Birth of the Supercarrier

by Steve on October 1, 2010

01 October 1955 the USS Forrestal CV-59, first of what would be called the supercarriers, was commissioned. Displacing 78,200 tons, 1,063 feet long, and drawing almost 38′ below her waterline her eight boilers and four screws could push her to speeds in excess of 30 knots. She was the first of her class with three more to follow, all of which have been decommissioned. I flew off her deck during her last operational deployment back in 1991 after which she was designated AVT-59, the fleet training carrier, to replace the Lexington AVT-16. During overhaul in the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard intended to prepare the ship for her new role, the need for a dedicated training carrier was re-evaluated and the project cancelled. She was officially decommissioned September 11, 1993. The memorial to the 134 men who died fighting her tragic fire on July 29, 1967 was removed and now resides at the Naval Aviation Museum on board NAS Pensacola. Efforts to turn the first of the big decks into a museum have failed and she currently sits tied to the pier in Philadelphia awaiting her fate as a reef.

As I flew from her deck and lived within her history I remember contemplating that she was older than I was and the planes I trusted my life with had entered fleet service as I turned 11. All built under government contract awarded by bid. There were a few close calls but I survived and am better for it.

Happy Birthday FID and RIP.


Pinch October 1, 2010 at 9:10

never flew nor st foot on FID but one of my best buddies, Joe Clark, did with VF-11. One of his lasting memories about the ship was coming back to land on a wicked stormy recovery and, in the groove on a straight in, seeing the ship pitch so much it seemed like he was seeing nothing but fantail one second then nothing but flight deck the next.

I saw her up at Newport a while back, alongside Sara. I’ll be up there in a couple of weeks – I’ll get a few pics for you 🙂

Mike Clay October 1, 2010 at 21:41

Deployed on FID in 1975 with RVAH-7. My first deployment in Naval Aviation. A great ship and great airwing.

Steve October 1, 2010 at 22:44

Don’t send ’em, Pinch. I hate to see old carriers stripped and rusting away. It’s depressing and makes me feel old!

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