From: DICTIONARY OF AMERICAN NAVAL FIGHTING SHIPS, Vol. III (1963), p. 432.
Displacement: 56,000 t. (light) Length: 1,046' Beam: 129'4" Extreme Width: 252' Speed: 33 k. Complement: 4,000+ Armament: 8 5" Class: ForrestalForrestal (CVA-59) was launched 11 December 1954 by Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Co. Newport News, Va.; sponsored by Mrs. James V Forrestal, widow of Secretary Forrestal; and commissioned 1 October 1955, Captain R. L. Johnson i n command.
From her home port, Norfolk, Va., Forrestal spent the first year of her commissioned service in intensive training operations off the Virginia Capes and in the Caribbean. An important assignment was training aviators in the use of her advance d facilities, a duty on which she often operated out of Mayport, Fla. On 7 November 1956, she put to sea from Mayport to operate in the eastern Atlantic during the Suez Crisis ready to enter the Mediterranean should her great strength be necessary. She returned to Norfolk 12 December to prepare for her first deployment with the 6th Fleet in the Mediterranean, for which she sailed 15 January 1957.
On this, as on her succeeding tours of duty in the Mediterranean, Forrestal visited many ports to allow dignitaries and the general public to come aboard and view the tremendous power for peace she represented. For military observers, she sta ged underway demonstrations to illustrate her capacity to bring air power to and from the sea in military operations on any scale. She returned to Norfolk 22 July 1957 for exercises off the North Carolina coast in preparation for her first NATO Opera tion, "Strikeback," in the North Sea. This deployment, between 3 September and 22 October, found her visiting Southampton England, as well as drilling in the highly important task of coordinating United States naval power with that of other NATO nat ions.
The next year found Forrestal participating in a series of major fleet exercises, as well as taking part in experimental flight operations. During the Lebanon Crisis of summer 1958, the great carrier was again called upon to operate in the ea stern Atlantic to back up naval operations in the Mediterranean. She sailed from Norfolk 11 July to embark an air group at Mayport 2 days later, then patrolled the Atlantic until returning to Norfolk 17 July.
On her second tour of duty in the Mediterranean, from 2 September 1958 to 12 March 1959, Forrestal again combined a program of training, patrol, and participation in major exercises with ceremonial, hospitality and public visiting. Her guest list during this cruise was headed by Secretary of Defense N. H. McElroy. Returning to Norfolk, she continued the never ending task of training new aviators, constantly maintaining her readiness for instant reaction to any demand for her services bro ught on by international events. Visitors during the year included King Hussein of Jordan.
Forrestal again brought her imposing presence to the 6th Fleet between 28 January 1960 and 31 August, visiting the ports usual to a Mediterranean deployment as well as Split, Yugoslavia. Again she was open for visitors at many ports, as well as taking part in the patrol and training schedule of the 6th Fleet. Upon her return to the United States, she resumed her schedule of east coast and Caribbean operations for the remainder of the year.
Transcribed by Michael Hansen