USS Ranger (CV-61)
Arrived in South Padre Island July 12, 2015
The current Ranger was laid down as a Forrestal-class aircraft carrier. Her two older sisters Forrestal and Saratoga were originally designed as axial deck (straight deck) carriers. But, thanks to the successful British “angle deck” configuration, both sister carriers were changed to angle deck carriers during their construction. Ranger was the first American aircraft carrier designed as an angle deck carrier from the keel up.
Ranger was commissioned on August 10, 1957, and joined the Atlantic Fleet in October of the same year. She spent the remainder of 1957 and part of 1958 in final acceptance trials. In mid-1958, she sailed around Cape Horn for her new homeport of Alameda, California, where she provided a deck for pilot qualification training and participated in exercises with the Pacific Fleet.
Her first WESTPAC deployment in early 1959 involved operations with SEATO naval units. She patrolled along the southern coast of Japan then returned to Alameda in late July 1959. She participated in fleet operations in her home waters then departed in early 1960 for her next WESPAC deployment. Her next WESPAC deployment began in mid-1961 and she returned to her homeport in early 1962. After several months of intensive training, Ranger began her next WESPAC deployment. She sailed from Alameda in late November 1962 for operations off Hawaii. Then, she steamed into the South China Sea in May for several days to support possible Laotian operations when the political climate in that country became heated.
Ranger returned to her homeport in mid-1963 and entered Hunter’s Point Naval Shipyard for an overhaul. Refresher training followed then she began her next WESPAC deployment and sailed for the Far East in early August 1964 in response to the attack against American destroyers Maddox and Turner Joy by North Vietnamese PT boats. While Ranger was in transit to the Far East, the Ticonderoga and Constellation launched numerous attacks from their decks in response to North Vietnamese aggression.
In October 1964, Ranger became the flagship of RADM Henry Miller, USN, who commanded Fast Carrier Task Force 77. In early February 1965, Ranger, Coral Sea and Hancock destroyed military targets in North Vietnam in response to Viet Cong attacks around Pleiku. Ranger continued to strike targets in Vietnam until mid-April when a fuel line broke and ignited a fire in her #1 main machinery room that unfortunately killed a sailor. She sailed for her homeport and arrived in Alameda in early May 1965 and entered Hunter’s Point Naval Shipyard for an overhaul until late September.
Following a brief overhaul, Ranger completed refresher training then departed Alameda for her sixth WESPAC deployment in mid-December 1965. During this next deployment, under the command of Captain Leo B. McCuddin, USN, Carrier Air Wing 14 and Ranger’s crew received the Navy Unit Commendation for exceptionally meritorious service during combat operations in Southeast Asia from January to August 1966. She returned to Alameda in late August 1966 then departed Alameda in late September with numerous dependents and their vehicles on board for a 2-day cruise to Puget Sound, Washington. Her extended overhaul lasted until May 1967. After a long and intensive period of training she embarked Attack Carrier Air Wing 2 in mid-September then departed for her next WESPAC deployment in early November with the new A-7 Corsair II jet attack plane and the UH-2C Seasprite turboprop rescue helo. After stops in Yokosuka, Japan, and Subic Bay, Philippines, Ranger departed for Yankee Station off North Vietnam with Commander Carrier Division 3 (COMCARDIV3) embarked.
During the next five months, Ranger and carriers from Division 3 destroyed numerous targets, airfields and military installations. This deployment included a Bob Hope Christmas show and welcome port visits to Yokosuka, Japan, during early April and Hong Kong in May 1968. She headed for her homeport followed by a shipyard availability at Puget Sound. She departed for Alameda in late July 1968. After three months of upkeep and training she departed for her eighth WESPAC deployment which lasted from late October through mid-May 1969. She departed Alameda for her next WESPAC deployment in December 1969 and returned to Alameda in early June 1970.
After operations off the west coast of California, Ranger departed for her next WESPAC deployment in late September 1970. During this deployment, Ranger and carriers Kitty Hawk and Hancock disrupted and destroyed entry corridors leading into South Vietnam from Laos. Ranger returned to Alameda in early June 1971 where she remained undergoing regular overhaul until late May 1972. During this yard period Captain Hank P. Glindeman, USN, became Ranger’s 15th Commanding Officer. Captain Glindeman retired as a Real Admiral and is the Chairman Emeritus of the USS Ranger Foundation.
After training and operations in home waters, Ranger embarked on her next WESPAC deployment in mid-November 1972. In mid-December 1972 peace negotiations in Paris stalled. Pilots from Ranger, in company with carriers Saratoga, Oriskany and America flew 505 sorties during Linebacker II strikes in North Vietnam. The North Vietnamese returned to the peace table in late December and a cease fire went into effect on January 27, 1973.