USS John F Kennedy CVA-67 (later CV-67) - 1986-90

Underway on 15 January 1986 for refresher training in the western Atlantic, John F. Kennedy punctuated those evolutions with a call at Mayport (22 January) before resuming that work en route to return to Norfolk. Underway again on 3 March for independent type training in the western Atlantic, the carrier visited Port Everglades (8-12 March) before returning to Norfolk on 17 March, where the actuator on number one catapult was replaced by one installed in the Nimitz (CVN-68)-class ships the following day

During April 1986, John F. Kennedy conducted carquals (14-16 April) before returning to port on the 17th. She conducted a dependent’s day cruise on the 19th, before resuming in-port status for the remainder of the month, during which time a global positioning system (GPS) satellite navigation unit was installed on board.

On 1 May 1986, Captain John A. Moriarty relieved Captain McGowen, and five days later the ship sailed for the Puerto Rican operating area for advanced training. The second day out, she conducted a major (13-hour) underway replenishment from replenishment oiler Savannah (AOR-4) moving 390 lifts of stores from the auxiliary to the carrier. After punctuating that training with a visit to St. Thomas, John F. Kennedy ultimately returned to Norfolk on 6 June, where remained for most of the rest of the month.

John F. Kennedy got underway on 26 June 1986, and after completing the certification period for the AN/SPN-46 automated carrier landing system (ACLS), continued on for New York City, which she reached on 1 July. On 3 and 4 July, over 8,000 people visited the ship as she took part in the International Naval Review in honor of the 100th anniversary of France’s giving the United States the Statue of Liberty to the United States. President Ronald Reagan visited the ship on Independence Day.

Following a Tiger Cruise from 6 to 9 July 1986, John F. Kennedy returned to Norfolk for more local operations and preparation for her next deployment. Hurricane Gloria struck the eastern seaboard of the United States with high winds, thunderstorms and flooding on 17 August, compelling John F. Kennedy to prepare for a possible emergency recall, but the system passed swiftly, and the next day, the carrier, wearing Rear Admiral Grant A. Sharp’s flag (ComCruDesGru 2), sailed for the Mediterranean as scheduled, being the first carrier to deploy with the Mk. 65 Quickstrike mine in her magazines. The seas proved rough during the entire cruise as a result of Gloria, but the carrier, with CVW-3 (VF-14 and VF-32, VA-66 and VA-72, VAQ-140, VAW-126, VMA(AW)-533, VS-22, VQ-2 and HS-7) embarked, accompanied by her battle group, made Rota on schedule on 28 August. After her turnover with America, John F. Kennedy sailed for Benidorm, Spain, for a six-day port visit.

Proceeding thence for four days at sea, John F. Kennedy then anchored at Toulon, for a five-day port visit and planning meetings for Display Determination 86, a large-scale multi-national three-part exercise that included Forrestal and her battle group, and the French carrier Foch (R.99). The evolution ran from 19 September to 13 October 1986, extending from the eastern Mediterranean into the Aegean Sea; upon its completion, John F. Kennedy exercised with Forrestal and then anchored in Haifa on 16 October.

After leaving that Israeli port on 19 October 1986, John F. Kennedy engaged in a “sinkex” in which her aircraft and guided missile cruiser Belknap, utilizing Harpoon, among other weapons, sank the former Italian frigate ex-Cigno. The ship then headed into the Adriatic; sadly, in a four-day span during the Haifa-Trieste transit, CVW-3 lost men and planes; an S-3 (side number 702) with its crew on 21 October, and, during the search for the lost Viking three days later, Captains Russell Schindelheim and Timothy Morrison, USMC, of VMA(AW)-533 died when their A-6E Intruder (side number 552) (BuNo 159897) crashed on 24 October, a Honduran-flag (Marisal Lines) bulk carrier, El Sol, witnessing the mishap and assisting in salvage efforts.

After successive port visits to Trieste (27 October-3 November 1986) and Naples (she arrived on 5 November), John F. Kennedy steamed into the western Mediterranean, for a Poopdeck exercise (11-12 November 1986) before she exercised with Moroccan and USAF units in African Eagle, evolutions that tested the battle group in AAW, overland strikes, CV attack and low-level flying. Concluding African Eagle on 22 November, the ship reached Cannes on that date, and celebrated Thanksgiving there before she sailed to resume operations on 3 December. She then participated in a Dasix exercise with French air forces, involving low level attacks defended by French Mirages. After that period of work, John F. Kennedy began a ten-day port visit in Naples on 10 December; while there, she underwent the largest work package ever conducted on a forward-deployed carrier.

On 14 December 1986, his eminence Corado Cardinal Ursi, the Cardinal Archbishop of Naples, visited John F. Kennedy and celebrated Mass and held a confirmation ceremony in the hangar bay. Five days before Christmas, the carrier sailed for Palma, arriving three days later; there she celebrated Christmas and New Year’s Eve. The ship brought her visit to Palma to a close on 2 January 1987.

During flight operations in the central Med the next day, 3 January 1987, a VF-14 F-14A (Modex AC-106, BuNo 159431), attempting a night landing, “bolted” and drifted right, striking an A-6 at about 1854. The collision sheared off a portion of the F-14’s right wing and severed an external fuel tank from the wing of the A-6. The crew of the F-14A ejected, and although 14 to 20-foot seas and 35-knot winds hampered the efforts, were recovered, with an HS-7 helo, Dusty Dog 610, recovering the Tomcat’s pilot and destroyer John Rodgers rescuing Lieutenant Michael J. Valen, the NFO, as well as Aviation Antisubmarine Warfare Operator 1st Class Timothy Broderick, the rescue swimmer from HS-7. John F. Kennedy’s flight deck crews extinguished the flames that issued from the Intruder’s ruptured fuel tank within minutes of the accident, preventing damage to the flight deck or surrounding planes, and the ship stood down from the fire emergency at 1926.

On 6 January 1987, John F. Kennedy commenced her Cannes port visit. After a pleasant ten-day visit, the ship got underway for National Week, conducted in the western Med. John F. Kennedy’s battle group conducted exercises with Nimitz’s in Augusta Bay. At the conclusion of the exercise, the ship anchored at Malaga on 29 January for a four-day port visit, scheduled to be her last before turnover in Rota. Growing unrest in the Middle East, however, shortened liberty, as the carrier received an indefinite extension with orders to commence a high-speed transit to the eastern Med where John F. Kennedy would join Nimitz off the coast of Lebanon.

John F. Kennedy arrived at her destination on 2 February 1987 and commenced dual carrier battle group operations with Nimitz. After four days of operations, John F. Kennedy anchored at Haifa for a six-day port visit. The ship’s indefinite extension, however, proved short-lived. Returning to dual carrier battle group operations on 12 February, she engaged in them for five days until 17 February, when she received orders ending her indefinite extension. On the morning of 21 February, the ship anchored off Rota and later that night, finished a one-day out-chop, weighed anchor and headed for Norfolk, arriving on 2 March.

Following a month-long leave and upkeep period, John F. Kennedy focused her attention on the upcoming carquals and a restricted availability that would follow. The latter commenced on 1 May 1987 at Norfolk Naval Shipyard, and the carrier remained there until completion of the yard period on 17 August. Two days later, she carried out sea trials off the Virginia capes. After catapult certification trials on 28 August, John F. Kennedy set course for Boston, mooring there on 3 September, where she hosted over 130,000 visitors in two and a half days of visiting, and Rear Admiral John R. McNamara. (ChC) Chief of Chaplains, conducted a John F. Kennedy Memorial Mass. The carrier sailed on 9 September for Portland, Maine, arriving there the next day. On 15 September, she weighed anchor and proceeded home to Norfolk on another two-day Tiger Cruise.

John F. Kennedy then commenced an upkeep period that lasted until November 1987, during which time American Broadcasting Company (ABC) film crews came on board to film the motion picture “Supercarrier.” John F. Kennedy departed for the Virginia capes and conducted an ISE on 16 November, after which she conducted refresher training and a week of underway filming, then returned to Norfolk on 24 November, just in time for Thanksgiving.

On 4 December 1987, John F. Kennedy returned to sea for refresher training. She returned to Norfolk on 17 December, remaining there to close out 1987. While there, she underwent a technical availability that concluded on 11 January 1988. After a brief carrier qualification period (21-25 January), she held a change of command ceremony on 29 January, when Captain Hugh D. Wisely relieved Captain Moriarty.

John F. Kennedy spent February through March of 1988 preparing for the upcoming Med deployment. During carquals off the Virginia capes on 25 March, Gypsy 203, a VF-32 F-14 (BuNo 159441) crashed at 2135 after failing to gain proper airspeed off the catapult. Dusty Dog 614, flown by Lieutenant Andrew T. Macyko and Lieutenant (j.g.) Rodger T. “Rusty” Shepko, with Aviation Antisubmarine Warfare Operators 2d Class Roger Anderson as first crewman and Fred Setzer as rescue swimmer, located Lieutenant Nicholas A. Filippone, and petty officer Setzer went into the water to assist him; the HS-7 helo hoisted the NFO on board at 2154. The Sea King then illuminated Lieutenant Michael J. Nichols’s position as it headed for the ship (landing at 2156), enabling the carrier’s starboard motor whaleboat to pick up the pilot at 2158 and bring him on board at 2207. Both Nichols and Filippone received treatment for hypothermia, and were listed as “conscious, alert, and stable” by the end of the first watch.

From 19 April through 19 May 1988, John F. Kennedy conducted advance phase training off the Virginia capes. During those evolutions, on 24 April, the submarine Bonefish, while “pursuing” the carrier and her battle group in exercises about 160 miles east of Cape Canaveral, Florida, suffered a major fire and a series of explosions that ripped through the boat, killing three Sailors and forcing the men to abandon ship. The guided missile frigate Carr (FFG-52), sensing danger in a routine transmission from the sub, sped to the scene. John F. Kennedy learned of the catastrophe via radio when 42 nautical miles away at 1718, and immediately began assembling medical teams on the flight deck to be transported to Carr. John F. Kennedy launched the first SH-3H at 1740, two at 1744, and a fourth at 1827, and began recovering the first helicopter transporting Bonefish Sailors at 1844; she launched the fifth helo ten minutes later. She continued flight operations with her helicopters into the second dog watch, and began bringing on board the first casualties at 2205. She began heading for Mayport early in the mid watch on 25 April, flying the survivors ashore to NAS Mayport by helo, retaining only Lieutenant (j.g.) William B. Swift, one of the submarine’s injured officers, for further treatment.

Carr’s providential preparation for rescue work had enabled her to be ready to act as on-scene commander as soon as she arrived. Over the ensuing hours, as smoke issued from the hatches of the stricken Bonefish, Carr coordinated the work of the quintet of Sea Kings from HS-7 that “blanketed the…area all working as a cohesive team” to remove people from the burning submarine, in addition to a fixed-wing jet and her own motor whaleboat in the rescue of the 89 surviving crewmen, HS-7 helicopters employing rescue swimmers to attach rescue slings and calm anxious survivors. Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron (Light) (HSL) 44, Detachment 4, in Carr, utilizing their SH-60B Seahawk, evacuated ten men and pulled two from the water.

John F. Kennedy assisted with the rescue and embarked many Bonefish crewmen; 23 Sailors suffering from respiratory injuries received care in the ship’s inpatient ward. The carrier returned to the scene the following day to conduct further SAR operations as Bonefish was ultimately taken in tow and returned to her homeport of Charleston, South Carolina. “This complex evolution,” an HS-7 chronicler declared later, “was a textbook rescue because of the professionalism and ‘can do’ attitude exhibited by the team” of John F. Kennedy, Carr, and HS-7.

Following the Bonefish incident, John F. Kennedy enjoyed a three-day port visit to Port Everglades, Florida. Following battle group training off the Virginia capes and the Bahamas starting 8 June 1988, the carrier returned home on 25 June.

On 2 August 1988, John F. Kennedy departed Norfolk, bound for the Med; she recovered CVW-3 (VF-14 and VF-32, VA-75, VS-22, VMA-533, VAQ-130, VAW-126, and HS-7) between 2 and 4 August. She transited the Strait of Gibraltar as she began the mid watch on 14 August, and ultimately, on 16 August, relieved Dwight D. Eisenhower just west of Corsica.

After transiting the Strait of Messina, and then participating in National Week ’88, the carrier visited Naples (21-25 August 1988), where John F. Kennedy’s crewmen pooled their resources to repair a home for unwed mothers. On 25 August, the carrier returned to sea for four days, and then paused with a port visit to Alexandria.

From 4-8 September 1988, John F. Kennedy conducted Sea Wind off the coast of Alexandria, as efforts to further cooperation between the Egyptian and U.S. governments saw 6th Fleet elements exercising with the Egyptian Navy and Air Force. During the evolution, both forces conducted simulated low-level strikes into Wadi Natrun, ASW training with Egyptian Romeo-class submarines, dissimilar air combat training with Egyptian F-16, Mirages, and Fishbeds, electronic warfare training with Egyptian EW/GCI sites, and cross-training Egyptian/U.S. E-2C aircrew.

Following Sea Wind, the carrier visited Toulon, beginning on 13 September 1988, then sailed to participate in Display Determination ’88 (22 September-10 October), maneuvers that involved war-at-sea exercises, overland low-level simulated strikes, and air-to-air engagements. Following Display Determination ’88, John F. Kennedy visited Antalya, Turkey (10-17 October) and Tunis, Tunisia (21-24 October). From 24-26 October, she participated in exercises off the Tunisian coast, operating with naval and air elements of the Tunisian armed forces conducting war-at-sea strikes, simulated overland strikes at the Ras Engelah range, and defensive air combat training with Tunisian Northrop F-5’s. That training having been accomplished, John F. Kennedy visited Palma (28 October-4 November).

John F. Kennedy re-visited Naples (14-18 November 1988) before she returned to a slate of active operations that included exercises, on 22 November, with the French carrier Foch. The joint French and U.S. Navy exercise consisted of long-range targeting scenarios, followed by a war-at-sea strike. The two carriers’ air wings also conducted dissimilar air combat training concurrent with the war-at-sea strike. The next day, John F. Kennedy anchored at Marseille, celebrating Thanksgiving there; families back home, meanwhile, viewed the premier of a cable video production “Young Peacekeepers,” a documentary that focused on the young men working on John F. Kennedy’s flight deck.

John F. Kennedy departed Marseille on 27 November 1988, and from 1 to 10 December, participated in African Eagle ’88, a combined USN, USAF and Moroccan exercise off the north Moroccan coast that featured simulated low-level strikes against several inland targets, war-at-sea strikes against Moroccan patrol boats, and dissimilar air combat training against USAF F-16 and Moroccan Mirages. Following African Eagle ’88, John F. Kennedy anchored at Palma on 15 December. On 20 December, she headed for Cannes, arriving on the morning of 23 December; she celebrated Christmas and New Year’s Eve there.

On New Year’s Day 1989, John F. Kennedy sailed from Cannes, bound for Haifa. Three days later, on 4 January 1989, during the second of three cycles of scheduled operations that day, her airborne Hawkeyes and the ship’s F-14 CAP detected, at about 78 nautical miles, two Libyan MiG-23B Floggers from Al Bumbah. Other Libyan aircraft had been observed and monitored earlier, but had not behaved aggressively, inevitably returning to their base. These two MiGs continued to close at high speed, however, accelerating first from 430 to 450, and then from 450 to 500, knots. The Tomcats, from VF-32, embarked on a series of pre-planned, non-provocative maneuvers, changing course and altitude in order to establish offset. The Floggers, however, countered the F-14s’ maneuvers with their own, re-establishing “head-on forward quarter weapons release” situations. As the Libyan planes closed at high speed within range to release their own weapons, the Tomcats, one flown by Lieutenant Herman C. Cook, Jr., with Lieutenant Commander Steven P. Collins as NFO, the other by Lieutenant Commander Joseph B. Connelly and Commander Leo F. Enwright, Jr., engaged the MiGs, firing in self-defense, and splashed the two Floggers with AIM-7 and AIM-9 missiles in the central Med north of Tobruk in international waters. As a CVW-3 chronicler laconically summed it up: “USN – 2, Libya – 0.”

John F. Kennedy reached Haifa on 6 January 1989 to what her chronicler called a “heroes welcome,” news coverage of the MiG kills having proved extremely heavy, necessitating additional 6th Fleet public affairs people to handle the sharply increased media interest. The carrier sailed on 9 January to conduct Exercise Juniper Hawk with Israeli forces for two days, then headed back to the central Med.

John F. Kennedy transited the Strait of Messina o 14 January 1989 to facilitate a turnover with Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-74) in the Tyrrhenian Sea, as the latter began her maiden Med deployment. Following that evolution, John F. Kennedy outchopped from the Middle Sea on 22 January, and reached Norfolk on 1 February, where Secretary of the Navy William L. Ball III, flew out to the carrier to congratulate the crew and to pass along a note of thanks for a “job well done” from the newly elected President (and former naval aviator) George H.W. Bush.

During the month of February 1989, John F. Kennedy enjoyed a 30-day post-deployment stand-down period with their families. The beginning of March proved similarly uneventful as harsh weather and over 20 inches of snow prevented the ship from being moved to Norfolk Naval Shipyard for a three-month industrial period. On 11 March, the weather finally broke and the carrier transited to the shipyard in balmy, spring-like conditions; subsequently, on 27 May 1989, Captain Herbert A. Browne, Jr. relieved Captain Wisely as commanding officer in a ceremony held in Trophy Park, on the grounds of the shipyard, guest access being severely restricted due to the security regulations in the industrial area. John F. Kennedy completed her yard work early and returned to Norfolk Naval Station on 14 June.

John F. Kennedy spent the remainder of June 1989 testing shipboard systems in port and at sea. Following a festive Fourth of July celebration in her homeport, she then sailed on 7 July 1989 to serve as a ready deck for Training Command carquals in the Gulf of Mexico. On 11 July, Rear Admiral Jeremy D. Taylor, Chief of Naval Training, flew out to John F. Kennedy to observe training carquals. Having completed her training, the carrier returned to Norfolk on 22 July after successfully completing over 1,200 traps.

On 23 July 1989, John F. Kennedy hosted Vice Admiral Jerome L. Johnson, Commander, 2nd Fleet, as he, in turn, hosted Vice Admiral Igor Vladimirovich Kasatonov, First Deputy Commander in Chief, Northern Fleet, and an entourage that included the commanding officers of Soviet warships Marshal Ustinov, Otlichny, and Gasanov. They dined in John F. Kennedy’s flag mess, and then enjoyed a sunset parade in the hangar bay.

John F. Kennedy left Norfolk in her wake on 10 August 1989 to return to the Gulf of Mexico for more training and carquals, upon completion of which, on 21 August, she moored along the Inland Waterway at Port Everglades. The next day, during general visiting, several visitors received minor injuries when they were startled by the lifting of a pressure relief valve on the ship’s number two elevator hydraulic system. Although several visitors fell to the non-skid surface of the elevator in the panic, only two people required transportation to local hospitals for treatment. John F. Kennedy completed her otherwise uneventful visit on 24 July.

More training and carquals followed, after which John F. Kennedy did not return to Norfolk until 1 September 1989. At month’s end, on 30 September, she hosted Coral Sea (CV-43), on the homecoming that accompanied her last deployment (Coral Sea would be decommissioned on 26 April 1990 and would be sold for scrap three years later).

John F. Kennedy stood out on 3 October 1989 to conduct exercises, among which were VS-22 ASW operations against the attack submarine Key West (SSN-722) on 4 and 5 October. On 6 and 7 October, however, while en route from Norfolk to Portland, CVW-3 lost two aircraft in separate mishaps. In the first, during the first watch on 6 October, during night flight operations, a VF-32 Tomcat (Modex AC 200) impacted the port jet blast deflector. Lieutenants Russell C. Walker, the pilot, and Robert S. Schrader, the NFO, both ejected safely from the F-14 and were recovered unhurt by an HS-7 helo. The second mishap ended less happily: on 7 October, an S-3B Viking (Modex AC 710) (BuNo 159759) from VS-22 crashed soon after launching from number one catapult late in the afternoon watch, with all four crewmen ejecting. Rescuers picked up Aviation Antisubmarine Warfare Operator 2d Class Tracy S. Mann in stable condition, but Lieutenant Douglas G. Gray and Lieutenant (j.g.) David S. Jennings, USNR, perished; their bodies were recovered. Searchers never found Lieutenant John T. Hartman, USNR.

John F. Kennedy then visited Portland (13-16 October 1989) after which she carried out a Tiger Cruise that concluded at Norfolk on 18 October, from which she operated locally for the remainder of the year, interspersing operational periods with in-port upkeep. On 11 December, the carrier lay moored at Naval Station Norfolk where she made preparations for a possible role in President Bush’s recently declared “War against Drugs.” Throughout the holiday season, John F. Kennedy loaded supplies and prepared for deployment to the Caribbean, expecting to engage in counter-narcotic operations off Colombia immediately following the turn of the New Year.

John F. Kennedy began operations for the new year on 4 January 1990, but she had not been underway for more than a week when her deployment plans changed, Caribbean anti-drug detection and monitoring operations being postponed indefinitely because of what HS-7’s historian termed “international and regional sensitivities.” She conducted advanced phase exercises under CarGru 4. On 16 January, the carrier moored at Mayport, and there hosted the change of command ceremony in which Rear Admiral Richard C. Macke relieved Rear Admiral William A. Dougherty, Jr., as ComCarGru 4 and Commander, Carrier Striking Force.

John F. Kennedy left Mayport on 23 January 1990 for more advance phase training and on 31 January joined FleetEx (Fleet Exercise) 1-90. She operated in those evolutions that spanned the waters from the middle of the Caribbean to those north of Puerto Rico, and then joined forces with Dwight D. Eisenhower to conduct ‘round-the-clock flight operations against a simulated “fjord.”

The exercise concluded on 5 February 1990 and John F. Kennedy headed back to Norfolk. Off Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, however, she encountered heavy seas that removed the dome of CIWS Mt. 22 and battered some of the bow catwalks enough to require their replacement upon arrival at her homeport.

Reaching Norfolk on 9 February 1990, John F. Kennedy then underwent repairs and tests into the spring. During that time, she received the installation of the TFCC Information Management System (TIMS) that brought a greater command and control capability to the ship. In events of a ceremonial nature, the ship hosted Enterprise (CVN-65) as the world’s first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier shifted her homeport to Norfolk on 16 March.

On 27 April 1990, John F. Kennedy headed to sea for exercises off the Virginia capes and Jacksonville. On 6 May, after arriving in Puerto Rican operating areas, John F. Kennedy began a war-at-sea exercise with the French carrier Foch. The exercise concluded on 8 May and the warship steamed for Norfolk, arriving 11 May. Six days later, on 17 May 1990, the ship hosted the change of command ceremony at which Admiral Leon A. Edney relieved Admiral Frank B. Kelso as Commander in Chief, U.S. Atlantic Command and Supreme Allied Commander, Atlantic. John F. Kennedy remained moored for the remainder of May.

John F. Kennedy headed for the Virginia capes on 1 June 1990 for more exercises, then proceeded to the Puerto Rico operating area, where she acted as Orange (adversary) forces for the Saratoga battle group. At the conclusion of the exercise on 18 June, she set a course for New York City, arriving there on 21 June. Nearly 50,000 visitors toured the ship during Fleet Week ’90, after which time she put to sea on the 26th to conduct a week of operations off the North Atlantic coast, during which time she embarked Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) producer Alan Goldberg and Mitch Weitzner and a crew who filmed a “48 Hours” feature, that would air on 26 July 1990. The piece documented the ship’s operations, told the story of life on board a “super carrier,” and reviewed pro and con arguments for large-deck carriers. The CBS crew left on 29 June.

John F. Kennedy reached Boston on 2 July 1990. While Massachusetts Senator John Kerry and Mayor Raymond Flynn welcomed her, a small group of Greenpeace protesters in Zodiac boats proved less hospitable, attempting to “escort” her into port. Navy supporters, however, interposed their craft between the environmentalists and the carrier, and she moored at the Subaru Piers about one mile from the center of the city. Over 130,000 visitors from the region visited the carrier as Boston hosted the Coast Guard’s Bicentennial and the historic frigate Constitution’s turn-around ceremony of the Fourth of July. On 9 July, John F. Kennedy embarked about 600 Tigers for the return trip to Norfolk, arriving two days later.

Events in the Persian Gulf, however, dashed John F. Kennedy’s hopes for uneventful, routine, operations that were to be capped by an overhaul scheduled to begin in January of the following year, when, on 2 August 1990, 0200 local time, 100,000 Iraqi troops massed on the border of Kuwait. Saddam Hussein, Iraq’s leader, seething over Kuwait’s insistence on compensation for Iraq’s unpaid war debt from the Iran-Iraq war (1980-1988), it’s overproduction of oil, and claiming evidence that the Kuwaitis were slant drilling into the Rumaila oil field, ordered them to invade. Iraq deposed Sheik Jabir Ahmed Sabah and established a puppet government.

That same day, President Bush joined world leaders in condemning the invasion. A massive diplomatic effort to force Iraq to withdraw her troops ensued, as U.N. Security Council Resolution 660 called for the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of Iraqi forces. The next day, the United States and Soviet Union jointly denounced Iraq’s invasion of her neighbor. On 6 August, Iraq cut off its oil shipments through one of Turkey’s pipelines, shifting the focus of the crisis to Saudi Arabia, the major remaining outlet for Iraq’s petroleum production. That same day, U.S. Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney met with Saudi King Fahd to discuss the deployment of U.S. troops to Saudi Arabia. Also on 6 August, the Pentagon gave President Bush a proposal for a multinational naval force, which included Soviet ships, to enforce the U.N. trade embargo against Iraq made earlier that day if diplomatic efforts failed. Dwight D. Eisenhower proceeded from the eastern Mediterranean through the Suez Canal into the Red Sea; Independence began maneuvers in the North Arabian Sea. The following day, 7 August, President Bush ordered U.S. military aircraft and troops to Saudi Arabia after King Fahd approved the deployment of a multinational force to defend his country against a possible Iraqi invasion from the Saudi border with Kuwait. Saratoga and the battleship Wisconsin (BB-64) sailed that day for a previously scheduled deployment to the eastern Med. Operation Desert Shield had begun.

On 10 August 1990, John F. Kennedy received “short-fused” orders to “load up and get underway.” She commenced her “loadout” for her Desert Shield deployment and began the loadout of CVW-3 the next day; on 13 August, she embarked Rear Admiral Riley D. Mixson, ComCarGru 2. Two days later, she recovered the aircraft of CVW-3 (VF-14 and VF-32, VA-46, VA-72, and VA-75, VS-22, VAQ-130, VAW-126 and HS-7) and got underway, standing out for local operations off the Virginia capes. After conducting war-at-sea defensive evolutions with the 2nd Fleet, being joined by her battle group (guided missile cruisers Thomas S. Gates (CG-51), San Jacinto (CG-56), and Mississippi (CGN-40), destroyer Moosbrugger (DD-980), frigate Thomas C. Hart (FF-1092), guided missile frigate Samuel B. Roberts (FFG-58), fast combat support ship Seattle, and combat stores ship Sylvania (AFS-2)) the ship hosted a post-exercise conference on 22 August before beginning the voyage to the Med.

John F. Kennedy, accompanied by Mississippi, sprinted ahead of the rest of the battle group and passed into the Mediterranean on 30 August 1990 where Commander, 6th Fleet, briefers met the ship to provide the battle group deployment schedule, although, as the carrier’s chronicler later noted wryly, the schedule changed before the briefers even left the ship! Consequently, John F. Kennedy anchored in Augusta Bay on 1 September, for turnover with Dwight D. Eisenhower. Rear Admiral Mixson, ComCarGru 2, assumed command of TF 60, and John F. Kennedy stood into the central Med to join Dwight D. Eisenhower for National Week ’90 exercises.

On 4 September 1990, John F. Kennedy took over as the Mediterranean carrier. Six days later, she anchored off Alexandria; the visit lasted for only three days, however, due to Iraqi overtures. The warship soon sailed once more; she transited the Suez Canal on 14 September and stood into the Red Sea. The next day, she joined Saratoga. The two carriers operated together for the next two days before John F. Kennedy assumed the watch in the Red Sea while Saratoga moved to the Med.

Two weeks passed without any major happenings on the carrier. Then, on 26 September 1990, an SH-3H Sea King from HS-7 (side number 610) splashed several miles from the ship after it lost power in one engine. The crew and passengers were rescued without injury by helo and motor whaleboat crews.

Throughout the rest of September and October, the carrier continued to exercise at general quarters. Aircraft launched nearly every day and conducted training sorties over Saudi Arabia. On 27 October, John F. Kennedy held a turnover with Saratoga and headed back to the Suez Canal. On 30 October, the carrier conducted a night transit to Gaeta, anchoring on 1 November.

While anchored in Gaeta, John F. Kennedy hosted the 6th Fleet change of command ceremony with Secretary of the Navy Lawrence Garrett III, as the guest speaker. Immediately following the ceremony and reception, the carrier weighed anchor and steamed south. Due to the situation in the Persian Gulf, the cancellation of her scheduled call at Naples, and the requirement for her to be within 72 hours steaming time of the Red Sea, John F. Kennedy visited Gezelbache, Turkey (7-14 November 1990), then got underway for Antalya, Turkey. En route, a National Broadcasting Company (NBC) news team recorded interviews for “The Today Show.” The ship arrived at Antalya on 19 November, just in time for Thanksgiving.

John F. Kennedy sailed from Antalya on 28 November 1990; the following day, 29 November, the United Nations Security Council passed Resolution 678 authorizing “member states cooperating with the Government of Kuwait to use all necessary means to uphold and implement the Security Council Resolution 660,” calling for an immediate and unconditional withdrawal from Kuwait, “and all subsequent relevant Resolutions and to restore international peace and security in the area.” The deadline for Iraq would be 15 January 1991.

On 30 November 1990, John F. Kennedy sailed for the Suez Canal. On 2 December, just after midnight, the warship made her third transit of the waterway during that deployment. She entered the Red Sea on 3 December and began turnover duties with Saratoga. The two carriers operated together and conducted simulated strikes on targets in western Saudi Arabia. Royal Air Force Vice Marshall William J. Wratten and Wing Commander Mick Richardson visited John F. Kennedy on 4 December from Tobuk, Saudi Arabia, to discuss the conduct of an air war with Iraq.

Captain John P. Gay relieved Captain Browne as commanding officer of John F. Kennedy on 7 December 1990. Rear Admiral Mixson, Commander, TG 150.5, on hand for the ceremony, presented Captain Browne with the Legion of Merit. This change of command ceremony proved unique in John F. Kennedy’s history as it was held while the ship was underway in the Red Sea. This was the first change of command ceremony conducted in the khaki working uniform with ball caps.

Media representatives from the Joint Information Bureau in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, flew out to John F. Kennedy on 13 December 1990 to discuss morale and holiday plans with the Sailors. Representatives from BBC-TV, the Associated Press, United Press International, WBZ (Boston) Radio, Independent Radio News, U.S. News and World Report, and Reuters stayed on board for two days.

After conducting several small-scale exercises, John F. Kennedy entered port in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia on the morning of 29 December 1990, thus becoming the first U.S. aircraft carrier to visit Saudi Arabia. The Saudis hospitably set up a bank of 100 telephones in a warehouse across the pier from where the carrier lay moored, from which the men could call their loved ones.