First the FORRESTAL, then the CONSTELLATION, now the SARATOGA. Classic aircraft carriers known to generations of sailors and airmen, technological marvels of the 1950s and 1960s, languishing in layup for many years, all meeting their end in south Texas.
The last of the three to begin the journey is the SARATOGA (CV 60), towed out Thursday, Aug. 21, from Newport, Rhode Island, bound for a scrapyard in Brownsville, Texas. Long a fixture in Coddington Cove near the Naval War College, the ship was the last of three behemoths that the Navy once stored here — for a time, the FORRESTAL (CV 59) and battleship IOWA (BB 61) were berthed here for lack of good space elsewhere.
The IOWA lives on, now a museum attraction in San Pedro, California at the Port of Los Angeles, The FORRESTAL, latterly stored in Philadelphia, was towed in February to the All Star Metals shipbreaking facility in Brownsville.
On the West Coast, the CONSTELLATION, kept at Bremerton, Washington since being decommissioned in 2003, began her long tow on Aug. 8, headed around South America — the ship is too wide to fit through the Panama Canal — and expected to arrive at International Shipbreaking in Brownsville this winter.
The SARATOGA is bound for ESCO Marine in Brownsville.
So, within a few months, all three super carriers will be within several thousand yards of each other, each being broken up by a shipbreaker working on the largest job they’ve ever had, and each one hidden from public view by security screens to protect them from prying eyes eager to discern details — still classified — of their underwater protection systems.
FORRESTAL was the first of the “super carriers” – significantly larger and more capable than all who came before her. Commissioned in 1955 as CVA 59, she became CV 59 in 1975 — when all CVAs were reclassified — and then became AVT-59 in 1992 while being converted for use as a training carrier. (The “A” auxiliary designation was necessary to allow women, still banned from combatants, to serve aboard.) She was decommissioned and stricken in September 1993.
SARATOGA was next, commissioned in 1956. She decommissioned in 1994.
CONSTELLATION was commissioned in 1961, serving until 2003.
Before these three, the largest warship ever scrapped anywhere was the World War II-built CORAL SEA (CV 43).
Scroll all the way down to see these great ladies in their prime.
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