The keel for the aircraft carrier USS John F. Kennedy was laid on October 22, 1964. The ship was built by Newport News Shipbuilding in Newport News, Virginia. This ship was the last aircraft carrier with conventional power that the U.S. Navy built. She was intended to be the fourth Kitty Hawk class carrier. There were so many changes made during the Kennedy’s construction that she was put in a class of her own.
The Kennedy was christened on May 27, 1967 by Caroline Kennedy and commissioned on September 7, 1968 with a designation of CVA-67. The ship’s classification was changed to CV 67 in 1970s which indicated she could support anti-submarine warfare aircraft. The Kennedy was deployed to the Mediterranean Sea a number of times during the 1970s. The carrier went to the Indian Ocean for the first time in 1981. On this trip she was the first United States ship to receive a visit from a Somali head of state.
Action in the Middle East
The ship spent a year in the Beirut area during the 1980s and returned to the Mediterranean in 1987. She took part in Operation Desert Storm in 1991. The Kennedy then went back to the Mediterranean. In 1995 the ship completed an overhaul and became a Reserve Operational Carrier. During the rest of the 1990s she spent time in the United Kingdom, the Caribbean and the Mediterranean. She also conducted some cruises on the Atlantic. The Kennedy was used for conducting carrier qualifications in 2002 and provided support during Operation Iraqi Freedom.
The Navy wanted to have the Kennedy decommissioned in the middle of 2005 because she was in poor condition. Costly repairs were needed and it did not appear that the repairs would be cost-effective. Congress decided the carrier would remain in service so there would be 12 active aircraft carriers.
After the War
The Kennedy was then berthed for several months at the Mayport Naval Station in Florida. The carrier’s flight deck had not been certified for aircraft operations. The Navy was planning to decommission the ship. It was decided in late 2006 that the Kennedy would be retired. She undertook her final voyage up the East Coast in early March of 2007 to Boston, Massachusetts. The ceremony for the decommissioning of the USS John F. Kennedy was held on March 23, 2007. August 1, 2007 was the official date for the ship’s decommissioning.
Asbestos in Navy Ships
Although an essential component of the naval fleet, even today, aircraft carriers also pose a lasting health risk to soldiers serving on them. Unfortunately, products containing asbestos were common, especially on older ships, because of the material’s high resistance to heat and fire. Despite its value as an insulator, asbestos fiber intake can lead to several serious health consequences, including mesothelioma, a devastating cancer without cure. Current and former military personnel who came into contact with these ships should seek immediate medical attention in order to detect possible health consequences associated with asbestos exposure.