Nautilus Institute Digital Library
july 19, 1999


Nuclear Exercises On USS Kitty Hawk (CV-63) Around Crisis Deployment Hint At Nuclear Weapons In Yokosuka in 1979

Shortly after its visit to Yokosuka in October 1979, the aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk (CV-63) was dispatched to the East China Sea to defend against a possible North Korean aggression against South Korea. During its deployment, the carrier exercised both nuclear anti-submarine and nuclear strike operations, strongly suggesting that the ship was nuclear armed during its visit to Japan.

Obtained at the Center for Naval History,
Washington, D.C.


FOIA Documents

U.S. Navy, "USS Kitty Hawk (CV-63): 1979-1980 Western Pacific-Indian Ocean Deployment Report," n.d. [1981], enclosure to 1980 Command History, pp. 1-8, 27-28.

pdf format

(See below for description)

Full Excerpt From Document:

"Deployment Summary

[...] 5. (C) Operations in the East China Sea and the Philippine Sea during the 4 to 8 September transit to Subic Bay included tactical air support to U.S. Air Force B-52 mining operations during Exercise BUSY STORM and an ASW ENCOUNTEREX which provided valuable freeplay and tactical planning opportunities.

7. (C) [After arriving in Yokosuka on October 12,] USS KITTY HAWK and dressed ship to welcome 32,000 visitors on the 14 October Japanese-U.S. Navy 'Friendship Day' and, on 19 October, hosted VADM COOGAN, Commander Naval Air Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet, who presented the ship with the Blue 'H' habitability award.

8. (C) Departing Yokosuka on 22 October, USS KITTY HAWK and Carrier Air Wing FIFTEEN provided area surveillance support to MISSILEX 2-80, and exercise involving live missile firings by surface combatants. Then, in response to the crisis in the Republic of Korea following the 26 October assassination of Republic of Korea President Park Chung Hee, USS KITTY HAWK transited to an East China Sea MODLOC off Cheju Do to demonstrate support for and be in position to assist South Korea in the event of aggression from the north. [...]

Operations Department

[...] (3) (C) READIEX Loading Drill, 26 July 1979. The objectives of this full weapon-to-aircraft movement and loading drill were to to exercise the weapons movement, special equipment, and security aspects of a large special weapons loadout. Timing standards were met, and no problems were encountered. A special weapons accident/incident drill also was [sic] conducted.

(4) (C) ASW READIEX ALFA, 10 October 1979. The objective of this READIEX was to keep a simulated depth bomb airborne for an extended period during cyclic operations. Loaded on SH-3Hs [Sea King helicopter] and S-3As [Viking fixed-wing aircraft], the weapons were continuously airborne for over eight hours. Since this evolution was conducted concurrent with full cyclic operations, the flight deck had to accomodate [sic] the wire checking of aircraft and weapons loading without negative impact on flight deck operations or special weapons evolutions. Command and control procedures were exercised and all concerned demonstrated and [sic] excellent knowledge of procedures.

(5) (C) Power Projection READINEX ALFA, 14 November 1979. An eight-sortie strike was planned and executed. This exercise culminated in the fly-off of 11 BDUs [Bomb Dummy Unit (mock-up nuclear weapon)] belonging to the NAS [Naval Air Station] Cubi Point maneuver pool. An abbreviated planning evolution included fuel management and weapon track planning aspects. One pilot was selected to fully plan his mission and debrief CTF SEVEN SEVEN. Although a few minor problems were encountered in the loading evolution, the exercise was considered satisfactory."

Source: Command in Chief, U.S. Navy, "USS Kitty Hawk (CV-63) 1979-1980 Western Pacific-Indian Ocean Deployment Report," n.d. [1981], enclosure to Command History for 1980, pp. 1-8, 27-28. Partially declassified and released under FOIA.

In this picture of USS Kitty Hawk sailors spell out "Hajimemashita Nippon" ("Glad to meet you for the first time, Japan") on the flight deck of the carrier. Kitty Hawk has relieved USS Independence (CV 62) as the U.S. Navy's only permanently forward-deployed aircraft carrier. U.S. Navy photo by Chief Photographer's Mate Mahlon K. Miller. [980805-N-0226M-002] Aug. 5, 1998.

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