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Named for Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, where Orville and Wilbur Wright made the first successful controlled powered airplane flights in 1903, the USS Kitty Hawk is an aircraft carrier that was first launched in 1960. After nearly 50 years in service, the Navy decommissioned the first-in-class ship in 2009.
It spent the bulk of its retirement at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard. Then, early in 2021, the ship was moved into dry dock to remove marine growth from the hull. Now, the last oil-fired Navy aircraft carrier (modern carriers are nuclear-powered) has embarked on its final voyage.
The massive naval vessel departed Naval Base Kitsap-Bremerton, Washington, on Jan. 15, heading to a ship-breaking facility in Texas. As noted in this Twitter post, the Navy sold the Kitty Hawk and a second aircraft carrier to the company, International Shipbreaking Ltd., for only one cent apiece.
“USS Kitty Hawk today started her final voyage from Bremerton to a scrapyard in Texas. Built for $264 million in 1961 ($2.5 billion in 2021), the Kitty Hawk was sold to the scrap company for the bargain price of 1 cent. For another penny, the company also got USS John F. Kennedy,” tweeted the U.S. Naval Institute.
USS Kitty Hawk today started her final voyage from Bremerton to a scrapyard in Texas. Built for $264 million in 1961 ($2.5 billion in 2021), the Kitty Hawk was sold to the scrap company for the bargain price of 1 cent. For another penny, the company also got USS John F. Kennedy. pic.twitter.com/4gpEBcY56l
— U.S. Naval Institute (@NavalInstitute) January 15, 2022
The Kitty Hawk was the first carrier of its three-ship Kitty Hawk class. The other two ships in the class were either scrapped or scuttled.
The Navy sold the vessel after rejecting a bid from the USS Kitty Hawk Veterans Association to convert the ship into a museum stationed at Long Beach, California. The association could only raise about half of the amount required to decontaminate, develop and maintain the ship as a museum.
Although it gained a reputation for being a difficult posting due to age and shoddy workmanship, Kitty Hawk participated in combat operations around the world, including six tours in Vietnam and operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. It was also used in countless missions, including testing to determine whether U-2 spy planes could be launched from the deck of a carrier. It even survived a collision with a Soviet submarine. The aircraft carrier was also the first to be awarded a Presidential Unit Citation.
Here’s a post from @Military Armed Forces showing the ship starting off for Texas.
USS Kitty Hawk (CV-63), departed Bremerton for a 16,000-mile journey around South America for its ultimate fate: scrapping at a Texas shipyard. (EP.2) pic.twitter.com/ZqWW51BXyZ
— Military Armed Forces (@Military9Army) January 17, 2022
The ship will travel 16,000 miles to its last destination, rounding the South American continent. At more than 280 feet wide, it’s too large to pass through the Panama Canal. The trip could take 130 days or longer to complete.