So far this year the USS Forrestal (CV-59), USS Saratoga (CV-60), and USS Constellation (CV-64) have all been sold to the breakers in Brownsville, Texas for the princely sum of one red cent to scrap for recycling. With the daunting cost of towing the vessels, cleaning out hazardous materials, meeting the Navy’s requirements to keep construction secrets just that, and paying an army of torchers to do the work in the hot Texas sun, the company will very likely just break even.
Now the USS Ranger (CV-61) has joined the penny club.
“After eight years on donation hold, the USS Ranger Foundation was unable to raise the necessary funds to convert the ship into a museum or to overcome the physical obstacles of transporting her up the Columbia River to Fairfview, Oregon,” read the statement from NAVSEA posted by the USNI.
Ranger, commissioned in 1957, saw extensive service in Vietnam and Southwest Asia in her 36-year history. Laid up at the inactive ships maintenance facility in Bremerton, Washington since 1997, she had been on donation hold to the USS Ranger Association who had wanted to turn the old girl into a museum ship.
However, the Navy is tired of waiting, having had the ship around for the past 17 years at a cost of some $500,000 per annul.
“While there are many veterans with strong desires that the Navy not scrap the ship they served on, there were no states, municipalities or non-profit organizations with a viable plan seeking to save the ship. The Navy cannot donate a vessel unless the application fully meets the Navy’s minimum requirements for donation, and cannot retain inactive ships indefinitely.”
The eight conventional super-carriers built between 1951-1967 and decommissioned after the Cold War are almost gone with five either scrapped, scrapping or sunk as targets.
Of the four Forrestal-class ships, with Ranger now leaving there only remains USS Independence (CV-62) which is awaiting disposal. Kitty Hawk (CV-63), just decommissioned in 2009, is in mothballs until the new USS Gerald R Ford (CVN-78) comes online in 2016. Meanwhile, USS John F Kennedy, laid up for the past seven years, is on donation hold and may go to Providence, Rhode Island where she would become the only supercarrier on public display and the only flattop north of Virginia.
Hopefully the JFK will be saved but you can bet that in coming months both Indy and Kitty Hawk will get their invites to the penny club.