USS Kitty Hawk CVA-63 (later CV-63) 1980s

Chronology and Significant Events 1980s:

1–3 Jul 1980: The ship completed sea trials.

28 Aug 1980: During carrier qualifications in the Southern California Operations Area, 20–28 August, an RF-8G (BuNo 144615), LCDR Elliott Tozer, VFP-63, crashed into the sea off the ship’s starboard bow, at 1509, near 33º7’5”N, 117º53’6”W. Despite a determined search by plane guard helo No. 735, and the ship’s starboard motor whaleboat, LCDR Tozer was not recovered.

29 Oct 1980: An A-6 demonstrated a General Dynamics Tomahawk II medium range air-to-surface missile (MRASM) off the Southern California Operations Area, the first in a series of flight tests verifying that the aircraft/MRASM combination could withstand the stresses of catapult launchings.

23 Feb 1981: RADM Lawrence C. Chambers, ComCarGru-3, completed the ship’s 200,000th landing, in Aircraft No. 201, a Lockheed S-3A Viking, VS-29, catching the No. 3 wire at 1103.

24 Feb 1981: An A-7E, LT(JG) Louis D. Eames, Jr., VA-94, was lost at sea. LT(JG) Eames was not recovered.

15 Apr 1981: A delegation led by Secretary of the Navy John Lehman visited the ship while she was at sea en route to the Philippines, 0830–1530.

21–23 Apr 1981: Soviet Tu-95 Bears reconnoitered the ship, once on each date, the second incident while the ship conducted an air defense exercise with Ranger (CV-61) near Wake Island, as the latter returned from a WestPac tour.

26–28 Apr 1981: Russian AGI Nikolay Zubov (SSV-468) shadowed Kitty Hawk while the carrier conducted operations near Guam.

15 May 1981: Soviet Tu-95 Bears reconnoitered Kitty Hawk off Luzon, Philippines.

17 May 1981: The ship embarked 30 Vietnamese boat people, rescued by “other elements of the battle group,” transferring the refugees to replenishment oiler Wabash (AOR-5) two days later, to be debarked in Singapore on the 20th. The latter rescued an additional 44 people the previous day, sinking their small vessel to preclude her becoming a hazard to navigation. Following further “consolidation” of boat people rescued by other ships, Wabash had 150 packed on board, her crew later being awarded the Humanitarian Service Medal.

1 Jun–1 Jul 1981: Kitty Hawk operated in the northern Arabian Sea, being shadowed by Soviet Il-38 Mays on the 13th, 18th, 25th and 30th. Intercepted and escorted by the ship’s Tomcats, the Russians nonetheless flew so aggressively as to warrant the carrier filing Incident at Sea reports.

19 Jun 1981: Fetch 613, NL 611, an SH-3H (BuNo 148967), HS-4, made a “forced water landing,” at 22º3’N, 65º44’E, at 0930. The crew was rescued without injuries.

27 Jun 1981: Aircraft No. 204, an F-14A (BuNo 160674), LCDR Daniel R. McCort, and LT David L. Pittman, VF-111, crashed into the sea while landing, two miles astern of the ship, 20º12’8N, 60º2’E. Helo No. 613 recovered McCort and Pittman uninjured.

5 Aug–16 Sep 1981: Kitty Hawk again operated in the northern Arabian Sea. Soviet Mays repeatedly shadowed the crew, on the 7th, 15th, 24th, 27th, and 2, 7, and 14 September. All together, the ship’s fighters intercepted and escorted 13 Soviet Mays and five Bears, along with one Indian May, during this WestPac deployment.

7 Sep 1981: While landing, Aircraft No. 306, an A-7E (BuNo 159650), LCDR Gregory J. Gagarin, VA-22, collided with Aircraft No. 106, an F-14A (BuNo 160677), LT Charles E. Nangle, and LT William R. Minch, as the Tomcat was being respotted, at 0445. The latter’s crew ejected and were recovered, the Tomcat continuing over the side at 16º58’6”N, 61º49’E. While the Corsair II survived unscathed, AE1 Gary M. Powers, VF-51, working on the flight deck, was killed, and AEC Dennis L. Clavo, and AM2 Joseph P. Stornable, suffered minor injuries. Several hours later, AK3 Andrew J. Philliber, Tactical Electronics Warfare Squadron (VAQ)-135, fell overboard from the hanger deck. A 20-hour SAR failed to recover him.

2–5 Oct 1981: The ship embarked 43 Vietnamese refugees, disembarking them at Subic Bay.

10–11 Nov 1981: The ship conducted AdEx 82-3, an air defense exercise with Constellation, both ships being shadowed by Russian Tu-95 Bears.

6–10 Jan 1982: The ship sailed for Drydock No. 6, Bremerton, arriving at 1300 on the 10th. During her overhaul, most of the crew moved on board General Hugh J. Gaffey (IX-507) (ex-T-AP-121). The crew turned over General Hugh J. Gaffey to the crew of Constellation on 2 December.

24 Jul 1982: Drydock No. 6 was flooded.

15–19 Jan 1983: The ship conducted sea trials off Cape Flattery, Wash.

19 Jan 1983: While at passage from operating area W-237 Kitty Hawk collided with Canadian destroyer HMCS Yukon (DD-263), at 48º27’N, 125º7’2”W, at 0415. Yukon radioed the ship that the carrier “did hit but there was no hull contact only possible antenna damage.”

17–24 Mar 1983: During carrier qualifications in the Southern California Operations Area, CVW-2 embarked for the first time.

27 Jun 1983: The first McDonnell Douglas F/A-18A Hornet landed on board.

23 Jul 1983: Helo Nos 610 and 615 rescued three fishermen, Pedro Monales, Michael Fumbres, and Larry Ortiz, from their sinking 50 foot boat Raider, at 33º33’N, 119º38’W, from 2108–2336. Kitty Hawk was assigned on scene commander for the SAR. The men were brought to medical Ward I for observation due to exposure, being flown to Los Angeles by Coast Guard helo No. 1465, at 0123.

26 Jul 1983: Panther 000, the ship’s C-1A COD, made its last flight from the carrier, transferring ashore to NAF Misawa, Japan.

6 Dec 1983: AQ1 Eric L. Kunkel, VA-145, and AA Joseph R. Lozdoski, VA-146, were blown overboard by jet exhaust, at 31º47’8”N, 118º42’9”W, at 0911. Helos No. 614 and Seasnake No. 12 recovered both men, who were treated for hypothermia and exposure.

13–15 Jan 1984: Soviet AGI Nikolay Zubov trailed the carrier during TransitEx 84-8, the Kitty Hawk’s voyage into the Western Pacific.

8 Feb 1984: Soviet Tu-95 Bear Ds reconnoitered the ship, west of the International Date Line (IDL). Additional encounters with Bear Ds occurred on the 10th and 15th, 5 and 13 March, 19–22 March, and 10 April. The encounters on 15 February, 5 and 13 March, and 10 April also included Tu-142 Bear Fs; and those of 20–22 March, Tu-16 Badgers. In addition, Il-38 Mays shadowed the ship while she was in the Indian Ocean, on 17, 25, and 29 April, and 12 and 19 May, followed by an An-12 Cub on the 23rd.

8–10 Mar 1984: During TransitEx 84-2 Phase B, steaming toward Pusan, South Korea, Soviet Type 3 Alligator-class tank landing ship Aleksandr Tortsev and Mayak-class AGI Kursograf shadowed the ship.

19–21 Mar 1984: In Team Spirit 84-1, a joint exercise with the South Koreans, 43 Soviet aircraft, six ships and a submarine (see below) encountered Battle Group Bravo, the Kitty Hawk’s carrier battle group.

21 Mar 1984: While Battle Group Bravo sailed southerly courses toward the Tsushima Strait into the Yellow Sea during Exercise Team Spirit 84-1, a Soviet submarine, believed to be a Victor I-class attack boat, tentatively identified as K-314 (610), collided with the carrier while surfacing. The collision occurred at 2207, about 150 miles east of Pohang, South Korea, in the Sea of Japan, near 37º3’N, 131º54’E. CAPT Rogers, on the bridge, felt a “noticeable shudder, a fairly violent shudder,” and he and the starboard lookout saw the outline of the sub’s sail moving away from Kitty Hawk, the sub failing to display navigation lights. Aircraft Nos 615 and 616, SH-3Hs, HS-2, inspected the unlit submarine via AN/PVS-5A night vision goggles and sonobuoys without noting serious damage. Kitty Hawk and her screen stood by to render assistance–the carrier stopping–attempting to contact cruiser Petropavlovsk, the Soviet task force flagship, by flashing light. Petropavlovsk did not respond, however, and the sub remained (apparently) seaworthy. RADM Richard M. Dunleavy, Director, Carrier (CV) and Air Stations Program, later noted that during the previous three days, the sub was detected by helos launched from Battle Group Bravo “and killed more than 15 times,” the Victor I initially being sighted on the surface 50 nautical miles ahead of the carrier’s intended course before submerging, on the 19th. Responsibility for the collision lay with the Russians, who placed themselves “in a very hazardous position.” “The reason behind the Soviet submarine captain’s slip in judgment is the only mystery here,” reflected RADM James D. Watkins, CNO. “He showed uncharacteristically poor seamanship in not staying clear of Kitty Hawk. That should cause concern in Moscow.”

24 Mar 1984: While transiting the Yellow Sea, ADAA Tracy Miller, VA-146, was blown overboard by jet blast, near 34º32’8”N, 124º47’1”E, at 1017. A SAR Sea King, CDR William C. Vivian, squadron CO, LT(JG) Kenneth C. Ryan, AW2 Tom H. Miller, and AW3 S.A. McBride, HS-2, rescued Miller from the 42ºF water.

16 Apr 1984: Kitty Hawk relieved Midway on “Gonzo Station” in the north Arabian Sea.

25 Apr 1984: Two HS-2 SH-3Hs gained an unknown magnetic anomaly detection contact, tracking the sub until it entered the “buffer zone” off the coast of Oman, at which time the helos broke contact.

10 Jun 1984: America (CV 66) relieved Kitty Hawk on Gonzo Station.

30 Jun 1984: An F-14A made a barricade arrestment, due to a sheared starboard strut.

13 Jul 1984: FR Richard A. Grieger, Jr., guided missile destroyer Berkeley (DDG-15), last seen at 0100, fell overboard (probably during the mid watch), near 13º44’N, 135º39’8”E. Red Griffin 703, an S-3A, VS-38, joined ships tracking back along Berkeley’s position and intended movement (PIM) an incredible 117 miles and spotted the survivor, vectoring Hurricane Hunter 611, a SAR crew from HS-2, to rescue Grieger, at 1010.

19 Jul 1984: Soviet vessels Spassk and Sorum-class ocean tug Chlukotka (the latter KGB-manned) shadowed the carrier.

27 Jul–18 Aug 1985: During TransitEx 85-14 into WestPac, Kitty Hawk operated with battleship New Jersey (BB-62) and Constellation, conducting an anti-submarine warfare exercise with submarine Pintado (SSN-672). Russian Tu-95s monitored the ship, 9–10 August. She also participated in Busy Observer (USAF B-52s simulating Russian Bears) on 29 July.

18–19 Aug 1985: Soviet AGI Aneroid spied on the ship while she neared the Philippines.

27 Aug 1985: Two Soviet Tu-16 Badgers flying out of Vietnam shadowed Kitty Hawk.

10 Sep 1985: Two Russian Il-38s shadowed the carrier in the north Arabian Sea.

21–25 Sep 1985: Kitty Hawk operated with two Allied guided missile destroyers: French FS Du Chaya (D-630), on the 21st–22nd, and British HMS Exeter (D-89), on the 25th.

13 Sep 1985: CoMiDEastFor ordered the escort of a Military Sealift Command ship due to ongoing Iranian seizures of merchant ships. On 22 September, two ships were diverted from an anti-submarine warfare exercise with the Kitty Hawk carrier battle group to resume Persian Gulf surveillance operations.

6 Oct 1985: While transiting toward Mombasa, Kenya, the ship passed a Soviet task group based around nuclear-powered Kirov-class battlecruiser Frunze (BCGN-190), near Socotra.

28 Oct–4 Nov 1985: Kitty Hawk conducted anti-submarine warfare exercises in the Gulf of Aden. Two Russian Il-38s reconnoitered the ship and Battle Group Bravo, on the 28th, and contact was gained during the exercise on a Soviet Foxtrot-class submarine.

15 Nov 1985: The ship participated in exercise Glad Customer 86-1 with two USAF B-52s as Bears, conducting a long range turn over with Saratoga (CV-60), two days later.

9 Sep 1986: ABEAA Daniel Dixon was killed on the flight deck, during night flight operations.

3 Jan–29 Jun 1987: While changing home ports from NAS North Island to Philadelphia Naval Shipyard, Kitty Hawk completed a global circumnavigation, via the Pacific and Indian Oceans, and the Mediterranean.

27–29 Jan 1987: Kitty Hawk ended a visit to Subic Bay after only 40 hours, getting underway for the Indian Ocean in response to increased tensions there, generated by the ongoing Persian Gulf War between the Iranians and Iraqis.

31 Jan 1987: Sir Hassanal B.M. Waddaulah, Sultan of Brunei, visited the ship.

1 Feb 1987: While transiting the Strait of Malacca, underwent aerial inspection by two Indonesian ASTA N-22 Nomads.

9 Feb 1987: Kitty Hawk arrived on Gonzo Station, north Arabian Sea. The first two weeks on gonzo station consisted of five days of flying, followed by two alert fly days. After the third week, she conducted flight operations for five days during the week, the ship anchoring off al Masirah Island, Oman, for the remainder of the time.

17 Mar 1987: Kitty Hawk operated with a French task force, consisting of guided missile destroyer FS Jean de Vienne (D-643), guided missile frigate FS Commandant Bory (F-726), and replenishment tanker FS Marne (A-630).

20–28 Mar 1987: A Soviet Krivak I-class destroyer conducted “marker
operations,” identifying and tracking the carrier’s position so that in the event of war, other Russian elements could attack the ship.

31 Mar 1987: A class “Bravo” fire occurred on an oil pipe on Sponson No. 7, starboard side in the hanger bay, while the ship was getting steam up for standing out from her anchorage off Masirah, 0448–0508. Prompt firefighting action by the crew contained the flames, preventing a “major disaster” without casualties.

Apr–May 1987: Following Iranian test-firing of HY-2 Silkworm SSMs, endangering shipping in the Persian Gulf, Kitty Hawk was instructed to extend her operations on station there, being reinforced by additional vessels into a combined battle group.

8–13 Apr 1987: During Kitty Hawk’s visit to Karachi, Pakistan, GEN Muhammad Zia-Ul-Haq, President of Pakistan, toured the ship, on the 13th.

13–17 May 1987: Kitty Hawk operated for the first time in the Red Sea, though “restricted air space” limited flight evolutions.

17 May 1987: Kitty Hawk completed her first transit of the Suez Canal (south–north).

17–18 May 1987: Two Exocet AM39 air-to-surface missiles fired by an Iraqi Dassault-Breguet F-1 Mirage hit guided missile frigate Stark (FFG-31) while she was in international waters in the Persian Gulf, at approximately 2109 on the 17th. The attack killed 37 sailors and wounded five more, but heroic efforts by her crew saved the ship. Kitty Hawk was alerted to operate in the eastern Med for possible retaliatory strikes against the Iraqis.

20 May 1987: While anchored at Augusta Bay, Sicily, the ship turned over to Nimitz, the latter replacing Kitty Hawk in the Pacific Fleet by shifting to Nimitz’s new home port of PSNS, 1 July.

25 Nov 1987: Kitty Hawk entered Drydock No. 5, Philadelphia, beginning the heavy work phase of her $832 million Service Life Extension Program (SLEP). Approved “in concept” on 13 March 1976, SLEP added an additional 15 years to the expected [average] 30 years of operational service for Forrestal and Kitty Hawk-class carriers.

1–18 Dec 1987: The crew moved into Building 620, Philadelphia Naval Shipyard.

23 Mar 1989: The ship’s Balance Crew Training Det was established, with administrative offices in Building K-BB, NS Norfolk.

4 Dec 1989: Drydock No. 5, Philadelphia Naval Shipyard, was flooded.

17 Dec 1989: The ship undocked, returning to Drydock No. 5 and her “wet berth” the following day.