The USS Forrestal (CV-59), formerly AVT-59 and CVA-59, is a super-carrier that was named after former Secretary of the Navy James Forrestal and was the lead ship of her class of aircraft carriers. The other carriers of her class were the USS Saratoga, USS Ranger and USS Independence. She superseded Japanese carrier Shinano of World War II vintage as the largest aircraft carrier ever built by full load displacement and was the first to specifically support jet aircraft. The ship was affectionately called “The FID”, because James Forrestal was the first ever Secretary of Defense, FID standing for “First In Defense”. This is also the slogan on the ship’s insignia and patch. She was also informally known in the fleet as the “USS Zippo” and “Forest Fire” or “Firestal” because of a number of highly publicized fires on board, most notably a 1967 incident in which 134 sailors died and 161 were injured. Forrestal was launched 11 December 1954by Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Co., Newport News, Virginia,sponsored by Josephine Forrestal, widow of Secretary Forrestal; and commissioned 1 October 1955, Captain R. L. Johnson in command. The construction cost of the Forrestal just before commissioning was estimated to be $218 million.
Forrestal was the first American aircraft carrier to be constructed with an angled flight deck, steam catapult, and an optical landing system, as opposed to having them installed after launching.
The original design—USS United States—provided for the island to retract flush with the deck during flight operations, but that was found to be too complicated. Another solution was considered where the two masts were to fold down, in lieu of the retractable island, to allow the carrier to pass under the Brooklyn Bridge. The larger center mast was to fold to the side and rest on the flight deck, and the smaller mast was to fold to toward the stern.