USS America (CVA/CV-66) was one of three Kitty Hawk-class supercarriers built for the United States Navy in the 1960s. Commissioned in 1965, she spent most of her career in the Atlantic and Mediterranean, but did make three Pacific deployments serving in the Vietnam War. She also served in the Persian Gulf War's operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm.
America was the first large aircraft carrier since Operation Crossroads in 1946 to be expended in weapons tests. In 2005, she was scuttled southeast of Cape Hatteras, after four weeks of tests, despite a large protest of former crew-members who wanted to see her instituted as a memorial museum. She was the largest warship ever to be sunk.
Originally ordered as an Enterprise-class nuclear carrier, the ballooning costs of Enterprise during construction caused the cancellation of the nuclear CVAN-66 and her reordering as a conventionally powered Kitty Hawk-class carrier. Her keel was laid down on 1 January 1961 at Newport News, Virginia, by the Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Corp.; launched on 1 February 1964, she was sponsored by Mrs. Catherine McDonald, wife of Admiral David L. McDonald, the Chief of Naval Operations at that time. She was commissioned at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard on 23 January 1965 with Captain Lawrence Heyworth Jr., in command.
After fitting out there until 15 March 1965, America remained in Hampton Roads for operations off the Virginia Capes until getting underway on 25 March 1965. She conducted her first catapult launch on 5 April 1965, with Commander Kenneth B. Austin, the Executive Officer, piloting a Douglas A-4C Skyhawk. Later proceeding to the Caribbean, America conducted shakedown training and concluded it at Guantanamo Bay on 23 June 1965.
Entering the Norfolk shipyard for post-shakedown availability on 10 July 1965, she remained there until 21 August. She next operated locally through late August and then proceeded to the operating areas off the Virginia Capes and to Bermuda, arriving back at Norfolk on 9 September 1965.
America sailed for her first Mediterranean deployment late in 1965, commencing on her 30 year adventure and service to her namesake....