The USS John F. Kennedy was part of the Kitty Hawk-class of conventionally-powered vessels in service with the United States Navy in the Atlantic Ocean and during a bulk of the Cold War years and beyond. Initially ordered as a nuclear type craft, the John F. Kennedy was switched over to boiler power while still under construction and became the final ship in the Kitty Hawk line to enter service (then under the designation of "CVA-67"). The JFK served from 1968 through to August of 2007, only recently being retired from active service. Through that time, the JFK had been across the Atlantic, traversing to and through at various hotspots and more recently even took part in the American offensive against the Taliban after the events of September 11th, 2001. The vessel was named in honor of slain United States President John Fitzgerald Kennedy - gunned down by an assassin's bullet while on visit in Dallas, Texas. The in-port cabin of the JFK vessel was decorated by First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy whom was also present at the ships christening.
In essence, the Kitty Hawk-class of carriers represented an "improved" Forrestal-class of carrier and were therefore regarded as a type of sub-class to this main class. The Kitty Hawk-class was made different from her predecessor class in that she was fitted with modified island set further aft on the starboard side and featured two forward hangar elevators as opposed to the single ones found on the Forrestal-class (for a total of four hangar elevators - two forward and two aft). The USS John F. Kennedy was even slightly more different that her sisters Kitty Hawk, America and Constellation in that she was fitted with a specialized underwater protection system - a suite originally developed for use in nuclear-powered carriers. The class as a whole featured four steam-powered catapult units serving the flight deck which contained a straight forward edge (2 catapults), and angled starboard-to-port landing field (2 catapults) and the four aforementioned hangar elevators (three starboard and one port). Additionally, the Kitty Hawk-class warships were provided with powerful anti-submarine detection centers, navigational suites and tactical command centers to ensure proper mission-time execution as needed. The vessels also featured complex launch and retrieval satellite communications systems (OE-82) to streamline simultaneous aircraft arrival and departure.
As a conventionally-powered craft, the USS John F. Kennedy was fitted with 8 x boiler systems (1,200psi) feeding 4 x steam turbines which in turn operated 4 x propeller shafts to the tune of 280,000 shaft horsepower allowing for speeds of up to 34 knots in ideal conditions. The crew complement of the John F. Kennedy totaled some 5,410 personnel including officers. This was broken down into 2,930 sailors and officers serving the vessel with the other 2,480 airmen and officers as part of the onboard air wing. Armament for the JFK (apart from the air wing) was strictly defensive, consisting of two Sea Sparrow missile launchers, 2 x Rolling Airframe Missile launchers and 2 x Phalanx Close-In Weapon Systems (CIWS) for anti-aircraft / anti-missile support. Her air wing consisted of up to 80 aircraft that eventually spanned aviation generations and would go on to include the A-7 Corsair, A-6 Intruder, S-3 Viking, F-14 Tomcat and F/A-18 Hornet series aircraft among others.
The USS John F. Kennedy operated the early 1970's in the Mediterranean Ocean and surrounding regions. During this time, she was fitted to launch the newly operational Grumman F-14 Tomcat interceptors and the Lockheed S-3 Viking anti-submarine warfare aircraft, effectively extending her offensive capabilities two fold. The 1980's saw her serving off of the coast of Lebanon in response to the terrorist US Marines barracks bombing. By the end of the decade, her flight decks were alive once again in anger against Libyan MiG aircraft in the over Libya and Iraqi targets in Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm (by this time the flight deck was refitted to handle the newer McDonnell Douglas / Boeing F/A-18 Hornet strike fighters). Events of 9/11 once again called the JFK into offensive-minded service - most likely for the last time - against the Taliban and Al Qaeda targets. As one of the most expensive vessels afloat with the United States Navy at the turn of the New Millennium, it was decided to end her sea-going days with a farewell tour which ended in Mayport, Florida and ultimately Norfolk, Virginia.
The USS John F. Kennedy was first ordered in April of 1964 with construction beginning in October of that same year. She was launched in 1967 and officially commissioned in 1968. The JFK was decommissioned in 2007 and is currently awaiting her fate with the United States Navy in Philadelphia. Several programs are underway to save the vessel as a floating museum is fiscally possible. The USS John F. Kennedy fought under the banner of "Date Nolite Rogare" which, translated, means "Give, be unwilling to ask" as in a direct reference to President John F. Kennedy's oft-noted speech mentioning the phrase "Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country." The JFK was also affectionately known as (the) "Can Opener" and "Big John". The nickname of "Can Opener" stemming from her collision with the USS Belknap destroyer in 1975, leaving the destroyer with a bulk of the damage from the meeting.