Country's Namesake to be Sunk
April 19, 2005 7:42 PM   Subscribe

Former Carrier, USS America, CV-66, leaves port for the last time The conventional powered aircraft carrier, USS America, CV-66, of the Kitty Hawk class, previously docked at the former Naval Base in Philadelphia (photo), has left for her date with Davy Jones. The Navy intends to "attack" the America with a variety of tactics and munitions, in order to measure the hardiness of US carriers, especially against unconventional terror attacks. Personally named by President John F. Kennedy and having seen active duty through much of the Cold War, from 1961 until 1996, it's suprising that the Navy decided to dispose of the country's namesake in this way. Veterans who served aboard the America are sad to see her go, and mounted an effort to save her from the bottom. Their efforts have been unsuccessfull - she left port for the last time today.
posted by rzklkng (22 comments total)
The irony of our own military blowing up the "USS America" is simply too much for my humor gland to bear.
posted by borkingchikapa at 8:05 PM on April 19, 2005

I always thought it was a bad idea to have a US warship named "America" during the cold war. If a shooting war had broken out and it was sunk the headlines would have been "Russian Sink America!"
posted by Fat Guy at 8:09 PM on April 19, 2005

The irony of our own military blowing up the "USS America" is simply too much for my humor gland to bear.

They should start the whole thing by having Rumsfeld throw some sort of ceremonial switch or pushing a button. Then again that might cause irony to become such a force that the earth might collapse into itself.
posted by clevershark at 8:19 PM on April 19, 2005

Congratulations, Secretary Rumsfeld, you've won a free harbor cruise on an aircraft carrier. But you have to hurry down and get on board before dawn.
posted by planetkyoto at 8:21 PM on April 19, 2005

Hitler renamed the battlecruiser Deutschland to the Lützow for the similar reason.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 8:30 PM on April 19, 2005

What better way for an American warship to serve her country than to be blown all to hell to discover ways to make our ships safer for our sailors? Hell of a lot more useful than sitting in a harbor somewhere confusing tourists (anyone ever been on one of those things as a civilian? Jesus, they're confusing..)

As a sidebar, y'all should check out the trouble the Navy has had naming a ship the United States. I believe they've tried three times this century, but each has been either cancelled or renamed before launch.
posted by socratic at 8:31 PM on April 19, 2005

You know, it could have made for some great diving.
posted by atchafalaya at 9:41 PM on April 19, 2005

But here's some.
posted by atchafalaya at 9:48 PM on April 19, 2005

US Navy: Why do you hate America?

And what socratic said.
posted by Tenuki at 9:58 PM on April 19, 2005

Stories like this will put The Onion out of business. Metaphor? What metaphor?
posted by Poagao at 12:05 AM on April 20, 2005

Here's a ship that was named after two different national states. After it blew up in Miami, it looked as if it would be broken up, but a campaign was organized (Fr.) to save it. Why are people so keen on a stay of execution for the treacherous old lump of asbestos-infested metal? Guess you can launch a campaign to save just about anything these days.
posted by TimothyMason at 12:08 AM on April 20, 2005

Terrif post, rzklkng. I first read about the impending fate of America on USENET's sci.military.naval newsgroup. Also, if you look at this image from Google, you can see where they'd been keeping America in Philadephia.
posted by alumshubby at 3:46 AM on April 20, 2005

posted by Mick at 5:02 AM on April 20, 2005

I know that CV means aircraft carrier, but what do the letters actually mean? Carrier-something?
posted by Scoo at 6:20 AM on April 20, 2005

I think it's a desperate need to have at least two letters in the designation, as destroyers are DD and, when they were around, battleships were BB. CV is Carrier aViation, according to this, which does seem a bit contrived. CA would make more sense, but then CA was already taken by heavy cruiser. C alone seems to mean Cargo plane.

There's a Korea-era list of definitions here.
posted by vbfg at 6:38 AM on April 20, 2005

The US Navy uses the letter designations to indicate what type of unit it is - ships & aircraft squadrons all receive such designations:

CV = "Carrier General Purpose"
CVA = "Attack Carrier"
CVN = "Carrier (Nuclear Propulsion)"
CVAN = "Attack Carrier (Nuclear Propulsion)"

VF = fighter
VA = attack
VFA = fighter/attack
VP = patrol
VS = antisubmarine
VQ = electronic warfare/surveillance
VR = transport
posted by mlis at 7:53 AM on April 20, 2005

I used to go fishing for blues in the Chesapeake, and a few miles out was this old, rust-bucket destroyer that the naval planes would do strafing runs at. It was pretty cool to see. I always wondered what the inside of it looked like...


Just sayin'.
posted by bardic at 8:10 AM on April 20, 2005

Seems like it will be great for fish habitat. . .from just casually reading the articles and posts.
posted by Danf at 10:48 AM on April 20, 2005

This is kinda personal for me, my father was stationed on board this back in the sixties in the Mediterranean. It was the first U.S. warship to respond to Israel's attack on the U.S.S. Liberty (the irony, America defencing Liberty). Apparently there was a 'ready aircraft' launched from the America when this happened. They always carried nuclear weapons back then. . .
My father had a lot of friends on that ship, he was an electronics spy and so he recognized a lot of faces brought back bloodied and broken. Apparently the reason why Israel attacked was because radio intercepts revealed the Israelis were murdering Egyptian prisoners of war out in the desert and they were trying to cover it up. Still a lot of controversy about that incident decades later.
posted by mk1gti at 12:05 PM on April 20, 2005

Seems like it will be great for fish habitat. . .from just casually reading the articles and posts.

Well, they always say that. But will they strip the vessel of heavy metals, transformers full of PCBs and the like? Yes, fish may live in it one day, and the materials used in it will find their way up the food chain and onto your plate.
posted by George_Spiggott at 1:57 PM on April 20, 2005

Slight correction to above posts: C is for carrier, but it's also a carryover from C for cruiser -- the early aircraft carriers (Saratoga, Lexington, Ranger) were built on battlecruiser hulls left over from the 1920s naval limitation treaty that reduced the number of capital ships the major WWI combatants were allowed to build. The V is actually the designation for heavier-than-air aircraft, as opposed to Z for lighter-than-air vehicles -- dirigibles and blimps, which the US Navy had during the interwar years and WW II respectively.
posted by alumshubby at 4:04 PM on April 20, 2005

Heywood Mogroot: Deutschland/Lützow was a pocket battleship (really a heavy cruiser by displacement with capital ship artillery), not a battlecruiser (which would have been larger, a la Scharnhorst, which was itself of uncertain affinities phylogenically.

I do not see the America being saved, however, given that similar (and much more publicly vociferous) efforts to save the carriers Saratoga (CV-3) and Enterprise (CV-6) after WWII also failed. It's worthy to note that the passage of time and parsimony eventually scuppered the Enterprise project, but the heavily modified Essex-class carrier Intrepid (CV/CVS-11) was saved and is a nice place to visit. Another effort is underway to museumize the "new" Saratoga (CVA-60) as well as Forrestal (CVA-59). Do we really need three (naval) peacetime attack-carrier museums? It seems untenable, but that's just me.

In a way, you can still visit old Sara, if you're willing to go for a swim in mildly radioactive environments.
posted by trigonometry at 8:36 AM on April 21, 2005

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