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USS Ranger (CV-61)
USS Ranger (CV-61) departing from San Diego
USS Ranger (CV-61)
Career (United States)
Name: USS Ranger
Namesake: One who wanders; a military scout.
Ordered: 1 February 1954
Builder: Newport News Shipbuilding & Drydock Co., Newport News, Virginia
Cost: $182 million[1]
Laid down: 2 August 1954
Launched: 29 September 1956
Acquired: 1 August 1957
Commissioned: 10 August 1957
Decommissioned: 10 July 1993
Reclassified: CV-61
Struck: 8 March 2004
Fate: Stricken, docked at NISMF, Bremerton, WA
Status: Designated for dismantling as of 26 September 2012
General characteristics
Class & type: Forrestal-class aircraft carrier
Displacement: 56,300 tons
81,101 tons full load
Length: 1,046 ft (319 m)
Beam: 130 ft (40 m)
249.5 ft (76.0 m) (extreme)
Draft: 37 ft (11 m)
Propulsion: 4 geared turbines, 4 shafts, 280,000 shp
8 Babcock and Wilcox boilers
Speed: 34 knots (63 km/h)
Complement: 3,826 officers and men.
Sensors and
processing systems:
AN/SPS-48 3D air search radar
AN/SPS-48 2D air search radar
AN/SPS-10 surface search radar
Electronic warfare
& decoys:
Mark 36 SRBOC
Armament: 8x 5"/54 caliber Mark 42 guns (127 mm) (removed)
NATO Sea Sparrow
Phalanx CIWS
Aircraft carried: 70–90

The seventh USS Ranger (CV/CVA-61) is one of four Forrestal-class supercarriers built for the US Navy in the 1950s. Although all four ships of the class were completed with angled decks, Ranger had the distinction of being the first US carrier built from the very beginning as an angled deck ship.

Commissioned in 1957, she served extensively in the Pacific, especially the Vietnam War, for which she earned 13 battle stars. Near the end of her career she also served in the Indian Ocean and Persian Gulf. Ranger appeared on television in The Six Million Dollar Man, Baa Baa Black Sheep and in the films Top Gun, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (standing in for the carrier USS Enterprise), and Flight of the Intruder.

Ranger was decommissioned in 1993, and is being stored at Bremerton, Washington. A plan to acquire her as a museum to be berthed on the Columbia River at Fairview, Oregon was rejected in late 2012, so the current plan is to scrap the ship.

Construction and trials

Ranger was the first American aircraft carrier 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).[2] 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 on 3 October 1957. Just prior to sailing on 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 two-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, Commander, Carrier Division Two, to join the Seventh 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.


Ranger c.1961.

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 seven months were filled with intensive training along the western seaboard in preparation for operations in 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 Moruroa, 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.[citation needed] 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.[citation needed]

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 eight-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 to 16 October, the carrier and her air wing participated in every aspect of a major fleet combat operation.

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 five 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 five 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 as flag ship for Rear Admiral J.C. Donaldson Commander Carrier Division Three and Captain J.P. Moorer as commanding officer[3] and remained so employed until 18 May 1970. During this time the ship spent at least two extended periods on Yankee Station, the longest being 45 days, due to mechanical problems with the carrier that was to relieve her. A pleasant break in the lives of the Rangers crew came with the arrival of the Bob Hope show on 24 December 1969. Upon leaving Yankee after one tour and on the way Sasebo, Japan the Ranger was ordered to stand off the coast of Korea for 3 days due to North Korea forcing down a Us Ci3o and holding the crew. Initially the Ranger was to leave the line on Yankee station for a week of R&R in Subic Bay while offloading supplies then to Japan and on to Australia and home. A day before Ranger was to leave the line she was ordered to hold on station and fly the first sorties on Cambodia. Finally leaving Yankee station, Ranger made a fast 3 day offload in Subic Bay and a two day port call in Sasebo and back 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 in late October 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.[citation needed] 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 after Navy fireman E-3 Patrick Chenoweth dropped a heavy paint scraper into a main reduction gear, destroying one of the engines. Chenoweth was charged with "sabotage in time of war", a capital offense, but was acquitted by a general court-martial.[4][5] 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 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 sea trials for re-certifications.

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 complete. On 5 April 1979, she collided with the tanker Liberian Fortune just south east of Singapore while entering the Straits of Malacca. While the large oil tanker was severely damaged, the Ranger endured a significant gash in her bow, rendering two fuel tanks unusable. Details of the collision and damage photos are seen here The Ranger turned back to Subic Bay, Philippines, for temporary repairs and then to Yokosuka, Japan, for full repair.


Ranger's island and flight deck, c.1980.

In 1981 Capt. Dan A. Pederson was given a non-punitive letter of censure by Vice Adm. Robert F. Schoultz, commander of the Naval Air Force, United States Pacific Fleet, (COMNAVAIRPAC), after a three-week investigation into the 14 April 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 just completing a successful WestPAC/Indian Ocean deployment and was at Subic Bay in the Philippines at the time.[6]

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.[citation needed] 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.

Ranger c.1983.

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 one of her four shafts</ref-editor was present as LPO of MMR2/wc EB02> . 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.

In early 1985, some filming of the movie Top Gun took place on board the Ranger.[7] In 1986 filming of the film Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home took place on board the Ranger, in port, with lights and canopies set up to mimic the Enterprise. The Marine Detachment provided personnel to chase the actors around the ship and the G2 Division's officer gets about a three-second spot after Chekov was captured.[citation needed] Filming took about a week.

14 July 1987 marked the start of the Ranger's "Pearl" Anniversary Cruise. During this cruise the Ranger relieved the Midway and her Carrier Group in the Indian Ocean. It was during this period that Ranger took part in Operation Earnest Will under which the Kuwait tankers were re-flagged under US Colors.[8]

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 19 October 1987, Ranger took part in Operation Nimble Archer, an attack on two Iranian oil platforms in the Persian Gulf by United States Navy forces. The attack was a response to Iran's missile attack three days earlier on the MV Sea Isle City, a reflagged Kuwaiti oil tanker at anchor off Kuwait. The action occurred during Operation Earnest Will, the effort to protect Kuwaiti shipping amid the Iran-Iraq War. Air cover was provided by USS William H. Standley (CG-32), two F-14 Tomcat fighters and an E-2 Hawkeye from USS Ranger (CV-61).[8][9]

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.


Ranger returns from Desert Storm.

President George H. W. Bush addressed the nation on 16 January 1991 at 9 pm EST and announced that 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.

An A-6E Intruder from Ranger was shot down two miles off the Iraqi coast by anti-aircraft artillery on 18 January 1991, after laying MK36 naval mines on a waterway linking the Iraqi naval base of Umm Qasr with the Persian Gulf. The pilot, Lieutenant William Thomas Costen and the navigator/bombardier, Lieutenant Charlie Turner, were killed.[10]

On 26 January, an A-6B Prowler from Ranger spotted two large tankers in a waterway northeast of Bubiyan Island. A package of two Ranger´s A-6Es hit one of them with an AGM-123 Skipper missile on the starboard side.[11]

On 6 February, 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 pm EST on 27 February, President Bush declared Kuwait had been liberated and Operation Desert Storm would end at midnight.

The restored World War II B-25 Mitchell bomber aircraft "Heavenly Body" takes off from the deck of Ranger.

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 18 August, 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's last visit to Japan.

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.[citation needed]

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

Coordinates: 47°33′09″N 122°39′09″W / 47.5525°N 122.6524°W / 47.5525; -122.6524 (USS Ranger (CV-61))


Since the late 80's defense cuts Ranger did not undergo the SLEP modernisation process as did her three sisters and the later Kitty Hawk class ships, and by the early 1990s her material condition was getting poor. Both the out-going Bush and in-coming Clinton Administrations recommended cuts to the defense budget and so the retirement of Ranger, along with her sisters Forrestal, and Saratoga was put forth. Ranger was decommissioned on 10 July 1993 after 36 years of service, and is at the Naval Inactive Ship Maintenance Facility, Bremerton, Washington. This decommissioning came instead of a Service Life Extension Program (SLEP) refit scheduled for the same year. Such an extension would have extended to Ranger's life into 2002, requiring a re-authorization in 1994.[12] In September 2010, the not-for-profit USS Ranger Foundation submitted an application to Naval Sea Systems Command proposing the donation of Ranger for use as a museum ship and multi-purpose facility, to be located on the Columbia River at Chinook Landing Marine Park in Fairview, Oregon.[13][14] However, in September 2012, NAVSEA rejected the foundation's proposal, and redesignated the ship for scrapping.[15][16]


  1. Jane's American fighting ships of the 20th century. New York, N.Y.: Mallard Press. 1991. p. [page needed]. ISBN 0-7924-5626-2. 
  3. USS ranger Cruise book 69-70
  4. Chenoweth sabotage from
  5. Honorably-discharged Marine Adam Kokesh faces dishonorable hearing from
  6. A Sailor's Death. TIME. 25 May. 1981.,9171,924752,00.html
  7. books
  8. 8.0 8.1 Deployments of USS Ranger CV-61|
  9. Operation Nimble Archer
  10. Pokrant, Marvin (1999). Desert Storm at Sea: What the Navy Really Did. Greenwood Publishing Group, p. 20. ISBN 0313310246
  11. Pokrant, p. 84
  12. Congress of the United States of America. Congressional Budget Office. Naval Combat Aircraft: Issues and Options. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1987. Print.
  13. "Timeline". USS Ranger Foundation. Retrieved 2011-09-28. "This is the overall timeline for acquiring Ranger. These dates are real and there is no slippage. The Navy must free up pier space in Bremerton, Washington by September 31 [sic], 2014. Ranger will depart by that date for a new life in Oregon or to a ship breakers yard to be scrapped." 
  14. Bjork, Nick (26 September 2011). "Aircraft carrier could become museum in Fairview". Daily Journal of Commerce. Retrieved 2011-09-28. "The USS Ranger Foundation is seeking donation of the ship by the U.S. Navy to not only convert the Ranger into the world’s largest floating museum, but also into community space, educational space and even an emergency preparedness center....Other nonprofit organizations have completed similar projects around the country, though this would be the first one in the Pacific Northwest. The USS Midway in San Diego, which acts as a museum and memorial, attracts nearly a million visitors a year. The Intrepid, in New York City, has served as one of the city’s emergency response centers since the NYC Office of Emergency Management was displaced as a result of 9/11." 

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