These F-14 Tomcat ‘Sunset’ Cruise Videos Are Both Awesome and the Last of Their Kind
On 10 March 2006, US Navy Fighter Squadron TWO ONE THREE (VF-213) Blacklions Lieutenants Ken Hockycko and Roy Emanuel flew F-14D Tomcat side number 201 from the deck of the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) and into the history books. The two LTs were the last Tomcat crew to launch from a carrier during an operational deployment (albeit at the very end of the last one). Carrier Air Wing EIGHT (CVW-8) had the last two operational Tomcat squadrons, VF-213 and VF-31 Tomcatters, aboard the ‘Big Stick’ for her 2005-2006 Persian Excursion deployment. We nostalgically present the cruise videos for both final Tomcat squadrons, as uploaded to YouTube by Triple Nickel.
VF-31 received their first F-14A Tomcats in 1981. They flew the big fleet defenders from the carriers USS John F. Kennedy (CVA-67), the USS Forrestal (CVA-59), USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70), USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72), and USS John C. Stennis (CVN-74) before their final deployment as a VF squadron aboard the Roosevelt. The Tomcatters began flying the F-14D Tomcat in 1992. VF-31 actually flew the final Tomcat flights from the Roosevelt on 28 July 2006 and the last flight for the F-14 overall on 4 October 2006. The Tomcatters became VFA-31 in late 2006 when they transitioned to the Boeing F/A-18E Super Hornet– their mounts ever since. Here is the final VF-31 Tomcatters F-14D cruise video.
VF-213 received their first F-14A Tomcats in 1976. Their first deployment was aboard the USS Kitty Hawk (CVA-63) as part of CVW-11 in 1977. The Blacklions also deployed aboard the carriers USS America (CVA-66), USS Enterprise (CVN-65), USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72, USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70), and the Roosevelt. VF-213 switched from the F-14A to the F-14D in 1997. VF-213 became VFA-213 when they transitioned to the Boeing F/A-18F Super Hornet in 1997 and have flown the two-seater F model ever since. Here is the final VF-213 Blacklions F-14D cruise video.
Supporting Cast of Thousands
During the Big Stick’s 1 September 2005 – 11 March 2006 Persian Excursion, Carrier Air Wing EIGHT (CVW-8) consisted of VF-31 Tomcatters (modex 100) and VF-213 Blacklions (modex 200) flying the Grumman F-14D Tomcat, VFA-15 Valions (modex 300) and VFA-87 Golden Warriors (modex 400) flying the F/A-18C(N) Hornet, VAQ-141 Shadowhawks (modex 500) flying the Grumman EA-6B Prowler, VAW-124 Bear Aces (modex 600) flying the Grumman E-2C NP Hawkeye, VS-24 Scouts (modex 700) flying the Lockheed S-3B Viking, Detachment 1 from VRC-40 Rawhides flying the Grumman C-2A Greyhound, and HS-3 Tridents (modex 710) flying the Sikorsky SH-60F and HH-60H Seahawk.
A Historical Deployment
On 8 February 2006 the final recoveries of F-14 Tomcats after combat sorties took place. Lieutenant Bill Frank of VF-31 released the final bomb from an F-14 Tomcat on that night’s mission. CVW-8 CAG Captain William G. Sizemore II trapped aboard the Roosevelt after the mission for the final Tomcat combat sortie recovery. The two CVW-8 Tomcat (‘Bombcat’) squadrons dropped 61,000 pounds of ordnance while flying a combined total of 6,786 combat hours (38,980 total hours) over 1,163 combat sorties (16,000 total sorties) during their final F-14 deployment. They also maintained a 97.3% sortie completion rate. Bravo Zulu!
It Takes a Carrier Strike Group
During their 2005-2006 deployment the Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group (TR CSG) consisted of the Roosevelt, the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS San Jacinto (CG-56), the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers USS Donald Cook (DDG-75) and USS Oscar Austin (DDG-79), the Los Angeles-class fast attack submarine USS Annapolis (SSN-760), the Henry J. Kaiser-class fleet replenishment oiler USNS Kanawha (T-AO 96) and the Kilauea-class ammunition ship USNS Mount Baker (T-AE 34). The Spanish Álvaro de Bazán-class frigate SPS Álvaro de Bazán (F101) also deployed with the TR CSG for several months. This was the Roosevelt’s ninth deployment since she was commissioned in 1986 and her third in support of the global war on terrorism.