- USS Saratoga (CV-60)
USS "Saratoga" (CV-60), formerly CVB-60 and CVA-60, was a "Forrestal"-class
supercarrier. She was the last aircraft carrier in the US Navy to be laid down as an axial-deck ship, and was converted while under construction to an angled deck ship.
The CV-60 is the sixth ship of the
United States Navyto be named for the Battle of Saratogain the American Revolutionary War.
Construction and trials
She was ordered as a "Large Aircraft Carrier",
hull classification symbolCVB-60, and her contract was awarded to the New York Naval Shipyardof New York Cityon 23 July 1952. She is the second of the four "Forrestal"-class carriers consisting of the USS|Forrestal|CV-59|2, "Saratoga", USS|Ranger|CV-61|2 and USS|Independence|CV-62|2. She was reclassified as an "Attack Aircraft Carrier" (CVA-60) on 1 October 1952. Her keel was laid down on 16 December 1952. She launched on 8 October 1955sponsored by Mrs. Charles S. Thomas, and commissioned on 14 April 1956with Captain R.J. Strohin command. She was the first carrier in the US Navy to use high-pressure (1200 psi) boilers. Throughout her career, she had persistent boiler problems.Fact|date=February 2008
For the next several months, "Saratoga" conducted various engineering, flight, steering, structural, and gunnery tests. On
18 August, she sailed for Guantanamo Bay and her shakedown cruise. On 19 December, she reentered the New York Naval Shipyard and remained there until 28 February 1957. Upon completion of yard work, she got underway on a refresher training cruise to the Caribbean Seabefore entering her home port, Mayport, Florida.
6 June, President of the United States Dwight D. Eisenhowerand members of his cabinet boarded "Saratoga" to observe operations on board the giant carrier. For two days, she and eighteen other ships demonstrated air operations, antisubmarine warfare, guided missile operations, and the Navy's latest bombing and strafing techniques. Highlighting the President's visit was the nonstop flight of two F8U Crusaders, spanning the nation in three hours and twenty-eight minutes, from the "Bon Homme Richard" (CV-31) off the West Coast to the flight deck of the "Saratoga" in the Atlantic.
The carrier departed Mayport on
3 September 1957for her maiden transatlantic voyage. "Saratoga" sailed into the Norwegian Seaand participated in Operation Strikeback, joint naval maneuvers of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisationcountries. She returned briefly to Mayport before entering the Norfolk Naval Shipyardfor repairs.
1 February 1958, "Saratoga" departed Mayport for the Mediterranean Seaand her first deployment with the Sixth Fleet. From this date through 31 December 1967she was to spend a part of each year in the Mediterranean on a total of eight cruises. The remainder of the time, she either operated off the coast of Floridaor was in port undergoing restricted availability.
On the night of May 24th/25th 1960, the "Saratoga" collided with the German freighter "Bernd Leonhardt" off
North Carolina. The freighter's bridge and superstructure were damaged by the carrier's flight-deck. [Navysite.de [http://navysite.de/cvn/cv60.htm CV-60 - Accidents aboard USS SARATOGA] .] ["U.S. Ship Rams German Vessel." Advocate. Victoria, Texas. Thursday, May 26, 1960. Page 9 via [http://www.newspaperarchive.com/LandingPage.aspx?type=nlp&search=uss%20saratoga%20bernhard%20leonhardt&
] ] The results of an investigation was never published, but repairs of the freighter, amounting to about 2.5 million German marks, were paid by the Navy. [ [http://einestages.spiegel.de/external/ShowAuthorAlbumBackground/a2798/l1/l0/F.html#featuredEntry] ]
While deployed with the Sixth Fleet on
23 January 1961, a serious fire broke out in "Saratoga's" number two machinery space which took seven lives. The fire, believed caused by a ruptured fuel oil line, was brought under control by the crew, and the ship proceeded to Athens, Greece, where a survey of the damage could be made. The ship continued on its patrol mission with reduced steam generation capability, returning to the U.S. as scheduled to offload its air group before repairs.
2 January 1968, "Saratoga" sailed for Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and an overhaul and modernization program which was to last 11 months. On 31 January 1969, she departed Philadelphia for Guantanamo, via Hampton Roadsand Mayport, and extensive refresher training of the crew and air detachments.
17 May, Armed Forces Day, she was the host ship for President Richard Nixonduring the firepower demonstration conducted by Carrier Air Wing Three in the Virginia Capesarea. On 9 July, she departed Mayport for her ninth Mediterranean deployment. Underway, a Soviet surface force and a November class submarinepassed in close proximity, en route to Cuba. Off the Azoreson 17 July, "Saratoga" was shadowed by Kipelovo-based Soviet aircraft. They were intercepted, photographed, and escorted while in the vicinity of the carrier. She operated with Task Group 60.2 of the Sixth Fleet in the eastern Mediterranean during September in a "show of force" in response to the large build-up of Soviet surface units there, the hijacking of a Trans World Airlinesplane to Syriaand the political coup in Libya. Numerous surveillance and reconnaissance flights were conducted by Carrier Wing Three aircraft against Soviet surface units, including the helicopter carrier "Moskva", operating southeast of Crete. "Saratoga" operated in this area again in October because of the crisis in Lebanon.
"Saratoga" returned to Mayport and the Florida coast from
22 Januaryuntil 11 June 1970when she again sailed for duty with the Sixth Fleet. On 28 September, President Richard Nixon and his party arrived on board. That night, word was received that Gamal Abdul Nasser, President of the United Arab Republichad died; an event that might plunge the entire Middle Eastinto a crisis. The intelligence and communications personnel of the "Saratoga" were required to supply the President, Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Secretaries of State and Defense with the essential intelligence information to keep them abreast of the deteriorating situation. The Presidential party departed the ship the next evening, and "Saratoga" continued on patrol in the eastern Mediterranean until she sailed for the United Stateson 2 November.
From her arrival at Mayport until
10 March 1971, she was in a "cold iron" status. She then operated off the Florida coast until 7 Junewhen she departed for her eleventh deployment with the Sixth Fleet, via Scotlandand the North Seawhere she participated in exercise "Magic Sword II." She returned to Mayport on 31 Octoberfor a period of restricted availability and local operations.
11 April 1972, "Saratoga" sailed from Mayport en route to Subic Bay, and her first deployment to the western Pacific. She arrived in Subic Bay on 8 Mayand departed for Vietnam the following week, arriving at " Yankee Station" on 18 Mayfor her first period on the line. Before year's end, she was on station in the Tonkin Gulfa total of seven times: 18 Mayto 21 June; 1 Julyto 16 July; 28 Julyto 22 August; 2 Septemberto 19 September, 29 Septemberto 21 October; 5 Novemberto 8 December; and 18 Decemberto 31 December. She had been reclassified as a "Multi-purpose Aircraft Carrier" (CV-60) on 30 June 1972.
During the first period, "Saratoga" lost four aircraft and three pilots. On the plus side, on
21 June, two of her F-4 Phantoms attacked three MiG 21s over North Vietnam. Dodging four surface-to-air missiles, they managed to down one of the MiG aircraft. "Saratoga's" planes attacked targets ranging from enemy troop concentrations in the lower panhandle to petroleum storage areas northeast of Hanoi. On her second line period, she lost an F-4 to enemy fire northeast of Hanoi with the pilot and radar intercept officer missing in action. During this period, her aircraft flew 708 missions against the enemy.
6 August, Lieutenant Jim Lloyd of VA-105, flying an A-7 Corsairon a bombing mission near Vinh, had his plane shot out from under him by a SAM. He ejected into enemy territory at night. In a daring rescue by helicopters supported by CVW-3 aircraft, he was lifted from the midst of enemy soldiers and returned to the "Saratoga". On 10 August, one of the ship's CAP jet fighters splashed a MiG at night using AIM-7 Sparrowmissiles.
During the period
2 Septemberto 19 September, "Saratoga's" aircraft flew over 800 combat strike missions against targets in North Vietnam. On 20 October, her aircraft flew 83 close air support sorties in six hours in support of a force of 250 Territorials beleaguered by the North Vietnamese 48th Regiment. Air support saved the small force, enabled ARVNtroops to advance, and killed 102 North Vietnamese soldiers. During her last period on station, "Saratoga's" aircraft battered targets in the heart of North Vietnam for over a week.
"Saratoga" departed "Yankee Station" for Subic Bay on
7 January 1973. From there she sailed for the United States via Singaporeand arrived at Mayport on 13 February 1973where she joined the Atlantic Fleet.
In the beginning of 1975, "Saratoga" took part in the "Locked Gate-75", a
NATOoperation meant to contain the influence of the Portuguese Communist Partyin Portugalafter the Carnation Revolution. Along with several foreign vessels, she entered the Tagus Riverdelta and anchored in front of the Presidential Palace of Belém.
Saratoga sailed from Mayport, FL January 1976 for another Med cruise. On board her was VS-22 with the first deployment of the S-3A Antisubmarine aircraft. She also took part in operations during the Lebanon crisis in 76.
In March 1980, Saratoga and embarked airwing CVW-3 departed on their 16th Mediterranean deployment. Highlights of the deployment included major exercises with the
USS Forrestal(CV 59) battle group, and visits by the Chief of Naval Operations, Adm. Thomas B. Hayward, and Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Thomas C. Crow. Then-commanding officer, Capt. James H. Flatley III, made naval aviation history on 21 June 1980when he completed his 1,500th carrier arrested landing. To make the event special, Midshipman James H. Flatley IV, the Captain's son, rode in the back seat.
28 September 1980, only one month after her return from deployment, Saratoga departed Mayport and headed north to the Philadelphia Naval Shipyardwhere she underwent the most extensive industrial overhaul ever performed on any Navy ship. Saratoga was the first ship to go through the Service Life Extension Program (SLEP) overhaul that would last 28 months. She conducted sea trials on 16 October 1982, and left Philadelphia with much fanfare on 2 February 1983with her new nickname — "Super Sara."
Saratoga departed the
MayportBasin yet again for her 17th Mediterranean deployment on 2 April 1984.
Saratoga's 18th deployment was anything but ordinary. After departing Mayport in August 1985, Saratoga steamed toward the Mediterranean for what was scheduled to be a routine deployment. But on 10 October, Saratoga was called into action.
PLF terrorists had found and struck an Italian luxury liner,
Achille Lauro. The ship had just departed Alexandria, Egypt, on a pleasure cruise of the Mediterranean. A few hours later, terrorists from the Palestinian Liberation Fronthijacked the ship. After tense negotiations and the killing of an American tourist, the hijackers traveled in a battered tugboat to the city of Port Said, Egypt, after Achille Lauro anchored just off the coast. Egyptian authorities made hasty arrangements for the terrorists to depart the country. They boarded an Egypt Air737 jetliner at the Al Maza Air Base, northeast of Cairo.
On orders from President
Ronald Reagan, seven F-14 Tomcats from the VF-74 "Bedevilers" and VF-103 "Sluggers" were launched from Saratoga. Supporting the Tomcats continuously were VA-85 KA-6D air tankers and VAW-125 E-2C Hawkeyeaircraft. Off the coast of Crete, the F-14s, without the use of running lights, eased up beside and behind the airliner. On command, the Tomcats turned on their lights and dipped their wings — an international signal for a forced landing. The E-2 Hawkeyeradioed the airliner to follow the F-14s. Realizing they were in a "no-win" situation, the hijackers allowed the pilot to follow the Tomcats to Naval Air Station, Sigonella, Italy.
One hour and 15 minutes later, the jetliner landed and the hijackers were taken into custody. Seven hours after the fighter jets were scrambled, all Saratoga aircraft returned home without a shot fired.
23 March 1986, while operating off coast of Libya, aircraft from the Saratoga, USS|Coral Sea|CV 43 and USS|America|CV 66 crossed what Libyan leader Muammar al-Gaddafihad called the "Line of Death." The very next day at noon, three U.S. Navy warships crossed the same 32° 30' navigational line.
Two hours later, Libyan forces fired SA-5 surface-to-air missiles from the coastal town of Surt. The missiles missed their F-14 Tomcat targets and fell harmlessly into the water. Later that afternoon, U.S. aircraft turned back two Libyan MiG-25 fighter planes over the disputed
Gulf of Sidra. Soon after, aircraft from the three carriers fought back in defense.
A heavily-armed A-6E Intruder fired Rockeye cluster bombs and a Harpoon anti-ship cruise missile at a Libyan missile patrol boat operating on the "Line of Death." Later that night, two A-7E Corsair II jets attacked a key radar installation at Surt. At the conclusion, three Libyan patrol boats and a radar site were destroyed by Navy aircraft.
Following Saratoga's 19th Mediterranean deployment in June 1987, she was overhauled once again at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard at a cost of $280 million.
Operation Desert Storm
"Saratoga" along with embarked airwing, CVW-17, participated in
Operation Desert Storm, primarily in the Red Sea. Before the outbreak of hostilities in Iraq, the Saratoga suffered a loss of 21 crewmembers in a ferry boat accident off the coast of Haifa, Israel. During the war, the USS Saratoga (CV 60) set what were at the time, several records. She completed 6 transits of the Suez Canaland completed approximately 11,000 aircraft launch and recovery cycles. Saddam Husseinclaimed on Iraqi television that "Saratoga" had been sunk, along with several other Coalition vessels. On one occasion during the war, a missile, possibly a Scud, was launched in the general direction of the Saratoga in the Red Sea, but it was either unguided, or launched on a hunch, as it was determined early in its flight path it would miss by more than convert|100|nmi|km|-2. Saratoga was also the launching point of several highly publicized flights during the war, including the first American aircraft lost over Iraq, the F-18of LCDR (later promoted to Captain) Scott Speicher, who was originally thought to have been killed, but has since been restored to missing in actionstatus as his aircraft has been found and indicates that he likely was able to eject. His remains still have not been found. Another Saratoga aircraft shot down was an A-6E Intruder. Navigator-Bombardier LT Jeffrey Zaunwas the American paraded before cameras after having been beaten about the face by Iraqi security forces either at the time of his capture or shortly after. He was eventually returned to American forces and was able to return to the Saratoga. Saratoga also played host to a detachment of US Navy SEALswho conducted the first wartime boardings of merchant shipping in the Red Sea in support of Operation Desert Shield.
The TCG "Muavenet" incident
During the fall of 1992, the United States,
Turkey, and several other NATOmembers participated in "Exercise Display Determination 1992", a combined forces naval exercise under the overall command of Admiral Jeremy Michael Boordaof the United States Navy. The forces of participating nations were assigned to either of two multinational teams. Vice Admiral T. Joseph Lopezof the United States Navy led the "Brown Forces", which included "Saratoga". The opposing "Green Forces", including the Turkish destroyer minelayerTCG "Muavenet", former USS "Gwin" (DM-33), were under the direct control of Admiral Kroon of the Netherlands.
During the "enhanced tactical" phase of the training exercises, the Brown Forces were to attempt an amphibious landing at
Saros Bayin the Aegean Seaagainst the resistance offered by the Green Forces. Admiral Boorda ordered the units comprising each force to actively seek and "destroy" each other. Both task force commanders had full authority to engage the enemy when and where they deemed appropriate and to use all warfare assets at their disposal to achieve victory. Needless to say, all confrontations were intended to be simulated attacks.
30 September 1992the Combat Direction Center Officer aboard "Saratoga" decided to launch a simulated attack on nearby opposition forces utilizing the RIM-7 Sea Sparrowmissile system. After securing the approval of "Saratoga's" Commanding Officer and the Battle Group Commander, Rear Admiral Philip Dur, the Combat Direction Center Officer implemented the simulated assault plan. Without providing prior notice, officers on "Saratoga" woke the enlisted Sea Sparrow missile team and directed them to conduct the simulated attack. Certain members of the missile firing team were not told that the exercise was a drill, rather than an actual event.
As the drill progressed, the missile system operator used language to indicate he was preparing to fire a live missile, but due to the absence of standard terminology, the responsible officers failed to appreciate the significance of the terms used and the requests made. Specifically, the Target Acquisition System operator issued the command "arm and tune", terminology the console operators understood to require arming of the missiles in preparation for actual firing. The officers supervising the drill did not realize that "arm and tune" signified a live firing. As a result, shortly after midnight on the morning of
1 October, "Saratoga" fired two live Sea Sparrow missiles at "Muavenet". The missiles struck "Muavenet" in the bridge, destroying it and the Combat Information Center, killing five, including the commanding officer, and injuring most of the Turkish ship's officers. Navy officials have recommended that the captain of the aircraft carrier Saratoga and seven other officers and sailors be disciplined for the missile firing which was followed through. [ [http://www.ca11.uscourts.gov/opinions/ops/19962167.OPA.pdf 19962167.OPA.pdf ] ]
"Saratoga" was decommissioned at the Naval Station, Mayport, Florida, on
20 August 1994, and stricken from the Naval Vessel Registerthe same day. She was towed to Philadelphia in May 1995, then, upon deactivation of the Philadelphia Navy Yard in August 1998, to Newport, Rhode Island. There, she was first placed on donation hold, then her status was changed to "disposal as an experimental ship", and finally she was returned to donation hold on 1 January 2000. While a hulk at Newport, ex-"Saratoga", like her sisters, has been extensively stripped to support the active carrier fleet. There is an active effort to make her a museum ship in Quonset Point in North Kingstown, Rhode Island.
Previous efforts to establish the ship as a museum in
Jacksonville, Floridafailed to raise even half of the start up costs. Jacksonville civic leaders attempted to funds, but the fundraising campaign, "Save Our Sara", fell short of the $3 million goal. At the time, efforts were abandoned when startup costs increased from $4.5 million to $6.8 million. Officials had wanted to place the ship in downtown Jacksonville, on the St. Johns River along the Southbank Riverwalk. ["Save Our Sara campaign hasn't been forgotten"; Sandy Strickland, Times-Union staff writer. " The Florida Times Union". Jacksonville, Florida: April 1, 1996. pg. A.5]
"Saratoga" received one
battle starfor service in the Vietnam War.
Notable naval officers
Jeremy Michael Boorda, 25th Chief of Naval Operations
*Captain Joseph Mobley, Commanding Officer, 1990 [http://www.veterantributes.org/TributeDetail.asp?ID=87]
Scott Speicher, Naval Aviator.Fact|date=September 2008
List of aircraft carriers
List of aircraft carriers of the United States Navy
* [http://www.uss-saratoga.com/ USS "Saratoga" association]
* [http://www.hazegray.org/danfs/carriers/cva60.htm history.navy.mil: USS "Saratoga"]
* [http://www.navsource.org/archives/02/60.htm navsource.org: USS "Saratoga"]
* [http://www.navysite.de/cvn/cv60.htm navysite.de: USS "Saratoga"]
* [http://www.saratogamuseum.org/index2.html USS "Saratoga" Museum Foundation website]
* [http://www.nvr.navy.mil/nvrships/details/CV60.htm Naval Vessel Register - CV60]
* [http://www.history.navy.mil/photos/sh-usn/usnsh-s/cva60.htm Naval Historical Center - USS Saratoga (CVA-60, later CV-60), 1956- ]
* [http://www.history.navy.mil/danfs/s/saratoga.htm Dictionary of American Fighting Ships - Saratoga]
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