USS Kitty Hawk
When the branch learnt that America's oldest active warship the USS Kitty Hawk (CV63) was making a courtesy call to Hong Kong, a visit was quickly arranged. On a cold and very breezy day, branch members and guests gathered at Queen's Ferry Pier then joined the carrier by launch out at the anchorage. We were given a guided tour, visiting the hangar bay, the flight deck and the forecastle. On the flight deck, our guide gave us a detailed explanation of how the steam-driven catapults hurl the aircraft off the deck and how the arresting gear (a total of three sets, so three chances) catch the aircraft as they land. It was also interesting to note that every take off and landing is videoed so that pilots can fine tune their take off and landing skills. The flight deck of a carrier during operations has been described 'as one of the most dangerous ballets in the world', given the number of aircraft, people and equipment working in a confined area. We also enjoyed looking at the different aircraft and helicopters including Super Hornets, Prowlers, Seahawks and Sikorsky helicopters.
For those who enjoy facts and figures, the Kitty Hawk has plenty to offer. She was commissioned in 1961, is part of the Pacific fleet and is based in Yokosuka, Japan. She has an 86,000 tonnes displacement, a speed of more than 30 knots, fuel capacity of 15,200 m3, four propellers each 21 feet wide, a crew of 5300 including 350 women, 65 hospital beds, five dentists, two lawyers, three chaplains and average daily soda consumption — 5040 cans a day!
Graham Cowling FNI
Seaways June 2005