USS Intrepid: Sea, Air & Space Museum Complex in New York City
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.
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.
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
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 GrowlerClick thumbnail to view full-size
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 IntrepidClick thumbnail to view full-size
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.
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!
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Ticket prices for Intrepid (Space Shuttle has separate pricing)
US College students
Children under 3
Active and Retired Military
USS Intrepid's Glory Days
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