USS CONSTELLATION TAIL HOOK POINT AND INSCRIBED PHOTO TO HELEN COPLEY
Offered here is an original tail hook point (the portion of the fighter jet's tail hook that grabs the restraining cable on an aircraft carrier) and a color photo (7.25 inches x 9.5 inches) inscribed by Rear Admiral William E. Ramsey to Helen Copley on occasion of her visit to the USS Constellation on January 24, 1980.
Admiral Ramsey was born in San Diego and had obvious San Diego ties which were likely shared by the Copley's who were also based in San Diego and were great supporters of all things naval given Jim Copley's prior service in the Navy during WWII.
The hook point is in very good condition and has an engraved brass plaque which reads:
" Mrs. Helen Copley
USS Constellation visit 24 January 1980"
The hook point weighs approximately 11.5 lbs and seems to have been polished.
The photo which features an aerial view of the deck of the USS Constellation and one can easily see F-8 Crusaders (in the foreground) and F-14 Tomcats in the (rear deck).
The photo is inscribed thusly:
"....To Mrs. Helen Copley -
It was a pleasure to host you aboard "Connie". I trust your visit was informative and constructive.
William E. Ramsey RADM USN 24 Jan 80... "
The inscription is a bit faded from likely exposure to sunlight, but is easily read within 2-3 feet of viewing.
An interesting artifact and memorial from one of America's great aircraft carriers.
Please email any questions.
USS Constellation (CV-64), a Kitty Hawk-class supercarrier, was the third ship of the United States Navy to be named in honor of the "new constellation of stars" on the flag of the United States.
The contract to build Constellation was awarded to the New York Naval Shipyard, Brooklyn, New York, on 1 July 1956, and her keel was laid down 14 September 1957 at the New York Navy Yard. She was launched 8 October 1960, sponsored by Mary Herter (wife of Secretary of State Christian Herter.) Constellation was delivered to the Navy 1 October 1961, and commissioned 27 October 1961, with Captain T. J. Walker in command. At that time, she had cost about US $264.5 million. Constellation was the last U.S. aircraft carrier (as of 2010) to be built at a yard other than Newport News Shipbuilding & Drydock Company.
During the 1981 workup cycle President Ronald Reagan visited Constellation on 20 August 1981 and proclaimed the carrier "America's Flagship" while presenting the crew a presidential flag and announcing to the crew: "Let friend and foe alike know that America has the muscle to back up its words, and ships like this and men like you are that muscle." An uneventful deployment to the western Pacific and Indian Ocean from October 1981 to May 1982 followed. In January 1983, Constellation entered the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard for a 13-month complex overhaul, during which the ship's Terrier missile system was replaced with NATO Sea Sparrow, the Phalanx Close-In Weapon System was added and modifications were made to allow the carrier to operate the new F/A-18A Hornet strike aircraft. Connie deployed from February to August 1985 with CVW-14 embarked, marking the first deployment for the F/A-18. It was during this deployment that the Connie gained it's motto, "Go Ahead Make My Day", which was painted on the ship's island; a direct quote from President Ronald Reagan in response to terrorist threats made against American hostages and the Connie as she entered the Persian Gulf to aid in the recovery of the hostages.
Constellation crew members form Battle E awards on the flight deck.As preparations for a 1987 deployment proceeded, it was announced that Constellation had earned the coveted Pacific Fleet Battle Efficiency Award (Battle Efficiency E) for the 18-month period ending on 30 June 1986. During an April to October 1987 deployment, Connie conducted air operations in support of Operation Earnest Will, the escorting of re-flagged Kuwaiti tankers in the Persian Gulf as a result of Iranian attacks against international shipping. As a result, the crew of Constellation was awarded the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal for their service.
Constellation underway, 1988.On the morning of 2 August 1988 Connie quietly slipped her moorings for a routine two week carrier qualification off the coast of southern California. Things quickly turned out to be anything but routine. The ship had barely cleared the harbor when a JP-5 fuel leak in the uptakes rained down on the One Main Machinery Room and erupted into a full blown conflagration that tore through the uptakes and spread throughout the ship. The Oil King and Oil Lab were blamed early. One Main Top Watch (a Machinist Mate) said JP-5, jet fuel, as he exited the space. Explosions rocked the ship and the crew went into General Quarters. Amid explosions and extreme heat, volunteers from the crew entered enclosed spaces to extinguish the fires and preserve the ship. Through the selfless service of her crew, Connie's main fires were extinguished around 21:00 hours at which time Marines from the Marine Detachment served hot dogs to the exhausted crew in the hangar bay. To the crew's horror, the fires reflashed and the crew went back into action. Into the next day, the crew battled the blaze that had reflashed and continued to threaten the entire ship. Connie pulled back into North Island on 3 August.
Round-the-clock repairs by the crew assisted by civilian contractors got the ship ready for deployment, on schedule. The Constellation/CVW-14 team deployed on 1 December 1988 for the Indian Ocean. Four days out to sea, a Prowler and its four crew members were lost at sea. This West-Pac deployment ended six months later at San Diego on 1 June 1989.