USS Kitty Hawk (CV-63)

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The supercarrier USS Kitty Hawk (CV-63), formerly CVA-63, was the second naval ship named after Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, the site of the Wright brothers' first powered airplane flight. Kitty Hawk was both the first and last active ship of her class, and the last conventionally-fuelled aircraft carrier in service with the U.S. Navy.

Kitty Hawk was laid down by the New York Shipbuilding Corporation, Camden, New Jersey, 27 December 1956; and launched 21 May 1960, sponsored by Mrs. Camilla F. McElroy, wife of Secretary of Defense Neil H. McElroy; and commissioned 21 April 1961 at Philadelphia Naval Shipyard, Captain William F. Bringle in command.

Kitty Hawk was launched by flooding her drydock. A conventional slide down ways was ruled out because of her mass and the risk of impact with the Philadelphia shore on the far side of the Delaware River.

With the decommissioning of Independence on 30 September 1998, Kitty Hawk became the ship with the second longest active status in the Navy (The USS Constitution sailing ship in Boston Harbor is still retained on active Navy status). With this title came the distinction of being one of only two aircraft carriers ever to be honored with flying the First Navy Jack. This came to an end with an instruction dated 31 May 2002, where the Secretary of the Navy directed all United States Navy ships to fly this flag in honor of those killed in the September 11, 2001 attacks for the duration of the War on Terrorism.[4]

For 10 years, Kitty Hawk was the forward-deployed carrier at Yokosuka Naval Base in Yokosuka, Japan. In October 2008, she was replaced in this role by the George Washington. Kitty Hawk then returned to the United States and had her decommissioning ceremony on 31 January 2009. She was officially decommissioned on 12 May 2009 after almost 49 years of service.[5] Kitty Hawk was replaced by the George H. W. Bush.

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