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USS Saratoga (CV-60) Conventional Powered Aircraft Carrier (1956)

Authored By JR Potts, AUS 173d AB | Last Updated: 5/9/2013

The USS Saratoga is currently slated for disposal with several failed attempts having been made to preserve her as a floating museum.

The crew called her Sara and she was ordered as a "Large Aircraft Carrier" the fifth ship in the United states Navy to have that battle name. USS Saratoga (CV-60) being the second of the four Forrestal-class carriers was reclassified as an "Attack Aircraft Carrier" (CVA-60) on 1 October 1952. Her keel was laid down on 16 December 1952 by the New York Naval Shipyard, New York City, N.Y. She was launched on 8 October 1955 and commissioned on 14 April 1956, Capt. R. J. Stroh in command.

For the next several months, Saratoga conducted various flights, steering, high speed runs, and gunnery tests. In August 1956, she sailed for Guantanamo and her shakedown cruise returning to her home port, Mayport Florida, after having passed all required bench marks and test specifications. Sara was ready for sea.

On June 6th, 1957, President Dwight D. Eisenhower and members of his cabinet boarded Saratoga to observe operations on board Big Sara. To show the speed of the air wing a surprise operation was the nonstop flight of two F8U Crusaders, crossing the continental United States in three hours and twenty-eight minutes, launched from USS Bon Homme Richard (CVA-31) on the West coast to the flight deck of the Saratoga in the Atlantic off the East coast.

Saratoga departed Mayport for the Mediterranean and her first deployment with the Sixth Fleet. On 15 July 1958 amphibious units landed 1,800 Marines on the beach near Beirut, Lebanon, to support the Lebanese government, while aircraft from Saratoga and USS Essex (CV-9) flew air cover. The actions of the Marines on the ground supported by two carrier air wings flying numerous sorties led to no loss of American life and resolution to the situation within a matter of days. During this action Attack Squadron 34, flying A-4D Skyhawks from Saratoga's air wing was the first squadron deployed to the Sixth Fleet equipped with Bullpup missiles.

The Cold War was in full swing in July 68, when Saratoga departed Mayport for her ninth Mediterranean deployment. While underway, a Soviet surface force and a November-class submarine passed in close proximity, while en route to Communist Cuba. Continuing on to the Azores Saratoga was in contact with Kipelovo-based Soviet aircraft. The standard procedure is to launch the air cap and intercept the bogie Soviet aircraft challenging them to force a course change or be shot down. This was accomplished and the soviet aircraft were escorted out of the carrier's vicinity.

During the ninth deployment Sara operated with the Sixth Fleet in the Eastern Mediterranean. In September she was sent to show the flag in response to a Soviet fleet operating in the area. Tensions increased when a Trans-World Airlines plane going to Syria was hijacked, Saratoga countered with numerous surveillance and reconnaissance flights conducted by Carrier Wing Three against Soviet surface units in the area.

In May 1972, Saratoga sailed from Mayport en route to Vietnam the following week, arriving on "Yankee Station" on 18 May for her first deployment in a combat zone, the battle line. In air engagements from flack and SAM missiles. Saratoga lost four aircraft and three pilots. Two F-4 Phantoms from VF-31 attacked three MiG 21s over North Vietnam and shot down one of the MiG aircraft by Cmdr. Samuel C. Flynn Jr., with radar intercept officer Lt. William H. John. At deployment end the Phantom flown by Flynn, was presented to the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum.

During a seventeen day period in September 1972, Saratoga air wings flew over 800 combat strike missions against targets in North Vietnam. In November her aircraft flew 83 close air support sorties in six hours in support of a force of 250 ARVN troops cut off by the North Vietnamese 48th Regiment. Sara's Air wing provided cover for the ARVN troops to advance. The air missions and boots on the ground verified that 102 North Vietnamese soldiers were KIA. Saratoga departed "Yankee Station" for the United States and arrived at Mayport in February 1973.

In January 1991, Operation Desert Shield became Operation Desert Storm. Aircraft from Saratoga flew against Iraq in the first step to knock out Saddam Hussein's invasion force and drive it from Kuwait. Sara's aircraft dropped more than four million pounds of ordnance on enemy targets in Kuwait and Iraq. Saratoga departed the Gulf on March 11, 1991. After seven months and 21 days, 11,700 arrested landings, 12,700 sorties flown, and traveled a record 36,382 miles. Saratoga return home was greeted by family and a grateful nation to a hero's welcome.

Saratoga, the Navy's oldest active duty carrier, sailed to the rendezvous point with her relief, the nuclear powered aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN-73). Saratoga arrived pier side for the last time in Sara's 38-year career at the Naval Station, Mayport, Fla., on June 24,1994. Saratoga was decommissioned and stricken from the Navy List on August 20,1994. She remains at Naval Station, Newport, R.I., waiting her fate to become a floating museum, or scrap.

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Specifications for the
USS Saratoga (CV-60)
Conventional Powered Aircraft Carrier

Country of Origin: United States
Initial Year of Service: 1956
Operators: United States

Crew: 5,540

Length: 1063ft (324.00m)
Beam: 130ft (39.62m)
Draught: 37ft (11.28m)
Displacement: 81,101tons

Machinery: 8 x Babcock & Wilcox boilers powering 4 x geared steam turbines at 280,000shp; 4 x shafts.

Surface Speed: 35kts (40mph)
Range: 0miles (0km)

8 x 5"/54 caliber (127mm) Mark 42 cannons
Spea Sparrow anti-aircraft missile launchers
20mm Phalanx Close-In Weapon System (CIWS) anti-aircraft/anti-missile defense cannon

Air Arm: Between 70 and 90 aircraft of various makes and types.

Ship Class: Forrestal-class
Number-in-Class: 4
Ships-in-Class: USS Forrestal (CV-59); USS Saratoga (CV-60); USS Independence (CV-62); USS Ranger (CV-70)