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DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY -- NAVAL HISTORY AND HERITAGE COMMAND
805 KIDDER BREESE SE -- WASHINGTON NAVY YARD
WASHINGTON DC 20374-50
USS Forrestal (CV-59)
James Vincent Forrestal was born on 15 February 1892, in Matteawan (now Beacon), New York. His father, an Irish immigrant who
arrived in the United States in 1857, managed a construction company. After
graduating from high school in 1908, Forrestal worked for three years on local
newspapers in New York State and then entered Dartmouth College
as a freshman in 1911. The following year he transferred to Princeton University
in New Jersey, but left in 1915 a few credits short of his degree, apparently due to academic and financial difficulties. During his time at both schools he also participated in boxing, tennis and wrestling. He then worked briefly as a financial reporter, a clerk for a zinc company and as a tobacco salesman. The
next year Forrestal joined an investment banking house, William A. Read and
Company of New York
(which became Dillon, Read and Company in 1923), as a bond salesman. World War
I interrupted his career in finance, however, and he enlisted in the U.S. Navy as a seaman second class on 2 June 1917.
The young sailor became enthused by naval aviation and he took flight training with British instructors from
the Royal Flying Corps at Camp Borden–considered to be the birthplace of the
Royal Canadian Air Force–and at Deseronto, both in Ontario, Canada. He
commissioned as an ensign, Naval Reserve Flying Corps (NRFC) at Boston, Massachusetts,
on 17 November of that year, and he gained his wings of gold as Naval Aviator No. 154 [HTAheavier-than-air] on 6 December 1917. Soon thereafter, Forrestal served in the office of the Chief of Naval Operations.
Following the Armistice, Forrestal, discharged from the Navy with the rank of lieutenant, NRFC, on 30 December 1919, returned to banking through 1940. He rose rapidly in the company, becoming a partner in 1923, vice president in 1926, and president in 1938. Meanwhile, he met and courted Josephine Ogden, a beautiful 26-year-old chorus girl for the Ziegfeld Follies, and after a tempestuous romance the couple married on 13 October 1926, a union that would produce two sons, Michael V., and Peter. Although Jim Forrestal was the man I wanted the bride afterward confided to an interviewer, and their matrimonial voyage began happily, their marriage eventually grounded on the husbands extra-marital affairs and his wife's descent into alcoholism and mental illness.
In June 1940, Forrestal accepted a post as a special assistant to President Franklin D. Roosevelt, serving as a liaison for the chief executive in handling the National Defense Program, part of the countrys belated rearmament efforts as it prepared for World War II. In August 1940, the President nominated Forrestal to fill the new position of under secretary of the Navy. Secretary of the Navy William F. Knox [Frank Knox] assigned his under secretary to handle contracts, taxes and legal affairs, and as a liaison with several other government agencies. A
highly capable administrator and manager, Forrestal built his office into an
efficient organization, and he ran very effectively the Navy’s machinery for
industrial mobilization and procurement, a vast system that ultimately produced
the largest fleet ever to put to sea. The seemingly tireless under secretary
made numerous trips across the country and to the far-flung battlefields,
coming under fire by the Japanese more than once during inspection and
morale-building tours on Kwajalein and Iwo Jima. When a heart attack took Secretary Knox, Forrestal succeeded him on 19 May 1944. He guided the Navy through the last year of the war and into the two difficult years of demobilization after the Japanese surrendered.
Forrestal visited Joint Task Force 1 at Bikini Lagoon in the Marshall Islands for Test Able of Operation Crossroads to witness the detonation of an atomic bomb and its effects upon over 90 ships, together with weapons and equipment, during late June and early July 1946. The explosion stunned the secretary, who made a number of references during interviews over succeeding days to the tremendous power unleashed by the blast and its effect upon viewers. Complex global problems made more urgent by the Cold War confronted the nation, however, and planners developed a new national security system to begin functioning without delay. Forrestal participated prominently in the development of the National Security Act of 1947, even though he initially opposed unification services. Nonetheless, under pressure from President Harry S. Truman and others, Forrestal made use of the 1945 Eberstadt report and negotiations with Secretary of War Robert P. Patterson to play a primary role in shaping the initial form of the plans. Although the President preferred Patterson as his first choice for secretary of defense, the latter intended to return to private life. The
President’s subsequent selection of Forrestal, however ironic it might appear
given the Secretary’s resistance to unification, was deserved and logical
considering his long experience in the Defense establishment and dedication to
Tensions between the West and the East Bloc continued to build and intelligence analysts feared that Yugoslav Marshal Josip Broz [Tito] might attempt to seize the Adriatic city of Trieste, still occupied by U.S. and British troops to ensure the orderly transition of power following the Axis collapse. Therefore, when President Harry S Truman selected Forrestal as the first secretary of defense, he also directed that be sworn-in several days earlier than originally scheduled, on 17 September 1947.
Forrestal brought to his new office a deep distrust of the Soviets and a determination to make the new national security structure workable. He recognized the magnitude of the job; he wrote to a friend shortly after announcement of his appointment confiding his serious apprehensions about the future of the new organization. He soon discovered that perhaps the chief obstacle to accomplishing his objectives would be the inherent weakness in the secretary of defenses powers as defined in the National Security Act. Another problem became the existence of virtually autonomous heads for the military departments. These organizational difficulties, combined with a steady escalation of Cold War tensions, ensured 18 months of frustration.
By February 1948, the Russians had largely completed their network of satellite nations across eastern Europe, as communists supported by Moscow
seized control in Czechoslovakia. That June, the Soviets blockaded land routes from the western zones of Germany to Berlin,
forcing the Americans and their allies to initiate an airlift which supplied Berlin until Moscow relaxed the blockade more than 10 months later. In
the meantime, war broke out in Palestine between the Arabs and Israelis. As these events occurred, Congress approved the Marshall Plan, providing economic aid for 16 European nations, and in June 1948 the Senate adopted the Vandenberg Resolution, encouraging the administration to enter into collective defense arrangements. The Americans and British led in developing the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), formally established in April 1949. On the other side of the world, the Chinese communists defeated the Nationalists and drove them from the mainland, leading in 1949 to their emergence as a growing threat to freedom within Asia.
national security apparatus played an important role in the development of U.S. policies and programs to meet these Cold War challenges. Forrestal believed strongly in the need for close coordination of defense and foreign policy and saw the National Security Council as a major instrument for accomplishing this coordination. Although President Truman deemed the council a subordinate advisory body he met infrequently with it before the Korean War erupted in June 1950. Forrestal thought it should originate policy proposals and provide firm guidance for strategic planning. He labored hard, for the most part unsuccessfully, to increase its influence. In
addition, during these years many Western leaders feared that the Soviets would
use their enormous armed forces to conquer Western Europeans, who World War II
largely weakened and made destitute. These men sought desperately for aid to brunt
the (perceived) Russian steamroller and embraced many former Axis leaders due
to the latter’s expertise in and dedication to containing communism.
Forrestal became one of these leaders who established a chain of contacts and infrastructure with émigré anti-communists, including the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists [OUN, better known by their code name of Nactigall, or Nightingale], a group of zealously xenophobic Ukrainians who fought both the Poles and the Russians from World War I onward. Some of these men gained a notorious reputation for supporting Nazi efforts to exterminate Jews, Gypsies and other victims of the Holocaust.
the public did not become aware of these classified operations for sometime,
the highly publicized War Crimes trials drew attention to the atrocities of the
Holocaust, and to those even remotely affiliated with them in whatever manner.
Although it is unknown to what extent his association with these men affected
Forrestal’s mental state, on his final day the Secretary began to copy a Greek
poem entitled The Chorus of Ajax by Sophocles; he stopped after writing
the first syllable of the final word of one of the lines: Nightingale.
National security issues plagued the Secretary and the defense budget became a source of tension between Forrestal and Truman. Due to public pressures to limit defense expenditures and his predilection for a balanced budget, Truman would not agree to budget levels proposed by Forrestal or the larger amounts desired by the services. Disagreements
between the services over roles and missions complicated the matter. Because
the budget limits Truman imposed intensified the competition for scarce funds,
the services developed elaborate rationales justifying their views of roles and
missions and the funds to support them.
Air Force argued that strategic air power as exemplified by long-range bombers
carrying nuclear weapons could be key factor in future wars, and that service
wanted funds to support 70 combat groups as well as exclusive use of atomic
weapons. On the other hand, the Navy wanted to build large flush-deck carriers
from which it could launch naval aircraft carrying atomic weapons. These and
other differences among the services surfaced especially during annual
consideration of the budget.
For all the problems, Forrestal could list 15 solid accomplishments in the process of unification in his first report as secretary of defense in December 1948. These included the formulation of long-range and short-range strategic plans, the development of an integrated defense budget for FY 1950, the definition of service roles and missions, the coordination of service procurement efforts, and the establishment of additional overseas unified commands. Forrestal observed that the mere passage of the National Security Act did not mean the accomplishment of its objectives overnight. The most difficult part of the task of unification is to bring conflicting ideas into harmony
How fast we complete the process of resolution will depend on the speed with which we achieve the harmony of thought which is inherent in true unification. I am confident that we shall reach that accord. The 1949 amendments to the National Security Act stand as testimony to Forrestals determination to improve the Defense structure. The
1949 amendments began the legislative process of clarifying and expanding the
powers of the secretary of defense. Centralization of authority in the Office
of the Secretary of Defense became a constant objective under Forrestal and
many of his successors. Unfortunately, Forrestal no longer served in the
Pentagon when Congress approved these amendments.
Forrestal struggled with recurring bouts of despair, hopelessness and widely erratic mood swings, that the strain of the war exacerbated and that caused the Secretary to resign on 28 March 1949. Psychiatrist Dr. William Menninger of the Menninger Clinic of Topeka, Kansas, diagnosed his patients disorder as reactive depression, a malady then commonly identified among veterans returning from the fronts with combat fatigue. Although Menninger recommended that Forrestal enter his clinic for treatment, Navy officials dispatched Captain George N. Raines, the chief psychiatrist at the U.S. Naval Hospital at Bethesda, Md., a suburb of the nations capital, who counseled that Forrestal should enter that facility instead.
While at Bethesda, however, he continued to experience further attacks of depression and resolved to take his own life by tying off one end of his dressing gown sash to a radiator and falling from the window of his room on the thirteenth floor to the roof of a third story passageway below, on 22 May 1949.
The country acknowledged his services to American security and freedom through two world wars by interning Forrestal with full military honors at Arlington
National Cemetery three days later. The
Finnish artist Kalervo Kallio sculpted a bronze bust of Forrestal which
officials unveiled at the Mall entrance to the Pentagon on 22 September 1950.
Some months after he left office, the House Armed Services Committee, with
which he worked closely, described his administration as secretary of defense
as “able, sensitive, restrained, and far-sighted.”
(CVA-59: displacement (1) 56,000; length 1,036; beam 1294; extreme width 252; draft 359; speed 33 knots; complement 4,000+ ; armament 8 5 54 caliber guns; class Forrestal)
Built by: Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Co., Newport News, Va.
Keel Date: 14 July 1952
Launched: 11 December 1954
Sponsor (Christened): Mrs. Josephine Forrestal, widow of the late Secretary of Defense.
Commissioned: 1 October 1955
Redesignated: to CV-59 on 30 June 1975; to AVT-59 on 4 February 1992.
Decommissioned: 11 September 1993
Strike Date: 11 September 1993
Final Disposition: To be determined (on "donation hold" as a museum and memorial)
Forrestal (CVA-59) was laid down on 14 June 1952 at Newport News Shipbuilding
and Dry Dock Company at Newport News, Virginia; launched on 11 December 1954; sponsored by Josephine Forrestal, widow of Secretary Forrestal; and commissioned at
Norfolk Naval Shipyard at Portsmouth,
Virginia, on 1 October 1955,
Chronology and Significant
of the Navy Charles S. Thomas, RADM Ingolf N. Kiland, Commandant of the Fifth
Naval District, and W.E. Blewett, Jr., President of the Newport News
Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company, attended the ceremony when the ship hoisted
aloft her commissioning pennant at 1430 at Norfolk Naval Shipyard at Portsmouth, Virginia; Captain Roy L. Johnson was the first commanding officer. The huge aircraft carriers of the Forrestal class were so large when compared to previous carriers that veterans referred to them as supercarriers. Forrestal commissioned with four steam catapultstwo forward and two on her angled flight deckenabling her to launch aircraft more rapidly. During the post-World War II period several developments prepared naval aviation to provide a credible nuclear deterrent against East Bloc expansion: building Forrestal, reducing the weight and
dimensions of nuclear weapons, and developing aircraft capable of dropping
them, including Douglas A-3 Skywarriors.[i]
From her home port in Norfolk, Virginia,
Forrestal spent the first year of her commissioned service in intensive training operations off the Virginia capes
and in the Caribbean. An important assignment became training aviators in the use of her
advanced facilities, a duty on which she often operated out of Mayport, Florida.
Dec 1955–Jan 1956: Helicopter Utility Squadron (HU)-2 Detachment 42
operated a pair of Piasecki (Vertol) UH-25B Retrievers on board for
search and rescue purposes to winch survivors of downed aircraft out of the
water. Meanwhile, a pair of McDonnell Douglas A-4 Skyhawks, one a night
attack variant and the other an electronic warfare conversion, together with a
couple of Beech TC-45J Kansans, also flew from the ship to qualify their
pilots to operate from carriers. Just after the New Year Fighter Squadron
(VF)-41 flew 11 McDonnell F-2C Banshees on board for carrier
qualifications, joined by 14 Douglas A-1H Skyraiders and one Kansan
from Attack Squadron (VA)-42 and 13 Vought F7U-3M Cutlass’ from VA-86.
These became the first aircraft to operate from the carrier.
3 Jan 1956: CDR Ralph L. Werner, commanding Air Task Group-1, made the first fixed wing aircraft landing on board Forrestal when he made three touch-and-go landings after which he made the first full-stop landing, in his North American F-1C Fury during the afternoon watch at about 1440. A few hours later he piloted the same aircraft to make the first catapult launch from the huge carrier. Meanwhile, CDR William M. Harnish, commanding officer of VF-21, made the second landing, also in a Fury, at approximately 1445. LT Vincent Darcey of the air group was the landing signal officer for both traps. Sailors painted both aircraft in the Navy's new white and gray 'atomic' paint scheme. The ship sailed to the east of Norfolk.[ii]
A North American F-1C Fury launched from the angled flight deck catapult of Forrestal (CVA-59) as a second Fury from Fighter Squadron (VF)-21 moved into position to join him, in March 1956. National Archives and Records Administration No. 80-G-687790.
24 Jan–28 Mar 1956: Forrestal completed her shakedown cruise in Caribbean
waters, operating principally off Guantánamo Bay in
23–27 Apr 1956: The ship accomplished her final acceptance trials in
4 May 1956: The carrier entered the yard for repairs which included
replacing her original propeller shafts. Forrestal’s
Command History Report noted that completing this work “greatly
improved her performance.”
29 Oct–12 Dec 1956: Worsening tensions in the Middle
East erupted into Operation Kadesh, Israeli attacks against the
Egyptians in the Sinai Peninsula and along the Suez Canal. The next day the British and French issued an ultimatum to the Israelis and Egyptians to pull their forces back 10 miles from either side of the vital waterway
to bring about the early cessation of hostilities and to safeguard the free passage of the canal. The Israelis accepted the terms of the ultimatum but the Egyptians angrily refused to comply. ADM Arleigh A. Burke, the Chief of Naval Operations, alerted the Sixth Fleet to standby to evacuate Americans stranded by the crisis in Haifa and
Tel Aviv, Israel, Beirut, Lebanon,
and Alexandria, Egypt. By 4 November, ships
evacuated 1,702 people, naval helos took out 165 more and Air Force crews
pulled 310 refugees from harm’s way, often during extremely perilous situations
from gunfire, errant bombs or navigational hazards. Just as destroyer Strong (DD-758) arrived at Gaza and anchored 3,000
yards off the port to disembark 21 members of a UN truce inspection team, an
Egyptian ammunition dump exploded, showering the area with molten fragments and
debris. From their vantage point crewmembers also observed mortar and small
arms fire as the Israelis and Egyptians fought over the strategic city,
culminating in strafing and bombing runs by Israeli aircraft against Egyptian
troops who refused to surrender. The sailors also witnessed the pitiable
spectacle as the fighting forced hundreds of people to leave on foot, carrying
their few belongings as they drove sheep and goats before them. Meanwhile, the Anglo-French
ultimatum expired at 0430 on Halloween, and the two allies dispatched a huge
expeditionary force that bombarded Egyptian forces across Egypt. At dawn
on 5 November they began Operation Musketeer, landing commandoes,
marines and specialized troops at key points along the strategic canal to
prevent the Egyptians from closing it by sinking ships or laying mines. The
fighting raged into the next day, when British Prime Minister Sir Anthony Eden
announced a cease-fire notice to take effect at midnight of the 6th.
Secretary of State for External Affairs Lester B. Pearson proposed the creation
of a UN peacekeeping force to separate the combatants, and a majority of that
body’s members agreed to support his resolution. Orders directed a vast number of American ships to
rendezvous and concentrate in Atlantic waters off east coast ports, including Forrestal, which put to sea from Mayport. Due to concerns over possible
Soviet submarine attacks should the crisis escalate, CINCLANTFLT authorized
ships proceeding independently to do so at high speed “consistent with weather
and sea conditions.” Ships set sail from various U.S. ports, arriving at holding
areas and mustering ports as type commanders desired by 10 December. By 17
November, RADM Murr
E. Arnold, Commander, Carrier Division 4 and Task Force 26, broke his flag from
Forrestal in command of a powerful
concentration of ships that rendezvoused near 36°30’N, 27°18’17”W, in the eastern Atlantic around
the Azores Islands, also
including; attack aircraft carrier Franklin D. Roosevelt (CVA-42), heavy
cruiser Des Moines (CA-134), radar picket destroyers Charles P. Cecil
(DDR-835), Corry (DDR-817), O’Hare (DDR-889) and Stickell
(DDR-888), destroyers Douglas H. Fox (DD-779), Healy (DD-672), John
Hood (DD-655), Laffey (DD-724), Lowry (DD-770), Robinson
(DD-562), Sigourney (DD-643) and Stormes (DD-780), store ship Rigel
(AF-58) and oiler Severn (AO-61). Additional ships relieved some of
these vessels during the following days to enable the original ships to take on
fuel or achieve repairs. The carriers conducted air operations ‘as practicable’
to enhance their readiness, and utilized their aircraft to evaluate experiments
determining the maximum air group loading for ‘executing war missions’ as they
to enter the Mediterranean should their
necessary. CINCLANTFLT tentatively scheduled attack aircraft carrier Lake Champlain (CVA-39) to relieve Franklin D.
Roosevelt. Forrestal returned to Norfolk to prepare for her first deployment with the Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean.
The ship awaited her turn to refuel while steaming in the Mediterranean Sea during the Jordanian crisis, on 29 April 1957. Oiler Caloosahatchee (AO-98) is ahead, with attack aircraft carrier Lake Champlain (CVA-39) and heavy cruiser Salem (CA-139) alongside. National Archives and Records Administration No. 80-G-K-22688.
Jan–22 Jul 1957:
The ship made her first deployment to the Mediterranean.
On this, as on her
succeeding tours of duty in the Mediterranean,
Forrestal visited many ports to allow dignitaries and the general public to come on
board and view the tremendous power for
peace she represented. For military
observers, she staged underway demonstrations
to illustrate her capacity to bring air power to and from the sea in military operations on any scale.
Feb 1957: The
ship passed through the Strait
of Gibraltar for the
first time and entered Mediterranean waters. During this deployment she also conducted
underway demonstration cruises for Prince Rainier III and Princess Grace of Monaco, and for
Pahlavi, the Shah of
Mar–3 Apr 1957: Forrestal steamed off the Greek isle of Rhodes.
Apr 1957: The
ship appeared briefly off Beirut,
Apr 1957: VADM Charles R. Brown, Commander, Sixth Fleet, escorted Sir Robert Laycock, the British Governor of Malta, and 26
other high ranking British government and military officials including VADM
Durnford Slater, RN, RADM Geoffrey Brittian, RN, and RADM Lee Barber, RN, onto
the ship to witness flight operations and aircraft demonstrations. The British
officials visited as guests of RADM Arnold and CAPT William E. Ellis, the commanding
officer of Forrestal, and VADM Brown arrived on board from his flagship, the heavy cruiser Salem (CA-139).
24 Apr–5 May 1957: A crisis occurred in the Middle
East concerning rising pan-Arab nationalism, the withdrawal of
European colonial powers and intrigues between Western and East Bloc factions,
which threatened the throne of Jordanian King Hussein bin Talal (also known as
King Hussein I). On the evening of the 25th Admiral Burke directed VADM Brown to deploy his forces to
the eastern Mediterranean to ensure that the
Jordanians maintained their independence and not be subverted from within or
attacked from without. “Once again” explained VADM Brown in a message to all
hands of the Sixth Fleet, “we find ourselves dropping everything and rushing to
the scene of the fire.” By the next day Forrestal, Lake Champlain,
heavy cruisers Des Moines and Salem and their destroyers rendezvoused and proceeded eastward at best possible speed into the crisis. Crew members worked at a feverish pace to prepare for action and at 0705 on the 27th, VADM Brown reported that he could launch attack
aircraft and fighters at “first light tomorrow” should the emergency escalate.
Concerns that they would have to evacuate Americans within the country prompted
planning to deploy marines into the Jordanian capital of Amman as armed escorts while helicopters
flying from Forrestal covered the evacuations. Meanwhile, amphibious
forces made for Beirut, Lebanon, and upon arriving they stood ready to
deploy additional troops and equipment ashore or to evacuate United States
civilians. These two groups of ships continued to maintain station in the
eastern Mediterranean until diplomats diffused
the tension. “In ten short days” VADM Brown told his men as they returned on
the 5th, “from the time of our sudden departure for the eastern Mediterranean the striking fleet is back in Italian
waters, for a NATO exercise which begins tonight. While everyone must be
pleased to be back, I hope no one loses sight of the larger significance of
what has happened. In the brief period of time we have successfully carried out
an important national mission in the eastern Mediterranean and we have met an
important NATO commitment in the central Mediterranean.
The distance between the two assignments is about 1,500 miles as the crow
flies. This performance has been a dramatic demonstration of the mobility and
flexibility of the fleet and one in which all can be proud to have had a part.”
Jul 1957: The
ship passed through the Strait of Gibraltar into the Atlantic.
(CVA-15) relieved Forrestal at the British dockyard and naval station at
“The Rock” on 14 July.
returned to Norfolk for exercises off the North Carolina coast in preparation for her first NATO exercise in
the North Sea, Operation Strikeback.
Jul–11 Aug 1957: The
carrier completed work at Norfolk Naval Shipyard.
3 Sep–22 Oct 1957: During Strikeback, Forrestal drilled in the highly
important task of coordinating United States
naval power with that of other NATO
nations. Forrestal steamed off the Clyde River Estuary in Scotland (14–16 September) and visited Southampton in England (30
September–11 October). Observers estimated that as many as 65,000 people
visited or viewed the ship at the latter port, including U.S. Ambassador to the
Court of St. James John H. Whitney.
20 Dec 1957–20 Feb 1958: Forrestal’s
crew and shipyard workers accomplished repairs and upkeep at the Norfolk Naval
28 Mar–24 May 1958: The ship
participated in a series of major fleet
exercises off the North Carolina, Georgia and Florida coasts, as well as taking part in experimental flight operations. She also made
a brief visit to Miami, Florida (19–21 May). During LantRaEx 1-58
in May, LTJGs Strang and Woods of VA-85 flew two A-1H Skyraiders from Forrestal as she steamed off the coast of Jacksonville
nonstop to NAS North
Island in California. They completed their flight
normally flying at altitudes below 1,000 feet to demonstrate the low level and
long range capabilities of their squadron, and then returned nonstop to the
carrier two days later.
1117 Jul 1958: Rival Lebanese political and religious factions clashed resulting in rioting that threatened that Levantine country. Tensions produced a crisis when Muslims rebelled against the Lebanese government at the same time that Iraqi army officers overthrew the pro-Western Hashemite monarchy in a coup détat in Baghdad on 14 July.
Lebanese President Camille Chamoun requested assistance from President Dwight
D. Eisenhower and the latter initiated Operation Blue Bat on the
following day, which included the Sixth Fleet and supporting Air Force and Army
commands landing over 14,000 marines and soldiers at Beirut to restore order and protect Americans
trapped in the fighting. During the crisis Forrestal
operated in the eastern Atlantic to
back-up naval operations in the Mediterranean, and to be ready to intervene if the crisis
escalated. She sailed from Norfolk to embark CVG-10 at Mayport two days later, and then she patrolled the Atlantic until
returning to Virginian waters when the crisis subsided and the Americans
ultimately withdrew most troops from Lebanon.
2 Sep 1958–12 Mar 1959:
Setting sail from Norfolk at 0800 Forrestal
began her second tour of duty in the Mediterranean as
she combined a program of training, patrol, and participation in major exercises with ceremonial
hospitality and public visiting. The A-4Bs of VA-12 became the first Skyhawks
to deploy on board the ship.
Sep 1958: The
ship passed through the Strait
Sep 1958: Forrestal
relieved attack aircraft carrier Saratoga
(CVA-60) at Augusta Bay, Sicily.
14–27 Oct 1958: The carrier encountered “a major failure” of her No.
1 Catapult, however, and her crew and civilian technicians accomplished the
extensive repairs while visiting Naples,
first time that they attempted such work outside of a shipyard. Secretary of Defense Neil H. McElroy led her guest list during this cruise.
2 Dec 1958: RADM Roy L. Johnson relieved RADM Charles D. Griffin as Commander, Carrier Division 4, during a ceremony on board Forrestal
at Barcelona, Spain.
18 Dec 1958–3 Jan 1959: The crew and civilian workers again accomplished
extensive repairs to a catapult while visiting Naples, Italy–this
time to No. 2. The ship then led Task Force 60 in Operation Big Deal, a
joint Second and Sixth Fleet exercise.
Forrestal (CVA-59) entered Naples, Italy, circa early 1959 (the Department of Defense released the photograph on 19 May 1959), as Mount Vesuvius towers over her in the distance. Aircraft visible on the crowded flight deck include Douglas A-3B Skywarriors of Heavy Attack Squadron (VAH)-5, Douglas F-6 Skyrays of Fighter Squadron (VF)-102 and McDonnell Douglas A-4B Skyhawks of Attack Squadron (VA)-12. Naval Historical Center Photo No. 97658.
1–2 Mar 1959: Franklin D. Roosevelt relieved Forrestal
at Pollensa Bay at Palma de Mallorca in the Balearic
3–4 Mar 1959: Forrestal passed through the Strait of Gibraltar
12 Mar 1959: Returning to Norfolk,
Forrestal continued to train new
aircrew, constantly maintaining her readiness for instant reaction to any demand for her services brought on by international
Mar 1959: King
Hussein I of Jordan visited
the ship for a luncheon while she moored to Pier 12 at Norfolk.
entered Norfolk Naval Shipyard for her first regular overhaul.
Sep–1 Oct 1959: Forrestal sortied to evade Hurricane Hannah as the storm swept toward the Virginia area with winds that peaked at 130 mph on 1 October, however, the hurricane turned to eastward and dropped to an extra tropical storm south of Iceland.
1959: The ship completed a weapons evaluation exercise with USAF pilots.
Feb 1960: Forrestal relieved
Saratoga at Pollensa Bay.
Among the ports she subsequently visited usual to a Mediterranean deployment the ship put into Split, Yugoslavia,
a port-of-call that generated heated controversy in the media due to the
tensions still existing between the communists and the West.
A pair of Douglas EA-1E Skyraiders (BuNos 135163 and 135183) from Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW)-12 flew over Forrestal (CVA-59) as she sailed with the Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean Sea, on 25 April 1960. Naval Historical Center Photo No. NH 97655.
1960: The Bureau
of Ships issued a report concerning the endurance of Forrestal and her
sister ships, which stated in part that “Conventionally powered Aircraft
Carriers should have sufficient range and endurance to allow approach to the
target, high-speed run-in, attack, retirement, and a sufficient amount of
reserve fuel to replenish Escorts.”
Sep–22 Oct 1960:
The carrier completed repairs and maintenance in drydock at the Norfolk Naval
26 Oct 1960: RADM Forsyth Massey relieved RADM Robert E. Dixon as
Commander, Carrier Division 4, during a ceremony on board at Norfolk.
21 Mar 1961: Archbishop Makarios III, President of Cyprus and ethnarch
[national leader] of Greek Cypriots, visited the ship as the guest of VADM
George W. Anderson, Jr., Commander, Sixth Fleet, and RADM Massey.
9 Aug 1961: Secretary of the
Navy John B. Connally visited the ship and spoke to the crew over her closed
circuit television system, congratulating the men for achieving their second
coveted Battle Efficiency “E” award.
25 Aug 1961: By the time Forrestal returned from her fourth
deployment to the Mediterranean, CVG-8 amassed
26,000 flight hours, the equivalent of almost three years flying during less
accelerated operations. In addition, the ship herself celebrated her 60,000th arrested landing. USMC LTV F-8 Crusaders from Marine Fighter Squadron
(VMF)-333 also qualified for carrier operations on board Forrestal.
Sep 1961–13 Jan 1962: Forrestal completed
work at Norfolk Naval Shipyard.
18 Jan–late Feb 1962: The ship accomplished a six-week refresher training cruise
off the east coast that extended down into Caribbean waters, focusing upon the Guantánamo Bay area. She also visited Port-au-Prince, Haiti. In addition, Mercury-Atlas 6 [MA-6] launched from Cape
Canaveral in Florida at 0947 on 20 February 1962. LCOL John H. Glenn, Jr.,
USMC, the 40-year-old astronaut, completed
three orbits about the earth in four hours
55 minutes to become the first American to orbit the planet. Glenn flew
spacecraft Friendship 7 in her 75,679 mile voyage at a maximum speed of
17,544.1 miles per hour. Describing his re-entry as a “real fireball” Glenn
splashed down in the Atlantic some 166 miles east of Grand Turk Island in the
Bahamas, about 800 miles southeast of Bermuda. Destroyer Noa
(DD-841) recovered the astronaut after he spent 21 minutes in the water, and a
helo flew him on to antisubmarine warfare support aircraft carrier Randolph (CVS-15)
at 1745. Although Glenn did not land nearby, Forrestal stood
ready as one of the potential tracking and measuring stations for the epochal
9–14 Apr 1962: Forrestal combined operations with aircraft
(CVAN-65) for a presidential cruise. President John F. Kennedy and his
entourage arrived on board Enterprise
on 14 April. The busy day included sea and air power demonstrations for the
President and many distinguished guests, including most of his cabinet, the
Joint Chiefs of Staff, many congressmen and about 30 foreign ambassadors, all
hosted by VADM John M. Taylor, Commander, Second Fleet. About 20 ships
participated in the exercise off the Virginia
and North Carolina
coasts. A “spectacular display” culminating in a mass flyby and recovery by
naval aircraft entertained guests. CDR Joseph P. Moorer, commanding officer of VF-62, LCDR Joseph S. Elmer, LT Richard C. Oliver and LT William F. Heiss of that squadron shook hands with President Kennedy on board Enterprise
at the conclusion of the demonstration. Forrestal also hosted Vice
President Lyndon B. Johnson and several senators and congressmen during the
Mid to late Apr 1962: Following the Presidential Cruise, Forrestal
returned to the Caribbean for the Atlantic Fleet exercise LantPhibEx 1-62, and took advantage of the opportunity to visit Port of Spain, Trinidad, where the Carrier Division 4 band entertained crowds.
Jul 1962: The ship visited New York City for Independence Day festivities. During one of the days of her week-long stay, almost 22,000 curious visitors swarmed on board.
6–12 Jul 1962: Leaving New York waters, Forrestal participated with Enterprise
in LantFlex 2-62, a nuclear strike exercise under the command of RADM
Reynold D. Hogle, Commander, Carrier Division 4 and Commander, TF 24. Enterprise
launched eight “pre-planned” strikes and six call strikes while operating in the Virginia
capes area against targets ranging
from the Tidewater area to central Florida.
3 Aug 1962: Forrestal weighed anchor and set sail for another Med deployment. This sail included 12,900 officers and men from commands along the east coast
assigned initially to the Second Fleet, manning Enterprise and Forrestal,
guided missile heavy cruiser Boston (CAG-1), from which RADM Robert H. Weeks, Commander, Cruiser Destroyer Flotilla 10, broke his flag, heavy cruiser Newport
News (CA-148), from which VADM John
M. Taylor, Commander, Second Fleet, broke his flag, 13 destroyers from Destroyer Squadrons 8 and 14, ammunition ships Shasta (AE-6) and Suribachi (AE-21) and oiler Chukawan (AO-100). This became the last
time that A-1 Skyraiders of VA-85 deployed on board Forrestal,
and her first deployment with Mach 2.2 capable McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom IIs of VF-74. Soviet Tupolev Tu-95
[Tu-20] Bears would fly the huge journey–hundreds of miles–from their
fields near Murmansk in the Kola Peninsula to
find the ship as she crossed the Atlantic.
Russian electronic specialists operated their sophisticated sensors probing for
the carrier’s radar, and when they discovered her they would drop down for a
closer look, but Phantom IIs from the ship would intercept the intruders
and escort them out of the area. Even during the tensions of the Cold War most
of these encounters were professional and the rivals often waved to each other.
Aug 1962: Forrestal
participated in RipTide III, an exercise with allied aircraft carriers
in the eastern Atlantic that demonstrated
interchangeability, compatibility and reliance with NATO allies including the
British, French and Portuguese.
7 Sep 1962: Forrestal
participated in Lafayette II, an exercise that involved 14 scheduled
conventional strikes coordinated with aircraft from Enterprise
against multiple targets to the French
Low Level Route in southern France. French
air force and naval aircraft opposed them.
6 Oct 1962: NATO chiefs of staff embarked Forrestal for a
Feb 1963: Enterprise
relieved Forrestal at Pollensa
returned to Norfolk.
Russian reconnaissance bombers overflew the carrier en route her return home.
Her aircraft flew over 10,300 missions and logged over 23,000 hours in the air
during this deployment.
1963: The ship
completed repairs and upkeep at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard.
Sep 1963: Forrestal
and ships of Task Force 23 visited Boston,
Massachusetts, for the annual
convention of the East Coast Navy League. The ship moored at the South Boston
Naval Annex on the 12th. The next day RADM John J. Hyland,
Commander, Carrier Division 4, welcomed more than 400 delegates to the League
and their families as they boarded his flagship for a day’s cruise. The carrier
stood out of the port on the 16th to return home.
1963: RADM Samuel R. Brown, Jr., one of the ships former skippers, relieved RADM Hyland in hanger deck ceremonies.
Oct, 21–22 Nov 1963: LT James H. Flatley, III, and LCDR Walter W. “Smokey” Stovall from the
Naval Air Test Center at NAS Patuxent River, Maryland, and ADJ1 Ed Brennan, a
flight engineer from Fleet Tactical Support Squadron (VR)-1, completed 29 touch-and-go
landings and 21 full-stop landings and takeoffs in a Lockheed C-130F Hercules
(BuNo 149798) on board Forrestal. Flatley and his crew, who also
included at times Ted H. Limmer, Jr., a civilian safety test pilot from
Lockheed-Marietta, made some minor modifications to the Hercules–which
marines loaned to them–by replacing its standard C-130 antiskid braking system
with the Hytrol Antiskid Braking System Mk II used in Boeing B-727s and by
removing refueling pods from the wings. Crewmembers painted a white center line
along the ship’s axial deck from bow to ramp to aid Flatley in guiding the huge
aircraft. As they made their first landing on the 30th, surface
winds of 25 to 30 knots and the resulting choppy sea caused moderate deck
motion with a “noticeable” yaw, which forced Forrestal to increase speed
an additional 10 knots to reduce the yaw motion and to stabilize wind
direction. “I was up on the captain’s bridge” recalled Lockheed-Georgia
Engineering Vice President Arthur E. Flock. “I watched a man on the ship’s bow
and that bow must have gone up and down 30 feet.” Although the Hercules
crew encountered 40 to 50 knot winds over the deck, their problems
“considerably lessoned” as they landed. The plane’s right wing tip cleared the
ship’s island control tower by just under 15 feet as it roared down the flight
deck. As Flatley brought the aircraft to a halt crewmembers gathered topside
cheered their arrival, and many commented upon the message specially painted on
the starboard nose of the fuselage for the occasion: “Look ma, no hook.”
Lieutenant Flatley received the Distinguished Flying Cross for his efforts.
From these tests the Navy concluded that Hercules’ could carry 25,000
pounds of cargo and people approximately 2,500 miles and land on board a Forrestal-class
or larger carrier, accomplishing their missions with gross weights of up to
121,000 pounds. Analysts also decided, however, that using the huge aircraft
for Carrier On-board Delivery (COD) flights would be too risky.
LT James H. Flatley, III, and his crew brought their Lockheed C-130F Hercules (BuNo 149798) on board, on 30 October 1963. The intrepid pilot completed his mission despite heavy seas and surface winds, for which he received the Distinguished Flying Cross. Naval Historical Center [Aviation] Photo No. NAH-0002005.
Nov 1963: In
between the Hercules trials the ship engaged in various task force
operations off the east coast.
Dec 1963: Forrestal
operated with Enterprise in StrikEx I,
a combined strike, antisubmarine and air defense exercise conducted in the
southeastern United States
under Commander, Carrier Division 2.
1964: The ship
relieved Enterprise at Pollensa Bay,
enabling the latter to rendezvous with guided missile cruiser Long
Beach (CGN-9) and guided missile frigate Bainbridge
(DLGN-25) for Operation
the first global circumnavigation by nuclear-powered ships.
29 Nov 1964: LT John F. Barr of VA-83 made the 100,00th landing on board, in his A-4E Skyhawk as the ship steamed in the Mediterranean.
aircraft carrier Shangri-La (CVA-38) relieved Forrestal at Pollensa Bay.
1965: Miss America 1965 Vonda Kay Van Dyke, Miss Virginia 1965 Mary
Montgomery, Miss Portsmouth 1965 and 13 contestants for the Miss Portsmouth
crown visited the ship.
1965: RADM Allan
K. Fleming, Commander, Carrier Division 4, shifted his flag to Franklin D.
Roosevelt at Golfo di Palmas, Sardinia.
Jan 1966: An Air
Force Douglas C-47 Dakota crashed up at 7,680 feet atop Mount Helmos
in the Peloponnesian Peninsula in Greece. Later that evening the
Sixth Fleet alerted two Kaman UH-2 Seasprite crews (BuNos 149741an A modeland 150142a B) from Helicopter Combat Support Squadron (HC)-2 Detachment 59 embarked in Forrestal, to stand by to assist
in the search and rescue. Helo crewmembers assigned included CDR Russell–a
doctor–LCDRs Raymond K. McCullough and William S. Munro, LTs Mullen–also a
doctor–and L.R. Grant, II, LT(JG) Michael E. Howe, ADJ1 Ests P. Morrow, ADJ3
John E. Keto, AE3 Richard T. Ream and AMS3 George T. “D and S” Vaughn, III.
Lieutenant Commander McCullough flew the ‘A’ Seasprite and LCDR Munro
piloted the ‘B.’ The men flew to the Royal Hellenic Air Force Base at Araxos
overnight, lifting off from Forrestal at around 2000. After an Air Force captain briefed them on the weather and terrain conditions peculiar to the area, the rescuers set off at 0840 the next morning. Although they enjoyed clear weather, bitter cold, high winds up to 35 knots and dangerous turbulence at the mountain crest hampered the helo crews, who also needed to exercise caution while landing due to their concerns regarding the strength of the ice-crusted snow and whether it would bear their weight. LCDR McCullough persevered through six approaches and had to dump his fuel and auxiliary tanks to lighten the aircraft. He finally found a barely adequate landing spot on a saddle-back ridge a few hundred feet above the crash site where the snow leveled off just enough to allow him to touch down. They rescued two Air Force crewmembers from the wreckage, LCOL Dick N. Crowell, USAF, and CAPT Thomas D. Smith, USAF, and LCDR Munro and LT Grant flew in right behind them and pulled SSGT J.L. Ferguson out in a litter. All of the survivors suffered from frostbite and fatigue. The two crews refueled and returned to the scene and retrieved their crewmembers on the groundwho disembarked to assist the victims to board the helosand the bodies of the victims, returning with them to the base camp at 4,000 feet. The weather remained clear until later in the afternoon, when clouds and visibility closed in and caused problems. Because the atmospheric conditions caused their UHF radios to fail, the helo crews relied on a Grumman E-1B Tracer,
known as a ‘Willy Fudd’ and ‘Stoof With A Roof’ to its crew, from Carrier
Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW)-12, and AF 783, an Air Force
plane, to relay communications between the rescuers and Forrestal. The Tracer
also guided the helos to Araxos during the darkness as the operation began. In
addition, an Air Force Kaman H-43 Huskie
and Greek mountain climbers assisted the rescuers, and the Huskie
evacuated LCOL Frank Bailey, USAF, the last survivor, as well as transporting
the bodies down the mountain from the base camp. An Air Force Hercules
waited for them at Araxos and when they returned the C-130 flew the casualties
out for intensive medical care. Six other crewmembers perished during the
crash, and the searchers could not locate two of the bodies due to the extreme
circumstances of the crash site.
sailed from Taranto, Italy, and in company with guided missile destroyer Conyngham (DDG 17) and destroyers Forrest
Royal (DD 872), McCaffery (DD 860), Charles R. Ware (DD 865)
and Yarnall (DD 541) comprised Task Group 60.2.
1966: Early in
the evening Backwash 100, an F-4B Phantom II, (BuNo 152285), LT
William H. Brinks and LT Edward E. Weller of VF-74, launched for a routine
night intercept training mission while Forrestal steamed in the
Tyrrhenian Sea, at 1802. As 100 climbed through 1,500 feet with both
engines at full thrust, a “loud explosion” shook the aircraft. The Phantom
II immediately began to decelerate, though it finished its climb to 2,200 feet before descending inexorably back to earth. Both men checked their instruments, however, they could not regain control of the F-4B and they ejected, approximately three miles from the ship. A UH-2A crew from HC-2 Detachment 59, LT(JG) Howe, LT Louis R. Grant, AME3 Gary Steele and ATN3 Bill Toth, spotted the survivors within four minutes, thanks largely to the flares and strobe lights which the aircrew deployed fortuitously, and rescued the pilot and radar intercept officer and returned the shaken men to the ship.
Feb 1966: While Forrestal
visited Naples a group of men from the ship
attended an audience with Pope Paul VI at Vatican City
Spanish LGEN Avales, that country’s air defense force commander, visited Forrestal
for an underway orientation.
Feb–3 Mar 1966:
The ship participated in Fairgame IV, a joint exercise with the French, including their aircraft carrier Arromanches (R-95), in the Mediterranean. RADM Leslie J. OBrien, Jr., Commander, Cruiser Destroyer Flotilla 10, transferred over to guided missile frigate MacDonough (DLG-8) on the last day of Fairgame IV, from
which he broke his flag until returning to the carrier.
put into Taranto
for a fleet commander’s conference with the Sixth Fleet. Officers and men from
numerous commands arrived on board attack aircraft carrier America
Mar 1966: Saratoga
relieved Forrestal at Pollensa
Bay. The next day the
latter passed through the Strait of Gibraltar beginning at 2100 on 31 March into the Atlantic en route her home port. The ship completed a
deployment that the Navy extended by an additional two weeks. During this
deployment, pilots logged 19,000 flight hours and flew over 11,000 sorties.
Apr 1966: Forrestal
ammunition prior to entering Norfolk Naval Shipyard for an overhaul.
1966–27 Jan 1967:
Forrestal sailed up the Elizabeth
River as tugboats then eased her into her berth to prepare for what the ships Command History Report referred to as a massive facelifting at Norfolk Naval Shipyard. Vice Admiral Charles T. Booth, II, Commander, Naval Air Force Atlantic Fleet, inspected the ship on 10 June 1966. The admiral took the opportunity to award CDR Joe D. Adkins, the ships air operations officer, the Distinguished Flying Cross for his bravery while flying missions over North
Vietnam as the commanding officer of VA-72, embarked in attack aircraft carrier Independence
(CVA-62). Forrestal completed about one-third of the overhaul when she floated
from drydock on 10 July. Beginning on 1
August sailors and civilian technicians commenced installing the Naval Tactical
Data System (NTDS) into the ship’s systems. The NTDS, an automatic combat direction system designed to eliminate
human error by doing away with “grease-pencil plotting,” became the principal
system of her Combat
The speed of modern warfare demanded an increase in plotting and disseminating
information and the Navy intended NTDS to provide a comprehensive picture of
ships, aircraft and subs. Meanwhile, RADM Harvey P. Lanham, Commander, Carrier
Division 2, shifted his flag to Forrestal, which relieved Carrier
Division 4 (19 October). The admiral awarded LCDR Richard T. Theriault, Forrestal’s
First Lieutenant, with the Bronze Star for his distinguished service in Vietnam, on 28
October. The crew celebrated their gradual return to operational status when
they lit-off one of their eight boilers on Halloween, which provided the men
their own steam and electrical power after receiving pierside services after
seven months. Tragedy struck the men at the shipyard at 1333 on 1 November,
however, when a UH-2B (BuNo 152193) from amphibious assault ship Guadalcanal (LPH-7), moored across from Forrestal
at Berth 35 at Pier 5, crashed onto the pier between the two ships. The Seasprite entered what investigators determined to be an “uncontrolled flight
immediately upon lifting” off from the flight deck of Guadalcanal for a
brief test ‘hop’ to NAS Oceana; after barely reaching four to five feet into
the air the helo’s rotor blades struck the flight deck and then the aircraft
careened over the starboard side of Guadalcanal onto
the pier. The Seasprite’s impact threw debris and shards–including
lethal metal fragments from the helo’s disintegrating rotor blades–at people
working in the vicinity, killing four men: three Navy; LCDR John C. Thoma, AN Joseph A. Anzalone, AN Garry A. Whipp; and one civilian, Mannie McCutcheon of the yards riggers and laborers shop, and injured 19 more men. Debris also flew into a railroad car on the pier and at both ships, damaging a pair of boats on the flight deck of Forrestal, and hurtled into nearby buildings with such force that they tore holes into cement block walls. Forrestal’s crew joined other men from across the
yard to help their shipmates to provide damage control and to aid victims, and
over 100 crewmembers volunteered to donate blood to injured men. Following the
catastrophe, the crew held a ‘fast cruise’–which simulates at sea operations
while still moored to a pier (10–11 December). Just after the New Year’s the
ship stood down the channel for the first time since her overhaul began for
post repair trials off the Virginia
capes (0800 on 9–15
January 1967). The ship actually completed her trials, which included limited
air operations, at 1300 on Saturday 14 January, however, dense fog rolled in
and the shipyard refused the carrier permission to moor due to navigational
hazards, so the carrier anchored off Pier 12 at the naval station until the next
day, when the shipyard allowed her to return. Forrestal sailed from the
yard on the 23rd and returned to Norfolk.
Feb 1967: The
carrier reached the ammunition anchorage to load a full complement of
ammunition for the first time since her repairs.
Feb–16 Mar 1967:
The ship completed refresher training in Cuban waters. Forrestal
anchored out at NS Guantánamo Bay (17–18
February). She attained her 120,000th arrested landing on the third
day of actual refresher training (22 February).
11 Apr–6 May 1967: Forrestal completed a series of exercises in
the Atlantic Fleet Weapons Range designed to simulate the grueling conditions
her men could expect during the Vietnam War, including alpha strikes against
major targets. In addition, she took part in Operation Clovehitch III,
providing support for ground forces in the all-service exercise.
13 May 1967: While testing her automatic carrier landing system
off the Virginia Capes the ship recorded her 124,000th
landing using that system, when LT Howard L. Reedy of VA-65 trapped on board.
6 Jun 1967: Embarking CVW-17 the ship sailed at 1630 from Pier 12
at Norfolk for
her only western Pacific deployment. Forrestal held drills on most days
while sailing into harm’s way and pilots and aircrew studied charts and held
briefings during the voyage. Grumman A-6As of VA-65 and Grumman E-2As from
VAW-123 embarked as the first Intruders and Hawkeyes,
respectively, to deploy on board Forrestal.
13–16 Jun 1967: RADM Lanham and observers from Independence led
the ship’s Operational Readiness Inspection.
19–20 Jun 1967: Forrestal’s Command History Report observed
that 4,330 pollywogs “fearing for their lives” revolted and held 500 Loyal
Shellbacks captive.” Just after midnight the pollywogs stole many of the shellback’s
cards and held a mock initiation during an “illegal ceremony.” The next day as
the ship crossed the equator, however, the shellbacks gained their justice
against the “disloyal and scurvy Pollywogs,” many of the latter sans hair and
sporting red tails.
23–25 Jun 1967: While rounding South America en route to Pacific
waters Forrestal anchored at Rio
de Janeiro, Brazil.
The air wing presented an air show for distinguished visitors including United
States Ambassador John W. Tuthill and Brazilian ADM Rademaker, Minister of that
Navy, during the morning watch on 23 June, following which the ship anchored in
Guanabara Bay, at 1300.
16 Jul 1967: Detachment Charles, a briefing team which flew out from the South Vietnamese capital of Saigon,
boarded to brief the men on the war they entered.
18–21 Jul 1967: At 0530 the ship moored to Leyte Pier at NAS Cubi Point, at Subic Bay, Philippines.
The wing examined survival gear and conducted survival training, installed
additional electronic countermeasures equipment and made final aircraft
modifications before entering battle.
22 Jul 1967: Forrestal sailed from Subic
Bay into war. RADM Lanham broke his flag from the carrier in command of Task Group 77.6, which also included destroyers Henry W.
Tucker (DD-875) and Rupertus (DD-851). Aircraft practiced night operations, coordinated attacks and honed
bombing accuracy while en route to Vietnamese waters.
25 Jul 1967: Forrestal arrived at Yankee Station and at
0600 she launched her first strikes in the Vietnam War against an enemy often
just a few miles over the horizon from the ship. The Americans created two carrier operating areas to prosecute the war
in Southeast Asia. Initially designating the
northernmost one in the Gulf of Tonkin as Point Yankee, they redesignated it Yankee
Station as the primary operations area from which carriers operated against North Vietnam. Evolving as the war continued, Yankee Station actually consisted of several stations. In April 1966, the Navy moved it northward to 125 miles east of Dong Hoi at 17º30N, 108º30E, which reduced the distance aircraft had to fly to reach their targets in North Vietnam, but subsequently reassigned it to its original position in 1968. When the Americans resumed intensive bombing against the north in 1972 they again moved the station northward, and designated it as North, Mid and South, at 19º, 17º and 16º N, respectively. The carrier rearmed from ammunition ship Diamond
Head (AE-19) later that evening.
Jul 1967: The North Vietnamese supplied communist forces
fighting in South Vietnam
through a variety of well-defended and highly secretive routes collectively
known as the Ho Chi Minh Trail. To cut these routes pilots flew alpha strikes, reconnaissance, armed reconnaissance
and barrier combat air patrol missions against key transportation nodes and
supply points supporting the trail, as well as flying radar patrols, from Forrestal as she steamed in the Gulf of Tonkin. Although many of their targets lay within heavily defended areas bristling with North Vietnamese anti-aircraft gunners and surface-to-air missiles, CVW-17 flew more than 150 missions over North Vietnam
without losing a single aircraft. Their most significant strike became a
massive raid against the Thanh Hoa Bridge Railroad Bypass and Ferry Terminals.
29–30 Jul 1967: Forrestal spent barely five days on the line when tragedy struck on Saturday. SN K. Dyke of 1st Division fell
overboard over the starboard side at 0316. The ship immediately stopped and
backed-up 1/3, then maneuvered slowly in the area searching for SN Dyke. At the
same time she launched a helo to scour the area, which spotted the man and
directed Rupertus to him, which lowered a motor whaleboat to recover the
shaken man, the carrier securing from her man overboard orders by 0513. The
ship then launched her first strike of the day. Shortly thereafter during the
morning watch Forrestal swung her bow into the wind and the crew prepared to launch their second strike as the ship steamed 050° at 27 knots about 150 miles off the North Vietnamese coast, at approximately 19°95N, 107°235E, at 1050; she began an early launch of two Douglas KA-3B Skywarrior
tankers from Heavy Attack Squadron (VAH)-10 Detachment 59, a Grumman E-2A Hawkeye
from VAW-123 and a Grumman EA-1 Tracer. Two of the four aircraft
launched when suddenly, a Zuni 5” rocket accidentally fired, probably from Aircraft
No. 110, a McDonnell Douglas F-4B Phantom II (BuNo 153061), LCDR
James E. Bangert and LT(JG) Lawrence E. McKay from VF-11, and slammed into
either Aircraft No. 405 or 416, an A-4E Skyhawk, further
aft on the port side waiting to launch, less than two minutes later.[iii]
Within five seconds, the fire, fed by a ruptured 400-gallon fuel tank, rapidly
enveloped the Skyhawks on either side of the wounded aircraft. Barely two minutes into the unfolding holocaust the first of many high and low level detonations erupted as the heat started to cook-off bombs, rockets and 20 mm rounds. An explosion shattered the windows of Primary Flight Control, almost bowling CDR David B. Lember over. Rockets and shells shot across the deck, and ejection seats fired into the air. Seven major explosions shook the ship during the first four minutes of the horrific crisis, and some 40,000-gallons of JP-5 jet fuel from aircraft on deck spread the inferno. Huge clouds of black smoke billowed upward, blinding crewmembers racing to battle the flames, which engulfed the fantail and spread to below deck on the 01, 02 and 03 levels, touching off ordnance, trapping some men and wreaking havoc with the crew and ship. Survivors attested to bombs that appeared to be growing red from the heat dropping to the flight deck and blasting holes into the ship. More ruptured fuel tanks spewed volatile jet fuel from beneath aircraft onto the deck, feeding the flames. Some of the liquid sloshed down into the hanger deck where it posed a deadly hazard for men stationed there. Huge gusts of fire shot into the air along the flight deck, trapping pilots in their aircraft with no recourse but to escape through the flames or be incinerated in their cockpits. LCDR Fred D. White, waiting to launch in Aircraft No. 405,
leapt out of his Skyhawk. Other men came to his aid but as the first bomb exploded it killed the pilot. LCDR Herbert A. Hope of VA-46 (and operations officer of CVW-17) jumped out of the cockpit of his Skyhawk between explosions, rolled off the flight deck and into a safety net. Making his way down below to the hanger deck, he gallantly took command of a firefighting team. The port quarter of the flight deck where I was he recalled, is no longer there. LCDR John S. McCain, III, sitting in Aircraft
No. 416 preparing to launch, afterward described the horror: I thought my aircraft exploded he recounted as the first blast ripped through the aircraft assembled on the flight deck. Flames were everywhere. The young pilot climbed out of his Skyhawk, poised perilously on the A-4C and then leapt through the flames and ran for his life. As he did so the naval aviator saw another pilot jump and roll clear of his aircraft but the flames caught his uniform ablaze. LCDR McCain turned back to help the man when a bomb exploded and knocked him off his feet and backward about 10 feet. He never saw his shipmate again. The son of the famed pioneering admiral in naval aviation, LCDR McCain would survive being shot down and held as a prisoner of war by the North Vietnamese (1967 through 1973); he eventually received the Distinguished Flying Cross, Silver Star and Purple Heart, and went on to a prominent political career. Nearby LT(JG) Lee V. Twyford also ran in to help a couple of men play a hose onto the conflagration as the detonation bowled him over. Climbing to his feet he saw the hose torn and spilling water over the deck, both men struck down saving their ship. Another man stumbled by LT(JG) Twyford. He had no clothes, he had no skin explained the lieutenant. Wounded in his ankle and unable to walk, he crawled below to lend a hand among sailors and marines gathering there. A burst of flames which AE3 Bruce Mulligan of VA-106 described as a fireball hurtled toward the crewman, who hit the deck and barely survived as it roared over him. Looking around he spotted two men rolling over on fire, and several near him began to tear at their uniforms in fear and pain as their fabric ignited. As he prepared to help his friends a second explosion knocked him down, and the sailor found himself literally by himself. Undaunted, the young (22-year-old) petty officer headed for a fire hose when fragments flew into him. Nonetheless, AE3 Mulligan helped a friend wounded in the leg down to Sick
Bay, and returned to help battle the blaze. Twice more he made his way below to rest, at one point noting that he felt kinda groggy, but returned to help his fellows. AE3 Mulligan passed out the second time but a friend brought him topside, where he finally collapsed from exhaustion later that evening, trying to sleep on a life preserver he used as a pillow up on the flight deck, though only resting fitfully. When a chief ran from burning Hanger Bay No. 3 to call for five volunteers, 30 men joined him to attack the raging fires. LT James J. Campbell recoiled for a few moments in stunned dismay as burning torches tumbled toward him, until their screams awoke him to the peril of his shipmates enveloped in flames and he leapt into action to help them. Repeated explosions blew some men overboard, and others made the deadly leap from the flight deck high above the cooling waters below to escape the inferno. Within the first minute the crew had two hoses on deck, and with the crash and salvage officer and chief directing their efforts, already began to ply one of the lines to battle down the flames; mute testimony to their determination to save their ship. Nonetheless, the first bomb explosions hurtled fire and molten fragments into the hose teams, shredding skin and cutting down the men, which temporarily drove back the firefighters moving toward the scene on the flight deck and cost the crew precious minutes as their shipmates bravely advanced into the fray to take their places. Sailors resolutely manned firefighting equipment and played water upon live ordnance to chill it while others braved the flames to disarm bombs and missiles or roll them overboard, and others moved aircraft forward and out of danger. Men frantically jettisoned ordnance from the bomb farm located on the ramp outboard of the island, as well as from the hanger bay and on loaded aircraft, as the fire began to move up the starboard side aft through the row of parked North American RA-5C Vigilantes from Reconnaissance Attack Squadron (RVAH)-11. Fear and the urgency of their emergency produced superhuman strength in some men, and survivors recalled seeing 130-pound LT Otis G. Kight single-handedly carry a 250-pound bomb to the edge of the hanger deck and heave it overboard! LT John E. Carpenter of VA-106 escaped from his aircraft only to discover a man lying on the flight deck with severe arterial bleeding. The pilot remained alongside his shipmate applying a tourniquet to staunch the flow of the precious fluid while bombs and rockets exploded around him, until a corpsman arrived and took over his life-saving efforts. Throughout the day the ships medical staff appeared in the midst of fire and smoke to sacrificially assist their comrades. HM2 Paul Streetman, one of 38 corpsmen assigned to the carrier, spent over 11 grueling hours on the mangled flight deck tending to his shipmates. Investigators noted that survivors recalled that ADJ3 James G. Smith seemed to be everywherethrowing bombs over the side, manning hoses in the hanger bay, carrying the wounded out of the 03 level, and at one point hauling a man so badly burned that no one wanted to touch him to first aid, an action that probably saved the wounded mans life. ABH3 Larry W. Cope of V-1 Division jumped up onto a forklift and completely disregarding his own safety persisted in pushing a Vigilante over the side while flames surrounded him. His shipmates watered him down with a constant stream from a hose while ABH3 Cope persevered through his ordeal. I am most proud CAPT John K. Beling observed of the way the crew reacted. At 1117 the ship passed over her 1MC that all men trapped aft by the flames should try to make their way forward via the hanger deck and second deck levels. Beginning at noon the radar systems failed for four crucial minutes, though operators assiduously restored them. SN Milton Parker of S-6 Division fought the fires topside for nine hours, and discovered that the heat of the charred deck literally burned the soles off of his shoes, but commented that my feet are okay because I put on some flight deck shoes and went back in. Down in Hanger
Bay No. 2, SFC Daniel H. Ringer of R Division joined a team that could not open the hanger bay doors and had to first cool them down, finally going through the side. At one point they applied salt water to a bulkhead only to watch in dismay as the water turned to steam from the intense heat. The chief made his way up to the flight deck and gathered some men to cut their way through with torches. He finally grabbed some sleep by 1100 on Sunday, but he awoke five hours later to note that fire still re-flashed. The majority of the men were all right remembered SFC Ringer. There was no trouble in getting them to fight the fire. Most of them were eager to help in any way they could. The heat, however, became unbearable for many men, and without proper protection some suffered frightful burns as fire ignited their uniforms or literally melted material onto their skin. RADM Lanham reached the bridge and gazed down in horror at the carnage below, noting that the firestorm engulfed the aft end of the flight deck and that men fought to halt the inferno from moving forward. A bosun grabbed his arm and pulled him down, mentioning that the Plexiglas would not be safe. As I dropped down reflected the admiral, another explosion shook the ship. A large piece of shrapnel crashed through the plexiglass where my face was. CDR John R. Dewenter, Commander, CVW-17, proudly noted that most of his men chipped right in and fought alongside Forrestal’s crew. LTJG Francis R. Guinan observed: No one had better say to me that American youth are lazy. I saw men working today who were not only injured, but thoroughly exhausted and they had to be carried away. They were trying so hard to help, but were actually becoming a burden. Different men reacted to the stress in different ways and the fires trapped 13 sailors in compartment 1-217-4-Q port side aft. As they tried to escape via an alternative door blasts and flying objects forced them back within, and some men bravely attempted to rally their shipmates and seek a way out, while others prayed and still others wept or struggled with their fears. The men finally stumbled over aircraft and yellow equipment and escaped from the hatch near the shop on the hanger deck. The smoke became so thick that even with a few flashlights they could not see more then a couple of feet in front of them and some sailors became separated in the confusion. The large number of casualties quickly overwhelmed the ships Sick Bay staff, who worked diligently to
treat the ghastly wounds which the disaster inflicted. Meanwhile, the stricken ship signaled her attendant
destroyers, Henry W. Tucker and Rupertus–the latter acting as her
plane guard–to “Close to assist at best speed.” Rupertus raced in and
her men valiantly played hoses onto the fire, staunchly keeping close aboard to
Forrestal’s starboard side, although flames lapped out at them and smoke
rapidly enveloped the destroyer. Other ships
and aircraft came to the rescue. Destroyer George K. MacKenzie
(DD-836) steamed eight miles away as one of
attack aircraft carrier Oriskany’s (CVA-34) plane guards when a lookout spotted the smoke, which her historian described as rising up hundreds of feet into the air, from the wounded ship, at about 1100. Oriskany
and George K. MacKenzie gathered destroyer Samuel N. Moore (DD-747) and all three ships sped to the scene. George K.
MacKenzie recovered three men from the water and took another trio on board
from Rupertus’ motor whaleboat, before the destroyer took station on Forrestal’s
starboard quarter. The destroyer’s busy crew also directed Samuel N. Moore to
pick up a further 11 survivors they spotted in the water. For almost an hour
and a half George K. MacKenzie’s firefighting parties sprayed the
carrier with as many hoses as they could bring to bear. Henry W. Tucker
retraced Forrestal’s route searching for survivors floundering in the
water. A Kaman UH-2A Seasprite, ENS Leonard M. Eiland, Jr., ADJ3 James O. James, Jr., and AN Albert E. Barrows of HC-1 Detachment Golf embarked in Oriskany–but flying as an additional
plane guard for Forrestal–picked up five men from the water in the first
hour alone, and later flew other men to sick bays of nearby ships. Helos from
attack aircraft carriers Bon Homme Richard (CVA-31) and Oriskany
and from the Da Nang area of South Vietnam
also raced in to help. Firefighters discovered to their horror that they used
their available oxygen breathing apparatuses quickly, but helos from the
carriers dropped-off additional apparatuses and canisters to enable men to
continue the fight. Antisubmarine
warfare support aircraft carrier Intrepid (CVS-11), embarking CVW-10,
learned of the fire while en route to Yankee Station from Japanese waters, and
she arrived alongside of Forrestal later in the day. Men from Intrepid
transferred fog-foam to the smoldering carrier by helos, and sent a medical
team over to Oriskany to assist her crew with treating casualties.
Explosive ordnance disposal sailors carefully defused unexploded bombs. When
LT(JG) Robert P. Cates, the ship’s explosive ordnance demolition officer, noted
two bombs–a 500 and a 750 pounder–still smoking in the midst of the flight
deck, he disregarded the danger, resolutely walked over to them, defused the
bombs and worked with other men to jettison them overboard. The sailors
and marines who survived brought the flames under control on the flight deck by
1215, although they continued to clear smoke and to cool hot steel on the 02
and 03 levels until they reported all fires under control by 1342, and finally
declared the fire defeated at 0400 the next morning, due to additional
flare-ups. Crewmembers searched through smoky or flooded compartments below
deck for their fallen friends. Some 132 officers and men died in the
catastrophe, two disappeared (missing, presumed dead), and another 62 suffered
injuries. Sixteen ANM-65 1,000, four
M-117 750 and eight Mk-82 500 pound bombs ripped seven frightful holes through
the armored flight deck, and scorches from the intense heat marked the flight
deck, while melted and twisted debris and wreckage choked the area. Twenty-one
aircraft also sustained enough damage from fire, explosions and salt water to be
stricken from naval inventory, including: seven Phantom IIs (BuNos
153046, 153054, 153060, 153061, 153066, 153069 and 153912); eleven A-4E Skyhawks
(149996, 150064, 150068, 150084, 150115, 150118, 150129, 152018, 152024, 152036
and 152040); and three Vigilantes (148932, 149282 and 149305). The crew
fought back heroically, however, the men compounded errors due to their lack of
intensive firefighting training, and on at least one instance a team beat the
fire by laying down a protective covering of foam, only to have a second (well
intentioned) team follow them up and wash it away with water, with the flames
leaping up almost immediately again and cutting the sailors off. The Navy
circulated the lessons which the men of Forrestal
re-learned at such cost throughout the Fleet, and the flight deck film of the
flight operations, subsequently entitled Learn
Or Burn, became mandatory viewing for fire fighting trainees for years. Although investigators could not identify the exact chain of events behind the carnage, they revealed potential maintenance issues including concerns in circuitry (stray voltage) associated with LAU-10 rocket launchers and Zunis, as well as the age of the 1,000 pound fat bombs loaded for the strike, shards from one of which dated it originally to the Korean War in 1953. The fire also revealed that Forrestal required a
heavy duty, armored forklift to jettison aircraft more efficiently,
particularly heavier types such as Vigilantes. Investigators did,
however, absolve LCDR Bangert and LT(JG) McKay of any errors and noted their exemplary service prior to the catastrophe. Henry W.
Tucker escorted Forrestal to rendezvous with hospital ship Repose
(AH-16) at 2054, allowing the crew to begin transferring their dead and wounded
shipmates at 2253. Shortly thereafter destroyer Bausell (DD-845) also
reached the carrier to help.
Crew members played hoses onto the fires on the flight deck as explosions erupted around them, in the Gulf of Tonkin, on 29 July 1967. The conflagration began as sailors prepared heavily-armed and fueled aircraft to launch for their second major strike of the day against the North Vietnamese. Navy Photograph No. 1124794.
30 Jul 1967: “I don’t
apologize for my inability to talk to you quite clearly” explained LCDR Geoffrey
E. Gaugham, a Benedictine chaplain who held mass on board Forrestal in a
cluttered hanger at noon. “I was self-contained about this tragedy until I
heard confessions this morning. Your emotions became my emotions. We must pray
for the dead amongst us, and pray also that we deserve to have lived.”
Crewmembers finished transferring their stricken comrades over to Repose
at 0220, which allowed the hospital ship to detach at 1410, however, the
carrier continued to suffer several brief flash fires, though without
casualties. Meanwhile, Intrepid served as host ship for media
representatives and VIPs flown out to the scene during the day.
31 Jul–11 Aug 1967: During murky skies laden with monsoon rains Forrestal somberly moored at Subic Bay
on the evening of the 31st to make emergency repairs, however, a
minor blaze erupted briefly during her navigation and sea and anchor details.
As the crew manned the rails and edged the carrier closer in toward Leyte Pier,
a fire broke out among a pile of still smoldering mattresses. Some men stepped
away from their stations to respond and quickly extinguished the fire without
casualties, though with little of the urgency they displayed during the
previous disaster. “They’re probably immune to it by now” mused an officer standing
on the pier concerning the reactions of the weary crew, as the fire alarm
announcement over the 1MC became clearly audible to people waiting ashore. The
damage from the main fire proved to be beyond the means of the facilities there
to repair, and the ship continued on to the United States to heal from her
wounds. Meanwhile, Henry W. Tucker faithfully shepherded Forrestal
to the area and then detached to escort attack aircraft carrier Constellation (CVA-64) toward Vietnamese waters, and Intrepid relieved Forrestal’s place on the line at
Yankee Station. Skywarriors from VAH-10 Detachment 59 flew back
to NAS Whidbey Island in Washington
for immediate redeployment, and Grumman A-6A Intruders from VA-65
transferred to VA-196 embarking Constellation.
About 450 relatives and friends of men on board Forrestal attended an
inter-faith memorial service at the Chapel of the Good Shepherd at NAS Oceana,
on 3 August. As the people left the chapel 16 jets from CVW-17 flew overhead to
honor their fallen shipmates. The Navy later dedicated its Farrier Fire
Fighting School Learning Site at Norfolk
for ABC Gerald W. Farrier, who made the ultimate sacrifice for his fellow
crewmembers that terrible day. As the fire erupted the chief grabbed a CO2
bottle and courageously rushed past stunned crewmembers toward the burning
aircraft, but the initial explosions killed him instantly.
The cost: sailors carefully lowered the first of their shipmates killed in the fire of 29 July 1967, when they moored at Leyte Pier at NAS Cubi Point in the Philippines. Navy Photo by PHC William M. Powers.
12–13 Sep 1967: Forrestal returned to the United States when she sailed up the St. John’s River and arrived at NS Mayport at 1830.
The ship unloaded aircraft and the crews of squadrons based in Florida, before continuing on at 1300 the next day for Virginian waters. CAPT Beling ordered speed increased to an average of 27 knots to enable the carrier to reach home and loved ones as planned.
14 Sep 1967: As the ship hove into sight during the afternoon
watch over 3,000 family members and friends gathered on Pier 12 and on board Randolph, Forrestal’s host ship, burst into
frenzied cheering to welcome home their loved ones to Norfolk following the tragic deployment.
19 Sep 1967–8 Apr 1968: Forrestal completed extensive repairs at Norfolk Naval Shipyard. She entered Drydock No. 8 (21 September 196710 February 1968). While in the yard the crew manned their battle stations for general quarters drills every other Friday morning, and over 1,000 men attended the five-day dual firefighting and damage control course at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard, Pennsylvania.
The ship floated from drydock and shifted to Berths 42 and 43 in front of the
drydock to complete repairs.
Apr 1968: CAPT Robert B. Baldwin sailed the carrier down the Elizabeth River and out into the waters off the Virginia capes for her post repair trials, the ships first time at sea in 207 days. RADM John D. Bulkeley,[iv]
President of the Board of Inspection and Survey, and his staff inspected the
ship for any discrepancies or concerns requiring additional repairs. While
accomplishing trials the ship also recorded her first arrested landing since
the fire when CDR Robert E. Ferguson, Commander, CVW-17, trapped on board.
Apr–22 May 1968:
Forrestal completed refresher training in Caribbean
waters. The ship loaded and unloaded her wing at Mayport en route on both
voyages, and the crew also went ashore for liberty at Montego Bay in Jamaica.
Jun 1968: The carrier completed a variety of training exercises and pre-deployment work-ups off Jacksonville, Florida. Although the Navy originally scheduled her training through 5 July, the ship suffered problems with a steam turbine, which forced her to terminate her training before scheduled.
Jul 1968: Forrestal repaired the turbine at Norfolk
Jul 1968: Forrestal
operations in the Med, her first
return to that sea in three years since the summer of 1965.
1968: LT Robert P. Eicher of VA-34 completed the ships 130,000th trap in an
A-4C Skyhawk one day out from Marseilles,
the ship made a brief stop (9–15 August).
Oct 1968: Forrestal anchored in Argostoli
Bay in Greece
for a fleet commander’s conference held on board Independence.
1968: VADM David C. Richardson, Commander, Sixth Fleet, and Senator John C. Stennis of Mississippi,
Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, visited the ship.
Jan–13 Jan 1969:
Following a visit to Cannes, France (23 December 1968–3 January 1969) Forrestal
operated in the Ionian Sea, before anchoring at the Grand Harbor of Valletta on
Poor weather and high winds caused a cancellation of boating and only allowed a
single day of general visiting for curious Maltese.
Feb 1969: The
ship operated in the Aegean Sea after visiting Istanbul
Operations in the Adriatic Sea through the 11th afforded the crew
the unique opportunity of visiting Trieste in
Although the ship experienced several uneventful visits to harbors during this
deployment, she encountered her second burst of poor weather while making port
when the boating conditions so much that Forrestal cancelled general
aircraft carrier John F. Kennedy (CVA-67) relieved Forrestal
during the morning at NS Rota, Spain. At 1900 Forrestal weighed anchor
and set sail for home.
moored to Pier 12 at Norfolk after an uneventful
seven day voyage from the Mediterranean through the Strait
of Gibraltar and across the Atlantic,
completing a nine-month deployment–her longest to the Mediterranean
May 1969: Following
her return the ship spent several days offloading ammunition.
May–1 Aug 1969: Forrestal
completed a restricted availability at Norfolk Naval Shipyard.
Aug–27 Sep 1969:
The ship accomplished a combination of exercises and training evolutions
designed to ready her for battle, including refresher training, which took her
to Caribbean and western Atlantic waters. Forrestal anchored at Guantánamo Bay on 20 August, and again on 13 September. She also stopped by both times on her way southward and again returning to Pier 12, Norfolk, to load and offload aircraft and their crews from the wing and ammunition at Mayport.
Oct 1969: The
carrier conducted a firepower demonstration for 400 guests of various service
colleges. She spent the first two days rehearsing and performed the
demonstration on the 16th and 17th.
Dec 1969: The
ship passed through the Strait of Gibraltar and entered the Mediterranean overnight,
relieving John F. Kennedy at Pollensa
Bay the next morning. Forrestal
then proceeded to operate in the western Mediterranean, Tyrrhenian and Ionian Seas.
Jan 1970: The
carrier visited Marsaxlokk at Malta.
Occasional foul winter weather plagued this visit and the crew could only
complete two of their four planned days of general visiting for the public, and
limiting a third day, due to the dangerous boating conditions.
Feb–2 Mar 1970: Forrestal
operated in the Ionian Sea (16–23 February) and then again visited Trieste (23 February2 March). CDR Douglas C. Coleman of RVAH-13 made the 150,000th
arresting landing on board Forrestal as she steamed in the Ionian Sea, in a Vigilante on 20 February.
Mar 1970: Heavy
weather again restricted boating conditions for visitors and for liberty
parties going ashore, when the ship put into Barcelona, Spain,
reducing boating visitation from three days to two.
Apr 1970: After
sailing in the Tyrrhenian and Ionian Seas (2–9 April), Forrestal anchored at Argostoli Bay
in Greece. RADM George C. Talley, Jr., relieved RADM William H. House as Commander, Carrier Division 4, during a ceremony on board, on 10 April.
Apr–1 May 1970:
The ship anchored off Valletta and St. Paul’s Bay,
Crewmembers contributed to a variety of charitable projects to help people
whenever they made port, but this particular visit included a hitherto
distinctive event. Some men from the carrier displayed their love of romance
when they provided the funds and help to hold a wedding celebration, cake, band
and a dowry of $380.00 collected from their shipmates, for the marriage of two
Maltese at an orphanage at Gozo.
May 1970: Following
her Maltese call the carrier steamed in the Ionian Sea, broken by a call at the
Greek capital of Athens (718 May). Chief of Naval Operations (Designate) VADM Elmo R. Zumwalt, Jr., visited the ship to observe flight operations overnight on 22 and 23 May. During his stay the affable admiral also answered questions from the crew and sailors from WFOR-TV, the ships television station, interviewed the prospective and outspoken CNO.
May 1970: Forrestal
anchored at Argostoli
Bay. Unfortunately, the
ship did not hold liberty call for her disappointed crew.
May–4 Jun 1970:
The ship put into Corfu.
Jun 1970: After
steaming in the Ionian Sea for Operation Dawn Patrol, a joint NATO
readiness exercise to prepare for possible East Bloc attacks in the event of a
European war, Forrestal anchored in Souda
Bay at Crete
(4–9 June). The Sixth Fleet intended Forrestal to visit Naples
on 16 June, however, civil strife erupted in Jordan,
forcing the ship to curtail her visit and rush to the eastern Mediterranean.
The carrier patrolled that area and prepared to provide air support to cover
evacuations of Americans from Jordan,
but the situation calmed and she came about and made for her abbreviated visit
to Naples, on
Jun 1970: Forrestal
departed the Mediterranean and conducted an underway turnover with Saratoga the next
Jul–25 Sep 1970:
The ship offloaded her ammunition at Norfolk ammunition anchorage through 17 July; she then moored to Pier 5, Norfolk Naval Shipyard, to complete a restricted availability.
hosted the change of command ceremony for Commander in Chief Atlantic
Command and Commander in Chief, Atlantic Fleet, when ADM Charles K. Duncan
relieved ADM Ephraim P. Holmes, at Pier 12 at NS Norfolk. Secretary of the Navy
John H. Chaffee, Jr., led the entourage of dignitaries present.
Oct 1970: The
carrier stood out of Norfolk
for post repair trials, returning to onload ammunition (5–9 October).
Whenever carriers assigned to the Atlantic Fleet completed restricted
availabilities at this time, they normally conducted their refresher training
and carrier qualifications in Caribbean
waters. As an experiment and economy measure, however, Forrestal
accomplished her scheduled training and qualifications off the Virginia Capes,
broken only be a brief return to Norfolk
on 22 October.
Nov–7 Dec 1970:
While training and working-up, Forrestal witnessed a unique operation
when two Air Force pilots, MAJ George Weeks, USAF, an exchange officer assigned
to VF-11, and LCOL Clifford Allison, USAF (the radar intercept officer serving
from the staff of Commander, Second Fleet) flying with that squadron, landed
their F-4B Phantom IIs for what the ship’s Command History Report
referred to as an “all-Air Force carrier landing,” on 5 December.
Jan 1971: While
en route to the Mediterranean, Forrestal onloaded VA-81, VA-83 and
RVAH-7, the remaining squadrons of CVW-17, at Mayport on the 7th;
she then conducted an operational readiness inspection (13–15 January), and
anchored off St. Thomas in the Virgin
Islands on the 15th. The carrier then continued onward
steaming easterly courses, arriving at NS Rota to relieve Independence on 24 January. Grumman
EA-6B Prowlers of Marine Tactical Electronics Warfare Squadron (VMAQ)-2
embarked for this initial phase of the deployment. Forrestal steamed
through the Strait of Gibraltar in the Mediterranean
Jan–3 Feb 1971:
The ship made her first visit to a Mediterranean port during this deployment to
the Sixth Fleet when she anchored off Valletta’s
sea wall. Choppy seas interfered with liberty ashore and visitation by the
normally friendly Maltese, however, and forced Forrestal to restrict
Feb 1971: While
steaming in the Ionian Sea Forrestal received word that Panamanian-flagged ore ship Flamingo lost power and drifted at the
mercy of the wind and tide off southern Italy, on 7 February. Sixth Fleet
destroyers attempted to take her in tow, however, rough seas prevented them
from aiding the stricken ship. Forrestal sent four Sikorsky SH-3D Sea
Kings from HS-3 through winds gusting up to 60 knots and over what the
ship’s Command History Report described as “extremely heavy seas” to rescue all
20 crewmembers and passengers from Flamingo. The carrier’s crew fed and
provided medical attention to the survivors, who they flew on to Naval Air
Facility (NAF) Sigonella in Sicily
the next day to be transported to reunions with their loved ones.
Feb 1971: As Forrestal
anchored in St. Paul’s Bay at Malta,
Secretary of the Navy Chaffee and VADM Isaac C. Kidd, Jr., Commander, Sixth
Fleet, paid the ship a visit. The secretary appeared on Forrestal’s WFOR-TV
for a question and answer session with the crew and presented medals to the 16
men who participated in the rescue of the people from Flamingo.
Secretary Chaffee also gave the crew the exciting news that they could wear
civilian clothing while on liberty and to store them on board as a feasibility
study for wider circulation. The concept proved so popular amongst sailors that
the Sixth Fleet later adopted the policy throughout the Mediterranean.
Previously, only officers, chiefs and first class petty officers enjoyed that
Feb 1971: The
carrier operated in the Ionian Sea, during which she hosted a visit on the 18th
by the American ambassador to the Netherlands and the Dutch Foreign
Minister Joseph Luns, who later became the Secretary General of NATO.
Feb–2 Mar 1971:
As Forrestal put into Valletta
poor weather restricted visiting.
Mar 1971: The
ship steamed in the Aegean Sea. Former West
German Air Force Chief of Staff GEN Johannes Steinhoff, newly-elected as the
Chairman of NATO Military Committee, Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe
[SHAPE], visited for a carrier orientation (12–13 March).
Following a brief visit to Athens, Forrestal transited the Strait of
Messina and anchored off Naples to off-load a damaged aircraft, however, rough
seas precluded the transfer from the carrier to a barge, so Forrestal stood
out of the bay into the Tyrrhenian Sea before she could return the next day as
the weather calmed to complete the transfer.
Apr–17 May 1971: Forrestal
participated in Operation Dawn Patrol, a NATO air and sea exercise involving
more than 60 ships and submarines and over 300 aircraft from the American,
British, Greek, Italian and Turkish forces. Dawn Patrol took the carrier
from the western Mediterranean to the Tyrrhenian Seas
and back again as the struggle for supremacy between the ‘rival powers’
sea-sawed across the region during the simulated war. A VF-11 Phantom II,
LT William G. Pfeiffer and LT(JG) Jake T. Walters, Jr., lost its right main
landing gear after bolstering, on 2 May. The crew erected the emergency barricade
and LT Pfeiffer landed the Phantom II safely. Deputy Secretary of
Defense David Packard visited during his tour of American military
installations ashore in Europe and ships
operating in European waters.
May 1971: The
ship visited Naples.
Before Forrestal entered port aircraft performed a “massive” flyover as
the height of the 20th anniversary celebration of the establishment
of Allied Forces South Europe [AFSOUTH].
Following a transit of the Strait
of Messina the carrier anchored at Argostoli. ADM Horacio Rivero, Jr., Commander-in-Chief South, RADM Pierre N. Charbonnet, Jr., Commander, Fleet Air Forces Mediterranean, and RADM George L. Cassell, Deputy Commander, Naval Striking and Support Forces Southern Europe, stayed on board overnight.
Following a visit to Corfu (3–11 June) the ship steamed in the Ionian Sea to
hold flight operations, during which Belgian MGEN Avi I. Du Monceau, commanding
their Tactical Air Force, visited the carrier, on the 12th and 13th.
entered the western Mediterranean.
Cartoonist Henry K. “Hank” Ketchum, a chief photographic specialist during
World War II who created the cartoon character Half Hitch, a naval
counterpart to the Army’s Sad Sack, and who went on after the war to
develop his more popularly known comic protagonist Dennis the Menace,
visited the ship at the behest of ADM Zumwalt to interview sailors concerning
changes in their service and lifestyles since 1945.
Jun 1971: Saratoga
relieved Forrestal at Rota, and VMAQ-2 crossdecked over to Saratoga. The ship
then immediately sailed for home on the same day. While en route to the United States
three days later, RADM Donald D. Engen relieved RADM Talley as Commander,
Carrier Division 4. Meanwhile on the same day, Forrestal attempted an
evolution she hitherto never before completed when she offloaded most of her
ordnance to ammunition ships while still returning from deployment, alleviating
the need to spend time at the ammunition anchorage and the back-breaking hours
that her men would spend after doing so after completing an exhausting
deployment and while needing rest and time with their families.
1971: At about
1300 Forrestal rounded Sewell’s Point in Hampton Roads and moored to
Pier 12 at Norfolk.
1971–10 Apr 1972:
Shortly after noon the ship stood down the channel to offload her remaining
ammunition, and then she entered Norfolk Naval Shipyard for an overhaul. Forrestal
completed work in drydock (28 August–2 December 1971). Among the many
projects which the crew and shipyard workers completed while she remained in
drydock, they removed the posts for both rudders to check them for wear, the
first time that such work was accomplished since the ship commissioned. She
then moored to Pier 5 at the yard, where she remained until 10 April, when
ongoing international tensions generated by NATO and Warsaw Pact rivalry over
the European balance of power forced her to curtail her work two months earlier
than originally scheduled to relieve America, herself ordered to relieve
John F. Kennedy, which became overdue to return home.
Apr–28 Jun 1972:
At various times during this period the ship completed her type training and
carrier qualification exercises off the Virginia Capes
instead of in Cuban waters, because her accelerated deployment precluded the
usual refresher training conducted off Guantánamo Bay. RADM Frederick C. Turner relieved RADM William D. Hauser as Commander, Carrier Division 2, during a ceremony on board, on 18 May. During these trials (1628 June), the ship also celebrated her first operations with Grumman F-14As when two Tomcats (BuNos 158613 and 158614) completed a number of trials
on board Forrestal.
10 Jul–18 Aug 1971: A fire broke out on the 03 Level in Flag Country during the early morning hours. The blaze gutted the flag mess and galley, as well as flag living quarters. Peripheral heat and smoke damage extended considerably after and slightly forward of the main fire area. Firemen from Naval Station Norfolk valiantly backed-up crewmembers who rushed to contain and extinguish the blaze, which they finally controlled by about 1500 during the afternoon watch, however, investigators could not penetrate the heat and smoke adequately for almost two days, so heavily did the blaze engulf the area. Although the ship did not report any casualties, investigators later apprehended and charged YNSN Jeffrey Allison, a yeoman assigned to the staff of Commander, Carrier Division 2, for setting the fire, which gutted spaces, destroyed sophisticated CIC electronics equipment and wiring, and inflicted total damages estimated at $7.5 million. Forrestal steamed under her own power to Norfolk Naval Shipyard for repairs, returning to Pier 12,Norfolk.
29 Sep 1972: Forrestal arrived at Rota during her 10th
Mediterranean deployment. Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA)-531, flying
F-4B Phantom IIs, relieved VF-74, which transitioned to F-4Js on board Forrestal.
The latter squadron deployed with CVW-8 embarking America.
6 Oct 1972: The ship rendezvoused with attack aircraft carrier Franklin
D. Roosevelt (CVA-42) at Pollensa
Bay. Both carriers
conducted cross-decking to transfer flag officers and their staffs as
Commander, Carrier Division 6 and his staff left Forrestal to embark in Franklin
D. Roosevelt, and Commander, Carrier Division 2/Commander, Task Force 60 embarked in Forrestal.
20 Feb 1972: When Forrestal sailed from Istanbul,
Turkey, her first visit to
that crossroads of the Orient since 1969, she departed without a pair of
marines from VMFA-531, who the Turks detained in Istanbul on charges of possession of drugs.
The Turks later returned one of the men to U.S. custody, however, the other
man remained in the notorious Turkish prison system.
22 Oct 1972: An Olympic Airways NAMC YS-11 airliner crashed
after taking off from Athens International Airport
during reduced visibility conditions, off the coast of Voula near Athens. Four SH-3D Sea
Kings from HS-3 embarking Forrestal, the only helicopter crews in
the immediate area qualified for night rescues, flew to the scene and assisted
in the rescue of three crewmembers and 16 passengers, however, 37 people (one
crewmember and 36 passengers) died during the crash or by drowning–although the
Sea King crews did not locate survivors they recovered one of the
bodies. Ironically, throughout this period controversy concerning the
homeporting of a Sixth Fleet carrier in Athens
manifested itself through adverse publicity by the media, and servicemembers on
liberty ashore experienced a number of altercations with Greek taxicab drivers
during several visits to Athens, though not
during a stop at Thessaloniki.
One of the reasons that the situation gradually diffused became the practice by
Forrestal crewmembers of renting a civilian nightclub (a closed
discothèque) near the fleet landing, which offered sailors and marines a
reasonable alternative to civilian establishments, of arranging a direct-dial
overseas telephone and of improving shore patrol communications system.
8 Nov 1972: A Sea King crew from HS-3 conducted an anti-submarine exercise with Italian guided missile escort cruiser Andrea
12–19 Nov 1972: Forrestal participated in National Week 14,
a multi-national NATO exercise involving the Sixth Fleet and a number of
countries bordering the Mediterranean designed
to improved tactics in modern naval warfare, assist NATO commands in training
for operations, and to find weaknesses in concepts and communications. A post
exercise brief and general board meeting on board the carrier at Souda Bay at
Crete concluded the exercise, on the 18th and 19th. In
addition, two Sea King crews from HS-3 detached from the carrier to fast combat support ship Seattle (AOE-3) to fly experimental anti-submarine missions from a “non-aviation ship”
during the exercise.
20 Nov 1972: As Forrestal prepared to leave Souda Bay
a ground accident interrupted her departure. Crewmembers taxied Helo No. 007,
a Sea King (BuNo 156499) from HS-3, to a wash rack in close proximity to
a hanger, when suddenly the rotor blades struck the hanger door. Flying pieces
of 007’s rotor blades killed two men, including HM1 Richard H. Nadeau of
the ship’s company, and seriously injured a third sailor.
21–27 Nov 1972: When the ship visited Athens unfavorable media reaction reached its
peak due to another confrontation between a Greek taxicab driver and a pair of
sailors from Forrestal. The Greek government prosecuted the sailors,
despite the efforts of CAPT James B. Linder to return the men to U.S. jurisdiction. The attention
this incident received across European media prompted the rapid enforcement of
the policies ashore that the crew developed during this deployment. During
subsequent visits, including an extended stay over Christmas and New Years to
enable the crew and their dependents to enjoy charter flights to loved ones,
the crew succeeded in reducing these liberty incidents.
Aircraft conducted two days of cross-deck operations with their British
counterparts from aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal (R-09) in the
Dec 1972: The
ship visited Rhodes, however, high seas and a strong tidal current in the Bay of Rhodes
prevented normal boating, making it possible only for dependents and their
sponsors to disembark the carrier. In addition, AN C.E. Roberts of VAQ-135
leapt into the bay on the 8th. Two helo crews from HS-3 conducted an
extensive search but could not recover their shipmate due to the extremely heavy
seas, high winds and poor visibility.
on this date Forrestal participated in National Week 15,
conducting the post exercise de brief in Augusta Bay.
28–31 Mar 1973: While preparing to take part in NATO exercises, Forrestal received orders directing her to proceed to Tunisian waters at speed to assist victims of a flood in the Medjerda River Valley
of that North African country. The carrier led two other Sixth Fleet ships, a
destroyer and an amphibious assault ship, toward Tunis, where Forrestal
appeared at first light on the 29th (about 13 hours after receiving
the request) ready to assist the beleaguered people of the area. Altogether,
helo crews flew about 40 sorties, pulling 729 persons from the rapidly rising
waters, moving 27 tons of cargo, lifting 17 doctors to evacuation centers, carrying
an emergency appendectomy to the carrier, and evacuating the entire sheep
herd–227 sheep–from one flooded village. Sea Kings flying from Forrestal
evacuated about 200 people and airlifted four tons of relief supplies to flood
victims. In addition, the carrier's bakery provided 1,200 loaves of bread for
distribution, and crew members contributed money to buy supplies for homeless
children. Many of the ship’s air traffic controllers joined men from the
Operations and Air Operations Departments as a detachment ashore at Tunis
Airfield, where they worked from the control center directing flights. In
addition to the danger the men faced due to the bitter weather, they also
exercised considerable skills dealing with Tunisians who desired to remain with
their homes and livestock, regardless of the rising flood waters or incessant
downpours. As the crisis began to subside on the third day, Tunisian President
Habib Bourguiba decorated RADM Turner and CAPT Linder for their efforts on
behalf of his countrymen. French, Italian, Libyan and Tunisian disaster relief
teams also supported the efforts of Sixth Fleet crews.
14 Apr 1973: The ship
anchored at Kithira, accompanied by several
Soviet ships. Forrestal conducted flight operations while anchored, an unusual evolution that appeared to greatly interest the Russians.
4–14 Jun 1973: The ship
participated in Dawn Patrol NATO exercises.
25–27 Jun 1973: Forrestal stood out of Palma de Mallorca, where she put in for a brief visit (1624 June), and from where her early bird charter flight flew off for home, and steamed westerly courses to Rota. After turning over to her relief, she passed through the Strait of Gibraltar and into the Atlantic.
6 Jul 1973: By the time the
ship returned to Pier 12 at NS Norfolk, aircraft
completed 11,957 recoveries and flew 28,355 total flight hours, accomplishing
13,731 sorties, during this deployment. The carrier steamed underway 148 days,
and made port 140 days at anchor.
Aug–2 Nov 1973: The first
week of the month found Forrestal in Norfolk Naval Shipyard for a three-month overhaul, during which a major project became replacing the hanger bay sprinkler system and other firefighting equipment with more modern systems. The crisis that erupted in the Middle East due to the Arab attack against the Israelis (known variously as the Yom Kippur, October, Ramadan or Fourth Arab-Israeli War, 626 October), precipitated frenzied shipyard activity and crewmembers joined civilan laborers working at what the ships Command History Report described as a feverpitch for seven days a week for a month. Shipyard workers went into extra shifts and these collective efforts brought Forrestal
out of overhaul two months earlier then planned.
26 Nov 1973: Lockheed S-3A Vikings
accomplished their first landings on board Forrestal during carrier
qualifications as the ship steamed off the Virginia capes.
In addition, crewmembers claimed that the ship attained 34-knots during these
trials, exceeding her designed speed after years of service and wear.
14 Dec 1973: Tomcats
returned to the ship during carrier qualifications on board off the Virginia capes. LCDR Commander Warren B. Christie, Jr., however, ejected from his LTD A-7E when the Corsair II
malfunctioned at 22,000 feet. The carrier’s plane guard helo rescued the pilot
during his ordeal.
31 Dec 1973–1 Jan 1974: The
crew saw the old New Year out and welcomed the new one in with a party in
Hanger Bay No. 1, while moored at Pier 12, which many men from ships berthed in
company also attended.
7–18 Jan 1974: The ship underwent carrier qualifications off the east coast in preparation for her operational readiness evaluation. Of significance concerns her urgent need to moor at Mayport on the 19th, to investigate Corsair II
minor engine problems.
14 Mar 1974: Forrestal relieved Franklin D. Roosevelt in mid-Atlantic waters
while en route to the Mediterranean.
20–21 Mar 1974: Forrestal
passed through the Strait of Gibraltar and arrived for duty in the Mediterranean,
putting into Rota. Extended deployments and long line periods
produced a nearly intolerable strain on sailors and marines, fueled by racial tensions
endemic throughout the armed forces, and a racial incident flared up on board Forrestal. LTJG Abraham R. Stowe, the ships Assistant Electronics Material Officer, recalled that they learned about racial crises on board other ships including attack aircraft carriers Constellation and Kitty
Hawk (CVA-63), and then began to experience problems during this deployment. The officerhimself an African Americanrelated how the operations officer announced during an all-officers meeting in the operations department that sailors had discovered a burning cross on board. When the men discussed the hateful symbol and how it could insult shipmates, Stowe replied:
as a black man Im going to advise this group that when a burning cross is found, a white person might wonder, or possibly
construe that as a racial slur. But a black person, there is no question about
what the meaning of that is.” Stowe recommended to his chain of command that
they approach what he described as a systemic problem and quickly diffuse it,
though they (apparently) did not locate the culprits of the hate crime, and he
spent most of the remainder of the cruise on “pins and needles.” The crew did
not experience any additional problems, however, and Stowe noted that most of
his shipmates served proudly, and that they returned to a routine of pride and
professionalism as quickly as the men could under the trying circumstances.
22 Mar 1974–5 Jun 1975:
RADM Brian McCauley arrived in Cairo, Egypt, with a small military planning
staff to clear the Suez Canal of wreckage and unexploded ordnance resulting
from fighting between the Arabs and Israelis since 1967 (the Six-Day War, War
of Attrition and Yom Kippur or October War), which closed the vital artery to international
shipping. Operations Nimbus Star directed Navy minesweeping efforts of
the canal; Nimbus Moon (water) focused on training and assisting
Egyptian mine clearance and salvage operations, and Nimbus Moon (land) directed Army explosive ordnance disposal teams to train and supervise Egyptians ashore. The British and French also participated in the extensive program. The Navy established contingency Task Force 65 on 8 April 1974, the first teams of which began their crucial work from amphibious assault ship Iwo Jima (LPH-2), initially
anchored in Port Said
harbor. A Sikorsky RH-53D Sea Stallion from Helicopter Mine
Countermeasures Squadron (HM)-12 lifted off from Iwo Jima, picked up a
Mk 105 magnetic minesweeping sled from support people ashore, and began
sweeping the approaches to Port Said,
on the 22nd. Task Force 65 grew proportionately to the magnitude of
the problem and tank landing ships Barnstable County (LST-1197) and Boulder
(LST-1190), salvage ships Escape (ARS-6) and Opportune (ARS-41)
and heavy lift craft Crilley (YHLC-1) and Crandall (YHLC-2) were
among vessels that later joined Nimbus Star, and amphibious
assault ship Inchon (LPH-12) relieved
Iwo Jima in mid-May 1974. Meanwhile, through Operation Nimrod Spar
they cleared 10 large ships and a number of smaller vessels such as dredges
which the Egyptians scuttled as blockships in 1967. The canal finally reopened
to maritime commercial traffic on 5 June 1975. Whenever Forrestal
operated in the Mediterranean during this
period, her aircraft often received tasking regarding flying
reconnaissance, combat air patrol and support missions for Task Force 65.
1 Apr 1974: Forrestal
operated in the central Mediterranean to back-up America,
which steamed in the eastern Mediterranean to be ready to respond to a Middle East crisis. Israeli and Syrian tanks and
artillery dueled and Israeli aircraft bombed Syrian troops along the Golan Heights many times during this tense period.
4 Apr 1974: Helos from
HS-3 joined with destroyer Davis (DD-937) to track and make simulated
attacks against attack submarine Greenling (SSN-614). The exercises
afforded crewmembers the opportunity to evaluate coordinated aircraft tactics.
28 Apr–2 May 1974: Forrestal
participated in Dawn Patrol, a two-phase NATO exercise.
11 May–16 Jun 1974:
Following a visit to Athens (5–11 May), the ship
covertly transited the Mediterranean to take part in Umpire’s Decision (15–27
May), a carrier strike exercise in the eastern Atlantic and western Mediterranean. Passing through the Strait
of Gibraltar on the 15th,
she conducted what HS-3’s Command History Report emphasized as “special
coordinated operations” in the vicinity of the Canary
Islands. Aircraft played cat-and-mouse with the men of Tinosa
(SSN-606) as they hunted the attack submarine in simulated wartime conditions.
An HS-3 helo from the carrier rescued a man overboard from escort ship Patterson
(DE-1061) within six minutes after he entered the water, on 30 May. Forrestal
passed through the Strait of Gibraltar and returned to the Mediterranean the next
day, in time to commence International Week II, a major NATO exercise
with four other countries in the western Mediterranean
over 4 and 8 June. Forrestal anchored in Soudha
Bay on Crete to allow her first group
of midshipmen to disembark and a second group to embark, after which she
continued on to Corfu for a brief visit (10–16
June). At least once during this period she also operated with America.
17–20 Jun 1974: While the
ship participated in Operation Poopdeck, an exercise with the Spaniards,
HS-3 crews flew Spanish President Don Carlos A. Navaro, Duke of Calabria, and
VADM Daniel J. Murphy, Commander, Sixth Fleet, out to the ship to view
the flight operations, on the 19th.
8–9 Jul 1974: An F-4J Phantom
II, LT Irwin H. Nelson and LTJG Bruce A. Ridley of VF-74, crashed while
conducting operations from Forrestal. Although SH-3D crews from HS-3
searched the area for 40 hours, they failed to locate either of the men. In
addition, the harried Sea King crewmembers also assisted a merchant ship
11 Jul 1974: An RA-5C Vigilante
(BuNo 156614), LT Wesley N. Rutledge and LTJG Larry S. Parr of RVAH-6,
experienced a bomb bay fire that caused a loss of hydraulics, about four
minutes after launching from Forrestal. A helo from HS-3 rescued both
men after they ejected.
15 Jul–2 Sep 1974: Greek
Cypriot National Guardsmen and their officers from the Greek Army seized
control of the government of Cyprus.
The Americans held America at Rota (the Navy originally scheduled her to return to Norfolk) and Forrestal (initially anticipating a
visit to Athens, Greece)
in the central Med due to the
rapidly deteriorating situation on the island. By the 19th Forrestal
steamed southwest of Crete, about a day’s sail
from Cypriot waters. The next day Turkish troops began landing at the Kyrenia
area of northern Cyprus and
their paratroopers stormed down near Nicosia.
Fighting continued between rival Greeks, Turks and Cypriots–some of whom
supported the Greeks and some fought with the Turks–until they agreed upon a
cease fire which took effect at 1700 on 22 July (though violations occurred
afterward). The Turks halted their offensive as they took control of the
northern third of the island, digging-in along their ‘Atilla Line’ extending
from Lefka on the west through Nicosia to Famagusta on the east.
Meanwhile on 20 July, a helo flying from Forrestal spotted Douce
Folie 2, a small yacht crippled by a recent storm and adrift. The crew
suffered in dire straights without fresh water and the helo crew dropped the
survivors a container of cold water alongside, which they eagerly retrieved.
Through that day and into the next helo crews also participated in a 30-hour
search for a downed Sea Stallion flying from Inchon. In addition, the next day the
busy SH-3D men of HS-3 also retrieved a man who fell overboard from the
carrier. As a result of the Cypriot conflict United States Ambassador Roger
Davies requested the evacuation of Americans trapped by the fighting, on the 22nd.
Vice Admiral Murphy broke his flag from guided missile light cruiser Little Rock (CLG-4), from which he directed sailors
and marines from Task Force 61 for Operation Patience, the U.S. response. People journeyed from the capital of Nicosia to a British installation at Dhekelia in a convoy of private vehicles, where helos from Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron (HMM)-362 operating from Inchon evacuated 466
persons, 384 of them United States citizens, in 22 sorties over only five
hours, to amphibious transport dock Coronado
(LPD-11) steaming offshore. Coronado carried the evacuees to Beirut, Lebanon,
in an 11-hour transit, disembarking her passengers there the next day.
Amphibious transport dock Trenton (LPD-14), dock landing ship Spiegel Grove
(LSD-32) and tank landing ship Saginaw
(LST-1188) also participated in the evacuations. Aircraft flying from Forrestal
of VF-11 and VF-74 covered the
dangerous operation. Meanwhile, British helos from a task force including
aircraft carrier HMS Hermes (R-12), destroyer HMS Devonshire
(D-02), frigates HMS Brighton (F-106) and HMS Ryl (F-129) and a
tanker and a supply ship rescued at least 1,630 people from beaches around
Kyrenia and along the northern coast of the island. British Royal Air Force
(RAF) Hercules’ and additional aircraft also flew people out from King’s
Field. Hermes carried 219 people–114 Americans and the balance foreign
nationals from 19 countries–to a British field at Akrotiri. From there landing
craft transferred the people in a little over four hours to Trenton as she anchored offshore. Trenton then moved
to a point south of Dhekelia where British helos from Hermes lifted an additional 85 evacuees to her. Accompanied by escort ship Blakely
(DE-1072) she then made for Beirut,
where the ship offloaded her passengers the next day, on the 25th. Forrestal
steamed to the south of Cyprus with guided missile frigate William H.
Standley (DLG-31) and escort ships Jesse L. Brown (DE-1098) and Patterson
(DE-1061), monitoring the situation as the firmness of the cease-fire remained
in doubt among observers. Aircraft carrier Independence,
which sailed with CVW-7 from the east coast on the 19th, arrived off
the southwest of Crete after a hurried transit
to support Forrestal, on 4 August. The ships subsequently came about to
depart from the area, however, during mob rioting a sniper shot and killed
Ambassador Davies in Nicosia on 19 August. Marines stood to at the embassy to
hold back the angry crush and urgent messages recalled Sixth Fleet ships
including Forrestal, Independence
and Inchon, which returned from their
duties across the Mediterranean to again
operate off the embattled island. Among some of the ships that participated in
these operations were: Independence, Inchon, Coronado, Trenton,
Saginaw, Spiegel Grove, guided missile frigates Dahlgren
(DLG-12) and William H. Standley, destroyer Richard E. Kraus (DD-849) and escort ships Blakely, Bowen (DE-1079), Jesse L.
Brown and Patterson. Altogether, the Americans handled 752 evacuees including
498 United States
citizens. The Turkish invasion forced Archbishop Makarios to escape from the
island to seek international support during the crisis, and he could not return
to resume his obligations until 7 December 1974.
9 Sep 1974: Tropical Storm Elaine
threatened to overtake Forrestal and her escorts with winds reaching 70
mph as they returned home across the Atlantic, beginning about 1,000 miles
southeast of Norfolk.
The ship also rendezvoused with America,
which allowed VAW-126 to cross-deck over to the latter during a potentially
10 Sep 1974: A boiler
explosion ripped through tanker Eliane of Global Bulk Carriers, Inc., of
Liberian registry. Forrestal responded to her distress and evacuated two
crewmembers to Sick
Bay, and sailors took
them from there on to the mainland. One man died from his horrendous burns,
though the other survived his ordeal. Some crewmembers noted the similarities
between the names of the storm and ship.
11 Sep 1974: Forrestal
returned from her deployment to Pier 12 at Norfolk. Aircraft completed 8,750 sorties,
16,906 flight hours and 8,121 traps during the deployment.
5–16 Mar 1975: En route to
the Mediterranean, Forrestal received a
call for assistance from Liberian freighter Freights Queen, which
suffered a catastrophic explosion. Searchers discovered one body, a life raft
and some debris. During this deployment four EA-6B Prowlers of VAQ-134 also
embarked with CVW-17, an important reorganization of the wing.
17 Mar–16 May 1975: The ship
relieved Saratoga at Rota
on the 17th. Forrestal barely arrived in the Mediterranean, however, when her No. 1 shaft support
bearing failed, requiring a hitherto unprecedented decision to bring shipyard
workers all the way from Norfolk to replace the bearing and worn shaft while
continuing her operations underway. Arrangements and planning took time, and
the carrier stopped briefly at Augusta
Bay before she anchored at Taranto for a few days to
enable workers and crewmembers to bring her back to full duty, on 16 May. In
the interim, Forrestal took part in Shabaz 75.
22 May 1975: Forrestal
sailed from Taranto
and conducted a joint ship attack exercise with Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Aircraft flew low level navigation over Sicily
and southern Italy
during the exercise.
25–28 Jun 1975: Forrestal
stood out of Palma de Mallorca for flight operations in the western Mediterranean. Shortly before nightfall on the 25th,
Buckeye 511, an A-6E (BuNo 152918), LTJGs Lloyd T. Hunt and Brian L.
Cardiff of VA-85, collided in mid-air with Aircraft No. 611, a Grumman
EA-6B (BuNo 158814), LCDR Joseph R. Capute, LT William B. Bierbower and LTJG
Robert W. McConchie from VAQ-134. Although the crew enjoyed a mostly clear
evening, lookouts reported some haze. The aircraft launched by 1855 but flew
separate missions–the Prowler crew investigated a shipping contact
during their submarine and surface surveillance coordination plan, and the Intruder
flew spar bombing and ‘basic airwork practice.’ As the two aircraft completed
their runs and returned to Marshal (Forrestal), they turned into a 30°
left bank turn toward the inbound heading and slammed into each other, near 38°40’N,
4°30’E, at 2001. Buckeye 511 rolled three to five times to the left and 611
pitched down and rolled left, at which point the crew ejected. Although
searchers rescued the other men they could not recover LTJG Cardiff, and
despite an exhaustive search overnight they terminated further efforts and
declared the naval aviator “lost at sea” at 1740 on the 26th. The
crew held a memorial service for their fallen shipmate two days later as the
ship transited the Strait
2–18 Jul 1975: Following a visit
to Naples (2–6 July) the carrier spent a week operating in Mediterranean waters
before she anchored off Bari, Italy, for a four-day visit, and then she moved
on to Augusta Bay. While Forrestal anchored briefly there (17–18 July),
Commander, Task Force 60 shifted his flag to John F. Kennedy, and
Commander, Cruiser Destroyer Group 12 broke his flag from Forrestal.
26 Jul–16 Aug 1975: Forrestal
extended a stay in Naples (26 July–7 August) as her arrival coincided with
Settima Aeromotonautica week, a series of celebrations which the Neapolitans
set aside within the Bay of Naples area involving water and motor sports. The
ship then participated in National Week exercises with John F.
Kennedy. An Intruder experienced a mishap on the 10th,
however, both men escaped without serious injuries. A highlight of National
Week became a strike force tactics exercise with John F. Kennedy on
17 Aug 1975: Another A-6E
suffered an accident, though both men escaped.
31 Aug 1975: Aircraft took part
in a close air assault exercise over southern Sardinia.
12–13 Sep 1975: Forrestal
arrived at Rota, put in for 12-hours and then
sailed for home.
22 Sep 1975: By the time Forrestal
returned to Pier 12 at Norfolk,
aircraft flew 13,433 sorties and
24,946 flight hours and made 12,321 recoveries during the deployment.
27 Oct 1975–1 Feb 1976: The
carrier completed a selective restricted availability at Norfolk Naval
Shipyard. She spent several days anchored offloading ammunition (27–30 October)
and the remainder of the time in the yard.
1–20 Feb 1976: The ship
accomplished sea trials.
17–26 Mar 1976: CVW-17
embarked for refresher training off the east coast.
1–8 Jul 1976: Forrestal sailed from Norfolk
with Task Force 200 to New York harbor as the
host ship for the International Naval Review, to celebrate the bicentennial
anniversary of the Declaration of Independence of the United States
from the British crown. The carrier arrived on the 3rd and Governor Brendan T. Byrne of New
Jersey and Mayor Abraham D. Beame of New York City, visited the ship. From the
flight deck the next day President
Gerald R. Ford, Jr., rang in the Bicentennial 13 times, symbolizing the
original Thirteen Colonies and triggering the simultaneous ringing of bells
across America, and then beginning at 1406 he delivered an address as the
keynote speaker during ceremonies on board Forrestal honoring the birth
of the Republic. The President then reviewed 40 “tall ships” from countries
across the globe from the carrier. A huge entourage of distinguished guests
also attended including Vice President Nelson A. Rockefeller, Secretary of
State Henry A. Kissinger, Secretary of the Navy J.
William Middendorf, III, Chief of Naval Operations ADM James L. Holloway, III, ADM Isaac C. Kidd, Jr., Commander-in-Chief of
the Atlantic Fleet, Chairman Emil Mosbacher,
Jr., of Operation Sail, Governor Byrne, Mayor Beame, John W. Warner, Administrator of the American
Revolution Bicentennial Administration, Prince and Princesses Rainier III [Rainier L.H.M.B. Grimaldi], Grace and Caroline [Louise Marguerite] of Monaco, and Crown Prince and
Princess Harold and Sonya of Norway.
President Gerald R. Ford, Jr., rang in the Bicentennial 13 times from the ceremonial bell while on the flight deck. John W. Warner, Bicentennial Administrative Head, stood by the chief executive during the momentous event. PH2 Terry C. Mitchell, Navy Photo No. 1167793
Aug 1976: The
ship took part in a special shock test, which involved detonating high
explosives near her hull to determine if a capital ship can withstand the
strain of close quarter battle and remain operational.
1976–24 Jun 1977:
The carrier completed a nine-month overhaul at Norfolk,
during which many men lived ashore at Dale Hall barracks in Portsmouth, Virginia.
Crewmembers worked two daily shifts and civilian workers manned three shifts
around-the-clock. The New Year found the ship in Drydock No. 8, which shipyard
workers flooded up to the 17-foot level on Forrestal’s hull to test sea
valves and hull work they performed, and lit-off the emergency diesels, over 14
and 15 January. Workers pumped-up the drydock the next day due to excessive
leaks in some of the ship’s pipes. Forrestal
left the drydock and moored starboard side to Pier 5 at the shipyard, on 22 January. The ship sailed to complete sea trials over 15 to 20 June, returning to Pier 5. The next day the carrier left the shipyard en route to the Virginia capes for work slated to include a full power run, testing the anchors and a test of the flight deck wash down system. Forrestal returned to Pier 12 , Norfolk, on 24 June.
6 Sep 1977: The ship onloaded over 900 tons of ammunition, the
first time that the crew loaded live ordnance on board in over a year, during an
underway replenishment with ammunition ship Suribachi (AE-21).
8–19 Sep 1977: Forrestal anchored off Norfolk, and three days later she moored to Pier 12 in preparation to shift her home port to Mayport. The crew spent days laboriously loading automobiles, motorcycles and household goods on board. The ship sailed on 17 September and moored to Pier C-1 at Mayport. Many male dependents up to age eight accompanied the carrier during her shift. Two days later, Jacksonville Beach
and the USO rolled out the red carpet and held a “Welcome to Florida” reception and dance for
27 Sep–24 Oct 1977: The ship embarked CVW-17 and sailed from Mayport for
refresher training in Caribbean waters. Forrestal
anchored off Guantánamo Bay
over 1 and 2 October, and then she stood out of the bay to continue operations.
After an intense ten days of evaluations with Fleet Training Group sailors, the
carrier visited Port-Au-Prince in Haiti (7–10
October). Haitian President Jean-Claude Duvalier, known as Bébé Doc [Baby Doc], and Ambassador William B. Jones led a delegation
including members of the Haitian armed forces chief of staff on board during
the visit. Fine weather enabled the crew to complete most of their assignments
and for aircraft to fly almost daily
missions while underway before and after their visit to the island republic.
12 Nov 1977: Dr. Lynn E. Davis, Deputy Assistant of the Secretary
of Defense (International Security Affairs) and an entourage of key defense
officials completed an orientation tour of the ship.
22 Dec 1977: Forrestal served as the host ship for Saratoga as the latter returned from a deployment
to the Mediterranean.
13 Jan–3 Feb 1978: Forrestal stood out of Mayport for a
three-week at sea period in the Atlantic Fleet Weapons Range of Roosevelt Roods
Operating Area to complete the third phase of type commander’s training. The
crew accomplished general quarters drills, and an air-to-air missile, ‘downed
pilot’ and ship-sinking exercises. Tragedy struck the ship on the evening of 15
January, however, as she steamed about 49 miles off St. Augustine, Florida.
A Corsair II of VA-81 crashed on the flight deck, killing two flight
deck crewmen, ABH2 Jesse R. Puente and ABH3 Johnny C. Gill, and injuring 10
others. The Corsair II struck a parked Corsair II and a Prowler
on the aft portion of the deck packed with aircraft, and careened across the
ship in a ball of flames. Crewmembers rapidly extinguished a small fire aft
caused by fuel spilled onto the deck during the mishap. The pilot ejected and a
helo crew from HS-3, LT Brian K. Young, LTJG Leland S. Kollmorgen, AW3 Lawrence
L. Johnson and AW3 Michael E. Meier, recovered the man, who suffered only minor
injuries. Sea Kings also flew all night to evacuate their injured
shipmates to hospitals ashore, and scoured the sea for possible victims blown
overboard. The crew held a memorial service for their fallen friends on 19
January. A man fell overboard on the 25th, but another HS-3 Sea
King crew, LT Stephen G. Hawkins, LTJG Frank S. Cina, AW3 Johnson and AW3
Michael D. Kurtz, retrieved the sailor.
4–11 Apr 1978: The carrier deployed from Mayport to the Mediterranean. Forrestal rendezvoused with six
other ships southeast of Bermuda to form Task Group 20.6, on 6 April. RADM William F. Clifford, Commander, Cruiser-Destroyer Group-12, took command of the task group and broke his flag from the carrier. Twice en route to the Mediterranean
she suffered mishaps, however; the first a fire that erupted in No. 3 Main
Machinery Room, as hot steam lines set freshly painted lagging in No. 3 Main
Engine Room smoldering, at 2200 two days later. Fortuitously, the fire occurred
just minutes after the crew secured from a general quarters drill, so that many
men already were at or near their stations and firefighting equipment, and
watchstanders within the space activated an extinguishing system and put out
the fire within seconds without casualties. Three days later a fire broke out
in a catapult steam trunk in the forward part of the ship at about the 01
level, around midnight just after crewmembers relieved their shipmates for the
midwatch. Within the first few minutes as the at-sea brigade responded, men
also discovered a second fire erupting in an adjoining storeroom, however,
working with area repair lockers, responders defeated both fires within the
14–19 Apr 1978: The ship visited Rota to begin operating with the Sixth Fleet during this deployment, and relieved America. RADM Robert F. Schoultz, Commander, Task Force 60, broke his flag from Forrestal.
The admiral’s deployment became an affable one with crewmembers as he
previously commanded the ship (1971–1972) and knew her well. Meanwhile, RADM
Clifford departed for aircraft carrier Nimitz (CVN-68) to assume his duties as
Commander, Task Group-60.2. In addition,
a detachment from VA-83 embarking the ship, detached to operate with British
Royal Air Force crews flying from their station at Lossiemouth, Scotland,
to exchange tactical techniques.
19–29 Apr 1978: Forrestal conducted training exercises in the
Western Mediterranean basin and the Tyrrhenian Sea,
focusing upon anti-submarine warfare during a specially prepared program
entitled “ASW Week.” Vikings and Sea Kings flying from the ship hunted
subs and fired practice torpedoes, passing on data they collected to the ship’s
Tactical Support Center.
In addition, the carrier opened ‘Seamart,’ a walk-in and larger supply store
for her men then any previous designs, that operated like shore-based
servmarts, on the 21st. LTJGs Eric A Hitchcock and John A. Barnet, III, of VF-74 completed the ships 227,000th
arrested landing, in a Phantom II, as Forrestal steamed in the
Mediterranean the next day. Meanwhile, one of Forrestal’s escorts gained
sonar contact on a possible submarine. A Sea King from HS-3 quickly
attained an active sonar contact and criteria for a hover torpedo attack. A
second helo joined their shipmates, and verified via their magnetic anomaly
detection gear the submarine’s maneuvers as the latter attempted to escape her
hunters. This boat became the first of several more submarines from a number of
different countries that the determined helicopter crews tracked during the
course of their deployment. As the ship steamed in the Tyrrhenian Sea while
conducting night flight operations on the 29th, a Grumman KA-6D
tanker from VA-85, crashed, though an HS-3 Sea King, LT William E.
Christman, LT Michael N. Lewis, AW3 Brad A. France and AWAN Gary R. Gearhart,
recovered the pilot, while a second squadron crew, LTJGs John F. McKean and
Julian A. Ferguson, AW1 Grant H. Morrison and AWAN Eugene C. Crowley, III,
retrieved the bombardier/navigator.
9–18 May 1978: Following a visit to Naples
(30 April–8 May), the ship completed an anti-air warfare exercise in the
eastern Mediterranean, principally steaming to the north of Crete and into the Ionian Sea. On the 10th, however, flooding
began in an aft pump room and the inrushing water rose to a height of 20 feet
before crewmembers could control the influx. In the interim, flooding also
spread to adjacent food storage rooms, which destroyed most of Forrestal’s stocks of fresh milk
and produce. Divers from the ship’s explosive ordnance disposal team valiantly
risked their lives by dropping into the pump room to plug the leak. The flood
inflicted total damages estimated at $30,000, though the ship did not report
casualties. As the exercise culminated, the carrier integrated into another set
of (separate) exercises.
19–29 May 1978:
Over 80 ships and submarines from six NATO countries: the Americans, British,
French, Greeks, Italians and Turks, tangled in Dawn Patrol, one of the
largest NATO exercises that Forrestal participated in to date,
stretching across the central and eastern Mediterranean.
Forrestal’s aircraft tested their mettle against their
counterparts flying aircraft from aircraft carriers Nimitz and French FS
Foch (R-99), as well as against Air Force and NATO aircraft, as they protected a Turkish amphibious task group.
30 May–22 Jun 1978: Following a visit to Catania, Sicily (30 May–5 June), Forrestal steamed across
the Ionian Sea and made port at Marseilles,
June), to conduct an intermediate maintenance availability for some minor
repairs. The visit generated media attention, especially among European
journalists, however, due to her mooring at the pier rather then anchoring out,
as the first U.S.
carrier to do so for sometime, and her stay became a cause of concern to
environmental and anti-American activists. Nonetheless, 125 French shipyard
workers replaced armored covers for jet fuel pipes on the skin of the ship,
made structural repairs to the flight deck, repaired about 15 watertight doors
and worked on maintaining the ship’s boats.
22–26 Jun 1978:
Forrestal took part in an anti-submarine and mine warfare exercise in
the western Mediterranean and Ionian
Seas, a training
evolution that proved costly to the men on board. At 1508 on the 24th, LCDR Thomas P. Anderson, the operations officer of CVW-17, died when his A-7E Corsair
II (BuNo 157561), crashed into the sea during a practice bombing mission
against Pachino Target, a buoy anchored approximately two miles to the south of
pilot flew as a wingman on a two plane daytime dive bombing mission with a
section leader. The weather was clear with good visibility, but with no
definite horizon due to haze. During his second run LCDR Anderson began a steep
dive of almost 60° and continued until below the altitude normally considered
optimal for recovering from such descents. The pilot apparently attempted to
pull up during the final moments of his plunge, however, his Corsair II
slammed into the water tail first about one-quarter of a mile beyond the buoy.
A Sea King crew from HS-3, LTJG Thomas J. Henderson, ENS David P. Smouse, AW2 James H. Cox and AWAN Harold R. Rhodes, performed the sad duty of retrieving LCDR Andersons body, which rescuers located beneath his life raft in the midst of a slick created by the crash. The next day another pilot from VA-83, also flying a Corsair II, crashed shortly after takeoff during
the day. A rescue crew from an SH-3D Sea King from HS-3, LCDR Donald A.
Wright, LTJG Russell E. Hall, AW2 Cox and AWAN Gearhart, recovered the man, who
suffered only minor injuries in the crash, and returned him to the ship in
barely eight minutes. Both crashes occurred while the ship sailed in the Ionian Sea.
5–11 Jul 1978:
The ship led a task group of six vessels into Tridente, a joint exercise
in the eastern Mediterranean and the northern Ionian Sea
with the British, French, Germans, Greeks and Italians, that focused on
establishing sea control in the face of simulated opposition forces. The
carrier anchored at Augusta
Bay to enable RADM
Schoultz to depart for John F. Kennedy, while RADM Clifford embarked Forrestal,
on the 8th.
12–17 Jul 1978:
The ship anchored in the bay at Naples, where
folksinger Harry Chapin entertained the crew in the Hanger Bay
on the 16th. In addition, RADM William R. Smedberg, IV, relieved
RADM Clifford during a ceremony on board.
19–20 Jul 1978:
During Operation BuzzardEx, aircraft and ships attempted to intercept and
shoot down RIM-8 Talos surface-to-air missiles fired by guided missile
(CG-10). The Talos’ represented enemy aircraft attacking at speeds of
23–31 Jul 1978:
Forrestal completed National Week XXV training with southern NATO
members, including sea control, power projection and anti-submarine warfare. John
F. Kennedy, Albany, two
nuclear-powered attack submarines, Lockheed P-3 Orions and French and
Italian forces were among the commands which joined Forrestal as they
wrestled for control of the western Ionian Sea.
1–14 Aug 1978: Forrestal
moored for the first time at a newly-completed deep-draft pier at Valencia, Spain. Over 30,000 visitors toured the ship, but the highlight for the men on board undoubtedly occurred when the Miss America Variety Show, highlighting Miss America 1978, Susan Perkins, and reigning beauty queens Linda Hallstrom from Nebraska, Mary DArcy from New Jersey, Kathy Fleming from North Carolina, Catherine Hinson from South Carolina, Lori Smith from Texas and Kristy Deakin from Utah, sang and danced before a crowd packed into the hangar bay, on the 4th.
15–23 Aug 1978: The
ship completed training exercises in the western Mediterranean.
A Phantom II from VF-74 crashed over 60 nautical miles from Forrestal
to the south of France
on the 17th. A helo crew from HS-3, LCDR Ormond C. Fowler, Jr., LT
Christman, AW2 Robert G. Purinton and AW3 Dante F. Quinquinio, rescued both
men, who survived without serious injuries. At about noon on the 21st
the general quarters alarm sounded as widespread smoke appeared on the third
deck amidships. Shortly thereafter, fire brigade members discovered burning
boxes in a fourth deck storeroom. The responders extinguished the blaze within
10 minutes of the initial alarm. During Dasix the next day, aircraft participated in an air defense exercise against French Air Force
pilots, flying mock attacks on the French coast, which allowed the men of
CVW-17 to practice fighting their way through enemy defenses and the French the
experience of attempting to stop them and defend their homeland.
24 Aug–27 Sep 1978: After a brief stop in Palma (24–28 August), the ship left the
Mediterranean en route to the Atlantic and the North and Norwegian Seas to take
part in the huge NATO exercise Northern Wedding (4–18 September). En
route she put into Rota to allow RADM Norman
K. Green, Commander, Carrier Group-6, to embark, and for RADM Smedberg to
disembark and transfer his flag to guided missile cruiser Harry E. Yarnell
(CG-17). Northern Wedding involved over 40,000 men and women, 22 subs
and 800 aircraft from nine NATO countries. Planners geared the exercise to
simulate allied abilities to reinforce Western Europe
in the event of an East Bloc attack. Forrestal and HMS Ark Royal
led separate task groups that steamed in a two-carrier formation to gain sea
control and deploy their aircraft to support amphibious landings in the
Shetland Islands and the Danish
Heavy seas and high winds, however, curtailed flight operations during the
first phase of the exercises, but conditions improved just barely enough in the
harsh northern climbs to permit the ship and her embarked air wing to support
the planned objectives. The professionalism and dedication to completing their
tasks which the British and Canadians displayed especially impressed
crewmembers, who noted these specific allies’ pride in more than one report. Forrestal
conducted sea control, power projection, air support and reconnaissance missions. VADM Wesley L. McDonald, Commander, Second Fleet, gave a news conference to a group of both U.S. and international journalists in the carriers War Room on the 9th, describing in some detail the
significance of the exercise–which NATO normally held every four years–in
preparing the allies to resist a Soviet-led attack against the West. After
completing the exercise the ship returned to the Mediterranean, pausing in the
Spanish port of Malaga (22–27 September).
28 Sep–8 Oct 1978:
The carrier participated in Display Determination, a NATO southern
region exercise involving eight countries practicing rapid reinforcement and
resupply of the alliance’s southern flank during wartime, and the third and
final exercise of this deployment. Aircraft flew a large number of sorties
principally against their British, Italian and Portuguese counterparts.
11–15 Oct 1978: Forrestal transited the Strait of Gibraltar by steering westerly courses to Rota. The ship put to sea on the 13th to
conduct a one-day exercise with Saratoga and her task group, which
enabled aircraft to practice mock attacks against the ships and for the latters gunners to train in anti-air warfare. SN Williams from the deck department of fast combat support ship Detroit (AOE-4) fell overboard just as the ship completed refueling the carrier that night and the vessels broke away from each other, but a Sea King crew, LT Henderson, LTJG Smouse, AW2 Purinton and AWAN Bryan K. Bailey, retrieved him. Their rescue became especially difficult and challenging due to the lack of a visible horizon for pilot reference and insufficient wind to aid hovering, and in addition, the sailor did not wear reflective tape on his flotation garment and did not use signaling devices. Nonetheless, the helo crew preserved and saved his life. The shaken seaman recovered in the carriers sick bay, and a helo returned him the next
day to Detroit.
The next day Saratoga
relieved Forrestal, enabling the latter to begin her voyage home before
dawn on the 15th.
15–26 Oct 1978:
On her homeward transit, Forrestal steered an extreme northerly course
to participate in Operation Windbreak, a special program designed to
introduce sailors and their equipment to relatively unfamiliar waters and
conditions, and to gauge how well the Russians monitored American ships sailing
to and from Mediterranean waters. Forrestal steamed as far north as
62°N, about 150 miles south of Iceland,
where seas raging to 34-feet and winds in excess of 70-knots slammed into the
ship. The wind chill factor dropped to 0° and drove sailors inside to avoid frostbite and exposure. Guided missile cruiser Harry E. Yarnell (CG-17) and destroyer Arthur
W. Radford (DD-968) also joined the carrier for the unique exercise, and
VADM McDonald embarked Forrestal during Windbreak.
13 Nov 1978–early 1979: Forrestal completed a four-month extended selected restricted availability at Mayport. In addition to several different shore establishments, destroyer tender Yosemite (AD-19)
agreed to take on over 700 “intermediate-level” repairs involving welding and
pipe fitting. On the eve of the Gator Bowl contest, Ohio State University football coach Wayne W.
“Woody” Hayes, a World War II Navy veteran known for bringing his
experiences from the Fleet into his coaching style, led an entourage of 100 team members on board, on 28 December. Sailors
noted that Coach Hayes “had a smile and handshake” for shipmates as he “eagerly
roamed” the ship. On 28 January 1979, however, hydrogen sulfide fumes overcame
four civilian workers from Pepper Industries of Jacksonville, and two sailors,
while the workers pumped out a fuel tank. The two men from the ship gallantly
rushed to aid the civilians when the fumes overcame them, though all six
victims recovered without serious injuries. A spokesman from Forrestal
noted that “hydrogen sulfide is not stored in any form aboard ship.”
12 Apr 1979:
The first jets to land on board following her availability roared over the
fantail and hooked the arresting cable.
27 Apr–May 1979:
Forrestal sailed from Mayport for several weeks of refresher training in
Caribbean waters. The carrier and fast
combat support ship Savannah (AOE-4) collided while refueling on 9
May. A resistor/capacitor in the 400 cycle power supply to the master gyro on
failed, which prevented the automated shift of power from 400 cycle to
battery power. The gyro failure alarm did not actuate in the pilot house on
board the replenishment ship until the collision. Both ships sustained minor
damage but no casualties among their crews, and the impact inflicted limited
damage on Forrestal’s port side which affected her refueling rigs and
hoses. Savannah continued to fulfill her
busy schedule and replenished guided missile cruiser Texas (CGN-39) that afternoon, while
the carrier continued to match her previous records while under the auspices of
the Fleet Training Group inspectors.
4 Jun 1979: Secretary of the Navy W. Graham Claytor, Jr., visited the ship.
1 Jul 1979: AA Melton H. Coleman was murdered and his body thrown overboard, off the coast off Jacksonville.
Despite an intensive search rescuers could not retrieve him. In early September
investigators sentenced SA Wayne A. Bishop to life imprisonment for conspiracy
to commit murder, and charged a second crewmember, Michael K. Nicolson, with
conspiracy to commit murder and premeditated murder.
2–16 Aug 1979: RADM Bryan W. Compton, Jr., commanded Forrestal as she participated in CompTuEx
3-79, a Second Fleet readiness exercise. Training included missile,
surface, anti-air, anti-surface and anti-submarine warfare and gunnery
exercises. British frigates HMS Alacrity (F-174) and HMS Galatia
(F-18) also joined the carrier. Undersecretary of the Navy R. James Woolsey
embarked overnight (15–16 August).
21 Sep 1979: Aircraft No
100, an F-4J, LCDR Curry M. Lawler and LTJG Joseph M. Foster from VF-11, struck the ramp, sheering the starboard mainmount, and crashed on the flight deck during nighttime flight operations off the Jacksonville Operating Area at 2123, near 30°561N, 79°346W. Helo searchers picked-up LCDR Lawler and returned him to the ship, where crewmembers treated the pilot for shock in sick bay. LTJG Foster also ejected but the co-pilot landed on the flight deck, where their burning Phantom II pinned him beneath the
wreckage before his shipmates could release the man from his harrowing ordeal.
The naval aviator suffered fractured ribs and internal injuries which required
several weeks of recovery in a hospital.
Nov 1979: During this period the pro-Western Iranian government collapsed, forcing the Shah into exile in the United States.
Tensions among opposing groups produced a state of near-anarchy within the
troubled land. One of the more radical groups, “Students Following the Imam’s
Line,” blamed America for the discord, and sought to mobilize support for their policies by seizing the U.S. Embassy in Teheran on 4 November 1979. Receiving tacit approval from the Ayatollah R. Khomeini, the extremists continued to hold 52 hostages. The crime
outraged Americans and the U.S.
government responded by ordering naval forces to the region, tentatively to
30 Nov 1979: Secretary of
the Navy Edward Hidalgo visited the ship to view flight operations and also
spoke to crewmembers via the ship’s closed circuit television.
5–6 Dec 1979: While she steamed en route to the Med, Forrestal launched simulated air
strikes against Independence
as the latter returned from deployment. Forrestal ten conducted a
‘blue-water turnover’ with Independence.
9–13 Dec 1979: The ship
visited Rota to accomplish briefings tailored to the Mediterranean and NATO environment, and which enabled RADM Robert F. Dunn, Commander, Carrier Group 10, to break his flag from the carrier.
14–20 Dec 1979: As they
prepared for contingencies due to the Iranian crisis, Forrestal and Nimitz participated in MultiPlEx,
an exercise incorporating two carrier task forces in combined operations in the
Both carriers operated as adversaries and sent mock air strikes against each
other, and in addition, they hunted attack submarines Shark (SSN-591) and Italian Gianfranco Gazzana Priaroggia (S-502).
21 Dec 1979–4 Jan 1980: The ship visited Marseilles. French families flooded the U.S. consulate
there with offers to invite sailors and marines into their homes during the
Christmas holidays. On New Years, however, Forrestal sailed
for Naples to relieve Nimitz, which
enabled Nimitz to respond to the Iranian crisis by leading a nuclear-powered battle group comprising guided missile cruisers California (CGN-36) and
Texas from the Mediterranean to the Indian Ocean. Their voyage left Forrestal as the only American carrier deployed to
the Mediterranean during this time of
heightened international tensions.
2 Mar 1981: Forrestal
sailed on her 16th Mediterranean deployment and second quarter
century of service to the Republic. During a crisis between the Israelis and
Syrians the crew maintained a heightened state of readiness as the ship steamed
for 53 consecutive days at sea.
18–19 Aug 1981: Libyan strongman CAPT (later COL)
Muammar al-Qadhafi, encouraged and supported an ongoing series of terrorist
attacks against Westerners during the 1970s and 80s, which heightened friction
between the West and the dictator across the region. Forrestal and Nimitz
conducted an open ocean missile exercise in the Gulf of
Sidra, and aircraft from both ships intercepted potentially threatening Libyan aircraft on
a number of occasions. On the 19th newspapers across the nation
proudly carried the headlines: “U.S. 2 – Libya 0,” as two F-14A crews, CDR
Hank Kleeman and LT Dave Venlet and LTs Larry Muczynski and Jim Anderson
(VF-41), shot down a pair of Libyan Sukhoi Su-22 Fitters. The Libyans threatened
Nimitz during a tense
encounter in the Gulf of Sidra, and the Tomcat crews splashed them with AIM-9L Sidewinder air-to-air
1981: After departing
from the Mediterranean the ship steamed above the Arctic
Circle to participate in NATO exercise Ocean
Venture ’81, which gave many crewmembers the opportunity to
1981: Forrestal operated in the
Mediterranean in support of the Lebanon Contingency Force of 800 marines at Beirut.
transited the Suez Canal for the first time and relieved Ranger in the
eastern Indian Ocean, in an urgent surge deployment. Forrestal
and her screen turned out to be a temporary reinforcement because a little over
a month later Enterprise
relieved her. Nonetheless, this became her first time to operate under the
command of the Seventh Fleet since her ill-fated cruise in 1967.
1982: The ship
returned home for an unusual nighttime arrival.
Jan 1983: Forrestal shifted her home port
to the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard in Pennsylvania,
to embark upon a 28-month, $694 million Service Life Extension Program (SLEP)
project, designed to extend her life an additional 15 to 20 years. The ship
sailed from Mayport on the 12th, supplementing her crew and stores with additional loads including over 1,000 of her crews personal automobiles. In addition, crewmembers set up a special area in the aircraft intermediate maintenance departments jet shop to accommodate crewmembers small pets. The carrier arrived at Pier 6 at Philadelphia
and crewmembers completed the offload they began at Mayport.
28–30 Jan 1983: Forrestal shifted to Drydock No. 5 at Philadelphia. Crewmembers moved ashore to the base while many of their dependents relocated into the city. Two days later the ship began cold iron status as the crew and workers shut down the last of her internal power sources and services.
15–18 Jul 1983: The crew held their first annual Forrestal reunion. Over 400
former crewmembers and their families attended, some of whom flew-in from the
West Coast. Shipmates held a memorial service honoring all of those men who
gave their lives for freedom during the carrier’s 28-year history.
14–17 Sep 1983: The ship’s ceremonial color guard opened the Miss America Pageant by
presenting the colors.
10 Oct 1983: Pennsylvanian Senator Arlen Specter visited the ship.
Nov 1983: Some crewmembers participated as extras in the film George
Washington, which CBS aired on national television several months later.
27–29 Jan 1984: Forrestal undocked. Tugs pulled the carrier from the drydock
and maneuvered her over to moorings at Pier 6. Two days later Forrestal returned to Drydock No. 5.
7 May 1984: Some 1,200 crewmembers began moving back on board, aft. Supply
services started their return and the crew celebrated the opening of the galley
with a ribbon-cutting ceremony.
18 Jul 1984: Bob Hope and Ann Jillian entertained several thousand crewmembers and
shipyard workers with a 45-minute show on the flight deck.
12–15 Sep 1984: The ship’s ceremonial color guard opened each night of the Miss
America Pageant, at Atlantic City,
9 Oct 1984: The crew lit-off Boiler 2A, the first time that the ship experienced
steam in her boilers in upward of two years.
10 Nov 1984: Forrestal shifted berths to the east side of Pier 6 at Philadelphia.
28 Jan–2 Feb 1985: The ship completed a fast cruise; a series of evolutions simulating
getting underway without actually leaving the pier, an important step toward
accomplishing her SLEP and becoming ready for sea.
3–15 Feb 1985: Three helicopters from NAS Jacksonville landed on board at 1653 on the
3rd, the first operational aircraft to do so in more than two years,
to support Forrestal’s shipyard sea trials. The next day the ship got
underway for the trials and for material inspections, her first time at sea
under her own steam since arriving in Philadelphia.
In addition to accomplishing boiler, evaporator and ship’s service generator
testing, the carrier also completed full power trials, before returning to Pier
10–18 Apr 1985: Forrestal transited the Delaware River
and accomplished sea trials.
20–23 May 1985: The ship completed SLEP as she sailed from Philadelphia. Dependents, pets and personal
vehicles joined crewmembers for the three-day transit to Mayport.
4–14 Jun 1985: Forrestal accomplished aircraft carrier landing system trials.
At 0803 on the 5th, a Grumman C-1A from VRC-40 landed to become the
first fixed-wing aircraft to recover on board in more than 30-months. The Trader
launched seven minutes later. After inspectors certified the arresting gear,
several aircraft from NAS Patuxent River
in Maryland recovered,
the first aircraft piloted by CAPT Carter B. Refo of CVW-6. The initial jet
launching from the carrier since November 1982 took off at 1133. Following
additional trials, the last test aircraft departed on the 10th. The
ship welcomed on board her new air wing as the rest of CVW-6, which recently
completed a Mediterranean deployment on board Independence, began to arrive the next
morning, joining HS-15.
22–29 Jun 1985: The carrier accomplished cyclic flight operations, a NATO Sea
Sparrow missile tracking exercise and electronic countermeasures exercises
with EA-6B Prowlers from VAQ-133.
29 Aug–3 Sep 1985: Following a series of drills and exercises in Caribbean waters, the ship returned to sea for carrier qualifications. Hurricane Elena, however, swept eastward across Florida
and into the Jacksonville Operating Area on the 31st, forcing Forrestal to move south into the Cape
Canaveral Operating Area. Although the carrier suspended flight operations for
a day due to the fierce weather, she completed the qualifications before
returning to Mayport.
Sep–20 Dec 1985: Forrestal completed a post-shipyard availability and selected restricted
availability period which brought 800 civilian shipyard workers on board from
area. Together with the crew they put the finishing touches on work
accomplished during SLEP, including the installation of three Phalanx 20 mm close-in-weapons systems (CIWS). Some 715 Forrestal sailors gathered
in formation on the morning of 27 September to form a 280-foot by 200-foot “30”
on the carrier’s flight deck in recognition of Forrestal’s 30th anniversary. Helos from HS-15 flying overhead photographed the event. The crew celebrated the anniversary with a huge picnic ashore at the naval station. RADM Diego E. Hernandez, Commander, Carrier Group 6, broke his flag from the carrier on 4 October. Forrestal completed two days of full power runs, high
speed steering trials and demonstrations of her newly-installed CIWS.
Mar 1986: A
fire erupted from a KA-6D tanker as the crew prepared to launch, though
responders defeated the blaze without casualties.
The ship participated in FleetEx 2-86, an exercise featuring over 17,000 sailors and
marines and 31 vessels including battleship Iowa (BB-61). Tomcats from VF-31 pitted
themselves against Air Force McDonnell Douglas F-15C Eagles flying from Homestead AFB
in Florida, and marine Boeing (McDonnell
Douglas) F/A-18 Hornets flying from MCAS Beaufort, South Carolina. In addition, they flew low
level tactical reconnaissance missions and fighter escort throughout operating
areas ranging from Florida to Puerto Rico during the demanding exercises.
Jun 1986: Forrestal transited the Strait
of Gibraltar and entered the Mediterranean. Three days later she relieved Enterprise at Augusta Bay. Correspondent Roger Mudd of NBC visited the ship on
the 17th. In addition, during this deployment aircraft frequently flew in international
airspace of the Tripoli Flight region, the international air traffic control
sector for the Libyans.
Just after Forrestal set out from Augusta Bay during the afternoon and first dog watches, Aircraft No.
202, a Tomcat from VF-31 (BuNo 161854), attempted to rendezvous with the ship but departed controlled flight and crashed in the Ionian Sea, at 1824, near 37°88N, 15°444E. Both men ejected, and although the radar intercept officer survived his ordeal with minor injuries, the pilot perished.
The ship conducted dual carrier operations with America in the Tyrrhenian
Following Forrestal’s visit to Palermo, Sicily (24 July3 August), Rear Admiral Raymond P. Ilg relieved RADM Hernandez as Commander, Battle Force Sixth Fleet/Commander, Carrier Group 6, on the 5th. Meanwhile, aircraft flew Alpha strikes in excess of 300 miles against
their French counterparts during an exercise off the coast of southern France. French
Dassault-Breguet Mirage 2000s proved formidable opponents, however, the Tomcat
crews from the ship emerged victorious in the closely-fought scenarios. The
ship visited Cannes (818 August), where over 10,000 people visited the ship in three days and the liberty ashore became so popular that a VF-31 chronicler noted: Ten days on the French Riviera speaks for itself.
23–28 Aug 1986: The ship took part in Operation
Sea Wind, a joint U.S. and
Egyptian training exercise that involved aircraft
flying a variety of tactical air reconnaissance, low level strike escort and
air combat maneuvering sorties against their Egyptian opposite numbers, and
practicing joint strikes against Egyptian airfields and port facilities. In
addition, Viking and Sea King crews honed their antisubmarine
skills against Egyptian submarines. At the commencement of the training, VADM
Ali Gad, the Commander-in-Chief of the Egyptian Navy, visited the carrier. As
the exercise concluded, CVW-6 aircraft participated
in an air show at Wadi El-Natrun, a desert site 50 miles to the northwest of Cairo, where the men
demonstrated their bombing, rocketing and strafing capabilities against ground
31 Aug–10 Sep 1986: Four Abu Nidal hijackers attempted to take control of Pan
Am Flight No. 73 when the Boeing B-747 commercial airliner landed at Karachi,
Pakistan, after a flight from Bombay, India, en route to Frankfurt in Germany
and then on to John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, on 5
September. At about 0600 the hijackers rushed the aircraft, but the flight crew escaped through the
cockpit escape hatch. The thugs demanded that the flight crew return and fly
them on to Larnaca on Cyprus,
where they would arrange for the release of Palestinian terrorists detained on
that island, or they would massacre their hostages. When authorities refused to accede to the
terrorist’s demands, the hijackers brutally opened fire upon their helpless
hostages and began lobbing grenades into the crowded cabins, murdering at least
20 people including two Americans, Rajesh Kumar and Surendra M. Patel, and
wounding dozens more. The Department
of Justice later posthumously conferred the 2006 Special Courage Award upon Pan
Am flight attendant Neerja Bhanot, who died while trying to save children
during the carnage. While visiting Naples, Forrestal issued an emergency recall of crew members to respond to the crisisespecially should she be needed if the hijackers flew on to Cyprus–and
stood out to conduct flight operations in the Tyrrhenian
Sea. Sadly, the incident ended tragically before the carrier could
6–13 Oct 1986: Forrestal participated with John F. Kennedy in Operation Display
Determination ‘86, which included low-level coordinated strikes and air
combat maneuvering training over Turkey.
Oct 1986: The
ship sailed from the Mediterranean and passed through the Strait of Gibraltar.
Jan–30 Apr 1987: Forrestal completed a selected
restricted availability at Mayport. While there she also served as the host
ship for aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal (R-07) when the British ship visited the port (4–14 March).
May 1987: Forrestal conducted sea trials in the
Jacksonville Operating Area.
Each year Forrestal crewmembers remember their shipmates who gave their lives during the
fire of 1967, however, this year marked the 20th anniversary of the
tragedy and the crew held a special memorial service, for which former
crewmembers and family members from across the country arrived to pay tribute
to their fallen friends and loved ones.
Jul–17 Aug 1987: The ship completed advanced phase training evolutions in the Atlantic.
Aug–8 Oct 1987:
As part of her pre-deployment work-ups, the ship took part in Ocean Safari
’87, which included a six-week cruise in the North
Atlantic, highlighted by operations with NATO forces posing as
aggressors lurking in Norwegian fjords. The cruise also afforded the crew the
opportunity to visit Portsmouth,
September), where they hosted a traditional ‘Sunset Parade.’
1987: Members of
the University of South Carolina and the Louisiana State
University football teams
visited the carrier.
Jan 1988: The
ship participated in FleetEx 1-88 in Puerto Rican waters. The program
consisted of launching air strikes against simulated enemy targets, mine exercises,
anti-terrorist exercises and teaming up with other navies and the Air Force.
Undersecretary of the Navy Dennis R. Shaw visited the ship (21–23 January).
February 1988: Forrestal sailed up the Mississippi
River and visited New Orleans,
Apr 1988: The
carrier took part in Ocean Venture ’88 in the Gulf
1988: Forrestal deployed to the
Mediterranean and the North Arabian Sea, steaming directly there via the Suez Canal. During
the Persian Gulf War between the Iranians and Iraqis both sides attacked ships
steaming in international waters in the Gulf. The Iraqis attacked Iranian
economic shipping and oil installations with Exocet equipped
Dassault-Breguet Super Etendards on 27 March 1984, which escalated the
conflict until the Iranians and Iraqis launched almost constant air, missile,
small boat and mine attacks against ships in the region. The Kuwaitis grew
increasingly anxious and their oil minister Sheikh Ali Khalifa openly sought
aid. The Soviets intervened in early March and offered to protect five Kuwaiti
tankers, but the Kuwaitis wisely realized that their oil lifeline reached to
the West, not to the Russians, and that the Americans had the strongest naval
forces in the Gulf, so they made overtures to Washington, asking the Americans to match
the Soviet offer. “It smacked a little bit,” noted National Security Advisor
Frank C. Carlucci, III, “of blackmail.” Partly to stave off the Russians,
partly to avoid an Iraqi or Iranian collapse–enabling the other to dominate the
region–and partly to ensure the uninterrupted free trade of the Gulf, the U.S. authorized
Operation Private Jewels, later redesignated Earnest Will,
designed to maintain freedom of navigation within that body of water. The
crisis escalated when the Iranians mined
guided missile frigate Samuel B. Roberts
(FFG-58) during the first dog watch on 14 April 1988. Although her crew
valiantly saved the ship, the blatant assault incensed President Ronald W.
Reagan and his advisors, who authorized Operation Praying Mantis, a
“measured response” designed to attain retribution against Iranian crimes. Enterprise
spearheaded American strikes against the Iranians during Praying Mantis on
18 April, so that Forrestal arrived during an especially anxious time,
which forced her pilots to fly extensive aerial reconnaissance and combat air
patrol missions, and for her crew to monitor aircraft and vessels very
carefully for potential threats. The ship also deployed for the first time with the
Air-Launched Decoy system, which crewmembers made numerous modifications to,
passing along their suggestions to evaluators for Fleet-wide introduction.
ship steamed past the Rock of Gibraltar on the 6th and completed Open Gate ’88.
May 1988: As
the carrier sailed through Tunisian waters en route to the Indian
Ocean, she operated with Tunisian forces in a passing exercise.
May 1988: Forrestal transited the Suez Canal and entered the Red Sea. Seven days
later she relieved Enterprise
in the Indian Ocean. The ship fell under the
auspices of the Combined Joint Task Force Middle East, though her crew humorously dubbed the ships operating area Beno Station. Crewmembers reported that they served laboriously under the long and humid summer. Their only break during these difficult operations occurred when the Navy authorized the men a beer day in June. In addition, the weapons department utilized the Gator mine system for their first time while sailing in the Indian Ocean, and the operations department provided training services to 22 U.S. and allied vessels.
Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed of the United Arab Emirates visited the
French RADM Guy Labouerie visited Forrestal.
Jul 1988: RADM Anthony A. Less, Commander, Combined Joint Task Force Middle East, visited the ship.
Secretary of the Navy William L. Ball visited the carrier.
28–31 Jul 1988: Aircraft carrier Carl Vinson (CVN-70) relieved Forrestal in the North Arabian Sea. As Forrestal sailed en route to
the Suez Canal she passed the second milestone
of the ship’s 50th consecutive day at sea, which entitled the crew
to their second “beer day.”
6 Aug 1988: The ship passed through the Suez Canal and returned to
17–19 Aug 1988: After visiting Naples
(11–16 August), the crew’s first time ashore in 108 days, Forrestal took part in National Week ’88 in the central Mediterranean.
Aug–22 Sep 1988: Following a visit to Benidorm on the Spanish Costa Blanca (23–27 August),
the ship steamed through the Strait of Gibraltar and into the North Atlantic
and the Norwegian Sea as part of two carrier battle groups to participate in Teamwork ’88. Over 200 ships and
submarines, about 500 aircraft and 45,000 people from nine nations took part in
the massive series of maritime and amphibious exercises, with Forrestal moving into the Norwegian
Sea from the south and aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) sailing
easterly courses from American and Canadian waters through the Atlantic around
Greenland and the gap between Iceland, the Faeroe Islands and the British
Isles, before operating off Vestfjord, Norway. Meanwhile, Forrestal visited Portsmouth
(25–26 August). The ship also passed over the Arctic
Circle during these operations, which afforded many crewmembers
the opportunity to become ‘Bluenoses.’
Forrestal rendezvoused with aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) in the North Atlantic and Norwegian Sea for Teamwork ’88. The numbing cold weather and the lack of sunshine that their men endured in the northern latitudes is clearly evident in the darker tones of the photograph, on 5 September 1988. PH2 J.P. Buckner, Navy Photo No. SP025818809
7 Oct 1988: Forrestal returned home after sailing in three oceans and
spending 202 days underway, one of her longest such commitments to date, at one
point spending 108 consecutive days at sea, with only 15 days in port through
the whole cruise. She completed 71 of these consecutive days at sea steaming at
Beno Station supporting Earnest Will and additional exercises and
operations. The Navy recognized these additional sacrifices by later awarding Forrestal
and her crew a Meritorious Unit Commendation for their “superior performance”
in this deployment.
7 Nov 1988–28 Feb 1989: The ship completed a selected restricted availability
7–11 Mar 1989: Forrestal completed sea trials off Jacksonville.
The Statue of Liberty welcomed Forrestal (CV-59) as she visited New York for Fleet Week ’89, on 29 April 1989. PHCM Dittmar, Department of Defense (Navy) Photo No. DN-SC-89-09261.
29 Apr–4 May 1989: Forrestal participated
in Fleet Week ’89 celebrations in New
York City. The carrier became the centerpiece of the
event as she led the parade of ships up the Hudson River
and into the harbor. Forrestal moored to New York Passenger Ship
Terminal, an evolution that her Navigation Department described as “difficult.”
CVW-17 arranged for a representative selection of aircraft from the wing to
embark for the cruise.
With crewmembers on her flight deck colorfully spelling out “We [Heart] New York” the carrier sailed beneath the Verrazano Narrows Bridge toward the Hudson River during Fleet Week ’89, on 29 April 1989. Among the ships of her battle group guided missile cruiser Ticonderoga (CG-47) faithfully kept station off Forrestal’s starboard quarter, visible to the left of the photograph. PHCM Dittmar, Department of Defense (Navy) Photo No. DN-SC-89-09265.
17 Jul–11 Aug: The ship took part in advanced phase training in
Caribbean waters, with a brief stop in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands (26–31 July). The
training taxed sailors and marines in many aspects of ship and air wing
combined operations against a full spectrum of wartime threats, and also
enabled the crew to operate with ships and aircraft already participating in Unitas
30-89, a series of exercises designed to integrate U.S. and Latin American
24 Aug–9 Sep 1989: Forrestal participated in Fleet Exercise
4-89 in the Puerto Rico Operating Area.
9 Oct 1989: As the ship made preparations for deploying a fire
erupted in her primary command and control trunk space. The blaze severely
damaged electrical cabling in an uptake compartment affecting several
navigation, weapons and ship control systems, though the rapid response of
firefighters prevented further damage. The ship did not report casualties
resulting from the conflagration, which nonetheless delayed her departure.
Electricians from the shipyards at Philadelphia
lent their expertise to those of Jacksonville Shipyard, Inc., the prime
contractor, and accomplished repairs to enable Forrestal to return to sea. In the interim, Commander, Carrier Group 6 shifted his flag to guided missile cruiser Wainwright (CG-28) three days later, and remained there
until the carrier arrived in the Mediterranean,
when he broke his flag from Forrestal on 12 November.
3 Nov 1989: Forrestal set sail for the Mediterranean.
C. Allen, Commander, Carrier Group-6, broke his flag from the carrier in
command of the battle group. The ship
deployed for the first time with the AGM-84 Standoff Land Attack Missile
(SLAM), and in addition, at one point Forrestal directly supported Donald
B. Berry (FF-1085), which enabled the frigate to complete an exercise with
20–25 Nov 1989: The ship participated in Harmonie Sud Est with
the French in the Mediterranean, her first
such experience of that exercise.
27 Nov–3 Dec 1989:
The final two months of the year proved to be a
strenuous and exciting time for her crew as Forrestal provided crucial
support to U.S.
diplomats during the Malta Summit. President George
H.W. Bush and
Soviet General Secretary Mikhail S. Gorbachev met just weeks after the fall of
the Berlin Wall concerning the collapse of the East Bloc and its impact upon
global security. President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s habit of meeting key world leaders at sea
during WWII purportedly served as the inspiration for President Bush to arrange
the summit on the strategic island, the scene of fierce fighting during that
conflict, and led to some media representatives describing the summit as “Malta to Yalta
and Back.” Soviet
Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze, Secretary of State James Baker, National
Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft, Senior Director of Soviet, East European Affairs
[National Security Council] Dr. Condoleezza Rice and Ambassador to the Soviet
Union John F. Matlock, Jr., were among the leaders who also attended the summit. Warships from many fleets joined
the proceedings at various times, and American sailors shared the crowded
Maltese waters with their East Bloc counterparts. Guided missile cruiser Belknap
(CG-26), which received the honor of serving as the host ship for the chief
executive, anchored barely 400-yards in Marsaxlokk Bay from Soviet guided
missile cruiser Slava (CG-70) for most of the summit. Ships also
operated within the Grand Harbor at Valletta.
The President arrived on board Forrestal on 1 December, and visited the
flight deck, watched aircraft launch and recover, and ate lunch with
crewmembers on the mess decks. At 1345 he began a speech to officers and
crewmembers assembled in the ship’s hanger bay, including ADM Jonathon T. Howe,
Commander-in-Chief, Naval Forces Europe, VADM James D. Williams, Commander,
Sixth Fleet, and RADM Allen. The
President, a decorated naval aviator from World War II, amused his audience
with good natured humor directed at his fellow shipmates. Motioning to the
officers nearby, he chided them: “I know that some of you have meals to eat.
Frankly, I’d like to get Chairman Gorbachev to get an idea of what U.S. Navy
food is like. Maybe not – what I’m trying to do is ease tensions.” At 1425 Marine I
touched down onto the flight deck of Belknap as President Bush arrived
on board the cruiser in his helicopter, maintaining a hectic schedule. Stormy
weather and choppy seas forced planners to cancel or reschedule subsequent
meetings, however, resulting in some journalists referring to the conference as
the “Seasick Summit.” That morning began pleasantly but as the day progressed
the weather deteriorated as a storm swept in with winds that peaked at 55-knots
by the evening of the 2nd. The foul conditions forced the President
to shift his meetings with the General Secretary from Belknap and Slava
to Soviet cruise
ship Maxim Gorky, moored pierside and a more stable platform as the
tempest battered ships in the harbor. The admiral’s barge safely carried the
President over to Maxim Gorky, but as the seas became rougher they rendered
boating conditions unsafe and compelled the President to remain on board the
cruiser, where he chatted amiably with watchstanders on the foc’sle and fantail
despite freezing rain and pounding swells that forced Belknap to shift
berths by the 3rd. The crew persevered through the morning when the
storm began to subside, which enabled them to transport the President over to
the cruise ship to complete his meetings with the General Secretary. President
Bush publicly expressed American support for the Russian leader’s glasnost
[openness] and perestroika [restructuring] policies, and both men
acknowledged the lessening of Cold War anxieties. “For 45 years” noted General Secretary Gorbachev, “we have been managing to avoid a big war.
This single fact alone says that not everything was bad in the past.” Aircraft
from Forrestal flew airborne early warning and combat air patrols
overhead during much of the summit. President Bush also met with Maltese Prime
Minister Fenech Adami.
4–6 Dec 1989: Forrestal visited Naples, which became a unique evolution when
she required simultaneous usage of a port anchor, 10 mooring lines, two kedge
anchors and two mooring buoys to stay in the inner harbor of the crowded port.
13–19 Dec 1989: The ship participated in an amphibious exercise with
the Tunisians. Aircraft from the carrier flew 193 sorties and Forrestal coordinated USMC McDonnell Douglas AV-8B Harrier IIs during a crucial phase of the
11–13 Jan 1990: Forrestal took part in Operation Last
Chance in the Mediterranean.
17–21 Jan 1990: The ship participated in exercise Petit Poi in
29–31 Jan 1990: Forrestal operated with the British, French
and Italians in the western Mediterranean.
10 Feb 1990: The Naples Squadron of the Association of Naval Aviation
held their establishment ceremony in the ship’s hanger bay.
7–8 Mar 1990: The ship and her crew trained with the Tunisians.
23–28 Mar 1990: Forrestal took part with Dwight D. Eisenhower in the large NATO exercise National Week 90B in
the western Mediterranean. On the final day Dwight
D. Eisenhower dropped anchor in Augusta
Bay to relieve Forrestal.
Apr 1990: AN Tony C. Smith fell overboard from No. 4 Aircraft Elevator near 32°18N, 70°59E. The weather was clear. Three helos from HS-15 launched and searched for the man for over four and a half hours before they called-off the search more than two hours after dusk. A sailor spotted AN Smith in the water near a life ring and a smoke float that a shipmate threw into the sea to mark his location for searchers. Although the airman apparently wore his required life vest, eyewitnesses could not ascertain as to whether or not he inflated it.
12 Apr 1990: By the time Forrestal returned to Mayport she
anchored at such diverse ports as Marseilles, Valencia, Naples,
Bay and Haifa, Israel.
14 May–27 Aug 1990: The ship completed a drydocking selected restricted
availability at Mayport. Former Forrestal crewmembers held their
inaugural meeting of the USS Forrestal Reunion Association on board and
ashore at Mayport, overnight (22–23 June). Meanwhile, James M. Doohan, an actor
famous for his role as Chief Engineer Montgomery “Scotty” Scott on board
(NCC-1701) in the TV series Star Trek, visited the ship on 27 July. The
same day that CAPT Robert S. Cole relieved CAPT Louis E. Thomassy, Jr., as
commanding officer of Forrestal (2 August), however, Iraqi tanks and
troops poured across the borders from Iraq into Kuwait as Saddam Hussein seized
the tiny country. The dictator’s troops raped and looted helpless Kuwaitis;
sailors on board guided missile frigate Robert G. Bradley (FFG-49),
patrolling in the Persian Gulf barely 50 miles offshore, could hear the victims’
pleas for help via their bridge-to-bridge radio, “over and over again,” but
restrictive rules of engagement constrained the crew until the U.S. responded
by forming a coalition of 29 nations, that rushed reinforcements to the region
during Operation Desert Shield, designed to protect the region from
Iraqi aggression. “Saddam Hussein won the toss, “ noted CAPT Lyle G. “Ho Chi”
Bien, Commander, CVW-15, detailed to Central Command as the Navy’s senior
strike planner, “and elected to receive.” The Navy augmented the Red Sea Battle
Group’s mission to include maritime interception operations to enforce UN
Security Council Resolution 51, which imposed an embargo upon ships entering or
leaving Iraqi-occupied Kuwaiti and Iraqi ports. The crisis forced the crew and
workers to toil at an increased pace to ready Forrestal for
contingencies, and to race to complete work six months earlier then they
28–31 Aug 1990: The ship completed sea trials and flight deck
certification in the Jacksonville Operating Area.
7–11 Sep 1990: Forrestal transited to Norfolk Naval Shipyard.
8 Nov 1990: President Bush announced a decision to double the
number of carrier battle groups deployed in support of Operation Desert
Shield. The announcement rushed America, CVW-1 embarked, Ranger (CV-61), CVW-2 embarked, and Theodore
Roosevelt with CVW-8 to reinforce John F. Kennedy (CV-67), CVW-3 embarked, Midway (CV-41) with CVW-5 and Saratoga, CVW-17 embarked, by 15 January 1991. During these hectic days leading up to the war the Navy twice issued orders to Forrestal to deploy and twice cancelled the orders,
which frustrated many crewmembers who worked at an intense pace to prepare
themselves and their ship to sail into harm’s way, as well as disrupting family
plans for their dependents. Sailors and marines coined the slogan “Will we stay
or will we go?” to describe their situation. Nonetheless, the crew expanded
their dedicated selected restricted availability into a second phase to prepare
for their impending sail into harm’s way. This work included installing flush
deck catapults designed to accommodate F/A-18 Hornets.
16–21 Nov 1990: The ship returned to Mayport.
18–20 Dec 1990: RADM Walter J. Davis, Commander, Carrier Group 6, visited. On the 18th, however, an A-14A Tomcat (BuNo 161862), of VF-31, separated from Catapult No. 4 during the initial part of launching. The weather was calm, with visibility out to seven nautical miles. Both men ejected as the aircraft stopped on the leading edge of the angled flight deck. The pilot landed on the flight deck and suffered scrapes and bruises and a sprained ankle, while the radar intercept officers parachute caught on the forward top of the ships island and he survived the harrowing trial with minor scrapes and a good sea story.
1 Jan 1991: Forrestal began the year as the ‘east coast
ready carrier,’ a role she fulfilled through the first five months.
12 Jan 1991: Congress voted 52 to 47 in the Senate and 250 to 183
in the House on a joint resolution that gave the President his support for military
action against the Iraqis.
16–17 Jan 1991: The Iraqis
ignored the UN deadline, and the next day six battle groups, two battleships
and a 31-ship amphibious task force steaming in the Red and Arabian Seas and
Persian Gulf, comprising over 100 ships and submarines, 75,000 sailors and
85,000 marines afloat and ashore, launched strikes against the disobedient
Iraqis. Nine ships and subs fired over 100 R/UGM-109 Tomahawk Land
Attack Missiles (TLAMs), the first combat launchings of the all-weather subsonic
cruise missiles, and America,
John F. Kennedy and Saratoga in
the Red Sea, Midway and Ranger in the Persian
Gulf and Theodore Roosevelt en route to the Gulf, launched
228 combat sorties.
21 Jan 1991: The President
signed an executive order designating the Arabian
Peninsula areas, airspace and adjacent waters as a combat zone.
4–6 Mar 1991: ADM Paul D. Miller, Commander-in-Chief, Atlantic Fleet,
visited the ship. Two days later First Lady Barbara P. Bush visited Forrestal.
11 Apr 1991: While turning over his security watch in Forrestal’s
marine guard shack a marine of the ship’s security detachment, CPL Jason
Pricer, accidentally discharged his weapon and shot himself in the head.
Although a life-flight helo transported him from the ship berthed at Mayport to
University Trauma Center,
emergency staff pronounced him dead there at 2104.
19–27 Apr 1991: Forrestal worked-up for her deployment in the
Jacksonville Operating Area. Aircraft
flew air combat maneuvering against their British counterparts from aircraft
carrier HMS Invincible (R-05).
30 May 1991: Following
numerous disappointing rumors, Forrestal finally deployed from Mayport to relieve Theodore Roosevelt, which participated in Desert
Shield/Storm/Sabre and Operation Provide Comfort, the latter
coalition efforts to aid Kurdish refugees whom the Iraqis viciously attacked in
the wake of Gulf War I. Theodore Roosevelt joined other forces including
amphibious assault ship Guadalcanal (LPH-7) positioned off Turkey to
support an estimated 7,000 American troops helping the Kurds. These operations
could become very deadly, as Iraqi gunners previously demonstrated on 7 and 8
May when they fired on a pair of Intruders flying a reconnaissance
mission from Theodore Roosevelt over the northern part of the country
observing Iraqi atrocities against the Kurds. These became the first confirmed
incidents of Iraqi violations of the cease-fire since allied troops began
occupying a designated security zone for Kurdish refugees. The Iraqis missed
the A-6Es, which completed their mission and returned to the ship. These
incidents set the stage for Forrestal’s final entry into battle, and the
demanding missions her aircraft
completed. CVW-6 embarked between 64 and 69 aircraft for the war, including
VF-11 and VF-31 (F-14A Tomcats), VFA-132 and VFA-137 (F/A-18A Hornets),
VA-176 (A-6E and KA-6D Intruders), VS-28 (S-3B Vikings), VAW-122
(E-2C Hawkeyes), VAQ-133 and VAQ-142 (EA-6B Prowlers) and HS-15
(SH-3H Sea Kings). Tomcats from VF-31 flew uniquely equipped with
the Tactical Air Reconnaissance System (TARPS), which they used to observe a
variety of Iraqi and Russian forces and their operations.
8–9 Jun 1991: Forrestal
conducted an anti-air warfare and weapons exercise with French aircraft carrier
8–21 Jun 1991: A Tomcat
crew and their maintainers from VF-11 detached from the ship to participate in
the Paris Air Show.
12 Jun 1991: A Tomcat
from VF-31 flew a long-range, 2,000 nautical mile round trip TARPS mission to
the Gulf of Sollum anchorage to monitor the Libyans.
12–13 Jun 1991: VADM William A. Owens, Commander, Sixth Fleet, visited the ship.
14–15 Jun 1991: The ship
began to support Provide Comfort in the eastern Med. Commanders called upon Forrestal to provide air power presence and airborne intelligence support, and to initiate, test and evaluate a wide range of innovative Sixth Fleet battle group tactics and new aircraft carrier roles. In particular, aircraft
searched for Iraqi weapons of mass destruction sites and stockpiles, Iraqi
troops, surface-to-air missiles, tanks and artillery to destroy or deter them
from committing their crimes against Kurdish refugees, and to direct
humanitarian aid workers toward the displaced persons. Their most common
targets became the military barracks at Dahuk, which housed reservist
Republican Guardsmen, T-72 main battle tanks attempting to slip past vigilant
pilots, troop encampments in and around Mosul
and Irbil, and major roadways and towns
throughout northern Iraq.
Some VF-31 Tomcats equipped with TARPS also flew many of these missions
from Incirlik AB
In addition, at one point two Tomcat crews flew a seven-hour TARPS
mission to the eastern Mediterranean, where
they spotted and photographed a Russian Kara class guided missile cruiser.
During this period the ship relieved Theodore Roosevelt of her duties in
Provide Comfort, and at various times she operated with a number of U.S. vessels including attack submarine Gato (SSN-615), as well as with French guided missile frigate Jean de Vienne (F-643), Italian guided missile frigate Espero (F-576) and Spanish guided missile frigate Santa
19 Jun 1991: A fire broke
out in No. 2 Burn Room, which contained an incinerator for burning classified
material, as a result of crewmembers accidentally igniting excess material that
they improperly brought to the space to destroy. The fire party extinguished
the blaze without casualties.
8 Jul 1991: While Forrestal
steamed in the eastern Mediterranean to the south of Turkey supporting Provide
Comfort a Hawkeye, LCDR John M. Yurchak, LT Vicent C. Bowhers, Jr.,
and LTJGs Robert A. Forwalder, John S. Lemmon and Terry S. Morris from VAW-122
flying a routine reconnaissance mission suffered a fire in the starboard engine
that the crew could not extinguish. All five crewmembers ejected and helos from
Forrestal and guided missile cruiser Yorktown
(CG-48) recovered them within 10 minutes. The unmanned Hawkeye continued
on flying on ‘autopilot’ to the southeast of Cyprus, and since the E-2C presented
a hazard to aerial navigation, a Hornet from VFA-132 flying from the
carrier shot the aircraft down with 20 mm guns. The Hawkeye crashed
roughly half-way between Cyprus
in international waters, about 40 nautical miles from land, in water that
measured a depth of approximately 3,000 feet. The fire threatened the lives of
the crew and forced them to bail out, especially due to the possibility of the
flames igniting a catastrophic explosion. They made a courageous and correct
decision to place the aircraft on autopilot to facilitate just the destruction
of the aircraft that occurred, and Yorktown
recovered a few small pieces of debris that otherwise did not prove hazardous
10–13 Jul 1991: BGEN General Anthony C. Zinni, USMC, Chief of Staff, Combined Joint Task Force Provide Comfort, visited the ship overnight on the 10th and 11th,
and LGEN John M. Shalikashvilli, USA, commanding the force, visited
the next day. French marine MGEN Maurice LePage, commanding French troops serving
in the force, visited Forrestal overnight on the 12th and 13th.
17–20 Jul 1991: Aircraft trained at the Greek range at Avgo Nisi in
preparation for President Bush’s visit to Athens
and Souda Bay (18–20 July). The President met
Greek Prime Minister Konstantinos Mitsotakis, and spoke with U.S. and Greek
servicmembers. After flying training runs on the Greek range, aircraft flew presence and combat air patrol
overhead during the President’s stay. Forrestal sailed to the south of
Crete on the 19th, and at about 1430 an A-6E Intruder from
VA-176 crashed into the sea in international waters while on a routine training
mission, about two miles northwest of Avgo Nisi. Both men ejected, and
searchers rescued LT John W. Musaus the bombardier/navigator, who recovered
from his ordeal with left arm and leg injuries at Naval
Hospital, NS Rota.
Forrestal, Yorktown, guided missile frigate De Wert (FFG-45),
(AOR-2) and Greek forces combed an area of 1,600 square miles for almost two
days, however, they could not recover the pilot, LT Steven J. Cullen, nor any
debris from the downed aircraft.
22 Jul 1991: Tomcats from VF-31 flew a TARPS flight over a
trio of Iraqi MiG-23 Floggers sheltering in their hardened bunkers at an
airfield on the southern end of Mosul.
7 Aug 1991: An S-3B Viking from VS-28 slid into the ship’s
port catwalk at about 1200 while taxing to Catapult No. 3 for a noon launch.
One of the men ejected into the water and a helo recovered him, while the other
three aircrew escaped from the aircraft onto the flight deck. Forrestal reported
that all four men recovered in “good condition.”
17 Sep 1991: Italian President Francesco Cossiga made an
orientation visit to Forrestal.
24 Sep 1991: Aircraft completed their last Provide Comfort
2–15 Oct 1991: The ship participated in anti-air warfare, overland
dissimilar air combat training and low level training during Display
Determination ‘91. In addition, five aircraft–two Tomcats, two Hornets
and a Prowler–detached ashore to the Turkish airfield at Akhisar to fly
opposition missions. On the 6th, however, a Hornet, CDR
Michael Groothousen, suffered a malfunction which forced the commander to
eject. Rescuers recovered him and returned the pilot to the ship within 15
19–27 Oct 1991: Six aircraft–two Tomcats and four Hornets–flew
ashore to Ramstein AB
where they pitted their skills against Air Force General Dynamics F-16C Fighting
Falcons in dissimilar air combat training. Maintainers and their equipment
left the ship on the 19th to set-up the detachment, while aircraft flew off Forrestal two days later. USAF tankers provided outstanding support refueling the aircraft during both legs, which allowed the men to fly 2,000 nautical mile non-stop round trips. Meanwhile, a Tomcat from VF-31 flew over Sollum Anchorage,
on 22 October, where they photographed Russian guided missile helicopter
cruiser Moskva (CHG-108). Forrestal kept close tabs on Moskva
throughout the latter’s deployment, monitoring the Russians as they sailed
normally between Sollum and Tartus,
VF-31 imaged the Russians on this date Moskva conducted helicopter
operations over the Gulf
of Sollum, and pilots spotted five Kamov Ka-25 Hormones
on her deck, three spinning up and two parked with their rotors folded.
6–15 Nov 1991: The ship took part in two exercises with the French, Harmonie
Sud Est and Iles D’Or. British and Italian forces joined the carrier
for the second exercise. French RADM Bonet D’Oleon, commanding that nation’s
forces participating in the exercises, visited Forrestal on the 12th.
2–6 Dec 1991: Russian guided missile aircraft carrier Admiral Flota Sovetskogo
Soyuza Kuznetsov (CVG-113) sailed from the Black Sea
via the Dardanelles en route to her new
homeport within their Banner Northern Fleet. Nine aircraft–two Tomcats,
two Hornets, three Vikings, one Prowler and a Hawkeye–flew
over 330 miles from Forrestal south of Marseilles to intercept the elusive ship. Tomcats
from VF-31 flew a TARPS mission 3,000 feet over the carrier as they caught up to
her in the western Mediterranean about 65 miles north of Jijel, Algeria,
at 37°40’N, 5°80’E, on the 6th. Although aircrew did not spot
Russian aircraft on the flight deck, their imagery provided analysts extremely
rare and detailed views of the new carrier and her weapons and systems. Shortly
relieved Forrestal after the latter sailed from the Mediterranean
through the Strait
of Gibraltar for home for
the last time.
23 Dec 1991: The ship arrived at Mayport in time for crewmembers
approved leave to join their families for the Christmas holidays. During the
days following, the ship’s marines stood down their security detachment and
departed from the ship after faithfully protecting her since commissioning.
Mid-1991–mid 1992: The crew made advanced preparations to change the ships homeport to NAS Pensacola, Fla., and to transition from an operational aircraft carrier to relieve auxiliary aircraft landing training ship Lexington (AVT-16). In addition, the crew integrated over 300 female sailors into the ships company for the first time, including 25 chiefs.
20–31 Aug 1992: Hurricane Andrew, the most destructive United States
hurricane recorded to date as it blasted its way across southern Florida on 24 August 1992, forced Forrestal
to emergency sortie to avoid it.
14 Sep 1992: Forrestal arrived
to begin a 14-month, $157 million complex overhaul and conversion prior to
assuming duties as the Navy’s new auxiliary aircraft landing training ship
(AVT-59). Her final Command History Report defined these missions as “to lead
the Navy in sea-going training strategies, emphasizing Naval Aviation, Surface
Force and Reserve training, and to provide an operational platform capable of
executing multi-mission tasking in support of national interests.” The crew
made the move with over 400 personal vehicles stored on board.
1 Feb–10 Sep 1993: When Forrestal
received orders that the Navy decided to decommission her (thus leaving the Fleet
without a dedicated training carrier), crewmembers and workers already removed
thousands of feet of redundant cable, removed the shafts to the shipyard, where
workers refurbished them in preparation for returning them to the carrier, and
they completed many machinery repairs in the main engineering spaces. The Navy
directed that crewmembers and workers should be ready to inactivate and
decommission the ship by the same day, 30 September, and they did so by the 22nd
of that month (holding the actual ceremony at the beginning of the month–see
below). In addition, crewmembers assisted a number of other crews with training
during this period, including those of America and John F.
Kennedy. Sailors also transferred a great deal of equipment to other
commands, including sending the ship’s starboard and port anchors and chains to
Newport News Shipbuilding for use on board aircraft carrier John C. Stennis
(CVN-74), screws and propellers and fire mains to John F. Kennedy, and
the TV system to Enterprise, as well as donating their library to combat stores ship USNS Concord (T-AFS-5) and Theodore Roosevelt. Nearly
1,700 crewmembers processed orders detailing them to other commands across the
globe, in many instances involving considerable hardship for families, and over
200 more opted to take the “early out” program and discharged. A crewmember
died in a service elevator accident in Building No. 620, adjacent to Forrestal
at the shipyard, on 28 February. Sailors and workers flooded Drydock No. 5 at Philadelphia on 9 June,
and six days later Forrestal shifted berths over to Pier 6E. Throughout
July crewmembers also spent over 200 man-hours helping to restore former light
cruiser–second line Olympia (IX-40),
berthed nearby as a floating memorial at Penn’s Landing on the Delaware River. Sailors made extensive hull and
structural repairs to return the cruiser’s watertight integrity, which suffered
during the intervening years following her removal from active service due to
neglect generated by a lack of funds. The volunteers also installed an
operational announcing system on board Olympia.
The ship’s 50 state flag team and color guard participated in the “Welcome
America” picnic at Fort Mifflin on the Delaware
on 3 July, and then took part the next day in Philadelphia’s Independence Day parade. On
the 29th the crew held their final on board memorial service for
their fallen shipmates from 1967 in Hanger Bay No. 1, during which a
security-rifle squad from the Security Department fired a 21-gun salute.
11 Sep 1993: Forrestal was decommissioned at Pier 6E, Philadelphia, and she was stricken from the Naval Vessel Register the same day. VADM Henry H. Mauz, Jr., Commander-in-Chief, Atlantic Fleet, was the principal speaker, and VADM Less, Commander, Naval Air Forces Atlantic Fleet, administered the decommissioning order to CAPT Robert L. Bunky Johnson, Jr., the commanding officer. ADM Stanley R. Arthur, Vice Chief of Naval Operations, also attended. The Navy presented the Meritorious Unit Commendation to the crew, covering the period of 31 January through 14 September 1992. The citation states in part: Despite a manning reduction of more than 1,000 personnel, two homeport changes, and the first-ever integration of more than 300 women to the crew, the officers, men and women of Forrestal exercised tremendous flexibility, resourcefulness and professionalism in meeting every operational commitment. During her service to the Republic the ship logged nearly 400,000 nautical miles and attained more than 376,500 arrested aircraft landings. Secretary of Defense Leslie Les Aspin sent a letter to CAPT Johnson and his crew, proudly noting that Forrestal earned her motto of “First in Defense,”
and that her heritage endures as a “bold ship ready to sail in harm’s way in
defense of American freedom.”
1993: The ship transited to Newport in Rhode Island to be on "donation hold" as a museum and memorial.
Home Port Assignments
1 Oct 1955
Philadelphia Naval Shipyard, Penn.
18 Jan 1983
23 May 1985
Philadelphia Naval Shipyard, Penn.
30 Jan 1992
Date Assumed Command
CAPT Roy L. Johnson
1 Oct 1955
CAPT William E. Ellis
1 Jun 1956
CAPT Richard L. Kibbe
4 Jul 1957
CAPT Allen M. Shinn
25 Jul 1958
CAPT Samuel R. Brown, Jr.
9 May 1959
CAPT Robert E. Riera
28 Apr 1960
CAPT Donald M. White
16 Jun 1961
CAPT Lawrence R. Geis
4 Jun 1962
CAPT Dick H. Guinn
4 May 1963
CAPT Michael J. Hanley, Jr.
26 Mar 1964
CAPT Howard S. Moore
27 Mar 1965
CAPT John K. Beling
7 May 1966
CAPT Robert B. Baldwin
18 Sep 1967
CAPT James W. Nance
11 Dec 1968
CAPT Charles F. Demmler
25 Nov 1969
CAPT Leonard A. Snead
13 Nov 1970
CAPT Robert F. Schoultz
23 Jun 1971
CAPT James B. Linder
1 Nov 1972
CAPT James H. Scott
10 May 1974
CAPT Joseph J. Barth, Jr.
28 Aug 1975
CAPT Peter B. Booth
26 Aug 1977
CAPT Edwin R. Kohn, Jr.
21 Mar 1979
CAPT CE. Armstrong, Jr.
CAPT Bobby C. Lee
CAPT Daniel P. March
30 Apr 1984
CAPT Timothy W. Wright
10 Dec 1985
CAPT John A. Pieno, Jr.
23 Jul 1987
CAPT Louis E. Thomassy, Jr.
23 Feb 1989
CAPT Robert S. Cole
2 Aug 1990
CAPT Robert L. Johnson, Jr.
22 Jan 1992
Changes in armament and major systems (Weapons and radar/sonar equipment):
Sep 1961–13 Jan 1962, modifications: reduced her arresting gear from six wires to four
with sheave dampers; removals: forward 5” gun mounts and sponsons; installations:
jet engine test facility on the fantail, SPS-43A long range air search radar on
the starboard side of the island, Van Zelm bridle arrestors and Fresnel lens
1966–23 Jan 1967, overhaul, installations: Naval Tactical Data System (NTDS); new electronic
repair shops; new arresting gear–which required widening by 15 feet the final
120 feet of the angled flight deck due to the longer run-out; and Integrated
Operational Intelligence System (IOIS) to operate with North American RA-5C Vigilantes
for enhanced strategic and tactical intelligence.
19 Sep 1967–8 Apr 1968,
post-fire repairs: Removed the
remaining 5” guns and replaced them with a NATO Sea Sparrow Basic Point
Defense Missile System (BPDMS).
1971–10 Apr 1972, overhaul, installations: Two new jet blast deflectors to enable her to
operate Grumman F-14A Tomcats; satellite communications equipment; a new
and bigger evaporator; and a new telephone exchange; conversion: from
black oil to Naval Distillate Fuel.
1976–24 Jun 1977, installation: BPDMS on the port quarter; replacements: SPS-48
long range three-dimensional air search radar replaced SPS-30.
23 Jul–10 Dec 1982 post
shakedown availability, installations:
12 Jan 1983–20 May 1985,
Service Life Extension Program (SLEP), installations: New Mark 3, Mod 3 arresting gear engines and the
accompanying sheave system; Anti-Submarine Warfare Tactical Support Center;
Mk-29 NATO Sea Sparrow launchers replaced the outdated Mk-25 launchers;
and extended No. 4 Catapult by 42-feet.
13 Sep–18 Dec 1985, post-shipyard availability and selected
restricted availability period, installations: Three Phalanx 20 mm close-in-weapons systems (CIWS);
Nixie anti-torpedo protection system.
1991–15 May 1992,
dedicated selected restricted availability, installations: Converted to accommodate night-configured F/A-18 Hornets
and SH-60 Seahawks, as well as marine CH-53D Sea Stallions and
UH-1N Iroquois; and Tactical
7 Mar 2007 planned
incremental availability: 90 major
modifications, including the RIM-116A Rolling Airframe Missile [RAM]
system–a lightweight quick-reaction “fire-and-forget” missile designed to
counter anti-ship missiles attacking in waves or streams–modification to CIWS,
a local area network upgrade, alteration of the JP-5 fuel system and
installation of a new electronic throttle system in her propulsion plants.
Deployments Away From Home
Port For 2 Months or More
Date of Departure
Area of Operation
7 Nov 1956
12 Dec 1956
15 Jan 1957
22 Jul 1957
16 Aug 1957
21 Oct 1957
2 Sep 1958
12 Mar 1959
28 Jan 1960
31 Aug 1960
9 Feb 1961
25 Aug 1961
3 Aug 1962
2 Mar 1963
10 Jul 1964
13 Mar 1965
24 Aug 1965
7 Apr 1966
6 Jun 1967
15 Sep 1967
22 Jul 1968
29 Apr 1969
2 Dec 1969
8 Jul 1970
5 Jan 1971
2 Jul 1971
22 Sep 1972
6 Jul 1973
11 Mar 1974
11 Sep 1974
5 Mar 1975
22 Sep 1975
4 Apr 1978
26 Oct 1978
27 Nov 1979
7 May 1980
2 Mar 1981
15 Sep 1981
8 Jun 1982
16 Nov 1982
2 Jun 1986
10 Nov 1986
28 Aug 1987
9 Oct 1987
25 Apr 1988
7 Oct 1988
3 Nov 1989
12 Apr 1990
31 May 1991
23 Dec 1991
Unit Awards Received
Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal
16–31 Mar 1997
1 Apr–24 Jun 1997
9 Jul–3 Sep 1999
Armed Forces Service Medal
26 Apr–23 May 1993
4–7 Jun 1993
29 Jul–3 Aug 1993
14–22 Aug 1993
26 Mar–4 Jun 1995
9–30 Jun 1995
10 Jul–5 Aug 1995
29 Aug–12 Sep 1995
8–14 Jan 1997
6 Apr–7 Jul 1999
Joint Meritorious Unit Award
5 Apr–16 Jul 1991
Meritorious Unit Commendation
1 Mar–1 Aug 1993
9 Jul–3 Sep 1999
1 Jan 1999–10 Sep 2001
Navy Battle Efficiency Award
1 Jan–31 Dec 1989
1 Jan31 Dec1993
1 Jan–31 Dec 2001
Navy Unit Commendation
5 Apr–12 Sep 1995
13 Sep 2001–3 Mar 2002
24 Feb–20 Apr 2003
27 Sep 2005–15 Feb 2006
Asia Service Medal
14 Jan–20 Apr 1991
Secretary of the Navy Letter of Commendation
25 Oct 1986–30 Jun 1989
History/Operations Reports Submitted:
1955–60 (brief, incomplete composites),
1961–63 (composites), 1966–79, 1983–93
Mark L. Evans, 2 August 2007