USS John F Kennedy CVA-67 (later CV-67) - 1976-85

John F. Kennedy resumed operations on 5 January 1976, and conducted air operations in the western Med until 11 January, among the evolutions occurring being those familiarizing French forces with the F-14A, while receiving the first operational look at the Dassault Mirage F.1. That day, John F. Kennedy began a five-day port visit to Malaga before getting underway to outchop from the Med on 16 January. John F. Kennedy conducted her turnover with Saratoga off Rota the following day and then began the voyage back to Norfolk.

During the voyage home, John F. Kennedy went on alert when a flight of two Bears neared the ship. Three E-2C’s maintained airborne radar contact and intercept control while two F-14s flew intercept and escort missions, providing the Soviet airmen with a demonstration of the capabilities of the newest naval fighter in the U.S. Navy’s inventory. The Bears retired and John F. Kennedy recovered her alert aircraft.

John F. Kennedy returned to Norfolk on 27 January 1976, and over the ensuing months received systems upgrades and engaged in intensive training. She received an interim tactical flag command center (ITFCC) and compartmented mode processing system (CMPS) equipment, serving as the test bed for both; her efforts proved beneficial to the enhancement of carrier operational systems.

During type training from 23 June to 2 July 1976, John F. Kennedy operated with the British aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal. During a second period of such evolutions, John F. Kennedy “entertained” a less welcome (but not altogether unfamiliar) kind of guest. On 21 July, two separate reconnaissance flights by pairs of Bears came into contact with the carrier. F-14’s escorted them, and many of the crewmen topside observed the Bears and their Tomcat escorts appear on the horizon aft of John F. Kennedy and fly along the starboard side approximately four nautical miles away.

On 2 September 1976, John F. Kennedy got underway for a North Atlantic deployment, with CVW-1 (VF-14 and VF-32, VA-34, VA-46 and VA-72, VS-32, VAW-125, VAQ-133, HS-11 and Light Photographic Squadron (VFP) 63) embarked, to participate in Joint Effort (3-10 September), Teamwork 1976 (10-23 September), and Bonded Item (8-10 October). These three major fleet exercises, involving approximately 200 ships from participating NATO countries, practiced and updated NATO operating procedures and provide practical applications of established command and control policies. Visits to a succession of ports: Edinburgh, (25 September – 1 October), Wilhelmshaven, Germany (4-7 October), Portsmouth, England (18-24 October), and Brest, France (27-29 October), punctuated the periods of operations at sea.

Bears reflected Soviet interest in Teamwork 1976, and on 12 September 1976 Lieutenant (j.g.) William H. “Wally” Baker and Lieutenant Davy Leestma of VF-32 intercepted the first such overflight 400 nautical miles west of Ireland. They escorted the Bear as it made one low pass over the ship and followed it until it was out of range. A VFP-63 Vought RF-8G Crusader took photographs of the Bear to commemorate the occasion.

Two days later, on 14 September 1976, VF-32 lost a Tomcat some 60 nautical miles north of Scotland when an F-14 experienced “runaway engines” and began to skid across the flight deck. Lieutenant John L. “Lew” Kosich, the pilot (CVW-1 staff), mindful of the pack of aircraft spotted forward, alertly steered the Tomcat toward the deck edge. Just prior to the F-14 going over the side into 315 fathoms of water, Lieutenant (j.g.) Louis E. “Les” Seymour, the NFO, initiated command ejection, and both men landed on the flight deck with minor injuries. Three sailors from the flight deck crew suffered injuries in the mishap with the rampaging Tomcat, but recovered. Intensive deep-water salvage operations recovered most of the F-14A and the missile it carried.

That same day at 2336, her old consort Bordelon reported losing steering control during night refueling operations while alongside and veered into John F. Kennedy. None of the men on board the carrier suffered injuries and the damage to her hull was minimal. However, Bordelon suffered extensive superstructure damage and injuries to six men. Fortunately, no fires resulted and Bordelon continued under her own power. As it had done during the Belknap incident the previous autumn, HS-11 flew night medical evacuation missions in support of the relief efforts in the wake of the collision.

Soviet interest in the NATO exercises continued, as Bears reconnoitered John F. Kennedy and her task force on four more occasions. Badgers conducted surveillance flights on 18 and 21 September 1976, while the carrier logged the nearby presence of the oceanographic research vessels Arkhipelag and Pelorus as they carried out “tattletale operations,” and a Kresta II-class guided missile cruiser.

On 21 September 1976, John F. Kennedy, operating in the North Atlantic waters off Norway, entered the Arctic Sea. To commemorate this auspicious occasion, Boreas Rex, Ruler of the North Wind, bestowed to all on board John F. Kennedy the renowned “Order of the Blue Nose.” To reflect this distinction, the carrier later stood into Norfolk with her bull nose painted blue.

During Bonded Item, John F. Kennedy landed several French Vought F-8 Crusaders on board as part of an exchange program, and on 26 October 1976, VF-32 flew mock engagements against their Gallic adversaries. As that squadron’s historian reflected later, “this type of dissimilar flying provided valuable aircrew training.”

John F. Kennedy began her return transit to Norfolk on 30 October 1976 and arrived on 9 November. After her return, she underwent an inspection and survey from 15-19 November, and then moored alongside Pier 12, where she remained for the rest of 1976.

John F. Kennedy sailed for the Mediterranean on 15 January 1977, with CVW-1 (the same squadrons with which she had deployed the previous summer and autumn) reaching Rota on 26 January and conducting turnover procedures with Nimitz (CVN-68). The next day, Rear Admiral Carroll, ComCarGru 2, and Commander, TF 60, transferred his flag from Nimitz to John F. Kennedy. On 29 January, the carrier changed operational control from 2nd Fleet to 6th Fleet.

John F. Kennedy then participated in NATO Exercise Locked Gate 1977 (29 January – 12 February 1977) that involved 40 ships from Canada, France, the Federal Republic of Germany, the Netherlands, Portugal, the United Kingdom, and Spain. The evolution, involving coordinated air, surface and subsurface operations, and all aspects of electronic warfare, demonstrated NATO’s resolve and ability to maintain control of the Strait of Gibraltar and deny access to the Med to hostile forces as well as protect allied countries along the rim of the North Atlantic. During Locked Gate, F-14As from CVW-1 intercepted a pair of Bear-Ds (“Bear Deltas”) southwest of Gibraltar in the Gulf of Cadiz on 5 February and escorted them during the time they were operating within 100 nautical miles of the ship.

After a stay at Naples (12-28 February 1977), brief operations in the Ionian Sea, and a return visit to Naples, John F. Kennedy participated in National Week XXII (22-26 March). John F. Kennedy and her consorts, representing Blue (friendly) forces, “battled” Orange (hostile) forces in the form of Franklin D. Roosevelt and her air wing, Semmes (DDG-18), Claude V. Ricketts, Basilone (DD-824), and another old consort, Sarsfield. At the conclusion of the maneuvers, Blue and Orange forces anchored at Augusta Bay for the post-exercise critique conducted on board John F. Kennedy. After the conclusion of National Week XXII, John F. Kennedy became the first U.S. carrier to call at Dubrovnik, Yugoslavia (28 March to 2 April 1977).

John F. Kennedy returned to Naples on 6 April 1977, and remained there until 19 April to participate in the joint NATO and Central Treaty Organization (CENTO) Exercise Shahbaz 1977 involving U.S. 6th Fleet units, the Imperial Iranian Air Force, Pakistani Air Force, Turkish Air Force, United Kingdom’s Royal Air Force, U.S. Air Force Europe and NATO’s 6th Allied Tactical Air Force. Shahbaz 1977 exercised the air defenses of the CENTO participants and to develop coordination of the CENTO air defense system with that of NATO.

Following Shahbaz 1977, John F. Kennedy conducted flight operations in the Aegean until 30 April 1977; she then sailed for Egypt. From 2-6 May, John F. Kennedy paid a visit to Alexandria. Rear Admiral Robert F. Schoultz, ComCarGru 2, and Captain Mitchell attended a wreath laying ceremony at Egypt’s Tomb of the Unknown Soldier on 2 May. Two days later, John F. Kennedy hosted Loubna Sadat, daughter of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat.

John F. Kennedy sailed from Alexandria on 6 May 1977, and proceeded thence to Augusta Bay, Sicily, arriving on 8 May to replace her starboard anchor which had been lost on 26 March during the debriefing of National Week XXII. From 10-16 May, she participated in an ASW exercise, Dawn Patrol 1977, that combined ASW, photographic reconnaissance, and electronic warfare support, with surface and subsurface search coordination. Punctuating her participation in these evolutions, an RF-8G (Modex AB 601) from VFP-63, Detachment 2, crashed at sea immediately after launch on 11 May east of Sicily. Lieutenant Commander James S. Ozbirn, the pilot, officer in charge of the detachment, escaped injury and was retrieved by an SH-3D. Three days later, on 14 May, Captain Jerry O. Tuttle relieved Captain Mitchell as commanding officer of the ship.

Following Dawn Patrol, John F. Kennedy anchored in Naples for a port visit (17 May - 1 June 1977), during which time many of the crew’s family members arrived via charter flights. Many dependents flew over by chartered jet to enjoy Naples and Italy with their men while an equal number of sailors returned to the United States for leave. The charter flight afforded many families the opportunity to be reunited for a brief time during the six and a half month deployment.

John F. Kennedy got underway on 1 June 1977 for operations in the western Med. On 2 June, while refueling alongside oiler Marias, the two ships conducted an emergency breakaway after the destroyer Hawkins (DD-873), refueling on the other side of Marias, collided with the auxiliary. Happily, the carrier managed to avoid the oiler and damage to Marias and Hawkins proved minimal.

After a port visit at Barcelona from 6-14 June 1977, operations at Salto Di Quirra Range on 16-17 June, a 36-hour exercise interjected into a 62-hour ASW operating period, and a 13-day port visit in Palma De Mallorca starting 23 June, John F. Kennedy began operations on 5 July in the western Med. After providing close air support for PhiblEx 7-77 (evaluating E-2C control of assault helicopters in an amphibious landing), the carrier visited Malaga (13-19 July).

On 19 July 1977, John F. Kennedy then proceeded to Rota where, from 19-22 July, she conducted turnover proceedings with Saratoga. Rear Admiral Schoultz, ComCarGru 2/CTF 60 broke his flag in Saratoga on 21 July, telling the crew of his former flagship: “The overall performance of JFK throughout the deployment has been outstanding and their accomplishments many. The combat and material readiness of the ship is higher than ever before and set a hallmark of excellence for all CVs to obtain.” Rear Admiral William B. Warwick, ComCarGru 4, broke his flag in John F. Kennedy later that day and the ship got underway, transitioning from 6th Fleet to 2nd Fleet operational control. During the transit home, the carrier was reconnoitered by a pair of Bear-Ds in the western Atlantic, intercepted and escorted, as before, by air wing F-14As while within 100 nautical miles of the ship. On 1 August 1977, John F. Kennedy moored at Pier 12; she remained there for the remainder of the year.

On 3 January 1978, Vice Admiral Howard E. Greer, Commander, Naval Air Force, Atlantic Fleet, arrived and awarded John F. Kennedy the Atlantic Fleet Battle Efficiency “E” for battle readiness. For the rest of January until 29 June, the ship carried out training and qualifying programs in local waters, interspersed with in-port upkeep. On 29 June 1978, with CVW-1 (VF-14 and VF-32, VA-34, VA-46 and VA-72, VAW-125, VS-32, VAQ-133, VFP-63, and HS-11) embarked, she began another voyage to the Med, one day of which (3 July 1978) found her under surveillance by old comrades, Soviet Bear-D’s, that in turn found themselves watched by Tomcats.

On 9 July 1978, John F. Kennedy reached Rota and conducted a turnover with Nimitz. Three days later, she sailed for Naples, proceeding via the Gulf of Cadiz and the Strait of Gibraltar, arriving at her destination on the morning of 17 July. She left Naples on 20 July to participate in three exercises: BuzzardEx 78, National Week XXV, and ASW Week 8-78, which ran consecutively until 4 August, after which the ship visited Trieste, Italy (6-12 August). She then conducted flight operations in the highly restricted airspace of the Adriatic. Following a brief stop on 19 August in Souda Bay, the carrier transited the Strait of Messina on 21 August and anchored at Naples on the morning of 22 August, commencing a 13-day port call.

John F. Kennedy sailed on 4 September 1978 to conduct an eight-day sea period, during which time she engaged in missile exercises. On the morning of 12 September, she anchored at Alexandria, where she remained until 18 September, when she sailed for a return visit to Naples. The morning after she arrived, John F. Kennedy hosted a NATO Day guest cruise, returning to port the same night.

John F. Kennedy left Naples on the morning of 27 September 1978 to participate in Display Determination 1978, a NATO exercise took place on 11 October and simulated an amphibious landing in northern Greece, after which time the ship arrived at Taranto, Italy, to begin a five-day port visit.

Next, the ship anchored briefly at Souda Bay on 18 October 1978, before she got underway to conduct missile exercises; she later proceeded on to anchor on 24 October at Palma. There she commenced a two week port visit, highlighted by another dependents’ charter flight which brought many loved ones to Spain from the United States and vice versa. John F. Kennedy began exercises with the Spanish Armed Forces on 7 November 1978. Together, they conducted air strike exercises, air-to-air combat exercises and anti-submarine warfare exercises. On 22 November, John F. Kennedy participated in similar exercises with the French Air Force.

John F. Kennedy arrived at Barcelona, Spain, on 27 November 1978, where, the following day, 28 November 1978, Captain Lowell R. Myers relieved Captain Tuttle. As the carrier’s new commanding officer was beginning his tour, CVW-1 was conducting dissimilar air combat training with USAF units from Zaragoza Air Base. From 26 November to 4 December, the Air Force pilots taught the navy fighter crews lessons in the dynamics of high speed, multi-plane scenarios with adversaries of similar performance and expertise.

John F. Kennedy left Barcelona on 4 December 1978. After missile exercises at Salto di Quirra Range near Sardinia and flight operations off the coast of Spain, the carrier anchored at Valencia, Spain, on 9 December for a port visit. She left for Naples on 17 December, conducted bombing sorties at Capo Teulada, Sardinia, evaluated the readiness and effectiveness of air and surface weapons systems against ex-Thornhill (DE-195) and returned to Naples on 21 December to celebrate Christmas and New Year’s Eve there. John F. Kennedy sailors installed a new roof over an orphanage, donated toys, and hosted a Christmas party for the children.

John F. Kennedy got underway on 8 January 1979 and arrived at Malaga four days later. En route, she conducted ASW exercises and refresher flight training. On the evening of 24 January 1979, John F. Kennedy weighed anchor and proceeded to Rota, arriving there the following day. The next day, she conducted exercises with her relief, Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69), and on 28 January, headed for Norfolk, Rear Admiral Robert L. Walters, Commander, Cruiser-Destroyer Group 8, breaking his flag in the ship for the homeward voyage. She brought her deployment to a close on 8 February when she moored alongside a snow-covered Pier 12. Three days after the carrier’s return, a fire, later determined to have been caused by a leaking steam line igniting flammable material, broke out aft on the 03 level in a living compartment. It was put out in about an hour’s time.

John F. Kennedy got underway from Pier 12 on 6 March 1979 and spent that day offloading her conventional ordnance. The next day, she hosted about 500 dependents and shipyard workers as she shifted to the Norfolk Naval Shipyard. John F. Kennedy moved to dry dock no. 8 on 19 March for her major overhaul. During the ensuing yard period, the ship’s tactical support center was redesignated as an anti-submarine warfare module, and an integrated carrier acoustic prediction system was installed. NATO Sea Sparrow missile system replaced all three BPDMS launchers and fire control directors. Ship’s radars were either updated or changed. Carrier air traffic control was improved with automatic data readouts, which enhanced controller efficiency and response time. Even food service, air conditioning and laundry facilities were bettered.

From early April until mid-July 1979, John F. Kennedy, the normal shipyard routine progressed uneventfully until an unknown arsonist set a series of fires on 9 April 1979. John F. Kennedy responded quickly and minimized the damage to only 38 compartments during six hours’ work at general quarters, but William L. Seward, a civilian yard employee, died. Another series of arson incidents occurred on 5 June, the crew controlling the blazes within two hours with no reported injuries. John F. Kennedy doubled security watches to prevent a recurrence. On 14 July, the carrier shifted from drydock to Pier 5 for the remainder of her yard work.

John F. Kennedy conducted a fast cruise and held dockside trials on 5 December 1979. Six days later, the carrier got underway; she spent the remainder of the year 1979 and the first half of 1980 preparing for her next deployment. After post-repair trials and refresher training out of Guantanamo, a seven-day visit to Boston for OpSail 80 festivities, and a change of command ceremony on 27 June when Captain Diego E. Hernandez relieved Captain Tuttle, the carrier steamed for the Med on 8 August 1980, with CVW-1 (with VAW-126 and VAQ-138 having replaced VAW-125 and VAQ-133 in the composition, the other squadrons remaining the same) on board.

En route, Tomcats from CVW-1 intercepted a Bear-D on 14 August 1980. Three days later, John F. Kennedy arrived at Malaga to relieve Saratoga. That same day, John F. Kennedy left Malaga for Toulon. She arrived on 22 August for a four-day port visit. After her visit, the carrier set sail for operations in the western Med en route to Naples. While at sea, the carrier conducted large-scale strike planning exercises with the French Air Force.

On the morning of 5 September 1980, John F. Kennedy anchored at Naples for an eight-day port visit. She got underway on 13 September for three days of operations and returned to Naples for two days of anchorage training. She left Naples on 17 September for the five-day National Week XXIX exercise in the central Med, exercises that soon assumed a quality of reality when Libyan Air Force planes engaged in an unprecedented number of sorties in the vicinity of John F. Kennedy’s Battle Group over international waters. On 19 September, F-14’s under E-2 control intercepted two Libyan sections, and six and eighteen sections, respectively, on 20 and 21 September.

After pausing briefly at Augusta Bay on 23 September 1980, John F. Kennedy headed for Barcelona. She arrived two days later, completing rigorous flight operations along the way. After a week’s stay, John F. Kennedy sailed to the western Med to participate in Display Determination 80, en route to Alexandria. The exercise staged joint combined raids in Italy and engagements with the French carrier Clemenceau.

John F. Kennedy anchored at Alexandria the morning of 14 October 1980. On 18 October, the carrier left Alexandria for Haifa, dropping anchor at that port the following day. Hospitable Israelis hosted some 240 men from the ship in their homes; John F. Kennedy hosted approximately 1,000 visitors.

John F. Kennedy left that Israeli port on 24 October 1980, in transit to a 27 October call at Athens. During the voyage, the carrier conducted open ocean mining exercises and participated in joint service operations with Hellenic forces. The warship anchored at Athens on the morning of 27 October. After a week there, the carrier departed on 2 November for operations in the central Med en route Naples, arriving four days later.

John F. Kennedy left Naples on 10 November 1980, bound for Palma, and began participating in Exercise Poop Deck that day. USAF F-15s and F-4s provided adversary services for the carrier’s airwing. With Poop Deck completed, the ship anchored at Palma on 15 November to begin a two-week port visit, which included a dependents charter flight.

John F. Kennedy sailed on 2 December 1980 and resumed flight operations en route to joint service operations in the central Med. She anchored in Naples on 13 December to plan and prepare for close air support exercises employing live ordnance at Capo Tuelada. The carrier returned to Naples on 20 December. Two days after Christmas, His Eminence Terence Cardinal Cooke, D.D., Military Vicar, was flown aboard to celebrate Mass for approximately 300 officers and enlisted men.

John F. Kennedy departed Naples on 3 January 1981 en route to the western and central Mediterranean for carquals and ASW exercises. From 5-11 January, the warship participated in coordinated operations with fellow battle group units. On 12 January, the carrier dropped anchor in Augusta Bay to host a briefing for National Week XXX, upon completion of which the fleet weighed anchor and sailed for the waters north of the Suez Canal. National Week XXX exercised battle group anti-air warfare (AAW) and airborne early warning (AEW) capabilities, emphasized surface and subsurface search coordination procedures, electronic support measures and follow-on war-at-sea strikes. Poor weather and rough seas, however, hampered the exercise, limiting air operations.

Upon completion of National Week XXX, John F. Kennedy anchored in Souda Bay for the exercise debrief on 19-20 January 1981, then visited Athens (21-27 January), whence she sailed for the central Med for flight operations in support of a combat readiness assessment exercise west of Crete (28-29 January) that tested the ship’s weapons department and air wing ordnance teams.

John F. Kennedy conducted flight operations in the central and western Med during February 1981, punctuating those operations with port visits to Naples (2-3 February) and Valencia, Spain (14-18 February). While en route to the latter port, CVW-1 aircraft joined the French Southern Coastal Defense Forces for Dasix exercises which simulated strike and air defense warfare.

John F. Kennedy participated in amphibious exercises off Carbonaras, Spain (21-22 February 1981), her fighters conducting amphibious support and combat support and combat air patrol (CAP) missions under surface combatant control while attack crews gained training and experience in low altitude, high-threat close air support. From 21-24 February, USAF aircraft engaged the carrier in dissimilar air combat training work. USAF F-4’s provided the opportunity to exercise CIC and E-2 (Hawkeye) control of anti-air warfare (AAW) operators, as well as exercising the fighters in the air-to-air role. Upon completion of the evolution, John F. Kennedy sailed for Naples, arriving there on 26 February.

On 9 March 1981, John F. Kennedy got underway for Malaga. Once she arrived on 13 March, the ship embarked approximately 130 male dependents and relatives, and five days later, on 18 March, ComCarGru 2/ CTF 60 cross-decked from John F. Kennedy to Forrestal. The Tiger Cruise then set sail from Malaga, coming to a conclusion at Norfolk on 28 March 1981.

John F. Kennedy spent April 1981 preparing for a restricted availability at Norfolk Naval Shipyard (30 April-3 August). Before she made the trip to the yard, she unloaded her ordnance and weapons to the carriers Nimitz and America and the underway replenishment oiler Kalamazoo (AOR-6). Completing her yard period on 2 August 1981, she departed the next day for post-repair trials. She then returned to Pier 12 for upkeep (7-23 August), during which time she hosted the visiting British carrier HMS Invincible during her port call to Norfolk (8-20 August).

Having completed her final adjustments, John F. Kennedy departed Norfolk on 24 August 1981 for three weeks of carquals, limited air wing flight operations and ship/air wing refresher operations in the Jacksonville/Guantanamo operating areas. During the qualification periods, on 29 August 1981, Captain D. Bruce Cargill relieved Captain Hernandez, after which, the carrier steamed to Guantanamo for refresher training. Concluding her refresher work on 10 September, John F. Kennedy set course for Norfolk. The ship moored to Pier 12 on 14 September.

John F. Kennedy’s next departure came on 6 October 1981 when she left for four days of carquals, after which she conducted type training from 10-19 October off the Virginia capes. She then returned to Norfolk, remaining there from 19 to 25 October, before shifting to Whiskey anchorage, and preparations for the in-port phase of the operational propulsion plant examination (26-28 October).

Tragically, during the CVW-3 fly-on operations on 29 October 1981, VAQ-138 suffered the loss of the three-man crew of one of its EA-6Bs (BuNo 159582). Lieutenant Commander Jack A. Fisher and Lieutenants James H. Mallory and Alfred J. Dupont perished in the mishap when the Prowler crashed near NAS Oceana. The ship held a memorial service for the lost crew two days later.

John F. Kennedy then sailed for Puerto Rico on 30 October 1981 to participate in ReadEx 1-82, an evolution involving more than 30 ships and 200 aircraft of the Atlantic Fleet and Royal Navy, and lasting through 4 December, designed to improve readiness in coordinated dual carrier battle group operations for John F. Kennedy and Dwight D. Eisenhower. During the exercise, the participants passed beneath the constant watch by their Soviet comrades, Bears operating between the Soviet Union and Cuba.

During November 1981, CVW-3 (VF-11 and VF-31, VA-37, VA-75 and VA-105, VS-22, VAW-126, VAQ-138 and HS-7), which had replaced CVW-1 as the ship’s embarked air wing, intercepted Tu-95 Bears, took part in ReadEx 1-82, parrying threats to the battle group, and planned attacks on selected exercise targets. As ReadEx 1-82 progressed, the entire battle group began to perform as a coordinated body.

John F. Kennedy then visited St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands from 8-11 November 1981, after which time she engaged in yet more training, including air wing day and night strikes against targets on Vieques; CAP against multiple airborne raids; minefield evasion, multiple air-to-air missiles exercises; air-to-air gunnery against a towed banner; multiple war-at-sea strikes; advanced anti-ship cruise missile exercises during which CVW-3 scored direct hits on the target, ex-Charles R. Ware (DD-865); electronic warfare training; anti-submarine torpedo exercises by both helo and fixed wing aircraft; refueling/replenishment exercises; and various safety and navigational exercises.

On 17 November 1981, Dwight D. Eisenhower departed Barbados and commenced two days of adversary operations against John F. Kennedy. Afterwards, both carrier battle groups joined forces. Without benefit of a coordination and workup period, units of the two carrier battle groups, British forces, and USAF assets rendezvoused in a hostile electronic warfare environment and successfully encountered a complex, sophisticated and numerically superior exercise adversary, proving the concept of long-range force defense for protracted periods. The participants had achieved a major breakthrough in maritime air superiority through several “firsts” in the Navy’s experience, including employment of in-flight refueling from a USAF McDonnell Douglas KC-10 Extender, employing long-range carrier based CAP, and integrating the largest joint carrier battle force/ USAF command and control (AWACS) aircraft.

Following an ORE (1-4 December 1981), John F. Kennedy anchored north of Vieques from 4-5 December to rearm from Butte (AE-27) and finish work on her propulsion system. Having completed intensive training in the Caribbean, the carrier moored alongside Pier 12, on the morning of 11 December, where she remained for the rest of 1981.

John F. Kennedy deployed on 4 January 1982, commencing the voyage with a three-day period of carquals for her air wing off the Virginia capes. That having been completed, she began her Atlantic transit with CVW-3 (VF-11 and VF-31, VA-37, VA-75 and VA-105, VS-22, VAW-126 and VAQ-138 and HS-7) embarked. She in-chopped the Mediterranean on 17 January 1982 and began a four-day port visit to Malaga.

Late on 21 January 1982, John F. Kennedy got underway, and participated in National Week XXXI in the Mediterranean. She then transited the Suez Canal on 3 February, making her first passage with numerous Egyptian and U.S. Embassy staff members embarked. John F. Kennedy then spent the rest of the month of February in the Indian Ocean and North Arabian Sea, and crossed the equator for the first time on 6 March, entering the “Realm of King Neptunus Rex.” Only ten percent of the crew had crossed the equator previously and by the end of the day, 4,500 “Pollywogs” had become “Shellbacks.”

John F. Kennedy then set course for Australia, en route to Perth. On 11 March 1982, each man, whether he was ship’s company, air wing, or staff, in a departure from the “dry” nature of U.S. Navy ships in the wake of the 1914 general order abolishing other than medicinal alcohol on board, was authorized two cold beers in a cookout on the flight deck. The entire crew took the afternoon off to relax following 45 days of arduous toil.

John F. Kennedy anchored outside Perth at the port of Fremantle on the morning of 19 March 1982, and received warm hospitality for the duration of the stay that ultimately came to an end on 25 March.

John F. Kennedy and conducted routine operations and exercises for the next five weeks, evolutions punctuated by her first port visit in Africa, anchoring at Mombasa, Kenya, on 2 May 1982. She left on 7 May and steamed toward the North Arabian Sea, where, the following day, she hosted the visiting President Mohamed Siad Barre of the Somali Democratic Republic, who arrived to full honors, including Marine honor guard and a 21-gun salute from the guided missile cruiser Josephus Daniels (CG-27).

On 19 May 1982, Commodore John Gunning, Commander, Sultan of Oman’s Navy and Captain John De Winton, Chief of Staff (Designate), Sultan of Oman’s Navy visited John F. Kennedy. The carrier had been operating closely with the Sultan of Oman’s air forces, and the visit was intended to foster closer relations with his military representatives.

John F. Kennedy transited the Strait of Bab-El-Mandeb on 1 June 1982 and headed north in the Red Sea. She arrived at Port Suez that afternoon. After making the northerly transit of the Suez Canal, the carrier expected to make a port visit to Haifa from 6-11 June, where many of the John F. Kennedy’s crew had dependents waiting for them. However, another crisis in the Middle East would put those plans on hold, in the wake of Israeli forces entering Lebanon in Operation Peace for Galilee on 6 June 1982. Israel had attacked Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) fortifications throughout southern Lebanon, and John F. Kennedy, her anticipated port visit to Haifa cancelled, received orders to proceed to a position off the Lebanese coast. On 8 June, the Secretary of Defense ordered the Marine Amphibious Ready Group at Rota to the eastern Med for potential evacuation of American citizens from Beirut, Lebanon. John F. Kennedy’s crew was relieved to hear that their loved ones were all safe and returning home, as they prepared to aid in the possible evacuation of U.S. and other foreign nationals from Beirut. The ship remained on station until relieved on 17 June by Dwight D. Eisenhower.

John F. Kennedy proceeded to Toulon, arriving on 21 June 1982. Three days later, she sailed to take part in Daily Double, an anti-surface warfare (ASW) and air defense exercise with the French Air Force and Navy. When Daily Double concluded on 27 June, the carrier transited to Malaga, arriving the following day and remaining there until 3 July. John F. Kennedy concluded the deployment with a Tiger Cruise, ultimately reaching Norfolk on 14 July.

From 17-27 August 1982, John F. Kennedy conducted carquals off the Virginia capes, after which time she lay pierside before undertaking another stint of carquals off the capes from 21-24 September. On 30 September, she hosted change-of-command ceremonies where Admiral Wesley L. McDonald relieved Admiral Harry D. Train II, USN, as Supreme Allied Commander, Atlantic; Commander in Chief, U.S. Atlantic Command and U.S. Atlantic Fleet.

John F. Kennedy shifted to the Norfolk Naval Shipyard on 15 October 1982 where she underwent an overhaul and rehabilitation period for all ship’s spaces and equipment that lasted until 7 February 1983, upon completion of which she got underway for two days of post-availability sea trials off the Virginia capes. The carrier returned to Naval Station, Norfolk, on 10 February and remained there until 24 February in preparation for. From 24-27 February, the warship conducted carquals off the capes, and on 28 February sailed for Guantanamo for refresher training, which then ran from 1-9 March. Released to proceed to Bridgetown, Barbados, John F. Kennedy remained there from 12 to 15 March.

John F. Kennedy then engaged in training in the Caribbean/Puerto Rico operating areas until 5 April 1983, returning to Norfolk on 8 April. Soon thereafter, on 14 April, Captain Gary F. Wheatley relieved Commodore Cargill as commanding officer.

John F. Kennedy deployed on 26 April 1983 for Solid Shield 83, conducted through 5 May, an exercise designed to test multi-phase and joint operations off the coasts of North and South Carolina and Georgia. The ship was tasked with utilizing the Joint Interoperability Tactical Command and Control Systems message format designed to standardize messages and message procedures among all branches of the armed services.

After Solid Shield 83, the remainder of May 1983 saw more carquals, a planned maintenance system inspection and exercise United Effort, which took place during John F. Kennedy’s voyage across the then steamed east towards the Central and Eastern Atlantic Ocean to participate in Ocean Safari, a NATO exercise held from 3-17 June 1983 that involved some 90 ships from ten nations. Ocean Safari simulated air strikes into France, West Germany, and England, and the involved elements carried out ASW, anti-carrier warfare and convoy escort exercises between the Azores and the United Kingdom, concluding with a port visit to Portsmouth, England, from 18-22 June.

John F. Kennedy began her trip home on 23 June 1983 and arrived at Norfolk on 1 July. After a post-deployment respite, the ship conducted carquals off the Virginia capes commencing on 20 July. Subsequently, the carrier conducted three days of an Operational Propulsion Plant Examination (OPPE) off the capes, after which time the ship remained in port from 30 July through 9 August.

John F. Kennedy, with Washington Post military correspondent George C. Wilson (whose book, Supercarrier, would chronicle the deployment that unfolded) embarked, sailed from Norfolk on 27 September 1983, and after conducting carquals off the Virginia capes (27 September-2 October) set course, with CVW-3 (VF-11 and VF-31, VA-75 and VA-85, VS-22, VAW-126 and VAQ-137, and HS-7) for Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, for a port visit from 13-16 October. During the voyage, over 2,000 “pollywogs” were initiated into the order of King Neptune’s realm when the ship crossed the Equator on 8 October. While in Rio, John F. Kennedy’s crew provided material and manpower aid for the John F. Kennedy Brazilian Elementary School. They bid farewell to Rio on 17 October as the ship steamed east for another deployment to the Med.

On 23 October 1983, while John F. Kennedy was en route to the Med, a suicide bomber struck the U.S. Marine Corps Multi-National Forces (MNF) Barracks at Beirut International Airport, killing 241 Marines. That same day, another suicide car bomb killed 58 French paratroopers. Five days after those terrorist acts, John F. Kennedy entered the Med, one day ahead of schedule. The prevailing international situation resulted in her scheduled 2-7 November port visit to Marseille, France, being cancelled.

John F. Kennedy’s VF-31, however, suffered two tragic losses inside of three days. On 8 November 1983, Lieutenant (jg) Cole P. O’Neil and Commander John C. Scull (RIO), died when their F-14A (Modex AC 205) inexplicably flew into the sea while on a CAP station near the coast of Lebanon. Another VF-31 F-14A (AC 212) on 11 November; Lieutenant David P. Jancarski, the pilot, suffered serious injuries in the egress, Lieutenant Commander Oliver L. Wright (RIO), emerged from the ordeal unhurt. HS-7 helos rescued both men, the Sea King flown by Lieutenant Commander Thomas R. Withers, with Aviation Antisubmarine Warfare Operator 3d Class John Curran and Aviation Antisubmarine Warfare Operator Airman Daniel Rockel as rescue crewmen, picking up Jancarski and the Sea King flown by Lieutenant Richard A. Strickland, with rescue aircrew Mark Phillips and Mike Mellema, picking up Wright.

On 24 November 1983, the carrier’s C-1A Trader, Caroline II, was lost at sea, during a ferry flight, near Palma. Aviation Machinist’s Mate 2d Class Fernando Pena perished in the crash.

That same day, 24 November 1983, John F. Kennedy’s F-14As began flying tactical air reconnaissance pod system (TARPS) missions over Lebanon, their crews gathering valuable intelligence to target Syrian positions for the gunfire support ships offshore. John F. Kennedy, together with Independence, continued to provide support for the MNF throughout the rest of 1983, as the result of which the planned port visit to Alexandria and a Suez Canal transit were cancelled. Instead, John F. Kennedy returned to Haifa on the morning of 28 November, remaining there until 1 December.

John F. Kennedy engaged in combat for the first time soon thereafter, when she returned to the waters off Lebanon. On 3 December 1983, two VF-31 F-14As, on a TARPS mission, the Tomcat flown by Lieutenant Commander John C. Burch with Lieutenant John W. Miller as RIO, the escort flown by Lieutenant Gregory G. Streit with Lieutenant (j.g.) James E. McAloon as RIO, encountered surface-to-air missiles (SAMs) and anti-aircraft artillery (AAA) fire.

The following morning, 4 December 1983, John F. Kennedy and Independence aircraft (CVW-6) pounded Syrian anti-aircraft and artillery positions near Hammana, Lebanon, in a coordinated retaliatory strike. VA-85 flew seven combat sorties and VA-75 three, in addition to launching two of its KA-6Ds to serve as aerial refuelers for the strike aircraft; VAQ-137’s EA-6Bs provided electronic countermeasures/electronic support measures, while VF-11 flew CAP missions with its F-14s and VF-31 flew rescue CAP and CAP over the force offshore with their Tomcats. SAMs, however, downed one Independence A-7E and one John F. Kennedy VA-85 A-6E.

Syrian troops captured Lieutenant Robert O. Goodman, the Intruder’s bombardier/navigator (ultimately released on 3 January 1984, he returned to the United States). Lieutenant Mark A. Lange, Lieutenant Goodman’s pilot, however, died from injuries received during the ejection. On 7 December, the Syrians returned Lange’s body to the American Embassy in Beirut. A Christian Lebanese fisherman and his son picked up Commander Edward K. Andrews, the A-7E pilot, CVW-6’s commander, and he soon reached American hands.

Secretary of Defense Casper W. Weinberger, issued authorization on 10 December 1983 for John F. Kennedy’s indefinite stay in the eastern Med. Not transiting to the Indian Ocean as previously scheduled, John F. Kennedy thus began 1984 continuing her support of the MNF. On 20 January, the carrier left the eastern Med; she visited Naples (23-30 January) before returning to her station off Lebanon. In response to a resumption of hostile artillery fire upon U.S. Marine positions, CVW-3’s Intruders carried out air strikes against the offending guns, taking no losses in return.

John F. Kennedy, given a brief respite from MNF support duty to conduct NATO exercises near Cyprus in conjunction with the British and French navies, changed station to north of Alexandria on 22 March 1984. On 9 April, she received orders to proceed to Naples, where she would stay from 12-18 April. While there, Saratoga relieved John F. Kennedy, releasing her to sail for home.

John F. Kennedy arrived in Norfolk on 2 May 1984, and before month’s end, was underway on 30 May for Boston to participate in the “Parade of Sail” event. The trip home became another Tiger Cruise, culminating at Norfolk on 8 June. The carrier spent the balance of June, July and August undergoing trials and qualifications.

On 2 September 1984, Vice President George H.W. Bush visited John F. Kennedy. Three days later, Captain William R. McGowen relieved Commodore Wheatley as commanding officer, and soon thereafter, the ship steamed to the Virginia capes for carquals and testing of the new McDonnell-Douglas F/A-18 Hornet. Four days later, John F. Kennedy entered Norfolk Naval Shipyard.

The carrier remained in shipyard hands until 20 September 1985, undergoing a $165 million overhaul. During that time, she received the installation of two close-in weapons system (CIWS) mounts, a SPN-46 automatic carrier landing system, the Mk. 23 target acquisition system, the single audio system (SAS), a flag tactical command and control (FTCC) system, the URN-25 tactical aid to air navigation, the Raytheon collision avoidance system (RAYCAS), a SPS-67 and SPS-64 surface search radar, SPA-25E and SPA-74 air search radar repeaters, the surface ship torpedo defense (SSTD) and F/A-18 maintenance phase I capability.

John F. Kennedy returned to the fleet on 20 September 1985, and on 8 October, began carquals off the Virginia capes to begin trials of her newly installed or overhauled systems. After calling at Port Lauderdale, Florida (11-15 October), during which she hosted some 25,000 visitors, she conducted target of opportunity exercises with the attack submarine Boston (SSN-703) on 15 October. During those evolutions, the carrier controlled the guided missile destroyer Richard E. Byrd (DDG-23) and VS-24 planes as they tracked Boston for four hours and “attacked” her twice.

Returning to Norfolk on 18 October 1985, John F. Kennedy got underway for shakedown training eleven days later; she tested her newly installed CIWS and NATO Sea Sparrow mounts, while continuing tests of weapons elevators and the surface ship torpedo system. She finished the month (29-31 October) with target of opportunity exercises with Minneapolis-Saint Paul (SSN-708), John F. Kennedy aircraft maintaining contact on their adversary for 16 hours and simulating 14 attacks.

As the month of November 1985 began, the ship assisted five people on board a fishing vessel in distress on 1 November. A week later, she (8 November), the carrier conducted target of opportunity exercises with James K. Polk (SSBN-645), John F. Kennedy aircraft maintaining contact on their adversary for four hours and simulating four attacks. After visiting Nassau (9-13 November), she rounded out the month with more exercises, an ASW evolution (17-20 November) with Bonefish (SSN-582), during which her aircraft assisted destroyers John Rodgers (DD-983) and O’Bannon (DD-987) and frigate W. S. Sims (FF-1059) in generating 51 hours of “contact time” and making 57 “attacks,” and a target of opportunity evolution with Honolulu (SSN-718) that saw aircraft from the carrier maintaining contact for 21 hours and simulating 14 attacks. On 25 November, the day the ship returned to Norfolk, a John F. Kennedy Hawkeye detected a surprise raid by Marine All Weather Attack Squadron (VMA(AW)) 533, which deck-launched interceptors from the ship handled.

Underway again on 9 December 1985 for fleet carquals, John F. Kennedy completed tracking exercises for her CIWS and Sea Sparrow systems, cross-decked people from Patrol Squadron (VP) 8, VP-24, and VP-26, and qualified pilots from VA-42 and VA-174, VMA(AW)-533, and CVW-3. Beginning two days later, the ship conducted ASW exercises with L. Mendel Rivers (SSN-686) and Archerfish (SSN-678) (11-12 December); P-3 Orions from VP-5, VP-24, and VP-56, assisted by the frigate Bowen (FF-1079) generated 51 hours of contact and 30 simulated attacks. A brief visit (13 December) to Mayport preceded the ship’s completing the surface ship torpedo defense system (16 December), after which (19 December), John F. Kennedy returned to Norfolk.