(CVA-67: dp. 75,000; 1. 1046'; b. 129'4"; ew. 249'; dr. 3517"; s. 30 k.; cpl. . 3,297; cl. Kitty Hawk)
The ship's keel was laid on October 22, 1964. She was christened May 27, 1967 by Jacqueline Kennedy and her 9-year-old daughter, Caroline at Newport News, Virginia, and entered service September 7, 1968. John F. Kennedy is a modified version of the earlier Kitty Hawk-class aircraft carriers but there are enough differences in the Kennedy that the Navy considers her in a single-class of her own. Kennedy was ordered as a nuclear carrier, using the A3W reactor, but converted to conventional propulsion after construction had begun. The island is somewhat different from the Kitty Hawk class, with angled funnels to direct smoke and gases away from the flight deck.
Kennedy's maiden voyage, and several of her subsequent voyages, were on deployments to the Mediterranean during much of the 1970s to help deal with the steadily deteriorating situation in the Middle East. It was during the 1970s that the Kennedy was upgraded to handle the F-14 Tomcat and the S-3 Viking.
In 1974, she won the Marjorie Sterrett Battleship Fund Award for the Atlantic Fleet.
On 22 November 1975, Kennedy collided with USSÜBelknapÜ(CG-26), severely damaging the smaller ship and earning itself the nickname "Can Opener."
On 14 September 1976, while conducting a nighttime underway replenishment 100 miles north of Scotland, the USSÜBordelonÜ(DD-881) lost control and collided with Kennedy, resulting in such severe damage to the destroyer that she was decommissioned in 1977.
In late 1978, the ship underwent her first, yearlong overhaul, which was completed in 1979 without incident. In 1979, she won her second Marjorie Sterrett Battleship Fund Award.
In 1982, the ship sailed on her ninth deployment, and her first visit to the Indian Ocean after transiting the Suez Canal. During this tour Kennedy played host to the first visit of the Somali head of state.
In 1983 Kennedy was moved to Beirut, Lebanon, to provide a U.S. presence for a growing crisis, and spent most of that year patrolling the region.
In 1984, the ship was drydocked at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard for a complex overhaul and much needed upgrades. Setting sail in July of 1986, Kennedy participated in the International Naval Review to help mark the Re-dedication of the Statue of Liberty. Kennedy served as the flagship for the armada before departing on an overseas deployment to the Mediterranean in August - highlighted by multiple Freedom of Navigation exercises in the Libya's Gulf of Sidra, and operations off of the coast of Lebanon as a result of increasing terrorist activities and U.S. citizens being taken hostage in Beirut. The ship returned to Norfolk, Va in March of 1987.
In August of 1988, Kennedy departed on her twelfth overseas deployment. During this deployment, a pair of MiG-23 'Flogger E' fighter bombers from Libya approached the carrier task force which was 130km off the shore of Libya near the declared Libyan territorial waters of the Gulf of Sidra. The approaching MIGs prompted two Kennedy-launched F-14 Tomcats to intercept the incoming MIGs. Although the U.S. planes were sent to escort the MiGs away from the task force peacefully, what developed was a shooting match between the U.S. and Libyan aircraft, which resulted in both Libyan aircraft being shot down.
Kennedy returned to the U.S. in time to participate in Fleet Week in New York and July 4 celebrations in Boston before unexpectedly being mobilized in August of 1990 for Operation Desert Shield. Despite having little to no warning, Kennedy prepared for her deployment overseas, where she arrived in September 1990 and became the flagship for the commander of the Red Sea Battle Force. On January 16, 1991, Kennedy's Carrier Wing 3 commenced operations against Iraqi forces as part of Operation Desert Storm. Between the commencement of the operation and the cease-fire, Kennedy launched 114 airstrikes and nearly 2,900 sorties against Iraq, which delivered over 3.5 million pounds of ordnance.
On February 27, 1991 President George H. W. Bush declared a cease-fire in Iraq, and ordered all U.S. forces to stand down. With the presidential cease-fire in place the Kennedy was relieved, and began the long journey home by transiting the Suez Canal. She arrived in Norfolk March 28, 1991 and received the greatest homecoming celebration since World War II. While at Norfolk the ship was placed on a four month selective restricted availability period as the shipyard workers set about fixing the ship. Extensive repairs to the flight deck were made, as well as to maintenance and engineering systems. Additionally, the ship was refitted to handle the new F/A-18 C/D Hornet.
With the upgrades completed, Kennedy departed on her 14th deployment to the Mediterranean, assisting several task forces with workup exercises in anticipation of intervention in Yugoslavia. When Kennedy returned she was sent to the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard, where she underwent a two year extensive overhaul. Upon the completion of the overhaul the ship was transferred to the Mayport Naval Station near Jacksonville, Florida, which remains the ship's home port.
The JFK made a high-profile visit to Dublin during an Atlantic deployment in 1996. Here, more than 10,000 people were invited to tour the ship at anchor in Dublin Bay. The visit was also intended to honor two personalities who made a great impact on US history - John F Kennedy, for whom the ship was named, and Commodore John Barry. Barry was a Co Wexford native who played an instrumental role in the early years of the US Navy. Officers and crew from the Kennedy joined local military and civilian organizations in celebrating Barry's achievements at his statue in Crescent Quay, Wexford, and three F14 Tomcat fighters flew at low level over the town. Her Excellency Ms Jean Kennedy Smith, a sister of John F Kennedy, was the US ambassador to Ireland at this time and was among those to welcome the ship to Ireland.
Kennedy's 15th Mediterranean deployment was uneventful, and she returned in time to participate in Fleet Week '98 in New York City.
Kennedy's 16th deployment, however, was eventful. Kennedy became involved in a rescue mission when the tug Gulf Majesty foundered during Hurricane Floyd in mid-September of 1999. The ship successfully rescued the crew of the vessel, then headed toward the Middle East, where she became the first U.S. aircraft carrier to make a port call in Al Aqabah, Jordan, in the process playing host to the King of Jordan, before taking up station in support of Operation Southern Watch. During this deployment Kennedy jet planes set a new record for bombing accuracy.
Kennedy had the unique honor of being the only carrier underway at the end of 1999, earning the ship the nickname "Carrier of the New Millennium"; Kennedy arrived at Mayport on March 19, 2000. After a brief period of maintenance, the carrier sailed north to participate in July 4 International Naval Review (see also Naval review), then headed to Boston for Sail Boston 2000.
During Kennedy's last round of refits the ship became a testbed for an experimental system for the Cooperative Engagement Capability, a system that allowed Kennedy to engage targets beyond its original range.
In 2001, during a pre-deployment trial, the Kennedy was found to be severely deficient in some respects, especially those relating to air group operations; most problematic, two aircraft catapults and three aircraft elevators were non-functional during inspection, and two boilers would not light. As a result, her captain and two department heads were relieved for cause.
During the first six months of 2002, Kennedy aircraft dropped 31,000 tons of ordnance on Taliban and al Qaeda targets.
In July 2004, Kennedy collided with a dhow in the Gulf, leaving no survivors on the traditional Arab sailing boat. After the incident the Navy relieved the commander of the Kennedy, Capt. Stephen B. Squires. The carrier itself was unscathed, but two jet fighters on the deck were damaged when one slid into the other as the ship made a hard turn to avoid the tiny vessel. Capt. Squires waited to make the turn at the last possible moment to recover aircraft returning for airstrikes that were critically low on fuel. 
Budget cutbacks and changing naval tactics, combined with the facts that the Kennedy was the most costly carrier in the fleet to maintain and that she was due for an expensive overhaul, prompted the U.S. Navy to retire the Kennedy. On April 1, 2005, the Navy formally announced that the carrier's scheduled 15-month overhaul had been canceled. .
Before decommissioning she made a number of stops to allow the public to "say farewell" to her, including a stop at her "homeport" Boston Harbor. She was decommissioned in Mayport, Florida on March 23, 2007.