USS RANGER CV 61
The seventh Ranger (CVA 61), a Forrestal-class aircraft carrier, was laid down August 2, 1954, by Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Co., Newport News, Va.; launched September 29, 1956; sponsored by Mrs. Arthur Radford, wife of Admiral Radford, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; and commissioned at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard August 10, 1957, Capt. Charles T. Booth II, in command.
USS Ranger joined the Atlantic Fleet on Oct. 3. She conducted air operations, individual ship exercises, and final acceptance trials along the eastern seaboard and in the Caribbean Sea until June 20, 1958. The ship then departed Norfolk Naval Base for its new homeport of Alameda, Calif., arriving on August 20. The carrier spent the remain of year in pilot qualification training for Air Group 14 and fleet exercises off the California coast.
November 10, 1958 Careless magazine explosion kills 2 crewmen aboard USS Ranger.
Departing January 3, 1959, for final training in Hawaiian waters until Feb. 17, when sailed 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 western Pacific deployment, CVA 61 launched more than 7,000 sorties in support of Seventh Fleet operations.
During the next six months, the Ranger kept herself in a high state of readiness through participation in exercises and coastal fleet operations. With Carrier Air Group 9 embarked, the ship departed Alameda February 6, 1960, for a second western Pacific deployment and returned home on August 30. From August 11, 1961, through March 8, 1962, it deployed to the Far East for a third time.
The next seven months were filled with intensive training along the western seaboard in preparation for operations in the troubled waters of Southeast Asia. USS Ranger departed Alameda November 9, 1962, for a brief operations off the coast of Hawaii, and then proceeded, via Okinawa, to the Philippines.
April 5, 1963 Boiler uptake explosion occur abord the aircraft carrier, while going between Japanese ports.
USS Ranger steamed to the South China Sea May 1 to support possible Laotian operations. When the political situation in Laos relaxed May 4, she resumed her operations schedule with the Seventh Fleet.
Returning to homeport from the Far East June 14, she underwent overhaul in the San Francisco Naval Shipyard Aug. 7 through Feb. 10, 1964. In May, USS 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.
USS Ranger departed again for the Far East August 6, 1964. This deployment came on the heels of the unprovoked assault against USS Maddox (DD 731) on the night of Aug. 2 and, two nights later, against both Maddox and USS Turner Joy (DD 951), by North Vietnamese motor torpedo boats. In retaliation for this aggression on the high seas by North Vietnam, President Lyndon B. Johnson, on August 5, directed the Navy to strike bases used by the North Vietnamese naval craft. As CVA 61 steamed from the western seaboard, some 60 attack sorties rose from the decks of USS Ticonderoga (CVA 14) and USS Constellation (CVA 64).
USS Ranger made only an eight-hour stop in Pearl Harbor on Aug. 10, then hurried on to Subic Bay, and then to Yokosuka, Japan. In the following months, she helped the Seventh Fleet continue its role of steady watchfulness to keep open the sealanes for the Allies and stop Communist infiltration by sea.
September ?, 1964 Boiler explosion occur while on Yankee Station. 51 days repair.
On February 7, 1965, in retaliation for a damaging Viet Cong attack on installations around Pleiku, a fighter bomber strike, launched from USS Ranger, USS Coral Sea (CV 43), and USS Hancock (CV 19), blasted the military barracks and staging areas near Dong Hoi in the southern sector of North Vietnam. The Ranger continued air strikes on enemy inland targets until April 13 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. CVA 61 pulled to Subic Bay April 15 and sailed on the 20th for Alameda, arriving home on May 6. The ship entered the San Francisco Naval Shipyard May 13 and remained there under overhaul until Sept. 30.
Following refresher training, the carrier departed Alameda on December 10, to rejoin the Seventh Fleet. It departed the Gulf of Tonkin Aug. 6 for Subic Bay, and steamed via Yokosuka for Alameda, arriving August 25, 1966. USS Ranger departed San Francisco Bay Sept. 28 and entered the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard two days later for overhaul. She departed Puget Sound May 30, 1967, for training out of San Diego and Alameda. On July 21, the ship logged its 88,000th carrier landing. From June until November, it underwent a long and intensive period of training designed to make her fully combat ready. Attack Carrier Air Wing 2 (CVW-2) embarked on Sept. 15, with the new A-7 Corsair II jet attack plane and the UH-2C Seasprite turboprop rescue helicopter, making USS Ranger the first carrier to deploy with these powerful new aircraft. From carrier refresher training for CVW-2, she proceeded to fleet exercise Moon Festival from October 9-16.
USS Ranger departed homeport November 4, 1967, for a western Pacific deployment. Arriving Yokosuka Nov. 21, she relieved USS Constellation and sailed for the Philippines on the 24th. After arriving at Subic Bay on 29th, she made final preparations for combat operations in the Tonkin Gulf. The aircraft carrier departed on Dec. 1 for Yankee Station. 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. The ship pulled to Yokosuka during the first week of April 1968, for a port call. Returning to Yankee Station on April 11, the Ranger again struck objectives in North Vietnam. After five months of intensive operations, USS Ranger called at Hong Kong May 5 and then steamed for home, returning on 25th. There followed a shipyard availability at Puget Sound that ended with Ranger's departure July 29 for San Francisco.
Three months of leave, upkeep and training culminated in another WestPac deployment October 26, 1968, through May 17, 1969. She departed Alameda on yet another underway period in western Pacific Ocean from December 1969 through June 1, 1970.
USS Ranger spent the rest of the summer engaged in operations off the west coast, departing for her sixth WestPac cruise September 27, 1970.
March 6, 1971 While on Yankee Station a member of the carrier's flight deck force was blown over the side during launching operations. USS Towers (DDG 9), providing plane-guard service for Ranger, quickly sped to the scene, rescued the sailor, and returned him to the carrier.
On March 10, USS Ranger, along with USS Kitty Hawk, 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. CVA 61 returned to homeport June 7 and remained in port for the rest of 1971 and the first five months of 1972 undergoing regular overhaul.
On May 27, 1972, USS Ranger returned to west coast operation until November 16, when she embarked upon her seventh WestPac deployment. On Dec. 18 Linebacker II operations were initiated when negotiations in the Paris peace talks stalemated. Participating carriers were the Ranger, Enterprise, Saratoga, Oriskany and America. The Linebacker II operations ended on 29th 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 Linebacker I. 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 Dec. 18-22 the U.S. 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 January 27, 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. During the U.S. involvement in the Vietnam conflict the U.S. Navy lost 726 fixed-wing aircraft and 13 helicopters to hostile action. The U.S. Marine Corps lost 193 fixed-wing aircraft and 270 helicopters to enemy action during the same period. Operation Homecoming, the repatriation of U.S. POWs between Jan. 27 and April 1, began and North Vietnam and the Viet Cong released 591 POWs. Of the 591 POWs released during Operation Homecoming, 145 were Navy personnel, all but one of whom were Naval Aviation personnel.
USS Ranger returned to Alameda in August 1973 and remained in that area through May 7, 1974, when she deployed again to the western Pacific, returning to homeport on October 18.
On May 28, 1976, while on deployment, helicopters crews from HS-4 aboard Ranger, detachments from HC-3 on USS Camden (AOE 2), USS Mars (AFS 1) and USS 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 U.S. Navy and Air Force helicopters. On July 12, USS 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 USS Ranger departed Naval Air Station North Island for the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, Bremerton, WA., 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 February 21, 1979, the Ranger deployed for her 14th western Pacific 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 April 5, USS Ranger collided with the Liberian tanker Fortune, off the coast of Singapore, while passing through the Straits of Malacca. While the tanker was nearly destroyed, the aircraft carrier endured a significant gash in its bow, rendering two fuel tanks unusable. CV 61 turned back to Subic Bay for temporary repairs and then to Yokusaka, Japan, for full repair. The Ranger's CO was relieved by Capt. Roger E. Box, USN.
USS Ranger entered the history books on March 21, 1983, when an 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.
July 18, USS Ranger collided with USS Wichita (AOR 1) near Nicaragua.
August 18, Crewman blown overboard by jet exhaust.
On November 1 a fire broke out in Main Machinery Room #4 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 and 35 injured 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. The carrier returned to the Philippines after 121 consecutive days at sea.
On July 24, 1987, VAQ 131 began the first Pacific Fleet deployment of the EA-6B Prowler equipped with HARM missiles, deployed on USS Ranger.
On August 3, 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 from NAS Cubi Point.
United States President George H.W. Bush addressed the nation on January 16, 1991, at 9 p.m. EST and announced that the libration of Kuwait from Iraq, Operation Desert Storm, had begun. The U.S. Navy launched 228 sorties from USS Ranger and USS Midway (CV 41) in the Persian Gulf, from USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) enroute to the Gulf, and from USS John F. Kennedy (CV 67), USS Saratoga (CV 60) and USS America (CV 66) 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 April 21, 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 were embarked to witness the two vintage warbirds thunder down Ranger's flight deck and take off. In June, the aircraft carrier made an historic port visit to Vancouver, British Columbia, in conjunction with its final phase of pre-deployment workups.
August 1, 1992 USS Ranger departed for 21st and final deployment to the western Pacific and Indian Ocean. On August 18, she entered Yokosuka, Japan, for a six-day port visit and upkeep. CV 61 entered the Arabian Gulf on Sept. 14 by transiting the Straits of Hormuz. The next day, it relieved USS Independence (CV 62) in an unusual close aboard ceremony and immediately began flying patrol missions in support of Operation Southern Watch. While in the Arabian Gulf, former Cold War adversaries became at-sea partners as the 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 KA-27 Helix helicopter landed aboard USS Ranger. It was the first such landing on a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier. The Ranger left the Gulf on Dec. 4 and steamed at high speed to the coast of Somalia. She played a significant role in the massive relief effort for starving Somalis in Operation Restore Hope. Throughout Operations Southern Watch and Restore Hope, the carrier 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. She was relieved on station Dec. 19 by USS Kitty Hawk and returned to San Diego January 30, 1993.
USS Ranger was officialy decommissioned July 10 after a 46 years of service and was transfered to Naval Inactive Ship Maintenance Facility, Bremerton, Washington.
As of 2004, a nonprofit organization is working to bring ex-Ranger to Portland, Oregon, to serve as a naval and aerospace museum, educational center, and a setting for special events.