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USS America: Sinking A Supercarrier

Sinking an Aircraft Carrier

The USS America was originally intended to be scrapped, like most other US aircraft carriers. But some creative Navy officers found a more creative end for this massive ship.

Although aircraft carriers have been sunk in battle before, especially during the WWII, a Super Carrier the size of modern Navy ships has never reached that fate. After decades of successful operation, though, this started to become a bit of a weak spot. No one knew exactly, for certain, how the massive ships would hold up to strikes by enemy weapons.

The ship held on valiantly for more than four weeks of bombardment

The was solved in 1996 by the final heroic fight of the USS America. The Navy intentionally hit and sunk the Super Carrier, not only to test their ability to strike ships, but also to see how long the Super Carrier would last.

After being prepared for the SINKEX operation, the ex-USS America was towed far away from the Virginia coast line, in a Naval exercise range. Shortly after arriving to its predetermined location, the US Navy onslaught began. Battered by missiles, bombs, and torpedoes, the ship held on valiantly for more than four weeks of bombardment.

A poster hanging in the Pentagon. The only unclassified recording of the USS America’s sinking.

Amazingly the US Navy resorted to old fashioned tactics to get the ship to sink. On May 14, 2005, the USS America’s flight deck finally started to slip below the ocean’s surface. What was the runway for so many thousands of flights turned into a wing, guiding the ship down through the depths.

The Navy’s official water depth in the region of the America’s sinking is 2,810 fathoms, or 16,860 feet. That’s about 4,200 ft deeper than the spot of which the Titanic sits in the North Atlantic.