Following the year-end standdown, USS America resumed local operations out of Norfolk in January 1976 and, in March participated in Exercise Safe Pass '76 with ships of the Canadian, West German, Dutch and British navies. She departed for another underway period in Mediterranean Sea on April 15, 1976. Soon after the arrival in the turnover port of Rota, she participated in a NATO exercise Open Gate, before entering the Mediterranean. CV 66 entered into the eastern Mediterranean on May 3 in support of Operation Fluid Drive, a contingency operation for the evacuation of non-combatants from war-torn Lebanon. For the next three months, the carrier maintained a high state of readiness. In conjunction with Fluid Drive, the ship and her air wing maintained continuous surveillance of the Soviet Mediterranean fleet, which at that point was at its largest since the Yom Kippur War of 1973. On May 24, the aircraft carrier anchored in Rhodes, Greece, to commence its first liberty of the deployment, but violent anti-American demonstrations prevented the carrier's crew from going ashore, and the ship stood out two days later. It conducted a port visit to Taranto, Italy, instead, but the deteriorating situation in the eastern Mediterranean required the ship to sail sooner than scheduled.
The assassination of the United States ambassador to Lebanon Francis E. Meloy, and Economic Counselor Robert O. Waring as they were on their way to visit Lebanese President Elias Sarkis on June 13, prompted the evacuation of Americans from that nation a week later, on the 20th. USS America remained on alert while landing craft from the dock landing ship USS Spiegel Grove (LSD 32) transferred the evacuees from the beach to safety. Following the successful evacuation, the carrier proceeded westward and arrived in Taranto, Italy, for a Fourth of July celebration. Proceeding back into the eastern Mediterranean on July 11 to conduct a missile exercise north of Crete, the America continued to maintain responsibility for Fluid Drive. On July 27, as more Americans were evacuated from Lebanon on board USS Portland, the carrier provided support. Relieved of its responsibilities in the eastern Mediterranean on Aug. 2, CV 66 reached Naples, Italy, soon thereafter. After returning to sea on 18th it participated in Exercise National Week XXI with other 6th Fleet units.
USS America then proceeded to Palma de Mallorca, whence she proceeded to participate in Poop Deck 76 with Spanish Air Force units and United States Air Force units based in Spain. Then, following visits to the Spanish ports of Barcelona and Malaga, she took part in the final exercise of her Mediterranean cruise, Exercise Display Determination. HMS Ark Royal teamed with America, and ships from the navies of Italy Greece, Portugal, and Turkey participated as well. The American carrier conducted convoy escort duties, simulated close air support for amphibious operations, and simulated strikes against military targets. The aircratf carrier then proceeded to Rota, where it was relieved by USS Franklin D. Roosevelt. CV 66 returned to Norfolk on October 25, 1976.
On Nov. 6, the carrier proceeded up the Elizabeth River to the Norfolk Naval Shipyard, where it remained into February. USS America sailed from Hampton Roads on June 10, 1977, for a five-week South Atlantic deployment (Shellback Cruise visiting Cuba, Salvador, Rio de Janeiro) as a unit of TG 20.4.
On September 29, 1977, USS America departed for the Mediterranean, with CVW-6 embarked, and reached Rota, Spain, on Oct. 9. She then proceeded to the Tyrrhenian Sea, where operated until Oct. 26. Following a port call at Brindisi, Italy, the ship began operations in the Ionian Sea on Nov. 7, and anchored at Souda Bay, Crete, two days later. It operated locally in these waters until Nov.12 , when sailed for Kithira Island, Greece, anchoring there on the 19th. Weighing anchor the following morning, the America sailed for the Adriatic Sea, bound for Dubrovnik, Croatia, from Nov. 22-26. CV 66 transited the Adriatic for a port call at Trieste, Italy, Nov. 28 to Dec 3. Returning to operate in the waters of Souda Bay for more exercises, it subsequently departed Crete on Dec. 12 for Palma de Mallorca, where the ship spent Christmas. Departing Palma two days later, USS America proceeded through the Ligurian Sea to her next port of call, Genoa, Italy, Dec. 30 - Jan. 8. She then sailed to carry out antisubmarine exercises in the Tyrrhenian Sea, upon the conclusion of which she anchored in Golfo di Palma, Sicily. Operations in the western Mediterranean and again in the Tyrrhenian Sea rounded out most of January and the carrier rested briefly at Catania, Italy, before getting underway for Exercise National Week on February 5. She returned to the Tyrrhenian Sea and western Mediterranean for further exercises during March, and then visited Barcelona before she brought the deployment to a close with further exercises in the western Mediterranean. At Rota, USS America was relieved by USS Forrestal (CV 59), and returned to Norfolk on April 25, 1978.
General Characteristics:Keel Laid: January 9, 1961
Launched: February 1, 1964
Commissioned: January 23, 1965
Decommissioned: August 9, 1996
Builder: Newport News Shipbuilding Co., Newport News, Va.
Propulsion system: eight Steam Boilers
Main Engines: four Steam Turbine Engines
Blades on each Propeller: five
Aircraft elevators: four
Arresting gear cables: four
Length, overall: 1062,5 feet (323.8 meters)
Flight Deck Width: 252 feet (76.8 meters)
Area of flight deck: about 4,5 acres
Beam: 129,6 feet (39.5 meters)
Draft: 35,8 feet (10.9 meters)
Displacement: approx. 82,200 tons full load
Speed: 30+ knots
Cost: about $400 million (1961)
Planes: approx. 85
Crew: Ship: 2,900 Air Wing: 2,480