USS Ranger (CV-61)

USS Ranger (CV-61)

The seventh USS "Ranger" (CV-61), formerly CVA-61, is a United States Navy "Forrestal"-class supercarrier.

Construction and trials

"Ranger" was the first aircraft carrier in the world to be laid down as an angled-deck ship (her elder sisters "Forrestal" and "Saratoga" had been laid down as axial-deck ships and were converted for an angled deck while under construction). She was laid down 2 August 1954 by Newport News Shipbuilding & Drydock Co., Newport News, Virginia, launched 29 September 1956, sponsored by Mrs. Arthur Radford (wife of Admiral Arthur W. Radford, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff) and commissioned at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard 10 August 1957, Captain Charles T. Booth II in command.

"Ranger" joined the U.S. Atlantic Fleet 3 October 1957. Just prior to sailing 4 October for Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for shakedown, she received the men and planes of Attack Squadron 85. She conducted air operations, individual ship exercises, and final acceptance trials along the eastern seaboard and in the Caribbean Sea until 20 June 1958. She then departed Norfolk, Virginia, with 200 Naval Reserve officer candidates for a 2-month cruise that took the carrier around Cape Horn. She arrived at her new homeport, Alameda, California, on 20 August and joined the Pacific Fleet.



The carrier spent the remainder of 1958 in pilot qualification training for Air Group 14 and fleet exercises along the California coast. Departing 3 January 1959 for final training in Hawaiian waters until 17 February, she next sailed as the flagship of Rear Admiral H. H. Caldwell, ComCarDiv 2, to join the 7th Fleet. Air operations off Okinawa were followed by maneuvers with SEATO naval units out of Subic Bay. A special weapons warfare exercise and a patrol along the southern seaboard of Japan followed. During this first WestPac deployment, "Ranger" launched more than 7,000 sorties in support of 7th Fleet operations. She returned to San Francisco Bay 27 July. During the next 6 months, "Ranger" kept herself in a high state of readiness through participation in exercises and coastal fleet operations.


With Carrier Air Group 9 embarked, she departed Alameda 6 February 1960 for a second WestPac deployment and returned to Alameda 30 August. From 11 August 1961 through 8 March 1962, "Ranger" deployed to the Far East a third time.

The next 7 months were filled with intensive training along the western seaboard in preparation for operations in the troubled waters of Southeast Asia. "Ranger" departed Alameda on 9 November for brief operations off Hawaii, thence proceeded, via Okinawa, to the Philippines. She steamed to the South China Sea 1 May 1963 to support possible Laotian operations. When the political situation in Laos relaxed 4 May, she resumed her operations schedule with the 7th Fleet. Arriving at Alameda from the Far East 14 June 1963, she underwent overhaul in the San Francisco Naval Shipyard 7 August 1963 through 10 February 1964. Refresher training out of Alameda commenced 25 March, interrupted by an operational cruise to Hawaii from 19 June to 10 July.

In May 1964, "Ranger" was deployed near French Polynesia in the Pacific Ocean to monitor the French nuclear tests on Mururoa Atoll, a task made possible by launching and recovering a Lockheed U-2 from its flight deck. The mission was so secret that the carrier crew had to go below deck when the U-2 was taking off and landing. Work on modifying the U-2 for carrier landing and take-off started in late 1963 and there was one accident during the carrier landing operation when the aircraft piloted by test pilot Bob Schumacher crashed.

Ranger again sailed for the Far East 6 August 1964. This deployment came on the heels of the Gulf of Tonkin incident.

Ranger made only an 8-hour stop in Pearl Harbor 10 August, then hurried on to Subic Bay, thence to Yokosuka, Japan. In the latter port on 17 October 1964, she became flagship of Rear Admiral Miller who commanded Fast Carrier Task Force 77. In the following months, she helped the 7th Fleet continue its role of steady watchfulness to keep sea lanes open and stop Communist infiltration by sea.

General William Westmoreland, commanding the Military Advisory Command in Vietnam, visited "Ranger" on 9 March 1965 to confer with Rear Admiral Miller. "Ranger" continued air strikes on enemy inland targets until 13 April when a fuel line broke, ignited and engulfed her No. 1 main machinery room in flames. The fire was extinguished in little over an hour. There was one fatality. She put into Subic Bay 15 April and sailed on the 20th for Alameda, arriving home on 6 May. She entered the San Francisco Naval Shipyard 13 May and remained there under overhaul until 30 September.

Following refresher training, "Ranger" departed Alameda on 10 December 1965 to rejoin the 7th Fleet. She and her embarked Carrier Air Wing 14 received the Navy Unit Commendation for exceptionally meritorious service during combat operations in Southeast Asia from 10 January to 6 August 1966.

"Ranger" departed the Gulf of Tonkin 6 August for Subic Bay, thence steamed via Yokosuka for Alameda, arriving on the 25th. She stood out of San Francisco Bay 28 September and entered Puget Sound Naval Shipyard 2 days later for overhaul. The carrier departed Puget Sound 30 May 1967 for training out of San Diego and Alameda. On 21 July 1967, she logged her 88,000th carrier landing.

From June until November, "Ranger" underwent a long and intensive period of training designed to make her fully combat ready. Attack Carrier Air Wing 2 (CVW-2) embarked on 15 September 1967, with the new Corsair II jet attack plane and the UH-2 C Seasprite rescue helicopter, making "Ranger" the first carrier to deploy with these powerful new aircraft. From carrier refresher training for CVW-2, "Ranger" proceeded to fleet exercise "Moon Festival." From 9 October to 16 October, the carrier and her air wing participated in every aspect of a major fleet combat operation.

Her efficiency honed to a fine edge, "Ranger" departed Alameda 4 November 1967 for WestPac. Arriving Yokosuka 21 November, she relieved "Constellation" and sailed for the Philippines on the 24th. After arriving at Subic Bay on 29 November, she made final preparations for combat operations in the Tonkin Gulf. Commander, Carrier Division 3, embarked on 30 November as Commander, TG 77.7; and "Ranger" departed Subic Bay on 1 December for Yankee Station.

Arriving on station 3 December 1967, "Ranger" commenced another period of sustained combat operations against North Vietnam. During the next 5 months, her planes hit a wide variety of targets, including ferries, bridges, airfields and military installations. Truck parks, rail facilities, antiaircraft guns and SAM sites were also treated to doses of Air Wing 2's firepower. Bob Hope's "Christmas Show" came to "Ranger" in Tonkin Gulf on 21 December. Another welcome break in the intense pace of operations came with a call at Yokosuka during the first week of April. Returning to Yankee Station on 11 April, "Ranger" again struck objectives in North Vietnam.

After 5 months of intensive operations, "Ranger" called at Hong Kong 5 May 1968 and then steamed for home. There followed a shipyard availability at Puget Sound that ended with "Ranger's" departure 29 July for San Francisco. Three months of leave, upkeep and training culminated in another WestPac deployment 26 October 1968 through 17 May 1969.


She departed Alameda on yet another WestPac deployment in October 1969 and remained so employed until 18 May 1970 at which time she returned to Alameda, arriving 1 June. "Ranger" spent the rest of the summer engaged in operations off the west coast, departing for her sixth WestPac cruise 27 September 1970. On 10 March 1971, "Ranger", along with "Kitty Hawk" (CV-63), set a record of 233 strike sorties for one day in action against North Vietnam. During April, the three carriers assigned to Task Force 77 — "Ranger", "Kitty Hawk", and "Hancock" — provided a constant two-carrier posture on Yankee Station. Hours of employment remained unchanged with one carrier on daylight hours and one on the noon to midnight schedule. Strike emphasis was placed on the interdiction of major Laotian entry corridors to South Vietnam. She returned to Alameda 7 June 1971 and remained in port for the rest of 1971 and the first five months of 1972 undergoing regular overhaul.

On 27 May 1972 she returned to West Coast operation until 16 November, when she embarked upon her seventh WestPac deployment, which had been delayed four months due to an act of sabotoge by Navy fireman E-3 Patrick Chenoweth who dropped a heavy paint scraper into a main reduction gear and was charged with "sabotage in time of war", a capital offense. Chenoweth was acquitted by a general court-martial. [ [ Honorably-discharged Marine Adam Kokesh faces dishonorable hearing] ] On 18 December 1972 Linebacker II operations were initiated when negotiations in the Paris peace talks stalemated. Participating carriers were "Ranger", "Enterprise" (CVN-65), "Saratoga" (CV-60), "Oriskany" (CV-34), and "America" (CV-66).

The Linebacker II operations ended on 29 December when the North Vietnamese returned to the peace table. These operations involved the resumed bombing of North Vietnam above the 20th parallel and was an intensified version of Operation Linebacker. The reseeding of the mine fields was resumed and concentrated strikes were carried out against surface-to-air missile and antiaircraft artillery sites, enemy army barracks, petroleum storage areas, Haiphong naval and shipyard areas, and railroad and truck stations. Navy tactical air attack sorties under Linebacker II were centered in the coastal areas around Hanoi and Haiphong. There were 505 Navy sorties in this area during Linebacker II. Between 18 December and 22 December the Navy conducted 119 Linebacker II strikes in North Vietnam. Bad weather was the main limiting factor on the number of tactical air strikes flown during Linebacker II.

On 27 January 1973, the Vietnam cease-fire, announced four days earlier, came into effect and "Oriskany", "America", "Enterprise", and "Ranger", on Yankee Station, cancelled all combat sorties into North and South Vietnam.

"Ranger" returned to Alameda in August 1973 and remained in that area through 7 May 1974 when she deployed again to the western Pacific. During this cruise, "Ranger" was again deployed to Yankee Station to participate in operations significant to the withdrawal of forces involved there. She returned to homeport on 18 October. On 28 May 1976, while on deployment, helicopter crews from HS-4 aboard "Ranger", detachments from HC-3 on "Camden" (AOE-2), "Mars" (AFS-1) and "White Plains" (AFS-4), and helicopters from NAS Cubi Point, Republic of the Philippines, assisted in Philippine disaster relief efforts in the flood ravaged areas of central Luzon. Over 1,900 people were evacuated; more than 370,000 pounds of relief supplies and 9,340 gallons of fuel were provided by Navy and Air Force helicopters.

On 12 July 1976, "Ranger" and her escort ships of Task Force 77.7 entered the Indian Ocean and were assigned to operate off the coast of Kenya in response to a threat of military action in Kenya by Ugandan forces.

In February 1977 "Ranger" departed Naval Air Station North Island for the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, Bremerton, Washington for major overhaul. While in overhaul she received significant technological upgrades to her Command Information Systems, flight deck gear, and was fitted with Sea Sparrow missile defense systems. Additionally, the main machinery spaces were refitted with more reliable "General Regulator" forced balance automatic boiler and combustion control systems. In March 1978 the overhaul was completed and she began several months of shake down cruises and requisite sea trials for recertifications.

On 21 February 1979, the "Ranger" deployed for her 14th WestPac cruise. Tentatively scheduled to cross the Indian Ocean to present a show of force during the strife between North and South Yemen, a mission she would not be able to complete. On 5 April 1979, she collided with the tanker "Liberian Fortune" near Singapore while passing through the Straits of Malacca. While the tanker was nearly destroyed, the "Ranger" endured a significant gash in her bow, rendering two fuel tanks unusable. The "Ranger" turned back to Subic Bay, Rep of the Phil, for temporary repairs and then to Yokusaka, Japan, for full repair.


1981--Capt. Dan A. Pederson was given a nonpunitive letter of censure by Vice Adm. Robert F. Schoultz, commander of the Naval Air Force, United States Pacific Fleet as a result of a three-week investigation into the April 14, 1981 death of Airman Paul Trerice, 20 years old, of Algonac, Mich. Airman Trerice had died after being on a bread-and-water diet for three days, then taking part in punitive exercises in the correctional custody unit (CCU). The ship was at Subic Bay in the Philippines at the time.Fact|date=February 2008

"Ranger" entered the history books on 21 March 1983 when an all-woman flight crew flying a C-1A Trader from VRC-40 "Truckin' Traders" landed aboard the carrier. The aircraft was commanded by Lt. Elizabeth M. Toedt and the crew included Lt.(j.g.) Cheryl A. Martin, Aviation Machinist's Mate 3rd Class Gina Greterman and Aviation Machinist's Mate Airman Robin Banks.

Later that year, at 0910 on 1 November 1983 a fire broke out in 4 Main Machinery Room due to a fuel spill during fuel transfer operations while the "Ranger" was deployed in the Indian Ocean, east of Oman. Six crewmen were killed as a result of the fire, which knocked out one of the ship's four engines and disabled two of her four shafts, one of which was quickly put back into operation after the fire. The fire spread to the adjacent No. 2 Auxiliary Machinery Room and minor surrounding spaces. Flight operations had not yet commenced when the ship went to general quarters, so no aircraft were yet in the air. This was fortunate because the ship was then out of range of land. She returned to the Philippines after 121 consecutive days at sea.

On 24 July 1987, Tactical Electronics Warfare Squadron 131 (VAQ 131) began the first Pacific Fleet deployment of the EA-6B Prowler equipped with AGM-88 HARM missiles, deployed in "Ranger".

On 3 August 1989, "Ranger" rescued 39 Vietnamese refugees, adrift for 10 days on a barge in heavy seas and monsoon rains in the South China Sea, about 80 miles (130 km) from NAS Cubi Point, R.P. SH-3s Sea Kings from HS-14 assisted. An A-6 Intruder from VA-145 spotted the barge, which had apparently broken loose from its mooring near a small island off the coast of Vietnam with 10 men on board. Twenty-nine other refugees from a sinking refugee boat climbed aboard the barge when it drifted out to sea. After examination by medical personnel, all were flown to NAS Cubi Point for further processing.


President George H. W. Bush addressed the nation on 16 January 1991 at 9 p.m. EST and announced that the liberation of Kuwait from Iraq, Operation Desert Storm, had begun. The Navy launched 228 sorties from "Ranger" and USS|Midway|CV-41 in the Persian Gulf, from USS|Theodore Roosevelt|CVN-71 en route to the Persian Gulf, and from USS|John F. Kennedy|CV-67, "Saratoga", and "America" in the Red Sea. In addition, the Navy launched more than 100 Tomahawk missiles from nine ships in the Mediterranean Sea, the Red Sea, and the Persian Gulf.

On 6 February 1991, an F-14A Tomcat from VF-1, off "Ranger", piloted by Lt. Stuart Broce, with Cmdr. Ron McElraft as Radar Intercept Officer, downed an Iraqi Mi-8 Hip helicopter with an AIM-9M Sidewinder missile. At 9 p.m. EST on 27 February, President Bush declared Kuwait had been liberated and Operation Desert Storm would end at midnight.

On 21 April 1992, in harmony with other World War II 50th Anniversary festivities, "Ranger" participated in the commemorative re-enactment of the Doolittle Raid on Tokyo, Japan. Two World War II-era B-25 bombers were craned on board and over 1,500 guests (including national, local and military media) were embarked to witness the two vintage warbirds thunder down "Ranger's" flight deck and take off. In June, "Ranger" made an historic port visit to Vancouver, British Columbia in conjunction with her final phase of pre-deployment workups.

Fully combat ready, "Ranger" began her 21st and final western Pacific and Indian Ocean deployment on 1 August 1992. On August 18, she entered Yokosuka, Japan, for a six-day port visit and upkeep. "Ranger" entered the Persian Gulf on 14 September by transiting the Straits of Hormuz. The next day, Ranger relieved "Independence" (CV-62) in an unusual close aboard ceremony and along with her embarked Air Wing, Carrier Air Wing 2, immediately began flying patrol missions in support of the United Kingdom and United States' declared "No Fly" zone in southern Iraq: Operation Southern Watch.

While in the Persian Gulf, former Cold War adversaries became at-sea partners as "Ranger", British, and French naval forces joined with the Russian guided missile destroyer "Admiral Vinogradov" for an exercise involving communication, maneuvering and signaling drills. During joint operations, a Russian Kamov Ka-27 "Helix" helicopter landed aboard "Ranger". It was the first such landing on a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier.

"Ranger" left the Persian Gulf on 4 December 1992 and steamed at high speed to the coast of Somalia. "Ranger" played a significant role in the massive relief effort for starving Somalis in Operation Restore Hope. The "Ranger"/CVW-2 team provided photo and visual reconnaissance, airborne air traffic control, logistics support and on-call close air support for Navy and Marine amphibious forces. Throughout Operations Southern Watch and Restore Hope, "Ranger" took 63 digital photographs which were sent by International Marine Satellite to the Navy Office of Information within hours of being taken. This was the first time digital pictures were successfully transmitted from a ship at sea.

On 19 December 1992, "Ranger" was relieved on station by "Kitty Hawk" and began her last long journey homeward to San Diego.


"Ranger" was decommissioned on 10 July 1993, and is at the Naval Inactive Ship Maintenance Facility, Bremerton, Washington. As of 2004, a nonprofit organization is working to bring "Ranger" to Portland, Oregon to serve as a naval and aerospace museum, educational center, and a setting for special events.

"Ranger" earned 13 battle stars for service in the Vietnam War.

"Ranger" in fiction

*In Tom Clancy's novel "Clear and Present Danger", the "Ranger" provides indirect air support to U.S. infantry units operating in Colombia.
*' interior scenes on the USS|Enterprise|CVN-65 were actually filmed onboard the "Ranger". The conventionally-powered "Ranger" was used as a substitute for the nuclear "Enterprise" in part because "Enterprises engineering plant was classified, making filming aboard her (especially in her engineering spaces) a security risk. The filming took place in 2 Main Machinery Room - the Console Booth was the 'nuclear reactor' in the movie - and on the Hangar Bay and Elevator 1. Also, the "Enterprise" was out at sea at the time of filming, further necessitating the use of the "Ranger". In certain scenes, sailors can be seen wearing "Ranger" ballcaps. All "Enterprise" personnel were played by actual "Ranger" sailors.
*Scenes from "Top Gun" were also filmed onboard, with "Ranger" again substituting for "Enterprise".
*The "Ranger" also stood in for the USS|Nimitz|CVN-68 for the scenes in Pearl Harbor in the 1980 film "The Final Countdown".



See also

* List of aircraft carriers
* List of aircraft carriers of the United States Navy

External links

* [ USS "Ranger" Museum Foundation website]
* [ USS "Ranger" "CV-61" Memorial Website]
* [ USS "Ranger" "CVA/CV-61" Communications Department website]
* [ USS "Ranger"]
* [ US Navy page for "Ranger"]
* [ Navy photos of "Ranger"]
* [ USS "Ranger"]
* [ Chennowith sabotage]
* [ Naval Vessel Register - CV-61]

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