The USS JOHN F. KENNEDY was the last conventionally-powered aircraft carrier built by the US Navy. Originally scheduled to become the fourth KITTY HAWK class carrier, the JFK received so many modifications during construction that she formed her own class. Named in honor of the 35th president of the United States, John F. Kennedy who was assassinated on November 22, 1963 in Dallas, TX., the USS JOHN F. KENNEDY was the first ship in the Navy to bear the name. Initially commissioned as attack aircraft carrier CVA 67, she was redesignated as multi-purpose aircraft carrier CV 67 on December 1, 1974. Transfered to the Naval Reserve Force in 1995, the KENNEDY returned to the active fleet again in October 2000. The Navy initially wanted to decommission the KENNEDY in mid-2005 because the carrier was in bad shape and was in need of expensive repairs that just did not seem to be cost-effective. However, the Congress decided to keep the KENNEDY in service to have a total of 12 active aircraft carriers. The JOHN F. KENNEDY was subsequently berthed at the Mayport Naval Station for several months. Her flight deck was not certified for aircraft operations and the Navy was just waiting to finally decommission the ship. In late 2006, the decision was finally made to retire the KENNEDY. The KENNEDY made a final voyage up the east coast for a final port visit to Boston, Mass., in early March 2007. The decommissioning ceremony for the JOHN F. KENNEDY was on March 23, 2007, at Mayport, Fla. The official decommissioning date for the USS JOHN F. KENNEDY was August 1, 2007.
In November 2009, the Navy placed the JFK on donation hold for use as a museum and several groups tried to turn her into a museum. However, in late 2017 the Navy decided to scrap the carrier. On October 6, 2021, the JFK was sold for 1 cent to International Shipbreaking Ltd. of Brownsville, Tx., for scrapping.
|General Characteristics:||Awarded: April 30, 1964|
|Keel laid: October 22, 1964|
|Launched: May 27, 1967|
|Commissioned: September 7, 1968|
|Decommissioned: August 1, 2007|
|Builder: Newport News Shipbuilding Co., Newport News, Va.|
|Propulsion system: eight boilers|
|Blades on each Propeller: five|
|Aircraft elevators: four|
|Arresting gear cables: four|
|Length, overall: 1,050 feet (320 meters)|
|Flight Deck Width: 267 feet (81.4 meters)|
|Beam: 128 feet (39.2 meters)|
|Draft: 36,7 feet (11.2 meters)|
|Displacement: approx. 80,950 tons full load|
|Speed: 30+ knots|
|Planes: approx. 78|
|Crew: Ship: 3,117 Air Wing: 2,480|
|Armament: two |
This section contains the names of sailors who served aboard USS JOHN F. KENNEDY. It is no official listing but contains the names of sailors who submitted their information.
USS JOHN F. KENNEDY Cruise Books:
About the Ship's Coat of Arms:
(Click on the Coat of Arms for a larger version)
The ship's seal was designed by KENNEDY's first Commanding Officer, Rear Admiral (Ret.) Earl P. Yates.
The ship's seal is based on the coat of arms of the Kennedy and Fitzgerald families. These ancient symbols represent the stability that stems from tradition. Modern symbols have been incorporated to show the progress that stems from innovations. Both stability and progress were notable characteristics of the policies of President John F. Kennedy, and are essential to the continued accomplishment of our mission.
The black shield with three gold helmets is the traditional coat of arms of the O'Kennedy of the Ormonde. The helmets represent the original Gaelic word from Kennedy, Ceinneide, which means, "helmeted head." The red and white borders are the colors of Fitzgerald of Desmond. Above the shield is the single helmet crowned with a wreath of the Kennedy colors: black, gold, and flanked by the red and white mantel in Fitzgerald colors, symbolic of courage.
The crest of the coat of arms is a mailed forearm, holding a sheaf of arrows and framed by olive branches, symbolizing power and peace, as do the eagle's claws in the Presidential Seal.
The bottlenose dolphins holding the banner at the bottom are traditional symbols of the sea and seaman. They represent our freedom to roam the seas, freedom essential to progress in the world community. Dolphins are friends of man, but deadly enemies of aggressors and attack only when provoked.
The shamrock-shaped banner symbolizes good luck, President Kennedy's Irish ancestry, and our ties with Ireland. Written on the banner in Latin is the ship's motto, Date Nolite Rogare, which means Give, be unwilling to ask. The phrase represents the spirit of President Kennedy's inaugural address and specifically the famous line: "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country..."
The wings are symbols not only of KENNEDY's air power, but also of progress and the freedom to roam the skies. Stars representing the 50 states surround the shield. A 51st star, the topmost in the seal, represents the high state of readiness sought by KENNEDY. In years that she earns the coveted Navy "E" for efficiency, this top star will gold in color.
History of USS JOHN F. KENNEDY:
The keel for United States Ship JOHN F. KENNEDY was laid on October 22, 1964 at the Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Company in Virginia. Christened on May 27, 1967 by President Kennedy's 9-year-old daughter, Caroline, JFK entered active service on September 7, 1968.
When JFK was commissioned, she received the designation CVA-67. This designation remained until the early 1970's when her classification was changed to CV 67, indicating the JFK was capable of supporting anti-submarine warfare aircraft, making JFK an all purpose, multi-mission carrier.
It was also during the early 70's that JFK made a number of deployments to the Mediterranean Sea. It was on the fourth of these cruises that JFK made her first port visit to a North Atlantic port, Edinburgh, Scotland.
During 1978 JFK logged 12,438 arrested landings and 31,568 flight hours. The Kennedy then entered a year-long major overhaul period. In 1981 JFK made her first deployment to the Indian Ocean. While on this cruise JFK served as the first United States ship to be visited by a Somali head of state, transited the Suez Canal, and logged it's 150,000th arrested landing.
Due to the growing crisis in Beirut, JFK was called upon in 1983 to support US operations in the area. During the one year period that the Kennedy spent in and out of the Beirut Theater of Operations, JFK earned her 9th Battle "E" efficiency award.
After spending the winter of 1984 in drydock at Norfolk Naval Shipyard, JFK served as the centerpiece of a vast international armada for the Naval Review held in honor of the 100th Anniversary and Rededication of the Statue of Liberty during July of 1986. Shortly thereafter, JFK departed once again for the familiar waters of the Mediterranean, returning in the spring of 1987.
On January 4, 1989 while conducting routine flight operations in international waters on her 12th Mediterranean cruise,
In mid 1990, JFK paid a visit to New York City for Fleet Week '90 and was in Boston for the fourth of July. Then in early August, JFK deployed for the Red Sea to support Operation Desert Shield.
JFK arrived in the Red Sea in September 1990 and was chosen as the flagship of the Commander, Red Sea Battle Force. On January 16, 1991, aircraft from the embarked air wing, Carrier Air Wing THREE (CVW 3), began Operation Desert Storm as part of a multi-nation coalition to drive Iraq out of neighboring Kuwait. Throughout the war, aircraft from JFK flew 2,895 sorties and 114 strikes delivering over 3.5 million pounds of ordnance over 11,263 combat hours.
Following the cease fire, JFK passed through the Suez Canal for the fourth time in seven months and began her journey home. When JFK arrived in Norfolk, Va., on March 28, 1991, her crew was witness to the greatest homecoming celebration and outpouring of public support since World War II.
JFK then spent the next four months in the Norfolk Naval Shipyard where extensive repairs and maintenance on engineering and flight deck systems made the Kennedy ready to handle the
The JFK's next deployment, from Oct. 7, 1992 until April 7, 1993 was her 14th to the Mediterranean Sea. This cruise was marked by the developing turmoil in the former Yugoslavia. Throughout the deployment, JFK hosted many visitors, both in port and at sea, and conducted numerous joint exercises with armed forces from Mediterranean littoral nations and spent most of her time in the Adriatic Sea. JFK passed another milestone by logging her 250,000th arrested landing on December 8, 1992.
Upon returning from the Med, JFK entered the Philadelphia Naval shipyard for a two-year comprehensive overhaul. JFK completed this overhaul on September 13, 1995 and began her journey to her new homeport at Naval Station Mayport in Mayport, FL.
After that overhaul, JFK became the new Reserve Operational Carrier on September 30, 1995.
In November 1995, the first reserve squadron, VFA-204, came aboard for a short cruise off the coast of Florida.
The first deployment in this new role began on May 17, 1996. During this NORLANT deployment the carrier and CVW-8 operated off Great Britain and visited England and Ireland. The highlight of this six-week deployment was a port visit in Dublin. More than 10,000 visitors toured the ship. When the KENNEDY left the harbor, 16 aircraft (4
JFK's next deployment was from April 1997 to October 1997 and marked her 15th major deployment to the Mediterranean.
Until September 1999, the carrier conducted different Atlantic cruises and participated in Fleet Week'98 in New York City where JFK arrived on May 20, 1998.
On September 15, 1999, eight crew members of the ocean tug GULF MAJESTY were rescued and brought to JFK for medical evaluation. KENNEDY responded to their distress call around 8:30 that morning. The carrier, about 150 miles from the tug's reported location off north Florida's Atlantic coast at the time, had been at sea less than a day after leaving its homeport of Mayport, Fla., to ride out Hurricane Floyd.
One week later, on September 22, 1999, JFK began a 6-month Med deployment. JFK's aircraft also patrolled the No-Fly-Zone over southern Iraq.
During the Y2K rollover time period the KENNEDY was the only carrier leading a battle group and she was also the only carrier at sea at that time. In March 2000, the KENNEDY returned to Mayport, FL.
After some exercises in the Atlantic Ocean, the carrier headed for New York City in July 2000, where it participated in the International Naval Review celebrations and afterwards the KENNEDY conducted another port visit to Boston and was back in Mayport, FL., in August.
After poor marks on a December inspection, the Navy stripped Capt. Maurice Joyce of his command in December 2001, and KENNEDY's scheduled deployment was delayed a month.
USS KENNEDY departed the US east coast on February 16, 2002, on a scheduled 6-month deployment to the Mediterranean and Arabian Gulf in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. During the deployment, JFK's Air Wing delivered more than 64,000 pounds of bombs and other ordnance on Taliban and al-Qaida targets and its air crews flew 2,599 missions. The carrier returned to Mayport on August 17, 2002.
USS JOHN F. KENNEDY, which endured serious mechanical problems during the deployment, will begin a nine-month overhaul in January.
From October 4 - November 4, 2002, JFK conducted carrier qualifications for Fleet Readiness Squadrons (FRS), Training Command (TRACOM) students and TRACOM instructors in the western Atlantic Ocean.
On January 6, 2003, KENNEDY began a nine-month overhaul at the ship's homeport in Mayport, Fla.
Ready to return to sea in October, the carrier's next major mission was Operation Blinding Storm which was the combined joint task force exercise for the KENNEDY strike Group. Departing Mayport, Fla., on June 7, 2004, the Strike Group participated in the CJTFEX till June 18, and after being certified to deploy, the carrier set sail for the Mediterranean. After a port visit to Malta from June 26 - 29, the strike group continued its voyage through the Suez Canal and entered the Persian Gulf on July 7. Local operations including direct support of Operation Iraqi Freedom lasted till November 20, when the KENNEDY was relieved by the USS HARRY S. TRUMAN (CVN 75). After another Suez Canal Transit, the KENNEDY returned home to Mayport on December 13, 2004. During the deployment CVW-17 aircraft flew 8,296 sorties for a total flight time of 21,824 hours. Of that total, 4,396 sorties and 11,607 flight hours were in direct support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
USS JOHN F. KENNEDY Patch Gallery:
|Click here to view more USS JOHN F. KENNEDY Patches.|
Accidents aboard USS JOHN F. KENNEDY:
|April 21, 1971||Virginia Capes Area||A fire of electrical origin and duration occurs aboard USS KENNEDY in the Virginia Capes area.|
|June 20, 1975||Norfolk, Va.||The Navy announces eight minor fires that occured aboard USS KENNEDY earlier in the week may have been set by a sailor in an effort to forestall the carriers departure from Norfolk, Va., on a seven-month deployment.|
|August 5, 1975||An |
|November 22, 1975||70 nautical miles|
east off Sicily, Italy
|USS JOHN F. KENNEDY and USS BELKNAP (CG 26) collide in rough seas at night during air exercises east of Sicily. The overhanging flight deck of the carrier cuts into the superstructure of the cruiser setting off fires on the BELKNAP which are not controlled for two-and-one-half hours on account of frequent flarebacks.|
Because of the presence of nuclear weapons on board both ships the commander of Carrier Striking Forces for the Sixth Fleet sent a secret nuclear weapons accident message (a "Broken Arrow") to the Pentagon, warning of the "high probability that nuclear weapons aboard the BELKNAP (W45 Terrier missile warheads) were involved in fire and explosion but there were no direct communications with the BELKNAP at that time and no positive indications that explosions were directly related to nuclear weapons. An hour after the Broken Arrow message was sent the USS CLAUDE V. RICKETTS (DDG 5), alongside the BELKNAP fighting the fire, reported that BELKNAP personnel said "no radiation hazard exists aboard".
Six people aboard BELKNAP and one aboard the KENNEDY are killed. The sailor aboard the KENNEDY died from smoke inhalation when he entered a smoke filled compartment without an OBA. Both ships got assistance from other ships: BELKNAP had three other ships helping her and the JFK had one.
The BELKNAP suffers serious damage, is put out of commission, and towed back to the US to effect repairs lasting four years.
Smaller fires and other damage aboard USS KENNEDY are quickly contained and the carrier continues operations.
|1976||North Atlantic||During the '76 NORLANT Cruise the KENNEDY lost an |
|September 14, 1976||North Sea off Scotland||During operations in the North Sea an |
|September 14, 1976||75 miles northwest of Scapa Flow, Scotland||USS BORDELON (DD 881), one of the ships that came to the BELKNAP's aid after the collision on November 22, 1975, experiences steering difficulties during refueling and collides with USS JOHN F. KENNEDY causing topside damage to the BORDELON and injuring six. Damage to the KENNEDY is minor. BORDELON proceeds to Plymouth, UK, for repairs before going to the United States. It was not cost effective to repair the BORDELON so she was decommissioned in February 1977.|
|1977||During the '77 cruise the KENNEDY lost an aircraft while the plane was prepared for take-off. When doing power up, it broke free of the cat. The |
|1977||Sicily, Italy||USS JOHN F. KENNEDY lost an anchor. The incident caused a lot of damage to the forward part of the ship.|
A salvage ship had to come and recovered the anchor and the chains off the bottom of the ocean.
|April 9, 1979||Norfolk Naval Shipyard, Va.||Five fires set by an arsonist aboard USS KENNEDY kill one shipyard worker and injure 34 other people while the carrier undergoes overhaul at Norfolk Naval Shipyard, Va.|
|June 5, 1979||Norfolk Naval Shipyard, Va.||Two fires break out aboard USS KENNEDY at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard but cause no injuries or significant damage.|
|December 3, 1981||Caribbean Sea||An arresting wire breaks during the landing of an A-7 Corsair aircraft on the USS KENNEDY killing two men and injuring three others. Four aircraft including the A-7 are damaged.|
|February 6, 1982||Red Sea||Following loss of control an |
|November 8, 1983||An |
|August 22, 1989||Port Everglades, Fla.||A huge aircraft elevator carrying dozens of visitors touring the JOHN F. KENNEDY fails, injuring as many as 20 people, while the ship is holding an open house while docked at Port Everglades.|
|October 6, 1989||off Norfolk, Va.||A Navy F-14 jet crashes into a fire wall aboard USS JFK, catching fire and plunging into the sea. The two crewmembers are able to eject safely. The ship is on training exercises at the time of the accident.|
|October 1989||Atlantic Ocean||An F-14 coming in for landing comes too close to the island clipping the nose cones of two other F-14's parked on deck and losing its wing tip before going off the angle deck. Both crewmembers ejected safely.|
|October 1989||Atlantic Ocean||Within 24 hours after the previously mentioned accident, an S-3 blows its starbord engine on take-off. The crew ejects while the S-3 is already rolling and the two on the port side punch straight into the water and are killed on impact. Of the two who injected on the starboard side only one survived the ejection.|
|March 16, 1997||Atlantic Ocean||A F/A-18C crashes while landing aboard the KENNEDY.|
Click here to watch a clip of the accident. .mpg file, 3.26 MB
|September 14, 1997||An |
|November 14, 1999||Arabian Gulf||Two aviators from the ship's air wing were killed when their |
The image below shows the crew of JFK on November 15, 1999, while paying final respects to the two.
|November 24, 1999||Persian Gulf||A search was called off after a sailor fell from the hangar deck of the KENNEDY in the Gulf. A 36 hour search involving ships from the KENNEDY battlegroup failed to turn up anything.|
|March 18, 2000||250 miles southwest of Bermuda||During a training exercise two aviators from VF-102 ejected from their |
|February 3, 2002||off the US East Coast||Near the end of an underway replenishment with USNS LEROY GRUMMAN (T-AO 195), KENNEDY experienced a loss of steering control by the helmsman on the bridge. An emergency break-away procedure was successfully implemented and steering was regained, allowing both ships to maintain a safe distance apart. Subsequent equipment checks revealed no problems with steering gear. Eight KENNEDY crewmembers were treated for minor injuries as a result of the incident.|
KENNEDY was conducting sea trials of its engineering plant and other operational equipment following a period of repairs.
|March 2, 2002||50 nautical miles south of Crete||An F-14B from VF-143 based at Naval Air Station Oceana in Virginia Beach, Va, crashed in the Mediterranean after launching from JOHN F. KENNEDY. The accident happened when the F-14's nose wheel failed during the catapult shot. This resulted in the jet's airspeed being too low to gain control.|
The pilot, Lt. Cmdr. Christopher M. Blaschum, 33, of Virginia Beach, Va., was killed but the RIO, Lt. j.g. Rafe Wysham, 25, of Madras, Oregon, was listed in good condition.
Both aviators were recovered by SAR helicopters from HS-5 and small boats launched from JFK and USS THE SULLIVANS (DDG 68) after both men ejected from their aircraft.
KENNEDY was conducting routine flight training when the accident occurred.
|July 22, 2004||Persian Gulf||During night flight operations in international waters, USS JOHN F. KENNEDY and an unidentified dhow collided in the Arabian Gulf, at approximately 10:20 p.m. local time.|
All indications are that the dhow sank as a result of this accident. KENNEDY and HMS SOMERSET immediately launched helicopters and small boats to search for any crewmembers of the dhow. US Navy P-3 Orion maritime patrol aircraft were launched to assist in the search and rescue operation. Although a debris field has been located, no survivors or remains have been found.
Following investigations into the accident, USS KENNEDY's Commanding Officer was relieved.
USS JOHN F. KENNEDY Image Gallery:
|Click here to view more photos.|
The photos below were taken by me and show the USS JOHN F. KENNEDY at Naval Station Mayport, Fla., on July 31, 2000, shortly after the carrier returned from a port visit to Boston, Mass.
The photos below were taken by Brian Barton on October 13, 2008, and show the JOHN F. KENNEDY laid up at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard.
The photos below were taken by me on and show the JOHN F. KENNEDY laid up at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard on November 7, 2008.
The photos below were taken by me on and show the JOHN F. KENNEDY laid up at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard on October 26, 2010.
In December of 2010, a contingent of the Rhode Island Aviation Hall Of Fame (RIAHOF) leadership, USS JFK Veterans, volunteers and consultants were able to visit BIG JOHN while laid up in Philadelphia. The photos were taken by David Gamache and Rod Smith and are used with permission.
|Click here to view more photos.|
The photos below were taken by Michael Jenning and show the JOHN F. KENNEDY laid up at the former Philadelphia Naval Shipyard on October 16, 2015.
The photos below were taken by Michael Jenning and show the JOHN F. KENNEDY laid up at the former Philadelphia Naval Shipyard on October 7, 2018.
The photo below was taken by Michael Jenning and shows the JOHN F. KENNEDY laid up at the former Philadelphia Naval Shipyard on May 27, 2022.