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USS Saratoga (CV-60): The U.S. Navy Aircraft Carrier

Loveleena Rajeev
USS Saratoga (CV-60) was the second super carrier in its class, to be commissioned in the U.S. Navy. She served her country for 38 years, before being decommissioned on 20th August, 1994. She is the recipient of one battle star for service in the Vietnamese conflict.
USS Saratoga was in the class of CVB-60 and CVA-60 naval carriers before being reclassified as Attack Aircraft Carrier. She was the fifth ship to be named for the Battle of Saratoga in the American Revolutionary War. She was constructed by the New York Naval Shipyard, New York City, and commissioned on 14th April 1956, with Capt. R. J. Stroh in command.


Saratoga was the last U.S. aircraft carrier to be converted to an angled deck ship, while under construction. She belonged to the Forrestal aircraft carrier class. Her displacement was 81,101 tons, when full; 61,235 tons light and 19,866 tons dead weight.
She stood at 1,063 feet in length and her beam was 130 feet in waterline. She could propel with a speed of 35 knots, using 4 geared turbines, 4 shafts, 280,000 shp, 8 Babcock and Wilcox boilers.
She was equipped with AN/SPS-48 3D and AN/SPS-48 2D air search radar, AN/SPS-10 surface search radar, electronic warfare, and decoys like Mark 36 SRBOC, NATO Sea Sparrow, and Phalanx CIWS. She could carry 70 to 90 aircraft aboard at any given time. Her crew strength was 552 officers and 4988 men.

Service Timeline

After USS Saratoga's commissioning, she participated in various flight, engineering, steering, structural, and gunnery tests, for several months. On 18th August 1956, she sailed on her first shakedown cruise to Guantanamo Bay and returned 4 months later to New York Naval Shipyard, for repair and yard work, until 28 February 1957.
On 6th June, she carried aboard President Dwight D. Eisenhower and his cabinet members, for a naval demonstration exercise, which included the Navy's latest bombing and strafing techniques, air operations, antisubmarine warfare, and guided missile operations.
She participated in her first naval operation, Operation Strikeback in September 1957, a joint naval exercise of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) countries.
On 23rd January 1961, while she was deployed with the Sixth Fleet, a serious fire broke out in Saratoga's number two machinery space, killing seven crew members. She then proceeded to Athens, for having her damage surveyed.
USS Saratoga (CV-60) was the host ship for President Richard M. Nixon, during the firepower demonstration carried out by Carrier Air Wing Three, in the Virginia Capes area, on the Armed Forces Day on 17th May 1968.
Due to the death of the President of the United Arab Republic, Gamal Abdul Nasser, on 28th September 1970, and fears of a Middle Eastern crisis, she was sent on patrol in the eastern Mediterranean, for supplying the government with essential intelligence information. She sailed back to the United States on 2nd November 1970.
She was deployed at "Yankee Station" on 18th May 1972 in Vietnam, till 7th January 1973. She engaged enemy carriers and also lost her own aircraft and pilots, while in combat. She was deployed all along the Mediterranean coast from there on.
In September 1980, she underwent the most extensive industrial overhaul ever performed on any Navy ship, at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard. She was also the first ship to go through the Service Life Extension Program (SLEP) overhaul, that lasted for 28 months.
After conducting sea trails, she left Philadelphia amidst much fanfare on 2nd February 1983, with a new nickname Super Sara, that she had earned while on her stay in Philadelphia.
In October, 1985, she was called in active service, in the Mediterranean sea when terrorists from the Palestinian Liberation Front hijacked an Italian luxury liner, Achille Lauro. President Ronald Reagan authorized an attack from aboard the USS Saratoga, to free the hijacked Italian liner. The action was swift, and a success with no U.S. personnel losses.
In January 1991, she was stationed in the Red Sea, for the launch of Operation Desert Storm. Her aircraft were the first to fly in Iraq and dropped more than four million pounds of ordnance, destroying the Arab nation's military power.
She was also deployed in the Gulf for seven months and 21 days and had a feat of 11,700 arrested landings, 36,382 miles traveled, 12,700 sorties flown, and a record six Suez Canal transits. She received a hero's welcome, when she headed back to the U.S.
In 1994, Saratoga participated in Iles D'Or, her last joint exercise with the French Navy. She arrived at her home port, the Naval Station, Mayport, Florida, on 24th June 1994, where her process of decommissioning began. Her crew began the process of deactivating the ship, offloading material and closing out each of the ship's more than 3,500 spaces.
On 20th August, 1994 she was decommissioned at the Naval Station, Mayport, Florida and was struck off the Navy's active duty list the same day, after serving the U.S. Navy for 38 years.
Saratoga stayed in the Philadelphia Navy Yard, before departing for the Naval Education and Training Center, Newport, on 7th August 1998, where she remains after unsuccessful bids of raising funds to turn her into a museum. Presently, she remains in the donation status.