Farewell Kitty I hardly knew ye...
After nearly 50 years of service, the aircraft career USS Kitty Hawk, will be decommissioned. This oldest active ship in the US Navy will make its final departure from Japan this Wednesday.
The Kitty Hawk, with sailors lining its decks, pulled away from Yokosuka port just south of Tokyo to the cheers of hundreds of schoolchildren and the sounds of brass bands.
The Kitty Hawk, the last conventionally powered aircraft carrier in the Navy, is to be replaced later this summer by the USS George Washington, a nuclear-powered carrier.
After leaving Japan, the Kitty Hawk will make a stop at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii and then travel on to the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Bremerton, Washington, to be decommissioned.
The ship, commissioned in 1961, was assigned to Japan in 1998. It has since made 20 deployments in the western Pacific and participated in Operation Enduring Freedom in Iraq.
It was the oldest active ship with the longest total period of active service in the Navy.
"Since it arrived in August 1998, the Kitty Hawk has been a visible symbol of strength in a rapidly changing world," U.S. Ambassador to Japan Thomas Schieffer said. "Goodbye Kitty Hawk, hello George Washington."