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U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS Constellation sails into Hong Kong waters 20 August, 2001 with its six-ship battle group for port call. 15 American warships including the Constellation held naval exercise last Friday in South China Sea before visiting Hong Kong. AFP PHOTO / Peter PARKS (Photo credit should read PETER PARKS/AFP/Getty Images) (PETER PARKS / AFP/Getty Images)
SEAL BEACH, CALIF. — The aircraft carrier Constellation, which saw service from Vietnam to the Persian Gulf, paused along the California coast here while being towed on a final voyage to the scrap yard.
The supercarrier, affectionately nicknamed "Connie" by her crews over the decades, spent a night off the coast near Los Angeles before tow was resumed on the way from the mothball fleet in Bremerton, Wash., to the ship breakers near Brownsville, Texas.
The ship will make a 16,000-mile voyage around Cape Horn -- Constellation is too large to fit through the Panama Canal -- on a trip that could take until December, the Brownsville Herald reports. The distinctive "64" on the carrier's "island," or superstructure, that identified Constellation is now painted out.
Constellation served from 1961 until being decommissioned in 2003. Part of the Kitty Hawk class, the 62,000-ton Constellation was one of the Navy's last conventionally powered aircraft carriers. Today, all are nuclear-powered.
The Constellation could easily be seen from shore Monday night, but few boaters were seen taking a last look. The Coast Guard was broadcasting warnings advising boaters to stay at least 500 yards away from the empty carrier, while three tugboats tended to the ship.