Carrier Air Wing Eleven
Carrier Air Wing Eleven is a United States Navy aircraft carrier air wing based at Naval Air Station Lemoore, California. The air wing is attached to the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt. To conduct carrier air warfare operations and assist in the planning, control and integration of seven air wing squadrons in support of carrier air warfare including. All-weather offensive air-to-surface attacks, Detection and destruction of enemy ships and submarines to establish and maintain local sea control. Aerial photographic and electronic intelligence for naval and joint operations. Airborne early warning service to fleet shore warning nets. Airborne electronic countermeasures. In-flight refueling operations to extend the range and the endurance of air wing aircraft and Search and rescue operations. CVW-11 consists of nine squadrons Carrier Air Wing Eleven was designated Carrier Air Group Eleven and. On 10 October 1942 at Naval Air Station San Diego, four squadrons joined together to form Carrier Air Group Eleven.
Bombing Squadron Eleven, Fighting Squadron Eleven, Scouting Squadron Eleven and Torpedo Squadron Eleven. In late October the entire air group was sent to Hawaii. VB-11, VS-11 and VT-11 were stationed at NAS Barbers Point on Oahu and VF-11 was sent to NAS Maui. While at Maui, the pilots of VF-11 enjoyed the hospitality of the von Tempsky ranch. Boyd and Alexa von Tempsky made sure VF-11 had a place to relax when they were not flying. In February 1943 the Air Group embarked on USS Altamaha and USS Long Island en route to Nandi in the Fijian Islands. CVG-11 continued to fly simulated combat missions. By the time CVG-11 arrived in the Pacific combat zone only one aircraft carrier was operational; this meant. On 25 April 1943 CVG-11 arrived at Guadalcanal. VF-11 would fly from Lunga Point, known as "Fighter One." The pilots of VF-11 would set out on escort missions providing cover for the Bombing and Torpedo Squadrons. In addition, the "Sundowners" as VF-11 is known, searched for and destroyed Japanese aircraft operating in the region.
It was during this time that VS-11 was re-designated to VB-21. The remainder of the air group would fly from Henderson Field; the bomber and torpedo planes conducted patrol, spotting and night mine-laying operations. On 8 June 1943 the Air Group suffered a great loss; the men of VT-11 were granted a leave to Australia. While leaving New Caledonia, one of the three transport planes crashed killing all 24 men on board. Included in the casualties were Air Group Commander Weldon L. Hamilton and 16 pilots and aircrew from VT-11. On 16 June 1943 twenty eight pilots of VF-11 engaged an estimated 120 Japanese planes and shot down 31. On 1 August 1943 CVG-11 boarded USS Chenango, USS St. Louis and USS Honolulu, they arrived back at NAS Alameda two weeks later. Upon return to the US, CVG-11 trained for their next assignment: carrier operations. Three air groups flew into combat on board USS Hornet during World War II. Air Group Eleven replaced Air Group Two on 29 September 1944. While on board USS Hornet, CVG-11 attacked targets on Okinawa, the Philippines, French Indo China and Hong Kong.
The Air Group was tested daily by threat of kamikaze attacks against the ship, foul weather and intense anti-aircraft fire over the intended targets. The pilots of VF-11 were most proud of the fact that no VB-11 or VT-11 aircraft were lost to enemy fighter planes, their top ace was Charles R. Stimpson with 16 victories. By the end of January 1945 the pilots and aircrews of Air Group Eleven claimed the following: 105 enemy planes shot down, 272 planes destroyed on the ground, over 100,000 tons of enemy shipping sunk, over 100 Japanese ships damaged; these great accomplishments did not come without a price. In four months of flying. CVG-11 had more than 60 men killed, missing-in-action or wounded. Air Group Eleven was replaced by Air Group Seventeen on 1 February 1945, they arrived back in Alameda on 24 February 1945. For these operations, CVG-11 was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation. An exhibit honoring Carrier Air Group Eleven is on board the USS Hornet Museum in Alameda, California, its grand opening to the public was on Veterans Day of 11 November 2014.
After the war, the navy changed the designation scheme for its Carrier Air Groups designating Air Groups configured for the Essex-class carrier CVAGs, those configured for the larger Midway-class carrier CVBGs, those configured for the light carriers of the Independence and Saipan classes CVLGs and those configured for remaining World War II escort carriers CVEGs. CVG-11 became CVAG-11. On 1 September 1948 the designation scheme was again changed, all CVAGs and CVBGs reverted to CVGs and CVEGs and CVLGs were disestablished. CVAG-11 became CVG-11 for the second time. During the Korean War, CVG-11 was the first Air Wing to shoot down MiGs, was instrumental in keeping the Pusan Perimeter from collapsing during the early stages of the war, participated in various other significant operations such as the Inchon Invasion, the Wonsan landing and the successful movement from the Chosin Reservoir. CVG-11 deployed on board USS Kitty Hawk with the Seventh Fleet in October 1963 commanded by CDR Warren H. O'Neil, USN.
On 20 December 1963 the navy redesignated its Carrier Air Groups to Carrier Air Wings and CVG-11 became Carrier Air Wing Eleven. CVW-11 flew the first Offensive Missions against North Vietnam in the spring of 1964 experienc
Operation Deny Flight
Operation Deny Flight was a North Atlantic Treaty Organization operation that began on 12 April 1993 as the enforcement of a United Nations no-fly zone over Bosnia and Herzegovina. The United Nations and NATO expanded the mission of the operation to include providing close air support for UN troops in Bosnia and carrying out coercive air strikes against targets in Bosnia. Twelve NATO members contributed forces to the operation and, by its end on 20 December 1995, NATO pilots had flown 100,420 sorties; the operation played an important role in shaping both the Bosnian War and NATO. The operation included the first combat engagement in NATO's history, a 28 February 1994 air battle over Banja Luka, in April 1994, NATO aircraft first bombed ground targets in an operation near Goražde; these engagements helped show that NATO had adapted to the post-Cold War era and could operate in environments other than a major force on force engagement on the plains of Central Europe. Cooperation between the UN and NATO during the operation helped pave the way for future joint operations.
Although it helped establish UN-NATO relations, Deny Flight led to conflict between the two organizations. Most notably, significant tension arose between the two after UN peacekeepers were taken as hostages in response to NATO bombing; the operations of Deny Flight spanned more than two years of the Bosnian War and played an important role in the course of that conflict. The no-fly zone operations of Deny Flight proved successful in preventing significant use of air power by any side in the conflict. Additionally, the air strikes flown during Deny Flight led to Operation Deliberate Force, a massive NATO bombing campaign in Bosnia that played a key role in ending the war. In October 1992, at the beginning of the Bosnian War, the United Nations Security Council passed Resolution 781; this resolution prohibited unauthorized military flights in Bosnian airspace. Following the resolution, NATO began Operation Sky Monitor during which NATO forces monitored violations of the no-fly zone, without taking any military action against violators.
By April 1993, NATO forces had documented more than 500 violations of the no-fly zone. In response to these "blatant" violations of Bosnian air space, implicitly of resolution 781, the UN Security Council issued Resolution 816. While Resolution 781 prohibited only military flights, Resolution 816 prohibited all flights in Bosnian air space, except for those expressly authorized by the UN Flight Coordination Center in Zagreb; the resolution authorized UN member states to "take all necessary measures... to ensure compliance" with the no-fly zone restrictions. In response to this resolution, NATO commenced Operation Deny Flight on 12 April 1993. Deny Flight was intended only to enforce the no-fly zone; the US had taken unilateral actions to aid civilians caught in the conflict by dropping humanitarian supplies into Bosnia under Operation Provide Promise, many US officials argued for the use of military force. These officials were eager to expand US air operations through Deny Flight, hoping that an aggressive no-fly zone and possible air strikes would end the conflict more quickly.
NATO forces suffered its first loss on the second day of operations, when a French Mirage 2000 crashed in the Adriatic Sea due to mechanical failure. The pilot ejected safely. After its adoption, Operation Deny Flight was successful in preventing fixed-wing aircraft from flying over restricted air space in Bosnia. During the monitoring phase of Operation Sky Monitor, unauthorized fixed-wing flights averaged twenty per month, but during Deny Flight, the average was three. During the conflict, there were only an estimated 32 fixed-wing military aircraft in Bosnia, all of them former Yugoslav National Army planes under the control of the Bosnian Serbs. Thus, NATO needed to prevent incursions into Bosnian airspace from Croatia and Serbia; the first serious violation to the no-fly zone came on 28 February 1994, when six Serb J-21 Jastreb jets bombed a Bosnian factory. US Air Force F-16s shot down four of the six Serb jets over Banja Luka; this engagement was the first combat engagement of Operation Deny Flight, its only significant air-to-air combat engagement.
More the Banja Luka incident was the first combat engagement in the history of NATO. The Serbs acknowledged the loss of a fifth aircraft in the incident. While Deny Flight was successful in stopping flights of fixed-wing aircraft, NATO forces found it difficult to stop helicopter flights, which presented a more complicated challenge. All sides in the conflict used helicopters extensively for non-military purposes, some of these flights were authorized by the UN. Under the operation's rules of engagement, NATO fighters were only authorized to shoot down helicopters that committed a hostile act. Otherwise, NATO fighters issued orders to "land or exit", in other words, land the aircraft or leave the no-fly zone. Helicopters in Bosnian airspace complied with these orders by landing, but took off again after NATO forces departed. None of the parties in the conflict respected the ban on helicopter flights, as evidenced when Ratko Mladić responded to a BBC journalist's question about his violation of the ban with the statement, "The commander of the Bosnian Serb armed forces does not ride on a donkey."Deceptive markings on helicopters further complicated matters for NATO pilots.
Many of the combatants painted their helicopters to look like those of organizations that the UN's Zagreb Flight Coordination Center had authorized to fly in restricted spa
USS Forrestal (CV-59)
USS Forrestal, was a supercarrier named after the first Secretary of Defense James Forrestal. Commissioned in 1955, she was the first completed supercarrier, was the lead ship of her class. Unlike the successor Nimitz class and her class were conventionally powered; the other carriers of her class were USS Ranger and USS Independence. She surpassed the World War II Japanese carrier Shinano as the largest carrier yet built, was the first designed to support jet aircraft; the ship was affectionately called "The FID", because her namesake was the first Secretary of Defense, FID standing for "First In Defense". This is the slogan on the ship's insignia and patch, she was informally known in the fleet as the "USS Zippo" and "Forest Fire" or "Firestal" because of a number of publicized fires on board, most notably a 1967 fire in which 134 sailors died and 161 more were injured. Forrestal served for nearly four decades in the Atlantic and Pacific, she was decommissioned in 1993, made available as a museum.
Attempts to save her were unsuccessful, in February 2014 she was towed to Brownsville, Texas, to be scrapped. Scrapping was completed in December 2015. Forrestal's keel was laid down at Newport News Shipbuilding on 14 July 1952. During construction, her design was adjusted several times—the original telescoping bridge, a design left over from the canceled USS United States, was replaced by a conventional island structure, her flight deck was modified to include an angled landing deck and steam catapults, drawing on British innovations, she was launched on 11 December 1954, commissioned into service on 1 October 1955. Forrestal was the first American aircraft carrier to be constructed with an angled flight deck, steam catapult, an optical landing system, as opposed to having them installed after launching; the original design—USS United States—provided for the island to retract flush with the deck during flight operations, but, found to be too complicated. Another solution was considered where the two masts were to fold down, in lieu of the retractable island, to allow the carrier to pass under the Brooklyn Bridge.
The larger center mast was to fold to the side and rest on the flight deck, the smaller mast was to fold toward the stern. From her home port, Naval Station Norfolk, Virginia, Forrestal spent the first year of service in intensive training operations off the Virginia Capes and in the Caribbean. An important assignment was training aviators in the use of her advanced facilities. During this time she operated out of Naval Station Mayport, Florida. 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 Sea should it be necessary, she returned to Norfolk on 12 December to prepare for her first deployment with the 6th Fleet in the Mediterranean, for which she sailed on 15 January 1957. On this, as on her succeeding tours of duty in the Mediterranean, Forrestal visited many ports to "show the flag" and take on board dignitaries and the general public. For military observers, she staged 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 on 22 July 1957 for exercises off the North Carolina coast in preparation for her first NATO operation, Operation Strikeback in the North Sea. This deployment, between 3 September and 22 October, found her visiting Southampton, UK, as well as drilling in the important task of coordinating United States naval power with that of other NATO nations; 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 carrier was again called upon to operate in the eastern Atlantic to back up naval operations in the Mediterranean, she sailed from Norfolk on 11 July to embark an air group at Mayport two days then patrolled the Atlantic until returning to Norfolk on 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 and participation in major exercises with ceremonial and public visiting.
Her guest list during this cruise was headed by United States Secretary of Defense N. H. McElroy. Returning to Norfolk, she continued the never-ending task of training new aviators maintaining her readiness for instant reaction to any demand for her services brought on by international events. Visitors during the year included King Hussein of Jordan. Forrestal again went to the 6th Fleet between 28 January 1960 and 31 August, visiting the ports typical of a Mediterranean deployment as well as Split, Croatia. Again she was open for visitors at many ports, as well as taking part in the patrol and training schedule of the 6th Fleet, she completed another deployment to 6th Fleet January 1961 to August 1961, after which she entered a yard period at Norfolk Naval Shipyard where the six arresting wires were replaced with four, freed 03 level spaces were converted to berthing areas, the right side flight deck mirror landing system was replaced with a permanent Fresnel lens in the port catwalk, among other updates.
She conducted a shakedown cruise to Guantanamo Bay in January 1962 with port calls in Port-au-Prince and Port of Spain, Trinidad. She acted as the defending carrier in an amphibious force landing exercise on Vieques Island. Forrestal with Vice-President Lyndon B. Johnson aboard, Enterprise with President John F. Kennedy aboard hosted many foreign ambassadors, military attaches, other d
Roosevelt Roads Naval Station
Roosevelt Roads Naval Station is a former United States Navy base in the town of Ceiba, Puerto Rico. The site is run today as José Aponte de la Torre Airport, a public use airport. In 1919, the future U. S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt Assistant Secretary of the Navy, toured Puerto Rico, visiting Ceiba; when he returned to Washington, D. C. he expressed a liking for the terrain. This was during the World War I era, the United States could benefit from an air field in Ceiba. While Puerto Rico is a commonwealth, its territorial rights belong to the United States, which made it feasible, ideal, for the American government to build an airplane base in Ceiba, it took many years for the United States Government to become convinced of the need for an air base in Ceiba. When Adolf Hitler and Nazi-led Germany began to invade other European countries, the US, led by President Roosevelt, entertained the idea of a Naval air station in Ceiba. With war in the European and Pacific theatres, they saw an airbase in the Caribbean as necessary.
The base had been inaugurated, but scaled down to maintenance status with a public works office in 1944. From until 1957, the base went through many shifts, being opened seven times and closed eight times. Meanwhile, it continued as a source of employment for the citizens of Ceiba. In 1957, it was upgraded to Naval Station status. Fort Bundy was located there, but it crossed over to parts of Vieques, a fact which would become important in the future. An U. S. A. military mission, the M3, was located there. It was part of the "Naval Computer and Telecommunications Station, Puerto Rico Base Communication Department". M3 had a fleet center, a technical control facility and a Tactical support communications department, among other things; the M3 was designated to help Puerto Rico, the United States and other Caribbean and Latin American countries to deal with drug trafficking, illegal immigration and other problems. The main purpose of the base was tactical support for land/sea/air maneuvers on Vieques island.
For the next 47 years the base was utilized for flight practice, as well as other missions and control of the area's air space. In August 2002, a MC-130H airplane carrying seven airmen crashed in the town of Caguas, while en route from Roosevelt Roads to Rafael Hernández Airport in Aguadilla. All seven perished, in the largest air tragedy in Caguas's history. In 2017 Roosevelt Roads military personnel arrived at Roosevelt Roads after Hurricane Maria to assist in rescue efforts. Units such as the United States Air Force 821st Contingency Response Support Squadron, 821st Contingency Response Group, the United States Army 1st Armored Division Aviation Brigade and the 101st Airborne Division "Dustoff" unit arrived at Roosevelt Roads. Marines and sailors set up a supply staging base receiving around-the-clock airlifts at Roosevelt Roads; this was the first major military activity at Roosevelt Roads since 2004. COMUSNAVSO U. S. Naval Forces Southern Command directs naval forces and interacts with partner nations to shape the maritime environment within United States Southern Command's Area of Focus.
With a focus on Theater Security Cooperation, NAVSO works to strengthen and build effective alliance and friendships, develop partner nation capabilities, maintain U. S. operational access to defend the United States. U. S. Naval Forces Southern Command, headquartered at Naval Station Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico, was the Naval Component Commander to the U. S. Southern Command, based in Miami, Florida, it provides strategic and operational command and control for U. S. Naval Forces in South America, Central America and the Caribbean. On 10 December 1999 the U. S. Navy established Commander, U. S. Naval Forces Southern Command known as NAVSOUTH, in a ceremony aboard USS Vicksburg inport Roosevelt Roads; the new organization is responsible for Navy operational forces in the United States Southern Command's area of responsibility, including Naval Special Warfare Unit Four, a training detachment for SEAL teams from the SOCOM operational area. It oversees U. S. naval forces participating in drug enforcement operations and interaction with South American naval forces, including the annual UNITAS operations around South America.
As the Navy's senior representative, United States Naval Forces, Southern Command serves as the principal liaison with the government of Puerto Rico. In January 2004 The Navy decided to relocate U. S. Naval Forces Southern Command from Naval Station Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico, to Naval Station Mayport, Florida. Since the Navy had to close Naval Station Roosevelt Roads by 31 March 2004, relocation of USNAVSO was a high priority. Roosevelt Roads Naval Station, or Roosey as it was called, was home to hundreds of military personnel and dependents. Education for children of those based at the Station was provided by teachers who were DOD contractors from the U. S. Later, more local teachers were hired. Radio and television entertainment on the base during the mid-1970s was somewhat limited. News and information broadcasts were provided by Navy and Marine Corps journalists from the studios of The American Forces Caribbean Network. Families could tune into the on-base AFRTS radio and television station's family-oriented shows, or rig up an antenna for signals from St. Thomas or San Juan.
At one time, the AFCN operated repeater transmitters broadcasting radio and TV to San Juan, Ramey Air Force Base, located on the west coast of Puerto Rico. At the El Coqui Theater, in the Bundy area of the base, movie goers watched films as swifts, a small batlike bird, flitted across the screen. Bats were abundant on the island as well but the brightly-lit screen attracted
Carrier Air Wing Seventeen
Carrier Air Wing Seventeen, is a United States Navy aircraft carrier air wing based at Naval Air Station Lemoore, California. The air wing is attached to the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt. To conduct carrier air warfare operations and assist in the planning, control and integration of eight air wing squadrons and one detachment in support of carrier air warfare including. All-weather offensive air-to-surface attacks, Detection and destruction of enemy ships and submarines to establish and maintain local sea control. Aerial photographic and electronic intelligence for naval and joint operations. Airborne early warning service to fleet shore warning nets. Airborne electronic countermeasures. In-flight refueling operations to extend the range and the endurance of air wing aircraft and Search and rescue operations. CVW-17 consists of eight squadrons and one detachment Carrier Air Wing Seventeen was established on 1 November 1966 and assigned to USS Forrestal. Although an Atlantic Fleet carrier, Forrestal's first deployment with CVW-17 was to Vietnam, from June to September 1967.
After only four days on the line with 150 sorties flown, a Zuni rocket was accidentally fired on the flight deck on the morning of 29 July 1967. It hit the armed aircraft. In the resulting fire 134 crewmembers were killed and 62 injured. 26 aircraft were destroyed and 40 were damaged. After a refit, Forrestal made eleven deployments to the Mediterranean Sea with CVW-17, the last in 1982. In 1974, CVW-17 guarded the evacuation of U. S. citizens during the Turkish invasion of Cyprus. In 1976, the U. S. President Gerald R. Ford commenced the celebrations of the United States Bicentennial aboard Forrestal. On 15 January 1978 Forrestal was operating 60 km off the Florida coastline, when an LTV A-7 Corsair II from VA-81 crashed during landing; the aircraft hit a Grumman EA-6 Prowler. Two crewmen were killed, 10 were wounded. In March 1981, CVW-17 was in the Mediterranean Sea, when two F-14A Tomcat fighters from Nimitz shot down two Libyan fighters; when Forrestal entered a three-year Service Life Extension Program in November 1982, CVW-17 crossdecked to USS Saratoga and made six deployments aboard her until 1994.
On 10 October 1985 F-14A Tomcats of VF-74 Be-Devilers and VF-103 Sluggers intercepted a Boeing 737 carrying terrorists, who had hijacked the Italian ocean liner MS Achille Lauro. The fighters forced the Boeing 737 to land at Italy. In April 1986, aircraft of CVW-17 participated in the bombing of Libya. CVW-17 joined forces with aircraft from the United States Air Force. In 1991, CVW-17 was taking part in flying missions for 43 consecutive days. CVW-17's aircraft dropped 1,800 tons of ordnance, but lost an F/A-18C Hornet from VFA-81, a F-14A Tomcat from VF-103, an A-6E Intruder from VA-35. During Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, CVW-17 comprised the following squadrons: VAQ-132 Scorpions, VF-74 Be-Devilers, VF-103 Sluggers, HS-3 Tridents, VFA-81 Sunliners, VFA-83 Rampagers, VS-30 Diamondcutters, VAW-125 Tigertails, VA-35 Black Panthers. In 1988, CVW-17 operated for a few weeks from USS Independence, from USS Constellation in 1993. In 1992, the Wing's aircraft took part in Operation Deny Flight and Operation Provide Promise in Yugoslavia, in Operation Southern Watch over Iraq.
In June 1994 CVW-17 was transferred to USS Enterprise, homeported in Virginia. The following September, CVW-17 moved its headquarters to Virginia. Due to the BRAC closure of NAS Cecil Field. In 1998 CVW-17 was deployed to the Mediterranean Sea aboard USS Dwight D. Eisenhower. Starting in 2000, the Wing made three deployments aboard USS George Washington. Only in 2004, CVW-17 joined USS John F. Kennedy for her final deployment before her decommissioning. In 2004, aircraft from the air wing played key roles in supporting ground forces during the Iraq War the operations in Fallujah, that began 7 November. CVW-17 joined United States Marine Corps aircraft in striking key positions. During the height of operations, CVW-17 aircraft flew an average of 38 missions a day in support of ground troops. Together, the squadrons of CVW-17 flew 8,296 sorties for a total flight time of 21,824 hours. Of that total, 4,396 sorties and 11,607 flight hours were in direct support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. In all, CVW-17 dropped 24,500 kg of ordnance.
During these operations, VFA-34 dropped the U. S. Navy's first two 227 kg Joint Direct Attack Munitions over Iraq. In 2008, CVW-17 accompanied George Washington from Norfolk, Virginia to San Diego, although all fighter squadrons came from CVW-7, these keeping their "AG" tail code. CVW-17 was scheduled to be assigned to USS Carl Vinson, as part of Carrier Strike Group One, which underwent a Refueling and Complex Overhaul until July 2009. From January to April 2010, Carl Vinson operated off Haiti, following the 2010 Haiti earthquake. CVW-17 consisted of detachments of six helicopter squadrons which were active in humanitarian relief operations. CVW-17 began its first regular deployment on Carl Vinson to the Western Pacific and the Indian Ocean on 30 November 2010 and returned on 15 June 2011. CVW-17 completed a second deployment on Carl Vinson from November 2011 to May 2012. In October 2012, CVW-17 completed a home port change from VA to NAS Lemoore, California. On 22 August 2014, Carl Vinson and CVW-17 began a scheduled deployment to the U.
Action in the Gulf of Sidra (1986)
In the Action in the Gulf of Sidra, the United States Navy deployed aircraft carrier groups in the disputed Gulf of Sidra in the Mediterranean Sea. Libya claimed that the entire Gulf was their territory, at 32° 30' N, with an exclusive 62 nautical miles fishing zone. Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi asserted this in 1973, dubbed it The Line of Death; the United States claimed its rights to conduct naval operations in international waters, a standard of 12-nautical-mile territorial limit from a country's shore. Tensions between the United States and Libya heightened after the hijacking of TWA Flight 847 on 14 June 1985, the Rome and Vienna airport attacks on 27 December, that same year; the United States claimed that the Libyan leader was involved in these actions through his support of the alleged perpetrator, Palestinian terrorist Abu Nidal. At the same time Libya began the installation of SA-5 surface-to-air missile batteries and radars they received from the Soviet Union in late 1985, to bolster their air defense.
As the United States Navy had done for several years, they continued to challenge Libya's claim to the Gulf of Sidra by crossing the so-called "Line of Death." Following the terrorist attacks in Rome and Vienna, the U. S. Navy began several "Freedom of Navigation" operations in the area around Libya in an operation named "Attain Document", the first two parts of the operation being held from 26–30 January, 12–15 February, without incident; the third part of the operation began on 23 March, with a surface action group from the United States Sixth Fleet consisting of three aircraft carriers – USS America, USS Coral Sea and USS Saratoga. USS Seattle, USS Savannah and USS Mount Baker were the fuel and combat stores replenishment ships that supplied the entire battle group. Muammar Gaddafi had made threats that he would shoot down or destroy U. S. aircraft or ships moving over the "Line of Death". According to U. S. Secretary of State George P. Shultz, the United States' position was quite clear. S. naval movements through international waters.
By crossing the "Line of Death", American forces were asserting their right to keep international sea lanes open and "conduct naval and air exercises in every part of the globe." During the operations held in January, February, the United States Navy had made 130 intercepts of Libyan fighters in the airspace over the Gulf of Sidra, although neither side opened fire. On 23 March 1986, U. S. aircraft from the three aircraft carriers crossed the "Line of Death" and began operating in the Gulf of Sidra. On 24 March at 06:00, USS Ticonderoga, accompanied by two destroyers, USS Scott and USS Caron, moved south of the "Line", covered by fighter aircraft. A Libyan missile installation near Surt launched two Soviet-made SA-5 "Gammon" surface-to-air missiles at 07:52, toward F-14A Tomcats of America's VF-102; the missiles fell harmlessly into the sea. Two additional SA-5 missiles were jammed by an EA-6B Prowler. Two hours two MiG-23s took off from Benina air base with orders to intercept and shoot down some of the U.
S. fighters. Before the Libyan aircraft could get close enough, a U. S. E-2C Hawkeye detected them and alerted two F-14s from VF-33, which intercepted the MiGs at 20,000 feet; the Libyans began aggressive head-on maneuvering in an effort to get into firing positions on the two F-14s. The F-14 wing leader reported "excessive hostile actions and intentions", which led the air warfare commander aboard USS John F Kennedy to give the pilots the signal "warning yellow, weapons hold". An intense dogfight ensued, though without any missiles being fired; the F-14s dropped to 5,000 feet where they had a distinct advantage over the MiG-23s and positioned themselves between the sun and the Libyans. The F-14s moved into a six o'clock position behind the hostile MiGs, locked on to them with radar and acquired AIM-9 Sidewinder tones, which meant they were ready to shoot the Libyans down; the MiGs moved off, seeming to follow a return course to their base. However, one of them reversed course. Before permission could be granted, the MiG-23 headed south.
Several Libyan patrol boats headed out towards the U. S. battle group, the Americans responded by sending up aircraft to counter them. When one of the patrol boats locked on to American aircraft with its fire control radar, USS Richmond K. Turner, a Leahy-class destroyer leader, serving as anti-aircraft radar picket ship defending the carrier group's right flank responded by firing an RGM-84 Harpoon missile, striking the vessel and setting it ablaze; this was the first surface to surface firing of a Harpoon missile in combat. USS Saratoga launched A-7 Corsair II aircraft armed with HARM missiles from Attack Squadron VA-83, A-6 Intruder aircraft armed with Harpoon missiles and cluster bombs from VA-85 and EA-6Bs from VAQ-132. USS America had A-6Es from VA-34 and EA-6Bs from the Marine squadron VMAQ-2 and USS Coral Sea had A-6Es from VA-55 and EA-6Bs from VAQ-135 in the air; the first air strikes occurred around 19:26 when two A-6 Intruders from VA-34 found a French-built La Combattante IIa-class patrol boat.