USS Kitty Hawk bids farewell

Iconic aircraft carrier towed through Rich Passage into the mists of history

Photo by Sue Ellen White

The U.S. Navy’s USS Kitty Hawk headed through the waters of Sinclair Inlet and Rich Passage Saturday — and into the mists of history as it departed its longtime portage in Bremerton to a Texas ship scrapyard.

The 1,069-foot decommissioned supercarrier was escorted through the Puget Sound waters by tugs, led by the 157-foot Lindsey Foss. When it arrives in Brownsville, Texas, where it will be dismantled and its scrap metals later sold, the veteran of wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Vietnam will have taken the long route around the tip of South America to the other side of the North American continent. That’s because the mighty marine war machine is too wide to navigate through the Panama Canal.

The Kitty Hawk — named after Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, the site of the Wright Brothers’ first powered airplane flight — was launched in 1960 and decommissioned in 2008. It was conventionally powered by steam turbines. Its air wing could accommodate up to 85 aircraft, including interceptor/strike fighters, airborne early warning aircraft, transport aircraft and multi-role helicopters.