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NavSource Online: Aircraft Carrier Photo Archive

Patch at left courtesy of CAPT Gene Oleson, CHC, USN (Ret) (
Patch at right contributed by Mike Smolinski.

(later CV-66)

Courtesy of Al Grazevich

Flag Hoist/Radio Call Sign: November - Uniform - Sierra - Alpha
Tactical Voice Radio Call: "COURAGE"

Unit Awards, Campaign and Service Medals and Ribbons


Precedence of awards is from top to bottom, left to right
Top Row: Navy Unit Commendation (3) / Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation (5)
2nd Row: Navy Expeditionary Medal (3) / National Defense Service Medal (2) / Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal (5)
3rd Row: Vietnam Service Medal (5 stars) / Southwest Asia Service Medal (2 stars) / Armed Forces Service Medal
4th Row: Humanitarian Service Medal / Republic of Vietnam Meritorious Unit Citation (Gallantry Cross Medal with Palm) / NATO Medal (Yugoslavia)
5th Row: Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal / Liberation of Kuwait Medal (Saudi Arabia) / Kuwait Liberation Medal (Kuwait)

Displacement 60,300 Tons, Dimensions, 1047' 6" (oa) x 129' 4" x 37' (Max)
Armament 4 Terrier-SAM, 100 Aircraft.
Armor, Unknown.
Machinery, 280,000 SHP; G.E. Geared Turbines, 4 screws
Speed, 34 Knots, Crew 4154-4580.
Operational and Building Data

Laid down by Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Corp. 1 January 1961. Name assigned 10 January 1962. Launched 1 February 1964 and commissioned 23 January 1965.

Reclassified as a Multi-purpose Aircraft Carrier (CV-66) on 30 June 1975.

Fate: Decommissioned and stricken on 9 August 1996. Sunk in the Atlantic Ocean, off the Virginia coast, on 14 May 2005, after 25 days of tests consisting of underwater and surface simulated attacks on the ship. These tests were intended to provide valuable data on survivability for the next generation of aircraft carriers.

According to the December 4, 2006 issue of "Navy Times," ex-America was in one piece and sitting on its keel, some 476 miles east of Charleston, SC, and about 400 miles west of Bermuda, and 16,860 feet (5,139 meters) below the surface. This information was obtained by the USS America Carrier Veterans Association on October 30, through a Freedom of Information Act request.

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Size Image Description Contributed
By And/Or Copyright

"America" is the name given to the large land mass in the Western Hemisphere consisting of northern and southern continents, originally connected by an isthmus but now separated by the Panama Canal. Although discovered by Christopher Columbus, America is named for Amerigo Vespucci, who first recognized it as a new continent. The term America is often used loosely to designate the United States of America.

The name America was personally selected by President John F. Kennedy (image courtesy of Ron Reeves). Secretary of the Navy John B. Connally had proposed the name Congress. Other names under consideration were Constitution, Alliance and Langley.

The name America was previously carried by:

  1. A 74-gun ship of the line intended for the Continental Navy but presented to France in 1782.
  2. A schooner.
  3. A troop transport.
General views, date unknown
CVA-66 America
67k Bows on view (small image) USN
CVA-66 America
46k Rail manned, preparing to dock. USN
CVA-66 America
60k At Dock. Fuzzy image. USN
CVA-66 America

This is US Navy photo # 1108134, dated/released 18 November 1964. Apparently, it was taken while PCU America (CVA-66) was running trials. Note practice Terrier missiles on both MK 10 launchers, aft.

Darryl Baker
CVA-66 America
102k America (CVA-66) on sea trials in the Chesapeake Bay, on the way to the Atlantic, December 1964. USN
CVA-66 America
CVA-66 America

This photo of America (CVA-66) is dated 1965 (might have been actually taken in December 1964, while running trials).

Jaume Cifré Sánchez
CVA-66 America

A McDonnell F-4B Phantom II (BuNo 150627) of Fighter Squadron (VF) 101 "Grim Reapers," Combat Readiness Air Wing (RCVW) 4, on the flight deck of USS America (CVA-66), sometime in 1965–1967.

U.S. Department of Defense photo (# DN-ST-88-00733).

Robert Hurst
CVA-66 America

An A-3B Skywarrior, BuNo 142404, from Naval Air Test Center, Pax River, MD, landing aboard USS America (CVA-66) for carrier suitability trials.

Official U.S. Navy photo (# 1112125) by John D. Reimer, PHC, dated 5 April 1965.

From the collection of CDR Thomas B. Ray (USS Essex), via Chris Stanley
CVA-66 America

An A-6A Intruder from Naval Air Test Center, Pax River, MD, landing aboard USS America (CVA-66) for carrier suitability trials.

Official U.S. Navy photo (# 1112123) by John D. Reimer, PHC, dated 5 April 1965.

From the collection of CDR Thomas B. Ray (USS Essex), via Chris Stanley
CVA-66 America

An A-4C Skyhawk, BuNo 147801, of VA-64 "Black Lancers," being hooked up on a forward catapult of USS America (CVA-66), as Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 6 commences carrier qualification operations.

Official U.S. Navy photo (# 1112132) by Robert Ekshain, PH2, dated 14 April 1965.

From the collection of CDR Thomas B. Ray (USS Essex), via Chris Stanley
CVA-66 America

USS America (CVA-66) underway on 31 August 1965. Aircraft parked on her flight deck include nine A-4C Skyhawk attack planes, four F-4B Phantom II fighters and three RA-5C Vigilante reconnaissance planes.

Official U.S. Navy Photograph (# USN 1114401).

Naval History & Heritage Command
CVA-66 America

An RA-5C Vigilante from RVAH-5 "Savage Sons" about to launch from USS America (CVA-66), 1965.

Jim Denton
CVA-66 America
99k Off Cannes, South of France, during her first Med cruise, November 29, 1965–July 10, 1966. Carrier Air Wing 6 (CVW-6). Robert Hurst
CVA-66 America

USS America (CVA-66) in the Bosphorus, off Istanbul, Turkey, in early 1966, during her first Mediterranean Cruise, with Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 6.

David Meare
CVA-66 America
CVA-66 America
CVA-66 America

USS America (CVA-66), 14 March 1966, with Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 6 aboard. Anchored at Grand Rade de Toulon, Toulon, France, in 16 fathoms (96ft; 29 m) of water.

Photo by Marius Bar, Toulon, France.

Jaume Cifré Sánchez
CVA-66 America
173k Coming into Norfolk, second half of 1966. Taken from the bridge of USS Redfin (SS-272). John Hummel, USN (Ret.)
CVA-66 America
63k An F-4 Phantom lands aboard USS America as the carrier refuels USS Meredith (DD-890), circa 1966. © Sheridan Carey
CVA-66 America
50k Underway in the Caribbean, 1967. Taken from the USS Meredith (DD-890). © Sheridan Carey
CVA-66 America + DD-714 + DDG-23
118k USS Richard E. Byrd (DDG-23) at left, the attack aircraft carrier USS America (CVA-66), and the destroyer USS William R. Rush (DD-714) underway in 1967, location unknown. Photo taken by PH1 R. L. Campbell, United States Navy, Official. Robert Hurst
CVA-66 America

During the 1967 Mediterranean cruise of USS America (CVA-66), what normally would have passed as just another day of flight operations turned into a literal "cliff hanger" for LT(JG) Karl Leuffen and his A-4C Skyhawk, of VA-36 "Roadrunners."

Read the complete story here (courtesy of the A-4 Skyhawk Association).

Ron Reeves
CVA-66 America

Taken from the Wallace L. Lind DD-703 in April, 67 in the Med.

Jim McCoy
CVA-66 America
111k Mediterranean Sea, June 1967. © Richard Leonhardt
CVA-66 America
68k Mediterranean Sea, June 1967. AO-61 Severn alongside. © Richard Leonhardt
CVA-66 America
39k Mediterranean Sea, June 15, 1967. AO-61 Severn alongside © Richard Leonhardt
CVA-66 America
49k Mediterranean Sea, June 17, 1967. © Richard Leonhardt
CVA-66 America

Official caption for this photo reads: "A Fighter Squadron 33 (VF-33) F-4J Phantom II [(BuNo 153856)] aircraft lands aboard the attack aircraft carrier USS America (CVA-66)." It is dated 15 October 1987.

However, this date is incorrect, since by 1987 VF-33 was equipped with F-14 Tomcats and assigned to Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 1, tail code "AB." Judging from aircraft markings, this picture was possibly taken in early 1968.

Robert Hurst
CVA-66 America

USS America (CVA-66), at the time the Navy's newest carrier, refueling from USS Caliente (AO-53), Saturday, 18 May 1968, in the South China Sea, just south of the Equator.

Bill recalls: "We were [...] on our way to New Zealand to play war games, when we unrep'd this carrier. My memory tells me that it had come [around Cape of Good Hope] and was heading for its first cruise to Vietnam."

America had departed Norfolk on April 10th, with Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 6 embarked.

Bill Dougherty, USS Caliente (AO‑53)
CVA-66 America
CVA-66 America
CVA-66 America

81k South China Sea coming alongside AO-57 USS Marias. © James W. Mitchell

88k Slowing for UNREP. This was the USS America's maiden voyage to Gulf of Tonkin (1968). © James W. Mitchell

105k Alongside AO-57 USS Marias. © James W. Mitchell

79k Stern view of America during UNREP. © James W. Mitchell

76k En route to the Gulf of Tonkin. © James W. Mitchell

79k One of the many aircraft operating overhead. © James W. Mitchell 
CVA-66 America + AOE-2 + DLG-22

USS England (DLG-22), from where the photo was taken, breaks away from USS Camden (AOE-2) and USS America (CVA-66) after a replenishment at sea in WestPac, possibly in July–October 1968. This was America's first deployment to Vietnam. Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 6 was deployed with the aircraft carrier.

John Spivey
CVA-66 America + AO-146 + DLG-22

USS Kawishiwi (AO-146) simultaneously servicing USS America (CVA-66) from her port side and USS England (DLG-22) from her starboard side in the Gulf of Tonkin, probably in early October 1968.

John Spivey
CVA-66 America

USS America (CVA-66)—her crew spelling out a cheery "HI SYDNEY" on the flight deck—approaches Sydney, Australia, on 11 November 1968, accompanied by a flotilla of small boats, in this view taken by Photographer 1st Class William M. Welch, Jr. (photo #NH 96651).

Photo and text from the "Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships," (DANFS), published by the Naval History & Heritage Command.

Robert Hurst
CVA-66 America

"In Sydney—The 'U.S.S. America,' one of the longest, biggest, mightiest war weapons ever assembled, arrived in Sydney today on a five-day goodwill visit." The Sun, Sydney, Tuesday, November 12, 1968.

Gerd Matthes, Germany
DD-719 + AF-59 + CVA-66 America

USS Vega (AF-59) with USS Epperson (DD-719) and USS America (CVA-66) alongside during an underway replenishment at sea. US Navy photo, most likely taken in the South China Sea, either in the summer of 1968 or the fall of 1970.

Ed Zajkowski
CVA-66 America

USS America (CVA-66), left; USS Franklin D. Roosevelt (CVA-42), framed in red; and USS Independence (CVA-62), framed in yellow. Norfolk Naval Shipyard, (probably) first half of 1969.

The photo clearly shows the size and design differences between the ships. FDR was designed and built during WW II to operate piston-engined aircraft; the ship was eventually upgraded to operate jets. America (Kitty Hawk-class) and Indy (Forrestal-class) were cold-war ships designed from the start to accommodate jet aircraft.

Steve Graham
CVA-66 America

The aircraft carrier USS America (CVA-66), left, moored next to the amphibious assault ship USS Boxer (LPH-4) at Pier No. 11, Naval Operating Base Norfolk, 1 October 1969. America had just completed a Drydocking Selected Restricted Availability (DSRA) at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard (since 24 January 1969). The former Essex-class carrier Boxer was decommissioned two months later, on 1 December 1969. Official U.S. Navy photograph, available from (id. DN-ST-88-04340).

Robert M. Cieri
CVA-66 America

U-2R operating aboard USS America (CVA-66) in 1969. Trials took place off the Virginia coast, November 21–23. Lockheed test pilot Bill Park and four CIA pilots underwent abbreviated carrier training and conducted a series of successful launches and recoveries. Reportedly, the plane was even taken down to the hangar deck with no significant difficulties.

Courtesy of via William Stevens
CVA-66 America

USS America (CVA-66) replenishing from a Sacramento-class fast combat support ship (AOE), 1970. Colorful tail of BuNo 148925, an RA-5C Vigilante assigned to RVAH-12 "Speartips," is visible at right.

Jeff Franklin, AE1, VA-147, Carrier Air Wing 9
CVA-66 America
CVA-66 America

This McDonnell F-4J Phantom II (BuNo 155807, modex NG201) from Fighter Squadron (VF) 92 "Silver Kings" hit the crash barrier aboard USS America (CVA-66). VF‑92 was assigned to Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 9 for a deployment to Vietnam, 10 April–21 December 1970.

CVA-66 America
CVA-66 America
734k On Yankee Station in 1970. © William P. Jones, M.D., Medical Officer AFS-3
CVA-66 America
53k On Yankee Station in 1970. © William P. Jones, M.D., Medical Officer AFS-3
CVA-66 America

USS America (CVA-66) underway, May 14, 1970. Note plane guard helicopter in right far background, an A-3 Skywarrior on the starboard catapult and an E-2A Hawkeye on the port one. F-4J Phantoms sit poised on the angled deck catapults. Photo taken by Photographer 3d Class L. J. Lafeir (# USN-1145455).

CVA-66 America

USS Navasota (AO-106) refueling USS Duncan (DD-874) to starboard and USS America (CVA-66) to port. Mid-1970 in the South China Sea. Photo taken from USS Bausell (DD-845).

Photo by Lee Noland, STGC, USN (Ret.)
USS Bausell
CVA-66 America

On 20 August 1970, at Manila, Vice Admiral Frederick A. Bardshar, Commander, Attack Carrier Striking Force, 7th Fleet, hosted the President of the Philippines, Ferdinand E. Marcos, on board USS America (CVA-66). President Marcos was given a 21-gun salute as he and Mrs. Marcos arrived on board from their Presidential yacht to visit the ship. Accompanied by American Ambassador and Mrs. Henry A. Byiade, they were greeted by Vice Admiral Bardshar and America's commanding officer, CAPT Thomas B. Hayward, and were subsequently escorted to the ship's hangar deck where the Carrier Division band and the ship's Marine detachment rendered honors. Following their arrival, the visiting party dined with Vice Admiral Bardshar and CAPT Hayward, and were later given a brief tour of the ship.

Ron Reeves
CVA-66 America

"HERE COMES THE AMERICABig crowds lined the foreshores to welcome the 78,000-ton aircraft-carrier USS America as she came through the Heads this morning." The Sun, Sydney, Saturday, November 21, 1970.

Gerd Matthes, Germany
CVA-66 America
64k A Ling-Temco-Vought A-7E Corsair II assigned to VA-82 "Marauders" in flight over USS America (CVA-66), 1971. Robert Hurst
CVA-66 America

USS America (CVA-66), 27 November 1971, with Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 8 aboard.

Photo by Marius Bar, Toulon, France.

Jaume Cifré Sánchez
CVA-66 America

Test of the anti-aircraft missile system on the way to Yankee Station, during America's WestPac 72-73 cruise. The photo was taken from "vulture's row" with a 35 mm Mamiya-Secor 1000 DTL SLR camera.

Partially visible are a North American RA-5C Vigilante of RVAH-6 "Fleurs" (foreground) and a McDonnell-Douglas F-4J Phantom II of VMFA-333 "Shamrocks."

© John Lowery, Avionicsman with VMFA-333
CVA-66 America

A Grumman A-6C Intruder (BuNo 155660) of Attack Squadron VA-35 "Black Panthers." VA-35, with a mix of A-6A, A-6C and KA-6D variants of the Intruder, was deployed as part of Carrier Air Wing Eight (CVW-8) aboard USS America (CVA-66) to Vietnam from 5 June 1972 to 24 March 1973. The designation A-6C was given to twelve A-6A's that were modified between February and June of 1970 as special aircraft designed to detect, track, and attack nighttime truck traffic along the "Ho Chi Minh Trail" during the Vietnam war. The planes were fitted with an internal "Black Crow" engine ignition detection system and a ventral TRIM (Trails-Roads Interdiction Multisensors) pod faired into the lower fuselage that contained the FLIR and LLLTV cameras.

Subsequently brought up to the A-6E standard, BuNo 155660 crashed on MCAS Yuma Range during a bombing run on 18 October 1983, while assigned to Marine All-Weather Attack Squadron VMA(AW)-242.

Photo taken by a U.S. Navy Sailor or employee.

Courtesy of The USS America Carrier Veterans Association,
via Robert Hurst
CVA-66 America

A McDonnell Douglas F-4J Phantom II, BuNo 153787, modex AJ112, from Fighter Squadron (VF) 74 "Be-Devilers" of Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 8, recovers aboard USS America (CVA-66), possibly off Vietnam, 1972–73. photo # DN-ST-88-00736.

Robert Hurst


A Vietnam cease-fire was announced on 23 January 1973 and came into effect on the 27th. The carriers USS Oriskany (CVA-34), USS Ranger (CVA-61), USS Enterprise (CVAN-65), and USS America (CVA-66) were on Yankee Station and cancelled all combat sorties.

On Sunday, 28 January 1973, all four carriers, along with a DD/DE screen, steamed together for a photo exercise. Visible in photo NS023467 is USS Bronstein (DE‑1037).

This is America, with Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 8, as seen from Oriskany, with CVW-19.

Bob Canchola, BT,
USS Oriskany, 1971–1973





Left to right: USS America (CVA-66), USS Enterprise (CVAN-65), and USS Ranger (CVA-61), with USS Oriskany (CVA-34) steaming astern of the Big E, and five destroyers and destroyer escorts in the lead. Vietnam cease-fire, Sunday, 28 January 1973.

Escorts are, left to right: USS Bronstein (DE-1037), USS Corry (DD-817), USS William C. Lawe (DD-763), USS Fanning (DE-1076), and USS Cone (DD‑866). (Photo and escorts id thanks to Enterprise WestPac 1972–73 Cruise Book, via Bob Canchola.)

USS Oriskany Alumni Facebook Group,
via Bob Canchola, BT, USS Oriskany 1971–1973


Zenithal view of the same group.

Via Bob Canchola, BT, USS Oriskany 1971–1973
CVA-66 America

Two views of USS America (CVA-66) anchored off Toulon, France, 19 January 1974, with Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 8 embarked.

Photos by Marius Bar, Toulon, France.

Jaume Cifré Sánchez
CVA-66 America
CV-66 America

USS America received three Mk.15 Phalanx Close-In Weapons Systems (CIWS) in June 1980: one on the port side, forward; one on the starboard side of the island; and one on the port quarter, later moved to the port side of the fantail. Phalanx can fire 3,000 rounds per minute and simultaneously measures the location of both target and projectiles in flight, automatically correcting the fire control solution. This is a vertical view of one the mounts, during a firing exercise.

General Dynamics Corp. photo (DVIC id: DN-SC-82-05395).

Defense Visual Information Distribution Service

For more photos and information about this ship, see:

Read the USS AMERICA (CVA-66 / CV-66) DANFS History entry

Crew Contact and Reunion Information
Contact: Edward Pelletier
Address: 26 Chestnut Street
Poughkeepsie, NY 12601
Phone: 914-471-7335
Web site: The USS America Carrier Veterans Association

Related Links
Hazegray & Underway World Aircraft Carrier Pages By Andrew Toppan.
Official U.S. Navy Carrier Website
The USS America Carrier Veterans Association

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Aircraft Carrier
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This page was created by Timothy Dike and is maintained by Fabio Peña
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Last update: 27 January 2018