A photograph has been making the rounds for a few days. It’s an image of the EX-USS America during it’s SINKEX event back in 2005. Initially the photo was being reported as a “new” unclassified image from the Navy’s very secret report.
However after some research, it appears the photo has been in the public domain for some years. I have never seen it and many folks interested in such things haven’t seen it either. So it has been getting lots of press.
So why the interest in CV-66 SINKEX? Just another Navy ship being turned into a reef for the benefit of sea life, right?
The sinking the CV-66 is highly classified. While it was not a nuclear powered aircraft carrier, it’s format was not all that different than the Nimitz class carriers that came later. And since the US Navy hasn’t been in a near-peer shooting war since 1945, everybody was very, very, very, very interested in how this design would hold up to battle damage? Nobody more so than the US NAVY.
Here is how the SINKEX went. It wasn’t towed out to sea and simply sunk. That we do know. Published reports are Navy engineers spent 4 weeks (FOUR WEEKS!) using targeted explosives and weapons to test how the design held up to battle damage. One might assume from smaller yields at first to larger yields later in the exercise.
Most of the reports, footage, analysis and results are highly classified. And will likely remain so for many decades. And without a doubt, the Chinese and Russians were very interested in the testing as well. So it is safe to assume they used whatever assets they could muster to monitor the tests. Subs, trawlers, SIGINT and satellites.
Which begs the question. Perhaps the US Navy conducted testing that wasn’t easily observable? Or if you want to get really creepy about it, maybe they even conducted some tests for the benefit of third party observers to either send messages or to disguise real concerns? We’ll never know.
Closing thoughts. Right about now some enterprising young person is thinking about how they could get a sub or underwater vehicle down to the wreck site to poke around. This is all very true. But the US Navy made an interesting point during the exercise. The wreck is located 16,850 below the surface. That’s a challenging depth for the world’s best subsea forces.
Like I said. It’s all highly classified.
“Shooting Guns & Having Fun”