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    From Naval Glory to One-Cent Scrap: The Fate of USS Kitty Hawk

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    USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63) steams in formation during a joint photo exercise during exercise Valiant Shield 2007 while at sea Aug.14, 2007. The joint exercise consists of 28 naval vessels, more than 300 aircraft, and approximately 20,000 service members from the Navy, Army, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Stephen W. Rowe) (Released)

    The USS Kitty Hawk served as the flagship vessel in the Kitty Hawk class, presenting the U.S. Navy with a range of moderate improvements over the preceding Forrestal class.

    Notably, the Kitty Hawk featured an elongated deck and strategically positioned elevators, enhancing operational efficiency and facilitating easier aircraft handling.

    A starboard amidships view of the aircraft carrier USS KITTY HAWK (CV 63) while the ship is underway.

    This class, comprising three vessels, was introduced in the early 1960s.

    Despite undergoing a costly overhaul in the 1980s, the class was eventually sold and dismantled after extensive use.

    Aerial port stern view of the U.S. Navy Aircraft Carrier USS KITTY HAWK (CV 63) as it prepares to commence cyclic flight operations off the coast of Australia on Aug. 18, 2006. Currently underway in the 7th Fleet area of responsibility, KITTY HAWK demonstrates power projection and sea control as the Navy’s only permanently forward-deployed aircraft carrier. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Stephen W. Rowe) (Released)

    Despite the USS Kitty Hawk’s five-decade service, the name Kitty Hawk is not as readily associated with U.S. aircraft carriers as the Ford, Nimitz, or Enterprise.

    Conversely, the name Kitty Hawk is primarily linked to the Wright Brothers.

    Nevertheless, the Kitty Hawk class of carriers played a significant role in naval operations.

    040719-N-2101W-001 Yokosuka, Japan (July 19, 2004) – USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63) gets underway from its homeport at Yokosuka Naval Base, Japan. The Kitty Hawk Strike Group is participating in Summer Pulse 2004, the simultaneous deployment of seven carrier strike groups (CSGs), demonstrating the ability of the Navy to provide credible combat across the globe, in five theaters with other U.S., allied, and coalition military forces. Summer Pulse is the NavyÕs first deployment under its new Fleet Response Plan (FRP). U.S. Navy photo by PhotographerÕs Mate 1st Class Alan Warner (RELEASED) For more information go to: www.cffc.navy.mil/summerpulse04.htm

    The USS Kitty Hawk was constructed in 1961 at a cost of $264 million, equivalent to approximately $2.5 billion in today’s currency.

    Despite this illustrious history and a costly overhaul in the 1980s, the decommissioned ship found its final destiny not in a blaze of glory but in a sale to International Shipbreaking Limited in Texas for the lowest denomination in U.S. currency.

    The U.S. Naval Institute captured this momentous end, tweeting, “USS Kitty Hawk today started her final voyage from Bremerton to a scrapyard in Texas,” adding, “The Kitty Hawk was sold to the scrap company for the bargain price of 1 cent.”

    050614-N-0120R-129 Coral Sea (June 14, 2005) Ð The conventionally powered aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63) receives fuel during a replenishment at sea from the Royal Australian Navy auxiliary oiler replenishment ship HMAS Success (AOR 304). The guided missile cruiser USS Cowpens (CG 63) and the guided missile destroyer USS John Paul Jones (DDG 53) trail astern. Kitty Hawk is currently operating in the Coral Sea off the coast of Australia’s Queensland region as part of Exercise Talisman Sabre 2005. Talisman Sabre is an exercise jointly sponsored by the U.S. Pacific Command and Australian Defense Force Joint Operations Command, and designed to train the U.S. Seventh Fleet commander’s staff and Australian Joint Operations staff as a designated Combined Task Force (CTF) headquarters. The exercise focuses on crisis action planning and execution of contingency response operations. U.S. Pacific Command units and Australian forces will conduct land, sea and air training throughout the training area. More than 11,000 U.S. and 6,000 Australian personnel will participate. U.S. Navy photo by Photographer’s Mate 2nd Class William H. Ramsey (RELEASED)

    The Kitty Hawk’s fate was shared by another historic vessel, the USS John F. Kennedy, also sold at the same symbolic price.

    This marked the culmination of the ships’ storied careers, from a symbol of power during conflicts like the Vietnam War and Operation Southern Watch to towering masses of steel, sold for less than the price of a stick of gum.

    040809-N-5821P-049 Pacific Ocean (Aug. 9, 2004) Ð The aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63) plows through the waters of the Pacific Ocean as it makes its approach to the Military Sealift Command (MSC) oiler USNS Yukon (T-AO 202) before commencing replenishment at sea (RAS) evolution. Currently underway in the 7th Fleet area of responsibility (AOR), Kitty Hawk demonstrates power projection and sea control as the world’s only permanently forward-deployed aircraft carrier, operating from Yokosuka, Japan. U.S. Navy photo by Photographer’s Mate 3rd Class Jason T. Poplin (RELEASED)

    The decision to scrap these carriers was not taken lightly. It was influenced by the prohibitive costs of dismantling and the presence of hazardous materials, such as asbestos and residual fuels, making decontamination and conversion to museums financially unfeasible.

    Chief Petty Officer Jason Chudy, reflecting on the sale, remarked, “We understand, the ship had been around for a long time… the amount of chemicals and fuel that’s still probably there on the ship, it is hazardous so we do understand that the Navy probably did get the good end of the deal on that.”

    The fate of the Kitty Hawk and the USS John F. Kennedy is not unique. The USS Forrestal and USS Saratoga preceded them, both sold for a cent as well.

    Relevant articles:
    The U.S. Navy Sold Aircraft Carrier USS Kitty Hawk for Just 1 Cent, The National Interest
    Why This U.S. Aircraft Carrier Was Sold For Only 1 Cent, SlashGear
    Aircraft carrier sold for 1 cent for scrap headed to eBay after Navy rejects $5m museum bid, The Independent
    Why the U.S. Navy Sells Retired Aircraft Carriers for Just 1 Cent, The National Interest

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