The sixth ship using the name Saratoga was built at the New York Naval Shipyard and commissioned on 14 April 1956. The ship’s name comes from the Revolutionary battle of Saratoga.
In April 1972, Saratoga was sent to the Pacific to help with Vietnam War efforts. For the next several months, the ship’s aircrew flew hundreds of missions against the enemy. In that time, a few were lost. Saratoga received one battle star for service in the Vietnam War.
On 11 April 1972, Saratoga sailed from Mayport en route to Subic Bay, and her first deployment to the western Pacific. She arrived in Subic Bay on 8 May and departed for Vietnam the following week, arriving at "Yankee Station" on 18 May for her first period on the line. Before year's end, she was on station in the Tonkin Gulf a total of seven times: 18 May to 21 June; 1 to 16 July; 28 July to 22 August; 2 to 19 September 29 September to 21 October; 5 November to 8 December; and 18 to 31 December. She had been reclassified as a "Multi-purpose Aircraft Carrier" (CV-60) on 30 June 1972.
During the first period, Saratoga lost four aircraft and three pilots. On the plus side, on 21 June, two of her F-4 Phantoms attacked three MiG 21s over North Vietnam. Dodging four surface-to-air missiles, they managed to down one of the MiG aircraft. Saratoga's planes attacked targets ranging from enemy troop concentrations in the lower panhandle to petroleum storage areas northeast of Hanoi. On her second line period, she lost an F-4 to enemy fire northeast of Hanoi with the pilot and radar intercept officer missing in action. During this period, her aircraft flew 708 sorties against the enemy.
On 6 August, Lieutenant Jim Lloyd of VA-105, flying an A-7 Corsair on a bombing mission near Vinh, had his plane shot out from under him by a SAM. He ejected into enemy territory at night. In a daring rescue by helicopters supported by CVW-3 aircraft, he was lifted from the midst of enemy soldiers and returned to the Saratoga. On 10 August, one of the ship's CAP jet fighters splashed a MiG at night using AIM-7 Sparrow missiles.
During the period 2 to 19 September, Saratoga's aircraft flew over 800 combat strike missions against targets in North Vietnam. On 20 October, her aircraft flew 83 close air support sorties in six hours in support of a force of 250 Territorials beleaguered by the North Vietnamese 48th Regiment. Air support saved the small force, enabled ARVN troops to advance, and killed 102 North Vietnamese soldiers. During her last period on station, Saratoga's aircraft battered targets in the heart of North Vietnam for over a week.
Saratoga departed "Yankee Station" for Subic Bay on 7 January 1973. From there she sailed for the United States via Singapore and arrived at Mayport on 13 February 1973 where she joined the Atlantic Fleet.
In 1972, CVW-3 and SARATOGA were given 60 hours notice before sailing around South America en route to Vietnam. During this 11-month deployment, CVW-3 conducted strike and support sorties in South Vietnam, and ALPHA strikes, AAW missions, and reconnaissance missions over North Vietnam. CVW-3’s first MiG kill came on June 21, 1972 when an F-4J downed a MiG-21. During that arduous deployment, CVW-3 spent 175 days engaged in combat and dropped over 14,000 tons of ordnance.