|Originally scheduled to undergo Navy SLEP in the late 1990s, CV-66 fell victim to budget cuts and was retired early by the U.S. Navy. She was decommissioned 9 August 1996 and was stricken from the naval roster. Thereafter she harbored at the Inactive Ship Maintenance Facility in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Though already decommissioned, she was awarded the 1995 Battenberg Cup in recognition of her crew's achievements in her last full year in service.|
America was chosen to be a live-fire test and evaluation platform in 2005, to aid the design of future aircraft carriers. There was some objection to a ship being named for the nation being deliberately sunk at sea, and a committee of her former crew members and other supporters attempted to save the ship for use as a museum ship. Their efforts were ultimately unsuccessful. On February 25, 2005 a ceremony to salute the USS America and her crew was held at the ship's pier in Philadelphia, attended by former crew members and various dignitaries. She departed the Inactive Ship Maintenance Facility on 19 April 2005 to conduct the aforementioned tests.
The experiments lasted approximately four weeks. The Navy battered America with explosives, both underwater and above the surface, watching from afar and through monitoring devices placed on the vessel. These explosions were designed to simulate attacks by torpedoes, cruise missiles and perhaps a small boat suicide attack like the one that damaged the destroyer USS Cole in Yemen in 2000.
After the completion of the tests, America was sunk in a controlled scuttling on 14 May 2005 at approximately 1130, although the sinking was not publicized until six days later. At the time, no warship of that size had ever been sunk, and effects were closely monitored; theoretically the tests would reveal data about how supercarriers respond to battle damage. The ship rests about 6000 ft. below the Atlantic Ocean surface, roughly 60 miles off the North Carolina coast.
General Characteristics and pre-sinking picture inside.