The Navy’s Program Executive Office (PEO) for Aircraft Carriers along with the In-service Carriers Program Office (PMS 312) and Future Carriers Program Office (PMS 378) have contributed to a tradition that could last decades and span future ships named for America. They have presented a capstan cover
from ex-America (CV 66) to the USS John C Stennis (CVN 74).
The capstan is a rotating machine used onboard ship and dock walls for heaving in ropes, cables and hawsers. The capstan cover on a ship is an ornate, highly decorated and usually polished circular device that sits on top of the capstan. The capstan cover from the ex-America weighs 138 lbs.
In fiscal year 1996, the USS John C. Stennis was commissioned and the USS America, having served in the U.S. Navy since 1965, was decommissioned. At that time, the John C. Stennis inherited numerous items from the America, including the America’s presentation silver, silverware and crystal and the ships wheel and decking.
Engraved on the cover are the words that are also on a plaque on the flight deck of the ex-America as she rests eternally on the bottom of the Atlantic at a depth of more than 16,000 feet, “Dedicated to those who served on board USS America (CV 66).”
After a series of weapons tests, ex-America was sunk and rests on the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean. The tests that were conducted have had a direct impact on this nation’s ability to design and eventually deploy the most survivable aircraft carriers and future ships of the line for the 21st century.
In a simple ceremony in September 2007, the engraved capstan cover, which came from ex-America’s starboard side fueling at-sea station, was presented to the John C. Stennis for safe keeping. The John C. Stennis had just returned from a seven and one-half month deployment to the Persian Gulf in support of coalition forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.
To date, there have been two other ships named America. The first, in 1776, was a 76-gun, ship of the line. The second was a transport ship that served during WWI from 1917 to 1919.