USS John F Kennedy CVA-67 (later CV-67) - 1991-2000

On New Year’s Day 1991, Vice President Dan Quayle paid a four-hour visit to John F. Kennedy, to demonstrate national solidarity with the forces deployed in Desert Shield and spoke to the sailors in the hangar bay of the ship. The next day, the carrier got underway from Jeddah to return to the Red Sea operating area and conducted a passing-at-sea exercise named Camelot with the Royal Saudi Arabian Navy and Air Force. Together, they trained in surface, sub-surface, and air warfare, in addition to underway replenishment, live firing, and shipping interdiction.

John F. Kennedy braced herself for the prospects of war. The training and practice runs became more intense when on 13 January 1991, word reached the ship that hostilities with Iraq were perceived as inevitable with pre-emptive strikes from Iraq probable. In response to this alert, John F. Kennedy increased her level of preparedness and set material condition zebra main deck and below.

Two days later, on 15 January 1991, the dialogue between the future combatants took an ominous tone. White House Spokesman Marlin Fitzwater warned that military action “could occur at any point after midnight 15 January Eastern Standard Time… Any moment after the 15th is borrowed time.” French Prime Minister Michel Rochard lamented “there is a fatal moment when one must act. This moment has, alas, arrived.” Iraqi Information Minister Latif Nassif Jassim, responding to pleas to withdraw Iraqi forces from Kuwait, dashed hopes for a peaceful resolution to the crisis. “Leave Kuwait?” he asked. “Kuwait is a province of Iraq and beyond discussion.” That same day, on board John F. Kennedy, the crew continued working up for strikes against Iraqi forces in the Red Sea, waiting for Iraq’s answer to the 15 January 1991 deadline.

Saddam Hussein’s forces did not budge. On 16 January 1991, 1650 Eastern Standard Time, a squadron of F-15E fighter-bombers took off from their base in central Saudi Arabia, and began hitting their targets in Kuwait and Iraq before 1900 Eastern Standard Time. At 2100 Eastern Standard Time, President Bush addressed the nation. Desert Shield was over and the liberation of Kuwait, Operation Desert Storm, had begun.

Before her first strikes were launched, Rear Admiral Mixson, Commander Red Sea Force, announced over John F. Kennedy’s 1MC the launch schedule that would commence the following day in less than ten hours. He congratulated the ship for being able to carry out the President’s orders and participate in air strikes on Iraq, strikes that John F. Kennedy had trained for. “You have trained hard. You are ready,” Rear Admiral Mixson concluded, “Now let’s execute. For the aircrews, we are all very, very proud of you. I wish you good hunting and God speed.”

On 17 January 1991, 0120 local time, (1720 Eastern Standard Time, 16 January) John F. Kennedy launched her first strikes on Iraq, a half-hour after the initial wave by USAF planes. CVW-3 launched two major strikes of 80 sorties. The mood of the ship had begun with jubilation, then became somber and then anxious as the ship waited for all of her aircraft to return safely. All aircraft were recovered unharmed, the returning aircrew reporting heavy, but ineffective, antiaircraft fire over Baghdad. The strikes had proved successful, prompting one pilot to describe the action thus: “Imagine the Disney World light show, then magnify it 100 times… that’s what it looked like from the sky last night… it was incredible!”

Starting on that first day of strikes, John F. Kennedy settled into a routine that lasted through the end of the conflict, engaging in a steady but fast-paced regimen of preparing aircraft, launching them, recovering them, repeating the process. All the while, they kept a mixture of hope and faith in the success of their aircrews, and a suspended disbelief in the lack of casualties. John F. Kennedy’s Intruders launched the first Standoff Land Attack Missiles in combat on 19 January.

The three carrier battle group operations in the Red Sea, commanded by Rear Admiral Mixson, also settled into a routine. John F. Kennedy, Saratoga, and America formed the nucleus of the three groups. Standard procedure called for six-day rotations. Two carriers would launch strike aircraft while the third would operate in an area known as “Gasoline Alley” for two days to replenish munitions, stores, and fuel. Each carrier would be “on the line” for four days conducting either a night or daytime flight operations schedule, then “off duty” for two days. While in “Gasoline Alley,” the carrier under replenishment would also be responsible for AAW, AEW and CTTG alerts.

Detached from the Red Sea Battle Force on 7 February 1991, America proceeded to the Persian Gulf. John F. Kennedy and Saratoga changed their procedure to six days on line and two days off duty. In addition to launching strikes, the on-cycle carrier flew combat air patrol aircraft and stood CTTG, while the off-cycle carrier stood AAW, AEW, CTTG, and ASUW alerts when both carriers were on the line. When one of the two carriers was under replenishment, the other carrier would assume responsibility for all alerts. The carrier’s duty cycles of morning (A.M.) or evening (P.M.) were specified as 0000-1500 or 1200-0300 to accommodate returning strike recovery times. Each carrier launched two large strikes with times on target around nine hours apart to allow for deck respot and weapons loading. CAP cycle times were A.M. or P.M. for 12-hour periods.

The P.M. carrier was also responsible for S-3 pickup of the next day’s air tasking order from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. They also had to relay the message to the A.M. carrier. The air tasking order was retrieved in hard copy form because of the incompatibility between U.S. Air Force and Navy communications systems. The Air Force housed the theater air warfare commander, so the Navy had to play by their rules. While the P.M. carrier’s S-3 picked up the daily orders, the A.M. carrier’s S-3 delivered Scud missile TARPS to Riyadh by 0700 local time.

The war had not reached as quick a conclusion as John F. Kennedy’s crew would have liked. The carrier was scheduled to return-from-deployment on 15 February 1991 That same day, Saddam Hussein issued a statement concerning Iraq’s stated intention to withdraw from Kuwait, prompting cheer and jubilation from the Sailors. Their euphoria quickly dissipated once the conditions of Iraq’s withdrawal became evident. John F. Kennedy’s return-from-deployment date was cancelled. The general tone of the crew, one observer wrote later, was one of a desire to “hurry up and get it over with.” The carrier continued to launch air strikes right throughout the week that led up to the 24 February launch of the ground assault on Kuwait. When the crew learned that Desert Storm combat operations had ceased on 28 February, they were quite subdued. John F. Kennedy had launched a total of 114 strikes during the 42 days of conflict. 2895 combat sorties were flown for a total of 11,263.4 flight hours. The men were too tired to celebrate. They simply wanted to go home.

Many of John F. Kennedy’s men felt understandably dismayed when they learned that they would be making one more stop before heading home. Before embarking on her passage, the carrier set material condition Yoke on the main decks and below, instead of Zebra, for the first time since 13 January 1991. On 4 March, John F. Kennedy became the first-ever American warship to conduct a port visit at Hurghada, Egypt, but, as her chronicler wrote later: “The crew’s impatience to get home,” one observer in the ship later wrote, “was not helped by the necessity for canceling boating at Hurghada because of high winds and seas” from 5 to 7 March.

John F. Kennedy weighed anchor off Hurghada at midnight on 10 March 1991 and dropped anchor late in the afternoon of the following day at Port Suez to prepare for the Canal transit. The carrier got underway at 0545, 12 March, for her long journey home.

At 1430 on 28 March 1991, John F. Kennedy moored at Pier 12, greeted by a throng bearing balloons, banners, and flags. 30,000 family members and supporters showed up to welcome Big John home in a celebration that rivaled those at the end of World War II in magnitude and enthusiasm. John F. Kennedy’s principal return banner bared the same initials of her proud namesake: “Justice For Kuwait.” Her battle group and Saratoga’s were the first such units to return to the continental United States.

John F. Kennedy immediately commenced a post-deployment stand down. Approximately half of the crew went on leave for one of the two-week leave periods through the end of April 1991. Simultaneously, she entered a selected restricted availability period and commenced maintenance, repairs, and upgrade at Norfolk Naval Station until 28 May, when she shifted to the Norfolk Naval Shipyard for more extensive work.

Now that John F. Kennedy was in port, the SRA of the summer of 1991 planned to accomplish several major upgrades and overhauls: reconfiguration of the aircraft maintenance spaces to handle the F/A-18 Hornet, installation of the NTCS-A command and control system, replacement of the non-skid surface on the flight deck and hangar bay deck, and extensive repairs to boilers, piping, electrical generators, and air conditioning equipment. There was also extensive replacement of galley and laundry equipment and installation of the Uniform Micro-Computer Information Data System program, which allowed much quicker disbursing for the benefit of the crew.

John F. Kennedy remained at Norfolk Naval Shipyard until 1 October 1991, after suffering two false starts on 25 and 28 September. On 1 October, she steamed for the Virginia capes where she conducted sea trials and recertification for flight deck operations. She commenced carquals on 3 October. The carrier then steamed south and late afternoon on 10 October, moored at Port Everglades, Fort Lauderdale, Florida. She was in town for a good will visit to celebrate the Navy’s birthday in connection with Broward Navy Days. The local citizens and merchants of Fort Lauderdale extended great hospitality to John F. Kennedy, and they reciprocated by opening up for special tours and general visiting on 11-14 October. Aircraft from CVW-3 were on the flight deck for static display throughout the port visit.

John F. Kennedy conducted another Tiger Cruise back to Norfolk on 15 October 1991. The carrier and 300 dependents were scheduled to be pier side on 17 October, but winds of 50 knots made it prudent for the ship to delay proceeding into port until the next day, when she moored alongside Pier 12. The remainder of October and most of November saw more guests, and repairs and upkeep, particularly concentrated on the flight deck and flight deck equipment and engineering equipment and systems in preparation for the December underway period.

John F. Kennedy planned to get underway for carquals on 2 December 1991, but heavy fog and rain prohibited the ship from departing Norfolk until the morning of the following day. That set of qualifications saw the first carrier landings and takeoffs by the Navy’s new trainer, the T-45 Goshawk. Also, John F. Kennedy took on the new role of conducting training command carquals for pilots flying the North American T-2 Buckeye and Douglas TA-4 Skyhawk on 8 December. The ship returned to Norfolk on 17 December and began a holiday leave period that concluded 6 January 1992.

John F. Kennedy would not be underway again until 15 January 1992, when she stood out to proceed to the waters off Jacksonville and Key West for carquals for the replacement and fleet squadrons and begin the training cycle leading to deployment. That same day, the ship embarked a four-man video production crew from the Discovery Channel who sought to describe military use of satellites for a special feature program “Space Age.” The footage shot on board John F. Kennedy formed a portion of the hour-long military focus segment of the program.

John F. Kennedy returned to Norfolk on 31 January 1992, and did not get underway again until 26 February, when she sailed, with Captain Timothy R. Beard, prospective commanding officer, on board for orientation, to conduct fleet carquals off the Virginia capes and northern Jacksonville operating areas. Following those evolutions, Captain Beard relieved Captain Gay on 6 March.

Refresher training preparations began on 9 March 1992 and ran until 3 April, evolutions that would determine how ready the ship and air wing were and would certify them both as ready to begin unrestricted training in the pre-deployment work-up training cycle. Those preparations included multiple self-inspections of the material readiness of all ship’s spaces and damage control equipment, as well as frequent early morning general quarters drills. The carrier got underway on 1 April and commenced the exercises on 4 April with a series of drills at general quarters and with evaluated combat systems, seamanship, and flight deck exercises.

John F. Kennedy’s refresher training proved far from “smooth sailing.” Initially, the ship’s success at setting material conditions yoke and zebra was not good, particularly because of the amount of time and effort spent correcting discrepancies from the previous drills. In response to these shortcomings, 9 April 1992 became a stand-down day for correcting discrepancies and refocusing damage control efforts. The ship achieved satisfactory results on setting material conditions the next day, however, the scores received for yoke and zebra were 75.1% and 65.04% respectively. 62.5% was considered a passing score. Thereafter, drills were completely productive and culminated with a major conflagration exercise beginning at 0400 on 14 April.

On 11 April 1992, at the request of the Naval War College, a news team from WJAR-TV, an NBC-affiliated station in Providence, Rhode Island, embarked to produce a TV story to better acquaint the citizens of Rhode Island with the mission and operation of the fleet. On 14 April, another reporter from WTKR-TV, the CBS affiliate in Norfolk, arrived to film a segment called “Captains and Their Ships” while the carrier was in the Tidewater area.

The remainder of April 1992 and the early part of May focused on preparations for an operational exercise and Fleet Week ‘92 in New York City. On 11 May, John F. Kennedy conducted limited operations for CVW-3, then continued carquals in the Virginia capes operating areas, before she moved north to facilitate a 19 May embarkation, for an overnight visit of 50 New Yorkers, preceding the ship’s arrival. Also visiting the ship were the late President Kennedy’s two children: Mrs. Carolyn [Kennedy] Schlossberg, John F. Kennedy’s sponsor, and John F. Kennedy, Jr., accompanied by eleven senior police officials from the city of New York. The carrier moored at the Manhattan Passenger Ship Terminal on the Hudson River on 20 May.

John F. Kennedy’s arrival in New York kicked off Fleet Week ’92. Rear Admiral James A. Lair acted as senior officer present afloat (SOPA) for the various ships in New York for the events, which included the submarine tender L.Y. Spear (AS-36), guided missile frigate Clifton Sprague (FFG-16), frigate Donald B. Beary (FF-1085), amphibious assault ship Guadalcanal (LPH-7), Coast Guard cutter Tahoma (WMEC-908) and the French destroyer Aconit.

Fleet Week ‘92 drew to a close on 26 May 1992, and by sunset John F. Kennedy had cleared the harbor and coastal areas. The next day, she launched CVW-3’s squadrons to return to their home bases while a combat systems readiness review team embarked to conduct tests, inspections, and review readiness of the ship’s combat systems. She moored at Norfolk on 29 May.

The combat systems readiness review team finished its work on board John F. Kennedy on 5 June 1992, and an operational propulsion plant examination conducted on 15 June certified the ship for two years’ steaming. She then spent the remainder of that month and the early part of the next preparing for composite training unit exercises (CompTUEx). On 10 July, Rear Admiral Frederick L. Lewis, ComCarGru 4, broke his flag in John F. Kennedy as the training carrier group commander. The ship got underway on 13 July for carquals and CompTUEx in Puerto Rican waters.

On 22 July 1992, John F. Kennedy hosted retired Major General Mary E. Clarke, USA, retired Brigadier General Samuel E. Cockerham, USA, writer and former DACOWITS member Elaine Donnelly, and reserve USAF Master Sergeant Sarah White, of the Presidential Commission on Assignment of Women in the Armed Forces as they visited the ship for an orientation into life at sea and carrier aviation. The four commission members observed the crew’s working and living conditions and interviewed various members of the ship’s company and aircrews, gathering their thoughts, opinions, perceptions and expectations on serving with women. The Commission’s report of their visit would be enclosed with their report to the President on 15 November for his subsequent report to Congress a month later.

Tragedy struck the carrier’s air wing during her operations in Puerto Rican waters on 24 July 1992. Commander Robert K. Christensen, Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 37’s commanding officer, apparently lost orientation and flew his F/A-18C (AC 302) into the sea during a training night attack mission over Vieques.

The next day, 25 July 1992, John F. Kennedy anchored off St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands for a scheduled four-day port visit, a memorial service being held for Commander Christensen being held as soon as the ship dropped anchor. However, late that same day, the ship received orders to get underway as soon as possible. An emergency recall of the crew was ordered and the ship was underway the following day, joining Carrier Task Force (CTF) 24.1, bound for the Med in response to Iraq’s recalcitrance in abiding by the cease-fire agreement imposed by the United Nations. CTF 24.1, under Rear Admiral James A. Lair, also included guided missile cruisers Gettysburg (CG-64), Leyte Gulf (CG-55), and Wainwright (CG-28), guided missile frigates Halyburton (FFG-40) and McInerney (FFG-8), frigate Capodanno (FF-1093), and underway replenishment oiler Kalamazoo (AOR-6). On 28 July, however, the sortie toward the Med was cancelled and the ships ordered to return to scheduled training in the North Puerto Rican operating area.

Once John F. Kennedy returned to Puerto Rican waters, the CompTUEx continued with Rear Admiral Lewis resuming command of the battle group to continue the exercises. Tragedy struck the air wing again, however, when on 31 July 1992 an E-2C from VAW-126 reported experiencing difficulties and the cockpit filling with smoke. The plane crashed into the sea approximately four miles from the ship and 60 miles north of Puerto Rico. Lieutenant Commander Alan M. McLachlen, Lieutenants Michael F. Horowitz and Tristram E. Farmer, and Lieutenant (j.g.)s Richard Siter, Jr., and Thomas D. Plautz, perished in the mishap; only one body was recovered, the others entombed with the Hawkeye in over 20,000 feet of water. A memorial service honored the lost VAW-126 crew, as well as for Commander Christensen, VFA-137’s commanding officer who had died a week earlier, was held on 1 August.

Once the ship and air wing were certified for deployment, the ship chopped to Commander 2nd Fleet on 6 August 1992, and returned to Norfolk on 10 August. She spent the remainder of August and beginning of September in preparation for fleet exercises and her subsequent deployment. On 21 August, that deployment date was announced as 7 October 1992.

After conducting two days of carquals off the Virginia capes (9-11 September 1992) John F. Kennedy remained in those waters and participated in fleet exercises with a battle group that consisted of the ships from the earlier constituted CTF 24.1 in addition to the command ship Mount Whitney (LCC-20) and destroyer Caron (DD-970). Various media representatives covered the exercises, pursuing the story of the Navy’s role and its response to various missions. The training concluded on 17 September and John F. Kennedy returned to Norfolk the following day.

The crew initiated a pre-overseas movement (POM) stand down to allow half the crew to take leave until 27 September 1992 and the other half to take leave from 27 September to 5 October. The ship continued to load out and complete maintenance required for deployment through the stand down period. John F. Kennedy got underway for deployment on 7 October. She conducted two days of refresher carquals for the air wing and then began the Atlantic transit on 9 October 1992 accompanied by her old consorts Gettysburg, Leyte Gulf, Wainwright, Caron, Halyburton, McInerney, Capodanno, and the attack submarines Seahorse (SSN-669) and Albuquerque (SSN-706), supported by ammunition ship Santa Barbara (AE-28) and Kalamazoo. A two-plane C-2 detachment from Fleet Logistics Support Squadron (VRC) 40 also deployed with the carrier, a new support concept during the deployment. An intense focus on ensuring chemical warfare defense readiness, cleanliness, and safety training, marked the trans-Atlantic voyage. On 18 October, the warship transited the Strait of Gibraltar and three days later, the Strait of Messina. She anchored off Brindisi, Italy, on 22 October to conduct turnover with Saratoga.

John F. Kennedy then set her course up the Adriatic. On 23 October 1992, Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney visited the ship to demonstrate national support for the battle group and promote morale among the crew. She continued to conduct air operations in the Adriatic without incident until 30 October, when she anchored at Naples for a port visit. Once underway again, from 4-6 November, she hosted a group of USAF officers from Headquarters USAFE for orientation, including carrier aircraft flights. The following day, 15 officers from the Belgian Air Force, including instructors and students from the Fighter Weapons Instructor Training course on 7 November.

On 13 November 1992, John F. Kennedy anchored off Alexandria to conduct training and planning for Operation Seawind with the Egyptian Navy and Air Force. The evolution began on 15 November. As the exercise proceeded, however, during the first watch on 18 November, in waters about 50 miles north of the Egyptian coast, Capodanno, one of the ships in John F. Kennedy’s battle group, sighted two flares fired from a Russian Vishnaya-class intelligence collection ship, SSV-175, while the frigate’s embarked SH-2F from HSL-32, Detachment 5, received a medical distress call on an international distress radio frequency. The urgent message, relayed to John F. Kennedy, soon resulted in Capodanno’s Seasprite landing on board the carrier and embarking Lieutenant Eric T. Hanson, MC, a flight surgeon, and Hospitalman 3d Class Depietro. Chief Radioman Terrance J. George, a translator, accompanied them. Flown to the frigate, the emergency medical team then embarked in her motor whaleboat to be transported to the Russian ship, where they found that resuscitation efforts had been on-going for about three hours on a man who had fallen overboard. Sadly, the object of the strenuous life-saving efforts had suffered a head injury incident to his falling over the side and had not responded to treatment, and had, in fact, expired by the time the team arrived. Ultimately, Lieutenant Hanson pronounced the man dead, and the Americans returned to Capodanno, reporting that the Russians had been “overwhelmingly grateful” for their attempts to revive their shipmate.

On 19 November 1992, John F. Kennedy embarked twelve senior Egyptian Navy and Air Force officers, including Vice Admiral Ahmed Ali Fadel, Commander of Naval Operations of the Egyptian Navy, for a debrief on Operation Seawind. Four days later, TV reporter Joe Flannagan and his film crew from Norfolk TV station WVEC, embarked in John F. Kennedy for extensive coverage to be used on a Christmas Eve telecast. After the debrief for Seawind and a weapons on-load, the ship anchored in Trieste on 25 November. She the sailed at 0740 on 30 November to participate in African Eagle with Moroccan forces. The carrier welcomed another reporter, Terry Zahn from channel 10, WAVY, Norfolk, from 2-4 December, to film a Christmas special.

African Eagle began on 6 December 1992 with an amphibious landing. During the exercise, an F-14 from VF-14 apparently struck a cable during a low-level flight over Morocco, but the ship recovered the Tomcat without incident and with minor damage to its port wing slat. With the exercise completed, John F. Kennedy began a slow transit to Marseille, conducting flight operations en route. On 19 December, a group of senior French naval officers and their wives visited the carrier for orientation, prior to the ship’s port visit. She moored in Marseille the morning of 21 December.

John F. Kennedy’s visit reflected the same type of atmosphere as had prevailed during Fleet Week in New York, due to the interest of the French people. Many social activities ensued due to the cooperation of the Marseille Navy League, the Association France-Etats Unis, the American Consulate and the French Navy. Five days after Christmas of 1992, however, holiday cheer was temporarily muted when John F. Kennedy was earmarked to proceed on underway operations at a 12-hour notice, in response to potential U.S. resolve to intervene in the situation in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Fortunately, the carrier remained in Marseille and departed as previously scheduled.

John F. Kennedy weighed anchor on 4 January 1993 and sailed for the Ionian Sea. During the passage, she conducted flight operations and exercises. On 14 January, the warship transited the Strait of Messina, and the next day moored at Naples, where representatives from the Combat Camera Unit, CinCUSNavEur, embarked to take photos and shoot video footage of John F. Kennedy and her air wing for contingency coverage.

On 17 January 1993, after just two-and-a-half days in port, however, John F. Kennedy received orders to get underway for contingency operations while U.S. Tomahawk cruise missile attacks were in progress in Iraq. Accordingly, she sailed that evening and cruised towards the Strait of Messina. After clearing that body of water, she commenced a high-speed run eastward; while en route, the crew conducted chemical warfare defense training. On 20 January, John F. Kennedy conducted operations with Gettysburg and Leyte Gulf.

John F. Kennedy began conducting flight operations in the eastern Med on 21 January 1993. Those continued until 28 January, when the carrier turned around and began transit out of the region. On 1 February, she welcomed Vice Admiral Lefebvre of the French Navy.

One week later, on 8 February 1993, John F. Kennedy anchored at Trieste along with Wainwright. The two ships departed on 15 February and headed to the Adriatic to conduct flight operations. On 20 February, the carrier conducted flight operations in the Ionian Sea. On 25 February, John F. Kennedy began monitoring airdrops over Bosnia-Herzegovina in conjunction with Operation Provide Promise. She continued that duty until 25 March when she conducted turnover with Theodore Roosevelt.

With the end of her deployment drawing near, John F. Kennedy began heading westward. In preparation for her homeward voyage, she embarked family service support people by aircraft; the carrier transited the Strait of Gibraltar on 28 March 1993 and conducted a missile exercise two days later. While transiting the Atlantic Ocean, the carrier conducted flight operations. Inspectors flew on board and began a shipwide material condition inspection that continued until the return to Norfolk. On 4 April, John F. Kennedy anchored off Bermuda. On 6 April, CVW-3’s squadrons flew off to return to their respective bases. The next day, 7 April, John F. Kennedy moored alongside Norfolk Naval Station’s Pier 11, welcomed by throngs of friends and family.

John F. Kennedy continued her stand down period for the first week of May 1993. Prior to getting underway on the morning of 10 May, members of the Senate Armed Services Committee came aboard to tour living spaces on the ship studying berthing requirements. The carrier sailed later that morning and conducted flight operations in the afternoon. Those operations continued until 19 May. On 16 May, a group of Tuskegee Airmen embarked for a general aircraft carrier orientation.

On 18 May 1993, the Chief and Associate Judges from the United States Court of Military Appeals, Flag Legal Officers, distinguished legal visitors and several legal officers paid a visit to John F. Kennedy. The purpose of their visit was twofold: to educate the crew on the purpose and workings of the Court of Military Appeals and to provide a Fleet orientation to senior civilian and military personnel in the Department of Defense legal system.

After completing her carquals, John F. Kennedy moored to Pier 12 on 21 May 1993. On 24 May, she got underway for New York City, and moored at pier 88 North upon her arrival for Fleet Week. Two days after she had arrived, “Good Morning America” broadcast live from the flight deck; “CBS This Morning” broadcast from the carrier on 31 May. The following day, John F. Kennedy got underway at 1400 for a Tiger Cruise. Arriving in Norfolk on 3 June, the ship disembarked her passengers and got underway that same day at 1711 for carquals.

On 24 June 1993, Captain Joseph R. Hutchison relieved Captain Beard as commanding officer. A little less than a month later, on 20 July, John F. Kennedy departed Norfolk for carquals. On 31 July, the ship held her Dependent’s Day Cruise and returned to Norfolk.

Not scheduled for any operations during August 1993, John F. Kennedy continued to prepare for her upcoming yard period, work interrupted as the month drew to a close with the approach of Hurricane Emily. John F. Kennedy sortied on 30 August, but within hours of clearing Norfolk, experienced a fire in the number four main machinery room that took five minutes to extinguish and caused neither casualties nor permanent damage. John F. Kennedy returned to Norfolk on 2 September, after Emily’s departure.

Three days later, on 5 September 1993, John F. Kennedy hosted a gala to commemorate her Silver Anniversary, attended by her sponsor, Mrs. Caroline [Kennedy] Schlossberg. “Growing up it always meant so much to my brother and me to know that this ship, and all of you, were bringing my father’s name and memory around the world,” she told the crew. “We were so proud whenever we would read of ‘Big John’ in the newspapers being in the Mediterranean, in Desert Storm, in the Adriatic or in New York Harbor. We would always say a special prayer for this ship and her crew.”

On 13 September 1993, John F. Kennedy sailed for Philadelphia, embarking guests who welcomed the ship to the city that would be her home for two years. The following day, she went into drydock at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard to begin a $491,000,000 comprehensive overhaul. Mayor Ed Rendell, U.S. Senator Harris Wofford, and Congressman Rob Andrews embarked via helicopter to welcome John F. Kennedy to the city, Mayor Rendell bringing along 3,000 soft pretzels for the crew.

Some immediate projects included the removal of asbestos, completed on 15 October, and the removal of organotin, completed on 5 November. On 18 November, the first of her propellers was removed, and with it, any doubts that John F. Kennedy could be dispatched in any sort of emergency. The carrier completed her first Quarterly Progress Review on 8 December. The next day, the bow anchor and chain were removed. Four days before Christmas, John F. Kennedy hosted Robert J. “B.J.” McHugh Jr., an eight-year-old bone cancer patient, who received a tour of the ship with his family, as a guest of Captain Hutchison, and lunched with the Chief Petty Officers.

Acting Secretary of the Navy Richard Danzig addressed John F. Kennedy’s future on 5 August 1994. “On 1 October 1995,” he announced, John F. Kennedy would be “designated an operational reserve carrier and reserve force ship assigned to the U.S. Atlantic Fleet.” Following an initial deployment, the carrier would be available to deploy with either an active or reserve air wing when mobilized in support of urgent operational requirements. John F. Kennedy’s new primary function during contingency operations would be to provide a surge capability, and in peacetime, to support training requirements. She would participate regularly in routine fleet exercises, carquals and battle group training.

Undocked and moved to Pier Six on 15 November 1994, John F. Kennedy began 1995 with a change of command ceremony in January, Captain Gerald L. Hoewing relieving Captain Hutchison. Eight months later, John F. Kennedy got underway for the first time in over two years, her underway period prolonged briefly by the presence of Hurricane Felix.

On 3 September 1995, John F. Kennedy completed her overhaul and sailed for Mayport. During the underway period, the carrier completed her first carquals in over two years. The ship received a warm welcome from Mayport upon her arrival on 22 September.

The year 1995 closed with John F. Kennedy’s role ever changing. The ship conducted a ten-day fast cruise to provide extensive training for the crew and to ensure more sailors met damage control, engineering casualty control and general shipboard readiness standards. Hangar Bays One and Two were resurfaced during the month of December. John F. Kennedy held a shipboard holiday party on Christmas.

In June and July of 1996, John F. Kennedy made a North Atlantic deployment. From 2 to 25 July, the carrier exercised off the coast of Ireland. From 2 through 7 July, she made a port visit to Dublin, Ireland, where she hosted receptions for the public. Her air wing provided static displays at Dublin and Shannon International Airports. They also completed both day and night refresher carquals. Later that year, the carrier and CVW-8 developed F-14 and F/A-18 mixed tactics. VFA-15 flew opposed strikes with VF-41 to central Florida, Key West and North Carolina.

The secretaries of the Navy, Air Force and Army embarked for an overnight stay and conference on 4 October 1996. Each dignitary arrived in a different aircraft: Secretary of the Navy John H. Dalton in an F-14 Tomcat, Secretary of the Air Force Sheila Widnall in an F/A-18 Hornet, and Secretary of the Army Togo West in an Army H-60 Blackhawk. All three toured areas of the ship specialized for operations involving two or more of the services; their meeting focused on command and control, communications, computers and intelligence.

John F. Kennedy and her air wing, CVW-8, began 1997 with composite training unit exercises (4-12 February), followed by Joint Task Force Exercise ’97-2 (7-23 March), both of which took place in the Puerto Rico operating area, evolutions that tested the ship and her air wing in simulating threats and challenges facing a battle group during deployment and in forward-deployed joint operations. Joining the John F. Kennedy Battle Group were the Kearsarge (LHD-3) Amphibious Ready Group; elements from the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force and the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit; elements of the Army’s 18th Airborne Corps, 18th Aviation Brigade, and the 82nd Airborne Division; the USAF Air Combat and Air Mobility Commands; Special Operations Command; U.S. Space Command; the U.S. Coast Guard and Canadian Maritime Forces.

Sadly, during the Joint Task Force Exercise ’97-2, HS-3 lost one of its Seahawks (Troubleshooter 615) that crashed, with the loss of its entire crew, while attempting a landing on board the guided missile frigate Taylor (FFG-50) on 13 March 1997.

The training sharpened the skills of the crew as they prepared to take their station to support U.S. foreign policy in Bosnia and Iraq. John F. Kennedy, with CVW-8 (VF-14 and VF-41, VFA-15 and VFA-87, VAW-124, VAQ-141, Sea Control Squadron (VS) 24 and HS-3) embarked began her movement toward the Med with carquals (29-30 April), and then in-chopped to the 6th Fleet on 12-13 May 1997, relieving Theodore Roosevelt. John F. Kennedy’s consorts included destroyers Spruance (DD-963) and John Hancock (DD-981), guided missile cruisers Hue City (CG-66), Vicksburg (CG-69) and Thomas S. Gates (CG-51) and guided missile frigate Taylor.

Soon after John F. Kennedy reached the Mediterranean, she participated in the French invitational exercise, Iles D’Or 97 (20-29 May 1997). The carrier, along with Hue City, Vicksburg, and French Navy units, practiced tactical maneuvers and deterrence operations. Liaison officers from the battle group served in French ships during the exercise and gained insights and perspectives of the complexities of coalition operations.

John F. Kennedy then participated in Operation Deliberate Guard (19-22 June 1997), operating in the Adriatic, CVW-8 flying “real world” missions over Bosnia-Herzegovina. HS-3, during that time, sent one of its SH-60Fs to operate to guided missile cruiser Vicksburg, to support an ASW exercise, Sharem-121. These peacekeeping and presence missions over Bosnia, meanwhile, took place in an unpredictable threat environment. CVW-8 improved their night operations capabilities, real-time reconnaissance information gathering, and air-to-ground ordnance delivery during that period. The ship then visited Koper, Slovenia (23-25 June) where over 11,000 Slovenians visited her, her visit coinciding with their country’s independence day. Soon thereafter, John F. Kennedy participated in the U.S.-led exercise that involved ships from Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, Canada, Belgium, Turkey, Greece, Germany and the United Kingdom.

After visiting Haifa (8-14 August 1997), John F. Kennedy operated in the eastern Med, then headed for Suez, transiting the canal on 17 August and setting course for the Arabian Gulf. Transiting the Strait of Hormuz on 29 August, she proceeded into the Gulf, and began supporting Operation Southern Watch. CVW-8 patrolled the “No Fly Zone” while on John F. Kennedy’s flight deck, crews toiled in wilting, enervating, heat, with an index of 140 degrees daily. Shortly after the carrier’s Persian Gulf stint (1-6 September), she visited Bahrain (7-9 September), before getting underway to participate in Exercise Beacon Flash (13-17 September) that pitted CVW-8 against the Omani Air Force and their Hawk and Jaguar aircraft.

After transiting the Suez Canal (25 September 1997), John F. Kennedy resumed operations in the Med, taking part in another exercise, Dynamic Mix (1-5 October) that involved forces from Italy, Germany, Spain, Greece, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom. After visiting Tarragona, Spain (8-13 October), John F. Kennedy, relieved by George Washington (CVN-73) on 16 October 1997, headed for Mayport, carrying out a Tiger Cruise (25-28 October) that concluded with the ship’s arrival at Mayport to wind up the deployment.

In 1998, John F. Kennedy served as the flagship for ComCarGru2 during Fleet Week ’98. More than 14 ships from three navies participated in the event. Distinguished visitors included the Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Henry Shelton, Secretary of the Navy Dalton, and the Mayor Rudy Giuliani of New York City. In mid-July, the carrier steamed from her homeport in Mayport, Florida, to the Puerto Rican operations area for training and carquals.

From 11 to 19 November 1998, John F. Kennedy participated in Exercise Fuertes Defensas 98/99 at Dam Neck, Virginia in a simulated battle space. The evolution provided an opportunity for the ship to sharpen her skills in the areas of maritime interceptions, mine countermeasures, naval coastal warfare, strike warfare, and support joint and combined forces ashore. It demonstrated the challenges to establishing and operating a Joint Task Force, and the importance of joint doctrine and cooperative command relationships.

After upkeep in Mayport, which lasted until 22 January 1999, John F. Kennedy resumed work in the Jacksonville operating area from 25 January until 1 February, after which she returned to Mayport for more upkeep that lasted until 3 March. John F. Kennedy prepared for her upcoming tailored ship’s training availability through 12 March and then lay pierside at Mayport (12 March-5 April). From 6-30 April, CVW-1 embarked in John F. Kennedy for tailored ship’s training availability. During this period, the carrier participated in Exercise El Morro Castle, which involved several U.S. allies, including elements of the British, Canadian and Spanish Navies, upon completion of which she returned to Mayport. On 9 June, the carrier participated in another phase of a tailored ship’s training availability, a CompTUEx during which the wing’s aircraft scored multiple hits on it’s target, the decommissioned destroyer ex-William C. Lawe (DD-768), and a joint task force exercise, after which the ship and her air wing were deemed “battle ready” for their upcoming deployment.

John F. Kennedy underwent tailored ship’s training availability training from 11-20 June 1999 and another CompTUEx from 21-30 June. John F. Kennedy then enjoyed a six-day port visit at St. Maartin before hoisting anchor and participating in another CompTUEx from 7-17 July. From 20-29 July, the carrier participated in a joint task force exercise. She returned to Mayport the next day, where, on 6 August, Captain Michael H. Miller relieved Captain Robin Y. Weber.

John F. Kennedy conducted a Family Day cruise on 29 August 1999, and then settled into for an upkeep slated to last until 16 September. Hurricane Floyd, however, compelled a change of plans as what was considered to be the worst hurricane to hit the eastern seaboard since Andrew (1992), arrived. The carrier put to sea on 13 September to ride out the storm.

Two days later, John F. Kennedy received a message from the Coast Guard telling of a distress call from Gulf Majesty, a 150-foot ocean-going tug that had been towing a 669-by-103-foot container barge. Her eight-man crew reported that they were unable to save the boat, and after grabbing their emergency position indicator beacon, abandoned their craft in a life raft in the 30-foot seas and 50-knot winds. As the nearest ship to the foundering tug, John F. Kennedy launched two of HS-11’s HH-60H Seahawks, flown by Lieutenant Commander Edward J. D’Angelo and Lieutenants Ruben Ramos, Christopher I. Pesile, and David H. Rios, with Aviation Warfare Systems Operator 3d Class Timothy F. Lemmerman, Aviation Antisubmarine Warfare Operators 3d Class Sean P. Whitfield, Michael P. Tungett, Shad D. Hernandez, William A. Beasley and Aviation Antisubmarine Warfare Operator 2d Class David R. Matthews as rescue aircrewmen, to respond. One of the helicopters found three members of the crew in the water clutching their distress beacon and picked them up. A Coast Guard Lockheed HC-130 Hercules from Clearwater, Florida, flew to the scene and located the remaining crewmen who were found and rescued by HS-11, too. Not only did they rescue Gulf Majesty’s crew, however, but they also carried out a medical evacuation flight for a paralyzed merchant mariner who had suffered a back injury on board his ship during the hurricane. The Seahawk crews had flown 13.3 hours in hurricane conditions to carry out their missions of mercy.

John F. Kennedy returned to Mayport on 16 September 1999 to embark the rest of her air wing for deployment, and sailed for the Mediterranean and Arabian Gulf on 17 September, accompanied by destroyers Spruance and John Hancock, guided missile cruiser Monterey (CG-61), and guided missile frigates Underwood (FFG-36), and Taylor. On 29 September 1999, John F. Kennedy conducted turnover with Constellation (CV-64), transited the Strait of Gibraltar on 3 October, and immediately began conducting Freedom of Navigation operations off the coast of Libya. John F. Kennedy arrived at Malta on 6 October.

Detachments from CVW-1 participated in Frisian Flag ’99 (27 September-8 October 1999) at Leeuwarden Royal Netherlands Air Force Base in the province of Frisland, Holland. The exercise offered John F. Kennedy’s pilots an opportunity to practice multiple threat combat operations with other Allies in an integrated sea, land, and air environment, as well as familiarizing themselves with U.S. Navy operations and procedures in Northern Europe with its varied weather and geography. Frisian Flag ’99 featured CVW-1, the Royal Netherlands Air Force, Royal Air Force, Luftwaffe, German Navy, USAF, and NATO E-3 AWACS aircraft, as well as the Dutch army and several warships of the Dutch and German navies. Naval, air and ground forces were integrated and the NATO pilots planned, briefed, and executed large-scale operations which typically consisted of attacks on land, sea and air targets, usually against high AAA and SAM threats, as well as opposing aircraft. The operating airspace stretched all the way from the English to the Dutch and German coasts.

From 15-30 October 1999, John F. Kennedy participated in Bright Star 1999, an exercise that enabled CVW-1 to train with Egyptian Air and Special Operations forces and involved the deployment of 705 fixed and rotary wing aircraft from seven nations. The CVW-1 pilots dropped live laser-guided and inert bombs in Egypt and on the nearby target island of Avgo Nisi.

John F. Kennedy transited the Suez Canal on 31 October 1999, to support Operation Southern Watch and UN sanctions against Iraq. The next day, having just arrived on station, CVW-1 commenced flight operations. During the deployment, John F. Kennedy became the first aircraft carrier ever to make a part call on Al Aqabah, Jordan, arriving on 1 November for a three-day port visit. On 4 November, she hosted Jordan’s King Abdullah II, an accomplished Blackhawk pilot, who flew the Seahawk sent to retrieve him from Al Aqabah to the carrier, 120 miles away. King Abdullah later joined Commander Mark P. Molidor, VF-102’s commanding officer, in his Tomcat for a launch and recovery in the Red Sea. That same day, the carrier also began participating in exercise Black Shark, which ran from 4-6 November.

John F. Kennedy began operating on 10 November 1999 in support of Southern Watch with daily missions over southern Iraq. Four days after she commenced those operations, tragedy struck when an S-3B (BuNo 158864) from VS-32 suddenly rolled left during take-off on 14 November. The Viking crashed into the Arabian Gulf immediately following the catapult shot, and sank, carrying Lieutenants Matthew Moneymaker and Mike Meschke down with it. During the memorial service conducted on the carrier’s flight deck the next day, Rear Admiral John Johnson, ComCarGru 6, John F. Kennedy’s Captain Miller, Captain Patrick M. Walsh, Commander, CVW-1, Commander William H. Valentine, commanding officer of VS-32, all eulogized the lost aviators.

John F. Kennedy flew missions in support of Southern Watch for another week, until 21 November 1999, followed by another stint from 27-30 November, 9-22 December, and 28 December-11 January 2000, punctuating those operational periods with visits to Bahrain (23-27 November), during which time (26 November) Admiral Jay L. Johnson, the Chief of Naval Operations, presented the pilots and aircrew from the two HS-11 helicopters that were involved in the Hurricane Floyd rescues, with awards for their actions, and Jebel Ali, United Arab Emirates (22-28 December). CVW-1’s planes flew interdiction missions, suppression of enemy air defenses (SEAD), tactical reconnaissance escort, and DCA flights. During these operations, VFA-86 combat tested a SLAM-ER (standoff land attack missile, expanded response) for the first time. Also, VFA-82 recorded the Navy’s first operations use of the joint direct attack munition (JDAM) in combat during a strike against Iraqi air defenses. The carrier’s pilots destroyed radar sites, anti-aircraft artillery and SAM sites.

John F. Kennedy, conducting missions in support of Southern Watch at the time, became the “Carrier of the New Millennium” on 1 January 2000 by virtue of her being the only carrier underway when 2000 arrived. January 2000 also saw two more port visits to Dubai, the first from 12-14 January and the second from 29 January through 3 February. On 22 February, John F. Kennedy finished her last mission in support of Southern Watch and the next day turned over to John C. Stennis (CVN-74) and departed the Persian Gulf via the Red Sea. The carrier transited the Suez Canal and entered the Mediterranean on 2 March. After a brief port visit to Tarragona, Spain, from 6-8 March, the ship entered the Atlantic Ocean. On 16 March, she embarked family members at Bermuda for a Tiger Cruise for the final leg of the voyage home that came to a conclusion on 18 March when John F. Kennedy returned to Mayport.

John F. Kennedy remained at her homeport until 26 April 2000, when she proceeded to the Jacksonville Operating Area to complete her ammunition offload. The carrier returned to Mayport on 1 May for ten more days of upkeep. On 12 May, she began two weeks of carquals, followed by another upkeep period in Mayport, lasting from 26 May- 24 June.

On 25 June to 22 July 2000, John F. Kennedy took part in OpSail 2000 then steamed north to New York City, where she participated in Fleet Week 2000 from 2-8 July. After Fleet Week, the carrier sailed to Boston, where she enjoyed a six-day stay from 10-15 July. On 16 July, she began her trip back home, but stopped briefly in Norfolk on 18 July, and arrived at Mayport on 20 July, where she remained until 13 August for upkeep.

On 14 August 2000, John F. Kennedy began operations in the Jacksonville area that lasted, punctuated by in-port periods for upkeep, until 2 December. From 3-6 December, the carrier conducted sea trials, returning to Mayport on the latter date for upkeep before she got underway to return to the Jacksonville operating area. On 18 December, she returned to Mayport, where she remained for the rest of the year.