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Kitty Hawk class

Aircraft carrier

Kitty Hawk class

The Kitty Hawk class carriers were similar in size and composition to the Nimitz class

Country of origin United States
Entered service 1961
Crew 2 930 men
Aircrew 2 480 men
Dimensions and displacement
Length 320.6 m
Beam 39.60 m
Draught 11.40 m
Flight deck width 76.80 m
Displacement, full load 81 430 tons
Propulsion and speed
Speed 32 knots
Propulsion Oil boilers
Fixed wing 20 x F-14 Tomcat
36 x F/A-18 Hornet
4 x EA-6B Prowler
4 x E-2C Hawkeye
6 x S-3B Viking
Helicopters 4 x SH-60F Ocean Hawk
2 x HH-60H Rescue Hawk
Missiles 3 x octuple Sea Sparrow SAM launchers (no reloads)
Other 2 x 20 mm Vulcan Phalanx close-in weapon systems


   The Kitty Hawk class was a sucessor to the previous Forrestal class. The new aircraft carriers were built to an improved design. The four Kitty Hawk class aircraft carriers in reality constitute three sub-classes that are easily distinguished from their predecessors by the fact that their island superstructures are set farther aft. in addition, two of their four aircraft elevators are forward of the islands, the Forrestals having only one in this location. A lattice radar mast is also carried abaft of the island.

   The USS America (commissioned in January 1965) was very similar to the first two ships (USS Kitty Hawk and USS Constellation, commissioned in June 1961 and January 1962), and was built in preference to an austere-version nuclear-powered carrier. It was, however, the only US carrier of post-war construction to be fitted with a sonar system. The last unit, the USS John F. Kennedy, was built to a revised design incorporating an underwater protection system developed originally for the nuclear carrier programme, and was commissioned in September 1968. All four were built with steam catapults and carried some 2 150 tons of aviation ordnance plus about 7.38 million liters (1.95 million US gallons) of aviation fuel for their air groups. These are again similar in size and composition to those of the Nimitz class. The tactical reconnaissance element in each of the air wings was usually provided by a handful of Grumman F-14 Tomcats equipped with a digital TARPS (tactical airborne reconnaissance system) pod. The Tomcats were later replaced in all roles by the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet multi-role fighters and strike aircraft.

   The ships were all fitted with full Anti-Submarine Classification and Analysis Center (ASCAC), Navigational Tactical Direction System (NTDS) and Tactical Flag Command Center (TFCC) facilities, America being the first carrier to be fitted with the NTDS. The ships all had the OE-82 satellite communications system, and were the first carriers able simultaneously to launch and recover aircraft easily; on previous carriers this was considered a tricky operation. Three of the ships passed through a SLEP (service life extension programme), but America was retired in the early 1990s without SLEPing. By 2009 all Kitty Hawk class aircraft carriers have been decommissioned.


Name Laid down Launched Commissioned Status
USS Kitty Hawk (CV-64) 1956 1960 1961

decommissioned in 2009

USS Constellation (CV-65) 1957 1960 1961

decommissioned in 2003

USS America (CV-66) 1961 1964 1965

decommissioned in 1996

USS John F. Kennedy (CV-67) 1964 1967 1968

decommissioned in 2007



Kitty Hawk class aircraft carrier

Kitty Hawk class

Kitty Hawk class

Kitty Hawk class


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