The U.S.S. Forrestal (CVA 59) was the first of the Navy's super carriers, built from the keel up with an angled deck, hurricane bow, steam catapults and all the other refinements and improvements on carriers designed and built for World War II, before the time of jets. It was the ship that signaled the survival of naval aviation after a long, bitter, political fight to eliminate it from the nation's defenses and named for the secretary of defense, James Forrestal, who had taken the Navy's side in that fight and suffered what was called a "nervous breakdown" that led to his suicide.

The Forrestal was in active service for almost 40 years and is remembered, chiefly, for surviving every sailor's nightmare, a fire at sea. The disaster was triggered when the ship was in the South China Sea, in 1967, carrying out strikes against North Vietnam and the accidental firing of a missile under the wing of a parked airplane set off a series of of explosions.

One of the survivors of the accident was John McCain who was in the cockpit of his A-4, waiting to launch when the vagrant missile struck his plane and cooked off its fuel, starting a chain reaction of explosions amid the ordinance on the flight deck. There were many, many heroes of the story and many lessons learned. Not least, that carriers could take a lot of punishment. The ship was back in action not long after the accident.

It was decommissioned in 1993 and now has been sold for scrap.

For a penny.

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