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USS Constellation (CV 64)

- formerly CVA 64 -
- decommissioned -

USS CONSTELLATION was the second ship in the KITTY HAWK - class and the third ship in the Navy to bear the name. Initially commissioned as attack aircraft carrier CVA 64, she was redesignated as multi-purpose aircraft carrier CV 64 on June 30, 1975. Nicknamed 'America’s Flagship', USS CONSTELLATION was decommissioned on August 7, 2003, after 41 years, nine months and 11 days of naval service. Since its commissioning, nearly 120,000 Sailors and Marines have served aboard the ship. The arresting gear aboard has amassed an impressive 436,000 'traps', or landings. On August 8, 2014, the CONSTELLATION left Bremerton, Wash., under tow for Brownsville Tx. The carrier arrived there in mid-January 2015 and was subsequently broken up for scrap by International Shipbreaking Ltd. Dismantling was finished on May 10, 2017.

General Characteristics:Keel Laid: September 14, 1957
Launched: October 8, 1960
Commissioned: October 27, 1961
Decommissioned: August 7, 2003
Builder: New York Naval Shipyard , Brooklyn, N.Y.
Propulsion system: eight Steam Boilers
Main Engines: four Steam Turbine Engines
Propellers: four
Blades on each Propeller: five
Aircraft elevators: four
Catapults: four
Arresting gear cables: four
Length, overall: 1062,5 feet (323.8 meters)
Flight Deck Width: 252 feet (76.8 meters)
Area of flight deck: about 4,5 acres
Beam: 129,6 feet (39.5 meters)
Draft: 35,8 feet (10.9 meters)
Displacement: approx. 82,200 tons full load
Speed: 30+ knots
Cost: about $400 million (1961)
Planes: approx. 85
Crew: Ship: 2,900      Air Wing: 2,480
Armament: three Mk 29 NATO Sea Sparrow launchers, three 20mm Phalanx CIWS Mk 15

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Crew List:

This section contains the names of sailors who served aboard USS CONSTELLATION. It is no official listing but contains the names of sailors who submitted their information.

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USS CONSTELLATION's Commanding Officers:

October 1961 - November 1962Captain Thomas Jackson Walker, USN
November 1962 - November 1963Captain Stanley W. Vejtasa, USN
November 1963 - November 1964Captain Frederic A. Bardshear, USN
November 1964 - January 1966Captain George H. Mahler III, USN
January 1966 - December 1966Captain William D. Houser, USN
December 1966 - December 1967Captain John M. Thomas, USN
December 1967 - November 1968Captain William R. Flanagan, USN
November 1968 - January 1970Captain John S. Christiansen, USN
January 1970 - January 1971Captain John M. Tierney, USN
January 1971 - September 1971Captain Harry E. Gerhard, USN
September 1971 - April 1973Captain John D. Ward, USN
April 1973 - September 1974Captain Paul H. Speer, USN
September 1974 - September 1976Captain Lowell F. Eggert, USN
September 1976 - June 1978Captain Morris A. Peelle, USN
June 1978 - January 1980Captain Paul F. McCarthy Jr., USN
January 1980 - April 1981Captain Leon A. Edney, USN
April 1981 - September 1982Captain Dennis M. Brooks, USN
September 1982 - June 1984Captain Lyle F. Bull, USN
June 1984 - December 1985Captain John F. Calhoun, USN
December 1985 - May 1987Captain Melvin D. Munsinger, USN
May 1987 - June 1988Captain Philip S. Anselmo, USN
June 1988 - January 1990Captain John J. Zerr, USN
January 1990 - May 1991Captain Leonard N. Oden, USN
May 1991 - May 1993Captain Michael B. Nordeen, USN
May 1993 - December 1994Captain Gilman E. Rud, USN
December 1994 - May 1996Captain Marc A. Ostertag II, USN
May 1996 - January 1998Captain Rocklun A. Deal, USN
January 1998 - September 1999Captain Donald K. Bullard, USN
September 1999 - May 2001Captain James D. Kelly, USN
May 2001 - August 2003Captain John W. Miller, USN

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WESTPAC '87VFA Squadron - WESTPAC '99Click here for more CONSTELLATION Patches.

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Accidents aboard USS CONSTELLATION:

December 19, 1960New York Naval Shipyard, Brooklyn, N.Y.The construction of the carrier was nearly 90% completed and in the hangar bay there was a tank with 502 gallons of fuel inside. A forklift collided with that tank and the fuel ran out and flew into a lower deck where some workers were welding. A fire started and the flames quickly grew up because of all the wooden materials stored in the hangar bay and on the flight deck. Moments later a huge flame and a dark cloud of smoke could be seen above the carrier.

An example for the density of the smoke was that a standard breathing apparatus can be used for approx. 45 minutes, but aboard the CONSTELLATION they could only be used for 20 minutes. Almost the whole hangar bay was burning. The efforts to extinguish the fire using the existing fire-fighting equipment were not successful and so the Brooklyn fire department was called for assistence.

The fire was mainly extinguished with water and 15.000 tons of this water got into the carrier.

At the time of the accident, a total of 4200 people worked aboard the carrier and so the fire deptartment had not only to extinguish the fire but also to rescue the people.

All in all it took twelve hours to extinguish the fire. 50 people were killed and hundreds were injured and the ship was heavily damaged.

The carrier was scheduled to be commissioned in early 1961 but because of the fire and the resulting damage, the commissioning ceremony had to be postponed to October 27, 1961.

By the way, during one year in the Naval Shipyard, there were 42 fires aboard USS CONSTELLATION.
November 6, 1961some miles off New York CityDuring sea trials, there was a fire in a boiler-room because of a broken oil pipe. 4 crewmen died and 9 were injured.

USS CONSTELLATION had to return to New York City for repairs.
January 15, 1963eastern PacificA fighter jet attempting to land snaps a cable aboard the CONSTELLATION injuring 11, including three whose legs have to be amputated.
August 19, 1963western PacificArresting gear accident while CONSTELLATION operates in the western Pacific.
September 11, 1964South China SeaA rocket motor used to boost aircraft explodes killing one, injuring three.
July 10, 1971San Diego, Calif.USS CONSTELLATION suffers a one-hour machinery room fire while moored at San Diego, Calif. No injuries are reported.
July 15, 1978 An F-14 ("NG 107") from VF-211 crashed into the sea whilst operating from the CONSTELLATION.
June 26, 1980Arabian SeaUSS CONSTELLATION collides with a Bangladesh merchant ship in the Arabian Sea. The US Navy says there was minor damage to both ships but no injuries.
December 19, 1981Indian OceanAn F-14 of VF-24 missed the arresting cables during the landing and as a result the aircraft ran off the deck edge and was lost in the Indian Ocean.
August 2, 1988off the US West CoastUSS CONSTELLATION suffers an engine room fire which forces the carrier to cancel scheduled operations and return to San Diego, Calif. The fire, believed to be caused by a fuel oil leak, begins with an explosion in one of the ship's four engine rooms around noon and is finally extinguished about 9 hours later after several subsequent explosions caused by heat from the initial fire. 20 sailors suffer burns, bruises, and smoke inhalation .
December 5, 1988off Baja, CalifShortly after departing on WESTPAC '89 with CAG14 attached, an EA-6B Prowler from VAQ-139 "Cougars" disappeared during flight ops off the coast of Baja, Calif.

Searches only resulted in the discovery of a few aircraft parts and a couple of pieces of flight gear.

Killed in the accident are:

LCDR Don M. Holderby (14 Jan 1955 - 5 Dec 1988)
LT John L. Wilcox (7 Dec 1959 - 5 Dec 1988)
LT Scott D. Threlkeld (9 Oct 1960 - 5 Dec 1988)
LT Brad A. Jacobs (28 Sep 1960 - 5 Dec 1988)
October 20, 200080 miles west of Ensenada, MexicoDaren Jewell, 26, of Oak Harbor, Wash., was killed when his F/A-18C crashed shortly after takeoff from the carrier during a routine training exercise. The accident happened at 7.30 p.m. local time. Jewell was assigned to VFA-151 based at the Lemoore Naval Air Station.
August 8, 2001Bay of BengalOn August 11, 2001, the Navy has called off the search for two aviators who were reported missing over the Bay of Bengal on August 8, after their F-14 Tomcat fighter jet did not return to the CONSTELLATION.

Lt. Richard Stephen Pugh, originally from Temecula, and Lt. Cmdr. Robert Wayne Sides of Scottsdale, Ariz., had been on a routine training mission over the Indian Ocean when they disappeared. Both men are presumed dead, Navy officials said.

The aircraft was from Fighter Squadron 2 (VF-2), based at Naval Air Station Oceana in Virginia Beach. The CONSTELLATION had just left the Arabian Sea to return home to San Diego, Ca.
October 19, 2002off the coast of Southern CaliforniaA sailor was blown overboard by jet blast at five minutes past midnight as he walked behind an EA-6B Prowler on the flight deck.

The sailor was performing routine duties during normal night flight operations at the time of the incident.

Because fellow shipmates saw him go over the side, rescue efforts began immediately. CONSTELLATION conducted a 180-degree turn to position itself in the vicinity of the sailor. Helicopters and Rigid Hull Inflatable Boats (RHIBs) from CONSTELLATION, USS VALLEY FORGE (CG 50), USS BUNKER HILL (CG 52), and USS KINKAID (DD 965) assisted.

At approximately 7:20 a.m., BUNKER HILL’s helicopter detachment spotted the sailor in the water. CONSTELLATION’s helicopter squadron recovered the sailor and returned him to the ship where he was in stable condition following medical treatment.
November 8, 2002Pacific OceanThe crew of USS CONSTELLATION quickly responded to a main machinery room fire, preventing any serious injuries or degradation to the ship's ability to continue its deployment.

The fire, which broke out in one of CONSTELLATION's four main machinery rooms, was caused by a fuel oil leak. The affected space was immediately evacuated and installed fire fighting equipment contained the fire until the ship's fire parties and damage control teams extinguished it.

Only minor injuries occurred. Initial assessment indicated there was minimal damage, and the ship continued its mission.
April 1, 2003Persian GulfAn S-3B Viking from VS-38 veered off the flight deck after making an arrested landing at approximately 5:10 a.m. local time. Shortly after touching down on deck, the S-3B malfunctioned while taxiing on the carrier's flight deck and slid to the port side of the deck. The plane went over the side and hit flight deck safety netting, with the two pilots aboard ejecting into the water. The plane then followed into the water.

A helicopter from HS-2 was performing search-and-rescue (SAR) operations for the flight cycle and arrived on scene immediately. Both pilots were recovered by a SAR swimmer and transported to CONSTELLATION, where they are being evaluated for minor injuries. No personnel on the carrier flight deck were injured in the incident.

USS THACH (FFG 43) was performing plane guard duties at the time of the incident and immediately placed a rigid-hull inflatable boat (RHIB) in the water. The RHIB arrived on the scene shortly after the rescue helicopter.

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Notes of Interest:

USS CONSTELLATION was the last of three aircraft carriers equipped with the Mk 10 missile launchers.

Her Mk 10 launchers were modified to launch the Standard missiles. In the 1980th CONSTELLATION was the last carrier to get the Mk 29 NATO Sea Sparrow launchers. The Mk 10 launchers were removed.

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Click here to view more photos.

The photo below was taken by Ian Johnson and shows the CONSTELLATION in Gage Roads, Fremantle, Australia, on April 2, 1989.

The photos below were taken by Ian Johnson and show the CONSTELLATION at Fremantle, Australia, on April 16, 2001 (first photo) and April 20, 2001. This was CONSTELLATION's final deployment.

The Decommissioning of USS CONSTELLATION and her Tow out of San Diego:

The photos below were taken by me and show the CONSTELLATION laid-up at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, Bremerton, Wash., on March 14, 2010.

The photos below were taken by me and show the CONSTELLATION laid-up at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, Bremerton, Wash., on May 12, 2012.

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