The USS Intrepid, now a museum in New York Harbor, is finally setting sail again. Only she'll go stern-first, hauled by tugboats. The journey will be quite short, only a few miles to a dry dock in New Jersey. She will undergo a scheduled two year overhaul to correct the effects of corrosion. (And, gee whiz, no conspiracy theories needed, either!)
Not off to war this time, but just five nautical miles down New York harbor to a dry dock, where the retired World War II veteran will spend two years undergoing what its owners call "refurbishment and restoration." It will be the ship's first voyage since it was saved from the scrap yard and turned into a museum in 1982.
The Intrepid's departure will begin with pomp and ceremony, including speeches, patriotic music, a Navy flyover and a parade of "honor ships," Bill White, president of the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, said Thursday. On the way to its dry dock in New Jersey, it will stop near ground zero to unfurl a huge American flag as a salute to victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
White said the patriotism-themed event was appropriate for a ship that participated in every major battle during the last two years of the war in the Pacific, surviving five Japanese kamikaze suicide attacks and losing 270 crew members. It also served in the Korean and Vietnam wars and as a recovery ship forastronauts.
But now, after a quarter-century on Manhattan's West Side, the Intrepid is in need of extensive work to fix deterioration from the effect of weather and salt corrosion. The $58 million plan also calls for more work and living spaces to be opened to the public, and a rebuilding of its pier, where it will return in November 2008.
Some of the 23 aircraft exhibited on the ship will remain on the flight deck, shrink-wrapped in protective covering, and others will be taken elsewhere for their own refurbishing, said Eric Boehm, Intrepid's aircraft restoration manager. Exhibits inside the ship, including a replica statue of the Iwo Jima flag-raising, have been crated for storage.
I've visited the Intrepid, it is a great attraction for New York City. It's too bad it will take two years to perform the overhaul, but it needs to be done to keep it floating so future generations can see it as well. Bon voyage.