US aircraft carriers in the Vietnam War 38

This is an overview of US aircraft carriers serving in the Vietnam war. Carriers were assigned to the western Pacific, and during each cruise spent several periods on “Yankee station” in the gulf of Tonkin. Short periods of rest were in Japan, Hong Kong, or the Philippines. While all carriers are listed as “CV”, they actually were designated CVA, CVB, or CVS during their Vietnam tours.

Essex class

USS Yorktown (CV-10) was the oldest carrier (commissioned in 1943) to serve in the Vietnam war, and did not receive an angled-deck conversion. Deployments to the Tonking Gulf were December 1964 to May 1965, February to July 1966, and March to June 1968. She was employed for anti-submarine warfare (ASW) and search-and-rescue (SAR) work.
USS Intrepid (CV-11): During its war cruise in the second half of 1966, a Skyraider based on Intrepid shot down a MiG-17. A second Vietnam assignment was during the second half of 1967.
USS Hornet (CV-12) was deployed to waters off Vietnam throughout the summer of 1967.
USS Ticonderoga (CV-14), first of the long-hull Essex class carriers, launched aircraft in response to the attack by North Vietnamese craft, the Tonkin Gulf incident, during its August to December 1964 deployment.  Four more war cruises followed: November 1965 to April 1966, November 1966 to April 1967, January to July 1968, March to July 1969.
USS Hancock (CV-19) was deployed to Vietnam from November 1964 to the spring of 1965, December 1965 to July 1966, the first half of 1967, November 1970 to May 1971, and in spring of 1972. She was present during the evacuation of Saigon in 1975, and possibly had war cruises in 1968 and 1969 as well, but I could not confirm that.
USS Bennington (CV-20) had three Vietnam tours from 1965 to 1968, as ASW carrier, and probably SAR as well.
USS Boxer (CV-21), which was not converted to an angled-deck carrier, was used twice for shipping helicopters to Vietnam, but was not used in battle.
USS Bon Homme Richard (CV-31) had five war cruises from 1965 to 1970.
USS Kearsarge (CV-33) was deployed to Vietnam from August to December 1964, and August to November 1966, as ASW carrier.
USS Oriskany (CV-34) served off Vietnam May to November 1965, June to October 1966. A parachute flare caused a fire eventually killing 44 crewmembers. Another cruise was from July to January 1967, and at least one more in 1969.
USS Princeton (CV-37) was deployed to Vietnam four times between 1964 and 1967. At that time, she had already been converted to an amphibious assault carrier, LPH-5, carrying only helicopters.
USS Shangri-La (CV-38) had one war cruise, from April to November 1970.
USS Valley Forge (CV-45), converted to an amphibious assault carrier (LPH-8) in 1961, was deployed to Vietnam waters several times from 1964 to 1969, launching Marines assaults.

Midway class

USS Midway (CV-41) March to November 1965. After an extensive modernization, cruises from May 1971 to October 1971, in 1972 and in 1973 followed. Midway was present during Operation Frequent Wind, the evacuation of Saigon, in 1975.
USS Franklin D. Roosevelt (CV-42) was deployed to Vietnam only once, from August 1966 to January 1967.
USS Coral Sea (CV-43) had a total of seven war cruises: February to October 1965, August 1966 to February 1967, August 1967 to March 1968, September 1968 to April 1969, October 1969 to June 1970, November 1971 to July 1972, March to October 1973. She was also present during the evacuation of Saigon.

Forrestal class

USS Forrestal (CV-59) had one Vietnam war cruise, in the summer of 1967. On the 29th of July, a mis-firing Zuni rocket hit an external fuel tank of an A-4. The resulting fire and exploding ammo killed 134 crewmembers. Severely damaged, the Forrestal had to return to the States for repairs.
USS Saratoga (CV-60) was deployed to the western Pacific from May 1972 until the end of the year.
USS Ranger (CV-61) was deployed to the western Pacific a total of eight times: October 1964 to April 1965, January to August 1966, December 1967 to April 1968, October 1968 to May 1969, October 1969 to May 1970, October 1970 to May 1971, November 1972 to July 1973, May to October 1974. She was also present during the Laotian crisis in 1963.
USS Independence (CV-62) had one war cruise, June to November 1965.

Kitty Hawk class

USS Kitty Hawk (CV-63) was deployed to the western Pacific from April to June 1964, November 1965 to May 1966, December 1966 to May 1967, December 1967 to June 1968, January to August 1969, November 1970 to June 1971, March 1972 to November 1972. While the 1964 cruise was before the start of hostilities in Vietnam, two aircraft on reconaissance missions over Laos were shot down.
USS Constellation (CV-64) relieved the Kitty Hawk in June 1964 and also flew reconaissance missions above Laos. She launched air strikes in response to the Tonkin Gulf incident and was present until January 1965. Six more war cruises followed: May to November 1966, May to November 1967, June 1968 to January 1969, August 1969 to April 1970, October 1971 to June 1972, January 1973 to September 1973.
USS America (CV-66) had three war cruises: May to October 1968, May to November 1970, July 1972 to February 1973.


USS Enterprise (CVN-65), the only one in its class and the first nuclear carrier. From December 1965 to 1972 (I could not find exact dates), she made six war cruises. On 14 January 1969, an exploding Zuni rocket and subsequent fire claimed 27 lives. She was the first carrier to take on the new F-14 Tomcat in 1974 and was present during the evacuation of Saigon in 1975.

Vietnam: AircraftHelicoptersCarriers

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

38 thoughts on “US aircraft carriers in the Vietnam War

  • Roy Hermann

    I served aboard Yorktown CVS 10 from 1960 go the end of 1962. She in fact did have the angle deck conversion during that time. I think it was done in the middle of the 1950’s.

    Kind regards,

    Roy Hermann

  • Phil Neldon

    Did the F14 ever see action in Vietnam and if so what carrier did it launch from?
    Also, did the F14 fly off of an Essex Class carrier?

  • Gary E. Kusz

    The Oriskay (CVA-34) had a cruise in 70, 71, and possibly 72.

  • admin Post author

    The F-14 was too large for Essex carriers. F-14s were onboard USS Enterprise when she covered the evacuation of Saigon, but I don’t think they were involved in combat.

  • Kap

    USS Oriskany had 7 combat deployments, last combat deployment was June 72 to April 1973, peace time Oct 73 too June 74, last cruise Sept 75- march 76 then deactivated

  • Ed Makara

    I have a couple of questions. How long was the typical deployment to Yankee Station”? When was Hornet deployed there? How many times? Thanks very much.

  • William Spearing

    The USS Hancock CVA 19 was one of two carriers during the Saigon evaluation in early 1975. We off loaded all fixed wing aircraft in Hawaii and loaded several helicopter squadrons. The fighting “Hanna” took on close to 3500 refugees.
    Crazy times.

  • Dr. Albert Bodt

    Hi Tobias,
    Nice website.
    I immigrated from Bovenkerk (Amstelveen), Nederland in May of 1956. After completing high school, October, 1966, I joined the U.S. Navy, as the VietNam war was at its peak. I eventually was ordered to the fleet and came aboard U.S.S. Coral Sea, June 6, 1967. You stated above that the Coral Sea cruise in 1967 began in August. It actually began on July 26th, 1967 when we departed Alameda Naval Air Station across the bay from San Fransisco. We arrived “on line” at Yankee Station early September as I recall. We had been scheduled to depart for San Fransisco in March and in fact were a day out of Sasebo, Japan when we received orders to return to Sasebo and rearm, as the U.S.S. Pueblo had been captured by the North Koreans. We spent the next three weeks in the Sea of Japan. We left Sasebo for the U.S. late March and arrived in San Fransisco (Alameda Naval Air Station) April 6, 1968, the day Martin Luther King was assassinated.

  • Jim Flaherty

    What air craft squadrons served on the U.S Ticonderoga in Vietnam and their years there.

  • David W Smith

    The USS Yorktown DID receive an angle deck conversion in 1955 in Puget Sound Naval Yard Wash.
    She was placed in commission in 1953 during her first conversion to a CVA . Yorktown did s couple of Westpac cruises and then went back to Bremerton for a full angle deck conversion in 55

  • Jim

    Which aircraft carrier planes supported the First Cav Division in Jan to Feb 1966 in the Bong Son region of Vietnam? Ty.

  • admin Post author

    You mean which types? If carrier planes were involved, then most likely Skyraiders and Skyhawks at the time.

  • James Hamrick

    USS Oriskany also did a cruise in 1970. I joined the crew in Jan. 1970 and I think it was April when we arrived on Yankee Station. I’m not sure when the cruise was over because when my dad died in Oct. I flew home and was discharged.

  • T OC

    “Dixie Station” was considered the Southern carrier operating area.
    “Yankee Station” was the Northern

  • Charles Hayes

    Thank you for. The informatoin. IM trying to identify the carrier that a phantom I did a sketch of flew from. If I. Could I would attach it for you.maybe you could ID ITS UNIT MARKINGS

  • admin Post author

    Sure, unit markings should be pretty easy to identify, especially if the two-letter tail code is visible.

  • Ken Barker

    I served aboard USS Constellation (CVA 64) August ’61-Dec. ’64. We teamed up with the Ticonderoga in August, after getting orders to South China Sea rather than planned (second) goodwill tour of Far East ports. Both Navy and Marine pilots participated in escalating war (called “conflict” at the time, if my memory serves me correctly)
    I had opportunity to be discharged ON TIME in December ’64 (a rarity). I accepted the offer. Was flown to Clark Air Force Base, where we sat on our butts until a travel expert at the base arranged for our flight to the states!

  • chuck olmstead

    Believe USS hornet CVS-12 toured Vietnam in 1966. I was on board from 1967 until 1970. Deployed to tonkan gulf in 1967,1968,1969. When I requested replacement awards from the government the paper work said that the Vietnam service medal would have one silver star and two bronze stars.

  • Howard straub

    The USS Hancock CVA-19 was on deployment from July 68 to March 69 in Vietnam after being in dry dock for 1 year at Hunters Point/Alameda, California. I was on the cruise from July 68 to Dec. 68 and then flown off the ship for my discharge date. Howard Straub, AN, flight deck plane handler (blue shirt). P.S. You were unsure of the 1968-1969 campaign so I hope this helps. Thanks

  • Charlie Lanahan

    A good web site, keep up the good work. I did two West-Pac cruises on the USS Kearsarge (CVS-33) as a Quartermaster in 1967/68 and 1969. Upon return to the states in 1969, I was discharged and the ship was tied to the pier waiting for decommissioning. You state it was deployed to Vietnam from August to December 1964, and August to November 1966, as ASW carrier. You have no information on the years I served aboard. 22 December 1967. While at Sasebo, Japan, a fire in USS Kearsarge (CVS-33) enlisted quarters killed three sailors, injured two more. We were present, and in formation, for the collision between the USS Frank E. Evans DD-754 and the HMS- Melbourne. (On the morning of June 3, 1969, 74 American sailors died when the destroyer USS Frank E. Evans was cut in two by an Australian aircraft carrier in the South China Sea.) We were also sent to North Korea (January 23, 1968) for the USS Pueblo incident. That is U.S. Naval history that should not be forgotten. Regards, 19 years of age…….C.E. Lanahan QM-3

  • Fred Schlatter RD3 OI Division CIC

    I served on the Kitty Hawk during three deployments to WESTPAC 1965-1968, and I remember a time when one of the evaporators was down and we had to go on strict water rationing. Seeing as how fresh water was essential for both crew and catapult operations, did we ever need to take on delivery of fresh water (replenishment operations). If so did any water delivered come from a fresh water source in Vietnam? Do you see where I’m going with this? Brown water vs. blue water.

  • Terry L Mize

    USS Kearsarge was in Vietnamese waters in 1969. That was her last westpac as they recalled her home to be decommissioned. She still was performing ASW duties.I was a plane captain with VS-21.

  • Byron W Martens

    USS Oriskany CVA 34 was my carrier 1967 to 1970. I had 3 cruises on her including 1970 all three to gulf of tonkin and one short trip to north Korea when the USS Pueblo and crew was taken and held hostage. John McCain flew off Oriskany in 1967 and did not return when sho5 down over Hanoi.

  • Douglas W Bradley

    Is the USS Ticonderoga considered a ship that was in Republic Of Vietnam territorial waters?

  • admin Post author

    I’m not sure, but i think the carriers kept quite some distance from the coast and went to Subic Bay for resting periods, so it seems unlikely to me that she was.

  • Bennie Gibbs

    Bennie Gibbs: USS Bennington made cruises to west pac also in 1962 an1964 to vietnam

  • Thom Kearney

    On 12 July 1967 my unit , Co. C 1/12 4th Infantry Div. , received air support from A-4 ‘s while we in the Idrang Valley. I was the F.O
    and spoke with the pilots (2) who did a remarkable job preventing us from being overrun. I was wounded in the battle and never
    spoke with those pilots again. I would like to know if anyone knows what carrier they came from, and as remote as it may seem,
    who those guys were. Thank You from a grateful grunt.

  • ron flett

    All of these carriers were designated as CVA (the Enterprise was CVAN) during the Vietnam War and at various other times during their service. The “A” stood for attack. So as not to piss off the bleeding hearts any more than necessary, once they returned to a peacetime mission, the “A” was dropped. I served aboard the USS Coral Sea CVA-43 during her next to last Vietnam cruise

  • Joseph Seoane

    I was on the Coral Sea during her Vietnam deployment from 12 Nov 1971 thru 17 July 1972. During that time, there were uprising on the ship.. The Black Officers would gather the Blacks on the mess decks at night and Stir The Pot. That would cause the trouble. I was am EM-1 at that time.

  • Felipe Garza

    I was with VS-35 onboard USS Hornet CVS-12 we were in the Tonkin Gulf in 1968-69! We were in the war zone and got combat pay! I have my DD-214 that showers Vitnam Service, Vitnam Campaign and National Defense!
    That was the last time USS Hornet CVS-12 went on Wes-Pac!

  • Raymond Charles Owen

    Raymond C. Owen
    I served on the Westpac cruise in Vietnam aboard the CVA-61 USS Ranger deployed in 1965 and came back in 1966. I was a red shirt in Rep-8 (Repair party 8) as a crash Fire Fighter on the flight deck and an asbestos suit man. We were inside the 12-mile zone and considered to be Blue Water Navy. I was a blue shirt at first and worked in Fly 3. We launched bombings on North Vietnam 23 hours a day as the Airforce was stationed on Gaum and had to fly into South Vietnam to refuel and stick from there. It’s been estimated that the Naval Airforce from Aircraft carriers was 80% of the strikes and the Army Airforce was about 20% of the strikes. Sometimes we worked together to strike on the Gasoline plants in North Vietnam and others. Now some 50 years later people that are supposed to know say that working on the flight deck of a carrier is the most dangerous job in the World.

  • Byron William Martens

    My my last cruise on oriskany cva 34 was spring of 1970 and I was discharged upon return arrival to San Francisco dec 10th 1970. I was present for three cruises total 1967 thru 1970. I caught my first cruise on oriskany after she was deployed off yankee station where the uss Mars and a helicopter took me aboard cva 34.around October 1967 after AOA school in Jax fla.. Tet offensive 68 was back breaking 15 hour days for a mini mum of 40 days non stop before ten day breaks ..john McCain flew off Oriskany and was shot down over Hanoi, his dad was our fleet admiral.
    BW Martens AO3 G Div USS Oriskany CVA. Forward assembly. Elevator crew, Flt deck crew.