Aircraft Carrier Crashes America’s Cup Race

by Megan on Monday, November 23rd, 2015 4 Comments

The other day, we had a contractor over to the house doing an estimate for some work.  He used to be in the Navy and I used to be in the Navy, so we were destined to exchange some sea stories.  He told me one about the USS Lincoln, an aircraft carrier, that came bursting through a fog bank here in San Diego Harbor, right into the middle of an America’s Cup yacht race.

Photo by MARILYNN YOUNG/Getty Images

Photo by MARILYNN YOUNG/Getty Images

The imagery of that–the enormous aircraft carrier, the tiny sailboats, the thick fog that I know so well from having been a ship navigator in the very same harbor–was too much for me not to go digging around on the internet for a picture.

UnknownUnfortunately, I could only find two.  I did find the original Reuters story about the incident, which happened in February 1995.  (Not that I didn’t believe the contractor, but you never can be sure when it comes to sea stories.)

From Reuters’ “A Surprise Cup Entry – An Aircraft Carrier”

A heavy sea fog and one of the largest ships in the United States Navy brought America’s Cup racing off San Diego to a halt today.

In one of the strangest developments in the 144-year history of America’s Cup competition, organizers stopped the countdown to the start of a race on the challenger course when the 94,000-ton U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln made a surprise entry from a heavy sea fog onto the race course.


Sirens blasted, horns sounded, and the Abraham Lincoln came to a dead halt about 200 yards from the America’s Cup yachts and a spectator fleet.

“We saw out of the fog this enormous gray aircraft carrier coming, sort of making a beeline for the starting line,” One Australia’s tactician, Glenn Bourke, said.

“The thing was so big it could have obliterated the whole starting area, the race committee and the spectator boats in one boot,” he said.

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4 thoughts on “Aircraft Carrier Crashes America’s Cup Race”

  1. Linda Kintzing says:

    There is a great picture in the 1995 Official Record, hard bound. It is by Sally Samins.

  2. Greg says:


    I was the Officer of the Deck driving the USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70), another Nimitz class aircraft carrier at the time of the incident. As such, I was THE guy responsible for the safe navigation of the ship. We were also operating in the SOCAL operations area off San Diego that morning.

    I was intensely aware of the NOTMAR area reserved for the Cup event, and was perhaps even paranoid about being anywhere near it. But it was otherwise a calm Saturday morning, the Commanding Officer was sitting in his chair on the bridge, and we had the coverage of the Cup race on ESPN on a couple of small TV’s playing.

    But we were fighting the fog as well, and maneuvering throughout the area looking for a clear spot to conduct flight operations. Suddenly, ESPN is showing an aircraft carrier emerging from the fog into the start line. The Commanding Officer looks at me and screams “that had better not be us!” I’m panicking, thinking “it can’t be, we’re 30 miles away”, but yet, there was an aircraft carrier plain as day on the screen.

    Fortunately, I was able to quickly spot the big “72” on Lincoln’s flight deck, and quickly defend myself to the CO with “it’s 72! It’s 72!, we’re 70!”.

    Somehow the story became a lot more funny at that point.

  3. John Casale says:


    I was a Petty Officer serving in one of the F-18 squadrons attached to the Lincoln when this event occurred. I remember one of the more business savvy Ensigns in our command actually created a commemorative t-shirt for this event. The shirt was emblazoned with an image of the Lincoln coming through a fog bank with several sailboats scrambling to get out of the way. Underneath the image it read “USS Lincoln- 3rd in the race 1st in it’s Class”

    Thanks for the article. It was a great read.


    1. Megan says:

      What a fun detail about that incident, thank you for sharing!

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