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A Sea Tale
by Ken Loomer

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Donated By Tony Perrino, Plank Owner

Donated By Tony Perrino, Plank Owner USS Independence was commissioned as a "Forestall Class" attack aircraft carrier (CVA 62) at the Brooklyn Naval Shipyard, New York, on January 10, 1959. She is the fifth U.S. Navy ship to bear the name "Independence".

After commissioning, "Freedom's Flagship" was on the cutting edge in projecting naval air power and protecting U.S. national interests around the globe. Called on by President John F. Kennedy during the 1962 Cuban missile crisis, Independence provided a strong, visible reminder of U.S. determination and resolve while it acted as a key participant in the U.S. naval blockade of Cuba.

In 1964, the ship deployed for more than seven months, including 100 days in the South China Sea off the coast of Vietnam.
(Source: JO2 Bob Ring)

In 1973, President Richard M. Nixon delivered his annual Armed Forces Day address from the decks of Independence.

All CVA and CVAN hull numbers were changed to CV and CVN 30 June 1975 to designate the multipurpose mission charter of aircraft carriers after the decommissioning of the last CVS in 1974. (SOURCE: http://www.navweaps.com/index_tech/index_ships_list.htm)

While based in Norfolk, Virginia, the ship made deployments to the Mediterranean Sea and Indian Ocean.

In 1982, the ship provided critical support to the multinational peacekeeping force in Lebanon.

In 1983, aircraft from the embarked air wing flew missions in support of Operation URGENT FURY, the action to liberate the Caribbean nation of Grenada. Returning to Lebanon that same year, the ship's air wing conducted air strikes against Syrian positions.

In June 1988, Independence completed the Service Life Extension Program (SLEP) at Philadelphia Naval Shipyard. It was fitting that the ship should be rejuvenated in Philadelphia, home of the Revolutionary War's "Liberty Bell" which is recognized worldwide as a symbol of liberty and freedom. The "Liberty Bell" also serves as the ship's official seal.

Later in 1988, the ship transited the tip of South America and arrived at her new homeport of San Diego, California.

In August 1990, with Carrier Air Wing FOURTEEN embarked, Independence was sent to deter Iraqi aggression during Operation DESERT SHIELD. Indy was the first carrier to enter the Arabian Gulf since 1974. The ship remained on station for
more than 90 days and permanently reestablished a U.S. Naval presence in the region. Independence changed homeports again on September 11, 1991 - this time to Yokosuka, Japan, embarking Carrier Air Wing FIVE and assuming the role of the Navy's only permanently forward-deployed aircraft carrier and flagship for Commander, Carrier Group FIVE.

The ship deployed to the Arabian Gulf in mid-1992 and started Operation SOUTHERN WATCH, a multinational mission to monitor Iraqi compliance with the U.N.-established "no-fly zone" below the 32nd parallel.

Independence became the oldest ship in the Navy's active fleet on June 30, 1995. With this distinction, "Freedom's Flagship" proudly displayed the Revolution-era First Navy Jack, commonly called the "Don't Tread On Me" jack from her bow. In the ceremony, the jack will be handed over to the next oldest ship USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63).

In November 1995, the Independence and Carrier Air Wing FIVE team returned to Japan after successfully completing their third deployment to the Arabian Gulf in support In March 1996, Independence was called upon to provide a stabilizing presence during heightened tensions between Taiwan and China.

Upon returning to Yokosuka in April 1996, the ship was visited by President Bill Clinton as part of an official state visit to Japan.

In 1997, Independence made a four month deployment, covering several major exercises of call were two historic port visits. The first was February 28 to the island territory of Guam. Indy was the first aircraft carrier to pull into Guam in 36 years. The second, two months later, was to Port Klang, Malaysia. Indy became the first aircraft carrier in the world to make a port visit to Malaysia.

Before sailing back to Yokosuka, Japan, Independence made its last port call of the deployment in May to Hong Kong. Indy's port visit was the last U.S. Naval port visit to the territory before its reversion to China on July 1, 1997.

Independence received a short notice deployment order and deployed to the Arabian Gulf in January 1998 to support negotiations between the UN and Iraq and to again participate in Operation Southern Watch.

On Sept. 30 September 1998, Independence's commissioning pennant was hauled down 39 years, 8 months and 20 days after it was first proudly hoisted.

After thirty-nine years of naval service, USS Independence (CV 62) held her decommissioning ceremony Sept. 30, at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, Bremerton, WA. The Honorable John H. Dalton, Secretary of the Navy, was the guest speaker in the ceremony which is to include the transfer of the First Navy Jack, also known as the "Don't Tread on Me" jack. The honor of flying the First Navy Jack is held by the Navy's oldest continuous active-duty ship.

Secretary Dalton spoke of Indy's mighty accomplishments through the years just as Admiral Arleigh "31-Knot" Burke foretold of the protection and service USS Independence would provide America in his commissioning speech Jan. 10, 1959.

Story By: JO3 Joseph Rehana is modified as annotated with references.

 
The Morse Code Is: YAPD DE NNQN ZKA ZKB INT ZKE K
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