Decommissioned US Navy aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk departs for breaker’s yard

The US Navy aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk underway in the Philippine Sea on May 7, 2004 (Photo: US Navy/Photographer's Mate 2nd Class William H. Ramsey)
The US Navy aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk underway in the Philippine Sea on May 7, 2004 (Photo: US Navy/Photographer's Mate 2nd Class William H. Ramsey)

The decommissioned US Navy aircraft carrier ex-USS Kitty Hawk has departed the Puget Sound Naval Inactive Ship Maintenance Facility (NISMF) at Bremerton, Washington, with a final destination of Brownsville, Texas, where it will be broken up.

Ex-Kitty Hawk is being towed more than 16,000 miles (25,750 kilometres) to the facilities of International Shipbreaking.

The journey, estimated to last 129 days, will require sailing around South America as the carrier's size prohibits it from transiting the Panama Canal.

Ex-Kitty Hawk was sold to International Shipbreaking in late 2021. Among the reasons for the company's selection by the navy was the lack of salvage yards on the US West Coast with facilities large enough to accommodate the veteran carrier.

International Shipbreaking was also selected for the dismantling of ex-USS John F. Kennedy, another decommissioned aircraft carrier.

Ex-Kennedy and ex-Kitty Hawk, which were retired from service in 2007 and 2009, respectively, were the last two conventionally-powered aircraft carriers to be operated by the US Navy.

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