Naval History and Heritage Command

National Museum of the U.S. Navy

KN-4507 (Color):  USS Forrestal (CVA-59).  Underway at sea, 31 May 1962.  Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collection of the National Archives.

USS Forrestal (CVA-59, later CV-59 and AVT-59)

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USS Forrestal (CVA-59, later CV-59 and AVT-59), 1955-1983

The lead ship of her class of aircraft carriers, USS Forrestal (CVA-59) was commissioned on October 1, 1955, at Newport News, Virginia.  As the U.S. Navy's first "supercarrier", she operated in the Atlantic and the Mediterranean, providing support during the Lebanon crisis in 1958.  Forrestal deployed numerous times to the Mediterranean until 1966 when she received an overhaul.  Ordered to the Pacific, she was sent to provide additional airpower during the Vietnam War.  On July 29, 1967, tragedy struck when she suffered a huge fire on her flight deck, resulting in the loss of more than 130 men and numerous aircraft.  In spite of the accident, the Navy learned fire-fighting lessons still in practice today.  Repaired in 1968, Forrestal returned to the Mediterranean and deployed numerous times to the region in the next seven years.  Reclassified as CV-59 in 1975, she served as the host ship for the United States Bicentennial celebrations in July 1976 at New York City, New York.  In the following years, Forrestal was active in confronting Libya in March 1981 and received a Service Life Extension Program (SLEP) from 1983-85.  In the late 1980s, she participated in Operation Earnest Will protecting merchant tankers in the the Middle East region.  During the Persian Gulf war in 1990-91, she was on standby in the Atlantic and provided air support during Operation Provide Comfort to assist the Kurds in 1991.  Following this operation, she became a training carrier and was redesignated AVT-59.   Decommissioned on September 1993, Forrestal was eventually scrapped in December 2015 following unsuccessful efforts to turn her into a museum ship.  

A model of Forrestal can be found in the America's Wars in Vietnam section at the National Museum of the U.S. Navy (Cold War Gallery).  

Image:  KN-4507 (Color):  USS Forrestal (CVA-59), underway at sea, May 31, 1962.  Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives.