It’s one of the most legendary warships of all time and the last conventionally powered aircraft carrier in the U.S. Navy. Now, as part of an initiative to increase the number of ships in the Navy, the USS Kitty Hawk could be making a comeback.
The revelation came in a Defense & Aerospace Report interview with Naval Sea Systems Command Vice Adm. Thomas Moore. Among other topics, Moore talked about ways to increase the Navy’s fleet from 275 warships to 355 warships.
That’s the number of ships that Naval officials told Congress it needed back in 2016, according to USNI News.
Moore said that one of the ways to do this was to bring decommissioned and mothballed ships back into service. Of the options he presented, the most interesting was bringing the Kitty Hawk — the last diesel-powered aircraft carrier in American service — back into action.
“Of the carriers that are in inactive status right now, Kitty Hawk is the one that you could think about,” Moore said in the interview. “The carriers are pretty old, so I think there’s limited opportunity in the inactive fleet to bring those back, but we’re going to go look at that ship by ship and put that into the mix.”
Commissioned in 1961 and decommissioned in 2009, the Kitty Hawk earned the name “Battle Cat.” According to the veterans news website Task & Purpose, the 82,000-ton carrier has been deployed in conflicts ranging from the Vietnam War and the Iranian hostage crisis to more recent troubles in Somalia and Iraq.
Given that aircraft carriers have already formed a large part of President Donald Trump’s strategy in dealing with North Korea, the Kitty Hawk would definitely be an interesting choice. Even though it is conventionally powered — which gives it less range than nuclear-powered warships — carriers allow the projection of strength far outside the range of artillery or missiles.
However, there is one problem to consider. In addition to the nickname “Battle Cat,” the Kitty Hawk has earned another, less desirable moniker: “S***ty Kitty.” That’s based on the carrier’s notoriety for breaking down in costly ways.
In a 2007 book, “A Carrier at War: On Board the USS Kitty Hawk in the Iraq War,” author Richard Miller described the Kitty Hawk thusly:
“This boat’s old. Old pipes, too many coats of paint, too many welds and re-welds. She’s been around too long. Lots of sailors don’t like her. She’s a pain in the ass to clean and too damned expensive to run.”
Will she be making a comeback? It’s hard to say for sure, but it certainly would be a fitting reprise for one of America’s most legendary ships.
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