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USS John F. Kennedy (CV-67)

USS John F. Kennedy (CV-67)

The USS John F. Kennedy is a decommissioned Kitty Hawk-class aircraft carrier of the US Navy. She is currently laid up at the Naval Inactive Ship Maintenance Facility in Philadelphia, but as of this writing, it appears as if the "Big John" will be preserved in Boston as a museum ship.


Kennedy was laid down in October of 1964 at the Newport News Shipbuilding company near Norfolk, Virginia, where she was launched near the end of May, 1967. Originally designed as a nuclear-powered carrier, she was converted to conventional turbines early in the construction process. The design underwent numerous other modifications, distinguishing her from others of her class.

Repairs and Upgrades

Unless otherwise noted, all maintenance and repairs were carried out at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard.

During an eight-week period at end of 1972, maintenance work was done on the catapult brakes, weapons elevators and saltwater cooling pumps; in addition, her flight deck was modified for the new Grumman EA-6B Prowler fighter plane.

Kennedy underwent her first major maintenance cycle starting in mid-March of 1974. Initial work was carried out at Drydock No. 8 and she returned to the water at the end of June; maintenance and upgrades continued until the end of November, however. She received additional upgrades during the first half of 1976.

The next major overhaul took most of 1979. Initially laid up at Drydock No. 8, Kennedy was moved to Pier 5 after an attempted arson attack. Here, several electronic and radar systems as well as personnel facilities were upgraded.

Minor maintenance was undertaken at Pier 12 during August 1981. On 26-28 October of that year, she underwent an engine inspection.

From mid-October 1982 until mid February 1983, Kennedy underwent a general overhaul and a maintenance and inspection period in May. During September of 1984, the carrier underwent upgrades of weapons, landing and targeting equipment.

Kennedy went to the yard on a status of "restricted availability" on 1 May 1987, remaining through the end of August.

Between mid-March and mid-June of 1989, Kennedy remained in the yard for an "industrial period" during which new systems were installed. The following February, she underwent repairs for weather damage of her bow catwalks and the installation of a new computer system.

Repairs following Operation "Desert Shield" were carried out over the summer of 1991. This included changes to the flight deck and hanger bay to accommodate a new aircraft (the F/A-18 Hornet) as well as replacement of crew facilities and installation of a new computer system.

In mid-September 1993, Kennedy entered the Philadelphia Naval shipyard. During the two-year overhaul, the vessel's asbestos was removed. Additional maintenance was undertaken in 2000 and 2001 and 2003. A 15-month overhaul scheduled for 2005 was canceled when the Navy determined the carrier's upkeep to be too costly.

Wartime Service

The Kennedy was frequently deployed to the Mediterranean, and participated in operations during crises in the Middle East during the 1970s and 1980s when not involved in regular NATO exercises. The vessel also saw service during Operation Desert Shield in 1991, the Bosnian conflict and recent actions in the Persian Gulf and Arabian Sea.

Asbestos Risk on the USS John F. Kenney (CV-67)

The "Big John" experienced several accidents resulting in substantial damage during her four-decade career. On 11 October 1973, a fire broke out in a storage room while the vessel was at Edinburgh, Scotland. The first major damage done to the vessel however was the result of attempted arson while in port at the Norfolk NOB in June of 1975. Two serious accidents occurred within a year of each other between November 1975 and September 1976. The first was a collision with the destroyer USS Belknap during maneuvers in the Mediterranean, resulting in massive damage to the smaller vessel. Less than a year later, the Kennedy was rammed by the USS Bordelon during a nighttime operation in the North Sea.

In February 1979, a leaking steam line caused a fire in a Level 03 living compartment. Kennedy was again the target of arsonists while in port at Norfolk during April and June of 1979. During the first incident, a shipyard worker was killed and 34 others suffered burn injuries.

The use of asbestos in the construction of marine ships was mandated by law in the United States in the 1930s, after a fire at sea aboard the SS Morro Castle resulted in enormous loss of life. Kennedy was built before the ban and crewmen living and working aboard, as well as those who removed asbestos from the ship in the 1990s, were exposed to considerable levels of asbestos and may be at risk for mesothelioma.

As of this writing medical science has not found a mesothelioma cure; however, skilled doctors such as Dr. David Sugarbaker are constantly working to create viable treatments and methods. Asbestos-related diseases like pleural mesothelioma are relatively rare. Good treatment options are available however at mesothelioma clinics are located in major cities across the U.S. Accurate information concerning mesothelioma is not easy to research, so to help we've created a mesothelioma information packet with complete information about your legal options and choices for medical treatment, as well as a list of mesothelioma trials nationwide. Simply fill in the form on this page and we'll mail you the packet free of charge.

Author: Linda Molinari

Editor in Chief, Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance

Linda Molinari


Cressman, Robert and Michael McKay. Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships (website). Updated 31 January 2008. Retrieved 10 December 2010.

N/A. "Navy Announces Availability of ex-John F. Kennedy for Donation." US Navy website Updated 23 November 2009.