the USS Independence, USS Ranger, and USS Constellation.

Kitty Hawk will no doubt join the collection in good time.

The ‘Battle Cat’ still serves

Sailors from the Nimitz-class supercarrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) recently conducted damage control and medical training during three damage control “rodeo” events held aboard the decommissioned carrier ex-USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63) over the past three months, showing that even ships on red lead row can still tap in when needed.

Laid down in 1956, Kitty Hawk became the oldest active warship in the Navy (besides Constitution) in 1998 and held that title for a decade until she was officially decommissioned on 12 May 2009 after almost 50-years in the fleet. Still, her hangar deck is and other passageways are similar enough to the Nimitz-class to work for DC training.

BREMERTON, Washington (May 17, 2017) Sailors assigned to USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) muster for a damage control rodeo prior to going aboard the decommissioned aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63). The damage control rodeo was held on Kitty Hawk to provide a shipboard environment, adequate space and hands-on training while John C. Stennis conducts a planned incremental availability (PIA) at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility, during which the ship is undergoing scheduled maintenance and upgrades. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Cole C. Pielop / Released)

From the Navy’s presser:

John C. Stennis’ damage control and medical departments were unable to hold the “rodeos” on their own ship due to maintenance work being conducted during its planned incremental availability (PIA), but still wanted to give their fellow Sailors the most realistic experience possible.

Enter ex-Kitty Hawk, the Navy’s last conventional-powered aircraft carrier, held at Naval Inactive Ship Maintenance Facility Bremerton, and just a quick walk away from John C. Stennis. Though Kitty Hawk was decommissioned in 2009, it remains largely intact and shares many basic similarities to modern Nimitz-class aircraft carriers, making it an ideal location for this type of training.

Kitty Hawk is officially to be held in Maintenance Category B receiving the highest degree of maintenance and preservation to a retired ship, though with USS Ford entering the fleet, she will likely be downgraded to Category C or X in coming months as the big new carrier moves through a 10-month shakedown and goes through working up for her first deployment.

Though plans have been floated to look into reactivating “Shitty Kitty” the CNO has downplayed that and it is more likely she would be held for museum donation and, should that fall through, scrapped.

Who wants some postcards?

I like estate sales and enjoy attending them as I tend to find great old knives, militaria, and firearms up for grabs. One sale I recently attended was for a late local Biloxi-area photographer who took a number of images up and down the Gulf Coast in the 1970s and 80s that were turned into postcards. Apparently, as part of his payment, he got a stack of each postcard that was printed. While a lot were your standard lighthouse-shrimpboat-sand dollar-bikini girl scenes, there were also some military subjects that I picked up.

I got a *stack* of each of these five.


They are detailed as such:

“The 6-inch disappearing rifle located at Battery Cooper in Fort Pickens. The uniforms shown were from the late 1890s. The Fort only saw about 60 hours of combat; that during the Civil War. “

U.S. Air Force Armament Museum outside of Eglin AFB, showing a B-17, F-4, and T-12 “Cloudmaker” 44,000 lb bomb

USS Kitty Hawk underway. No note as to when the image was taken but she still has A-7 Corsairs and SH-3 Sea Kings on deck and CIWS aft, so I am guessing mid-to-late 1980s.

“Pascagoula” showing the mouth of the river at Ingalls-Litton’s East Bank with the USS Wisconsin (BB-64) berthed undergoing her post-mothball modernization 1987-88. I attended her recommissioning as a kid! An LHD (likely Wasp) and a late batch VLS CG-47 are visible in the postcard on the West Bank, though I can’t tell which numbers

Fort Massachusetts on Ship Island off Gulfport. This image is pre-1998 as the island has changed significantly since then. Everything to the right of the fort is now underwater due to Hurricanes Georges and Katrina and the casemates are currently very close to the beach at high tide

Bottom line, I am never going to use several hundred postcards, so I am bundling one of each of the above (five in total) together to send for free to anyone that wants a set. So if you want a set of the five above, email me your shipping address at: egerwriter@gmail.com and I will drop an envelope in the USPS mail box headed your way.

Be advised some of these are 30-40 years old and, while they never took up store space or were circulated, they were not stored in museum conditions (rusty old filing cabinets marked “NASA Marietta”). But they are free and I will not use your address for anything but scribbling it on the envelope.

Did I mention they are free?