The American response to the North Vietnamese attacks on U.S. destroyers in the Gulf of Tonkin in August 1964 was to redirect Carrier CVA-64, U.S.S. CONSTELLATION from a scheduled visit to Hong Kong. She would launch the first strikes against Vietnamese vessels and bases. Over the next eight years, the aircraft carrier would cruise seven combat missions in the South China Sea, launching jet aircraft strikes from her deck and terrier anti-aircraft missiles. Two of her pilots from Fighter Attack Squadron 96, Lt. Randy Cunningham and Lt J.G. Willie Driscoll, would become America's first fighter aces of the war.
CONSTELLATION commissioned on Oct. 27, 1961, and carrying the name of the historic frigate, she was of the highest state of naval technology, coming out of the Brooklyn, New York yard as a member of the Kitty Hawk Class. Since, she has been modernized in 1975, 1982 and 1999. Named "America's Flagship" by President Reagan in 1981, she is currently deployed in the Persian Gulf in the War against Iraq.
Colorful yet somber, the cresting ocean swells cap white ragged, with CONSTELLATION's escorts visibly lower in the water than the elevated carrier. Jets are shown to be both suggested and actual in flight, and the drama of a high speed launch of the fighter. A striking use of shadow with very tight detail for a watercolor make this an exceptionally strong artistic depiction of one of the most important ships of American Navy.
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