USS Intrepid: Sea, Air & Space Museum Complex in New York City

USS Intrepid

Our first view of the Intrepid at Pier 86
Our first view of the Intrepid at Pier 86 | Source

Anyone reading this can provide fifty or more reasons why their State is great, I'm sure of it. Well, one of the reasons New York State is great happens to be New York City. Everyone's heard of New York City and the wonderful things therein. It is loaded with museums, like the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art, American Museum of Natural History, Ground Zero Museum (not yet opened), and more. The museum I'd like to write about today is the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum Complex.

The Intrepid Museum is located at One Intrepid Square, 12th Avenue and 46th Street. It sits majestically at Pier 86 towering over the sidewalk and walking path below it.

Off Newport News, Virginia, August 16, 1943
Off Newport News, Virginia, August 16, 1943

History of the Intrepid

Where did the USS Intrepid come from? It would be best to start at the beginning to see how it came to rest in New York Harbor. The USS Intrepid's construction began in 1941 and her maiden voyage was in 1943 when she sailed for Pearl Harbor, she was one of the biggest aircraft carriers . Her wartime operations from 1943 to 1945 took her through the Panama Canal, back to the US and then to the Central Pacific. When she was damaged in battle she was sent back to Hawaii for repairs after which she headed for California for further repairs.

She returned to Pearl Harbor on June 14, 1944. To try to follow the route of the Intrepid throughout the war would be interesting to some and boring to others so we'll try to do it in a nutshell. She was a busy ship throughout the war. Her third combat operation took place on September 6, 1944. She was at Okinawa in 1945, she shot down thirteen enemy planes, and assisted in the destruction of five others. Again, we leave the combat operations she participated in during the war and go on to her next voyages.

Intrepid Timeline

1943 Joined fleet in Pacific
1944 February - Major offensive against Japan
1944 October - Battle of Leyte Gulf
1944 October - Kamikaze strike smashes into port side
1944 November - Two Kamikaze strikes
1945 April -Battle of Okinawa
1945 December - Decommissioned
1952-54 Undergoes modernization
1956 Seven month modernization overhaul
1962 Serves as primary recovery vessel for Mercury/Aurora 7 space mission
1965 Recovers Gemini 3 (John Young and Gus Grissom)
1966 - 1969 Serves three tours in Vietnam
1970s Decommissioned
1982 Air and Sea Museum
2001 Temporary headquarters for FBI (9/11 attack)
2006-2008 Major overhaul - dry-docked and repainted

In 1955 she was recommissioned and deployed to the Mediterranean. In 1957 she was part of NATO's Operation Strikeback, the largest peacetime naval exercise, up to that time, in history. After training exercises, Intrepid was selected as a NASA recovery craft and was the principal ship in the recovery team for Astronaut Scott Carpenter and his Project Mercury space capsule in 1962. In mid 1966 she was with the Pacific Fleet off Vietnam. She actually served longer in Vietnam than she did in WWII. After seven months of outstanding service with the 7th Fleet off Vietnam, she returned to Norfolk.

In 1986, Intrepid was officially designated as a National Historic Landmark. I have given you a very brief, sparse history of the Intrepid but hope I have also imparted a sense of the duty she performed for her country. She survived WWII and the Vietnam War.

The Intrepid as a Museum

Zachary and Elizabeth Fisher founded the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum. Zachary Fisher and Michael Stern fought to save the Intrepid from being scrapped with the vision of creating a museum. In addition to all of it's wartime service, The Intrepid served as the FBI Headquarters during the 9/11 attacks and in the movie "I am Legend" Will Smith's character hit golf balls off the Intrepid towards New Jersey.

Intrepid and Growler

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Closer view of the IntrepidLooking up at the deckTop of the GrowlerA missile on the Growler
Closer view of the Intrepid
Closer view of the Intrepid | Source
Looking up at the deck
Looking up at the deck | Source
Top of the Growler
Top of the Growler | Source
A missile on the Growler
A missile on the Growler | Source

Where to find the Intrepid

Our Visit to the Intrepid

Before going to my family's journey to the Intrepid, I would like to mention my brother-in-law did two tours of Vietnam on the Intrepid, that's two of the three Vietnam tours the Intrepid actually did.

Our visit to the Intrepid was quite an experience. We were so fortunate it was a lovely, sunny day. We drove into the City, parked the car and began our journey on the ship. The first sight of the Intrepid is unbelievable. The only word that comes to mind is 'massive'. Her big, grey hulk of a body sits there majestically. After waiting on line, going through security, and buying a ticket we were on our way.

Inside the Intrepid

Click thumbnail to view full-size
First thing you see on entering the IntrepidA pilot 'ejector' seatMy husband in one of the doorwaysA chart showing the number of planes shot down (on the left) and the number of ships 'wounded' or shot down (on the right)A pilot's uniformA pilot's  helmetOne of the planes INSIDE the IntrepidA rescue helicopter...thoughts of M.A.S.H. rush through your head when you see this oneThis mixer, among other things, was used to scramble 500 dozen eggs a daySleeping quarters....my son on top, me on bottomReplica of a Flight Deck Control Tower
First thing you see on entering the Intrepid
First thing you see on entering the Intrepid | Source
A pilot 'ejector' seat
A pilot 'ejector' seat | Source
My husband in one of the doorways
My husband in one of the doorways | Source
A chart showing the number of planes shot down (on the left) and the number of ships 'wounded' or shot down (on the right)
A chart showing the number of planes shot down (on the left) and the number of ships 'wounded' or shot down (on the right) | Source
A pilot's uniform
A pilot's uniform | Source
A pilot's  helmet
A pilot's helmet | Source
One of the planes INSIDE the Intrepid
One of the planes INSIDE the Intrepid | Source
A rescue helicopter...thoughts of M.A.S.H. rush through your head when you see this one
A rescue helicopter...thoughts of M.A.S.H. rush through your head when you see this one | Source
This mixer, among other things, was used to scramble 500 dozen eggs a day
This mixer, among other things, was used to scramble 500 dozen eggs a day | Source
Sleeping quarters....my son on top, me on bottom
Sleeping quarters....my son on top, me on bottom | Source
Replica of a Flight Deck Control Tower
Replica of a Flight Deck Control Tower | Source

Inside the Intrepid

Coincidentally this is the 30 year celebration of the Intrepid as a museum! Anyway, our tour began on the Hangar Deck. Here they have assembled all types of hardware and information about the past crews of the Intrepid. There is aircraft, from planes and helicopters to space capsules, exhibits of personal belongings from sailors including uniforms and diaries, artifacts from the Intrepid and hands on exhibits for the kids. The sheer size when you first step in is mind boggling...how could this massive ship have 'floated'!

The Flight Deck was next. With over two dozen aircraft displayed it's exhibit you won't want to miss. The aircraft are spread out over the Flight Deck giving you some perspective as to it's size. Where else could you have over two dozen aircraft, a ton of people, and still have room to walk around and take pictures? She must've been something to reckon with and yet they say the aircraft carriers of today are larger....I can't imagine that.

The Gallery Deck was next. Here you find combat information together with the pilot 'Ready Room' and Marine Berthing. You cannot imagine any of this until you've been there and walked through the narrow hallways and up and down the small ladders used to navigate this ship.

The Third Deck contains the ships galley, general berthing and of course a snack bar the sailors never saw on their ship...a tourist attraction.

An added attraction to this museum is The Enterprise spacecraft. The Enterprise was an experimental aircraft throughout the twentieth century. She never went into space but was used for test flights. If you've never visited NASA in Florida, this is the closest you'll bet to an amazing space shuttle.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Replica of a Russian Space CapsuleAnother helicopter inside the IntrepidOne of the control roomsPilot Ready RoomAnother room full of controls...each has a name but I didn't write them downTraveling up one of the stairways insideA view of some of the two dozen planes on the deck of the IntrepidA view of the helicopters on the deck of the Intrepid
Replica of a Russian Space Capsule
Replica of a Russian Space Capsule | Source
Another helicopter inside the Intrepid
Another helicopter inside the Intrepid | Source
One of the control rooms
One of the control rooms | Source
Pilot Ready Room
Pilot Ready Room | Source
Another room full of controls...each has a name but I didn't write them down
Another room full of controls...each has a name but I didn't write them down | Source
Traveling up one of the stairways inside
Traveling up one of the stairways inside | Source
A view of some of the two dozen planes on the deck of the Intrepid
A view of some of the two dozen planes on the deck of the Intrepid | Source
A view of the helicopters on the deck of the Intrepid
A view of the helicopters on the deck of the Intrepid | Source

There is no way I can describe to you the size and majesty of this magnificent aircraft carrier. Everyone (well almost everyone) loves to visit a museum but being on this ship makes you feel like you're on a living museum. I took a turn at the ships helm and a retired Navy soldier instructed me on how to steer the ship, quite an experience, especially when I found out he was a WWII veteran who had served on the Intrepid.

The Intrepid brochure says it cares for over 5,000 uniforms, letters, photographs and other historic items. I'm sure it does, its just amazing. Then, if that's not enough the Growler submarine is berthed right next to it and is available for viewing and the supersonic Concorde is there too but can only be viewed inside on a paid tour. This is a moving and fascinating tour of history you won't want to miss if you're 'doing' New York City!

Copyright Tillsontitan - All Rights Reserved

Ticket prices for Intrepid (Space Shuttle has separate pricing)

Adult
$24
 
Senior (62+)
$20
w/valid ID
US College students
$20
w/valid ID
Youth (7-17)
$19
 
Child (3-6)
$12
 
Children under 3
Free
 
Active and Retired Military
Free
 

USS Intrepid's Glory Days

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Comments 15 comments

Janine Huldie profile image

Janine Huldie 4 years ago from New York, New York

Mary, loved reading about your family's visit to the Intrepid having gone there as a kid back in the day and also loved reading a bit about the history behind it, too. Truly great job here and have voted up and shared all over as always!!


fpherj48 profile image

fpherj48 4 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

Til...Well, in our great State? Thank you for the education, GF.......I did not know this. Have been to NYC a few times, too, and missed this entirely, while poking around for things to do and places to go. We did, however, see a lot of exciting attractions.

My nephew lives in the city, and he was our guide, so we just tagged along. Now that you've mentioned NYC, I want to share something.....the first time we were walking the streets of mid-town Manhattan, it was a very different experience to me, to see sales reps standing in their doorway, urging and tempting passersby to come in and shop....Once inside, I couldn't believe how they would all follow you around and offer "deals" on an item, as you shopped.....I was looking at T-shirts for my kids, to bring home to them...and they were X dollars each.....but the sales clerk kept lowering the price ....."You can have 3 for $25.00.......etc" That unsolicited haggling blew me away. What a country bumpkin I am!! LOL

Here I am, Til, gabbing away, as though we're chatting over coffee!! Gotta watch me, I get off on tangents!!

This is a very interesting read on something well worth knowing and planning to visit, next trip to NYC. I thank you, Til.....It will keep me off the streets, spending all my money!!! ........UP-Interesting-Useful!


billybuc profile image

billybuc 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

I have never seen that ship, but we get quite a few at the Bremerton Shipyards here in Washington, and I have been on several. They are so incredible huge, as you stated. It is a must visit the next time anyone gets the opportunity, and you did a great job, Mary, and describing it all.


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 4 years ago from New York Author

Thanks Janine....it was so fascinating I just had to share it!

Effer, you are a country bumpkin...my goodness, I thought I was bad, but then I was born and raised in Queens but Ulster County has changed that a bit. You can haggle for anything in NYC and I do mean ANYTHING ;) Whether you see the Intrepid or not, let me know about your next trip to NYC BEFORE you go!

Bill, they are incredible...you can't believe the size until you stand on or near one! Glad you enjoyed my description of my trip.


Lord De Cross profile image

Lord De Cross 4 years ago

Awesome description Mary. I would've asked the tour guy if he ever witnessed any paranormal activity. From WWII to Vietnam, so many lives left a breathing presence inside the intrepid during war. Luckily it wasn't blown away on Infamy day. Will have to visit one day, regardless of any schedule. Thanks for sharing those valuables pics. Hope some families get acquainted with the USS intrepid through your pictures.


Natashalh profile image

Natashalh 4 years ago from Hawaii

I had no idea there is a ship museum in NYC! I'm used to the Yorktown in Charleston, SC, and there's a ship in Norfolk, VA I've seen, too. This is a great in-depth look of the Intrepid museum - thanks!


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 4 years ago from New York Author

Lord, it amazes me what men have done during wartime to protect us! This is yet another example. Definitely many lives were lost but many were saved by this same ship!

Natashalh, funny thing is the Intrepid was stationed in VA when it returned from Vietnam. Glad you enjoyed!


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 4 years ago from United States

I had the pleasure of touring this ship before they did the last refurbishing. I spent the whole morning on the ship with some of my family and it was an awesome experience. I am glad you wrote this wonderful hub because if you are visiting NYC, it is well worth the time to spend touring such an awesome part of our military history. Voted up and awesome. Shared.


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 4 years ago from New York Author

How cool that you were there Pamela! Thanks for the vote and share...obviously, I agree it's a great thing to see and so educational!


mary615 profile image

mary615 3 years ago from Florida

I am hoping to return to New York after construction is completed on the new Tower, and I'm happy I read this Hub. I will certainly include the Intrepid in my tour. I remember WWII well.

I'm hoping I can take 3 of my grandchildren to see this ship, too.

Voted UP and shared.


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 3 years ago from New York Author

Oh Mary I hope you get to NY with your grandchildren! So much to see and do, educational, memorable and just plain fun.


Kathryn Stratford profile image

Kathryn Stratford 3 years ago from Manchester, Connecticut

I didn't know they had a museum like this in NYC. I will keep it in mind!

I like the "tour" you gave us, as well as the photos. Spectacular! Thank you for sharing this with us.


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 3 years ago from New York Author

You're welcome Kathryn. It was really cool being on an aircraft carrier that saw so much action. Glad you liked my photos!


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 3 years ago from United States

They have really made some great additions with the renovation. I toured the ship a few years ago, spending several hours on the ship. It was magnificient then, and I would surely love to see it again. Excellent hub , and I love all of the pictures. Up and awesome.


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 3 years ago from New York Author

Thank you for sharing Pamela. It is always nice to know when someone else has been where you have. I appreciate your votes as well.

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