Kitty Hawk class aircraft carrier

USS Kitty Hawk (CV-63)

Class overview
Name: Kitty Hawk-class aircraft carrier
Builders: New York Shipbuilding

New York Navy Yard Newport News Shipbuilding

Operators: United States Navy
Preceded by: Forrestal class aircraft carrier
Succeeded by: Custer class aircraft carrier
In commission: 21 April 1961 – Present
Completed: 4
Retired: 0
General characteristics
Displacement: 60,933 tons light

81,780 tons full load

Length: 1,069 ft (326 m) overall

990 ft (300 m) waterline

Beam: 130 ft (40 m) waterline

282 ft (86 m) extreme

Draft: 38 ft (12 m)
Propulsion: Westinghouse geared steam turbines, eight steam boilers, four shafts; 280,000 shp
Speed: 32 knots
Range: 12,000 miles
Aircraft carried: Up to 90 aircraft

The Kitty Hawk-class supercarriers of the United States Navy is an incremental improvement on the Forrestal class aircraft carrier vessels. Four were built, all in the 1960s, USS Kitty Hawk (CV-63) (1961–Present), USS Constellation (CV-64) (1961–Present), USS America (CV-66) (1965–Present) and USS John F. Kennedy (CV-67) (1967–Present).

Improved Forrestal aircraft carriersEdit

The biggest differences from the Forrestals are greater length, and a different placement of elevators; two are forward of the island, one is aft of the island and another on the portside stern. The movement of the #4 elevator from the forward to the after end of the angle made it useful for aircraft movement, since the forward-end elevator was useless as it was in both the landing path and in the launch path of the #3 and #4 catapults.

Three different shipyards were used to construct the ships. Kitty Hawk was built at New York Shipbuilding Corporation, Constellation at New York Naval Shipyard, America and John F. Kennedy at Newport News Shipbuilding. Propulsion consisted of four Westinghouse geared turbines, 280,000 shp, four shafts with eight 1,200 psi Foster Wheeler boilers.

Construction and design differencesEdit

The first three units were constructed with a Terrier surface to air missile system. The supporting missile launchers and AN/SPG-55 radars consumed a large amount of space, while at the same time duplicating the capabilities of the air defence escorts, and were later removed. John F. Kennedy did not have Terrier and was built with the shorter ranged Sea Sparrow, Basic Point Defense Missile System (BPDMS). All were eventually equipped with NATO Sea Sparrow (NSSM) and Phalanx CIWS for self defense. In 2001, Kitty Hawk received two Rolling Airframe Missile launchers replacing the forward Sea Sparrow and Phalanx CIWS equipment. The SLQ-32 Electronic Warfare Suite was added as part of the Service Life Extension Program (SLEP) on Kitty Hawk and Constellation.

America had several differences from the lead units of the class. Instead of two forward anchors, one on each side, America had no starboard anchor and an additional anchor astern, a change made to accommodate the AN/SQS-23 sonar. America was the only post-World War II U.S. carrier to be built with sonar, though it was removed in the early 1980s. She also had a narrow smokestack compared to prior units.

Ships in classEdit

Name Builder Commissioned Recommissioned Fate
USS Kitty Hawk (CV-63) New York Shipbuilding Corporation 29 April 1961 31 Jan 2009 In service
USS Constellation (CV-64) New York Naval Shipyard 27 October 1961 7 August 2003 In service
USS America (CV-66) Newport News Shipbuilding 23 January 1965 9 August 1996 In service
USS John F. Kennedy (CV-67) Newport News Shipbuilding 7 September 1968 1 August 2007 In service