The Intrepid Aircraft Carrier to Return to its Home at Peir 86 in
Museum Will Re-Open to the Public on November 8th
Following Final Exhibit Installation
(New York, NY, October 2, 2008) – The Intrepid will make her historic journey home today from her temporary home at the Staten Island Homeport where the former aircraft carrier has undergone nearly two years of bow-to-stern refurbishment, to the Hudson River Park’s Pier 86 on Manhattan’s West Side. The ship will be towed by four tugboats up the Hudson River to her permanent home on West 46th Street.
The entire project – which also included the complete rebuilding of Pier 86, the refurbishment of 16 of the 30 historic aircraft on board, the redesigning and installation of new exhibits within the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, an inside-and-out paint job for the 65-year-old aircraft carrier, and restoration of spaces never before available for public viewing– cost approximately $115 million and took less than two years. When it re-opens to the public on Saturday, November 8th, the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum will be completely redesigned with hands-on and interactive exhibit technology and array of new and exciting programming.
During her journey home, 250 former crewmembers will “man the rails” one last time. All are making their way to New York City for this last trip at their expense. Many of these heroes were present for her departure from Manhattan in 2006, and have anxiously awaited her return. His Excellency Archbishop Celestino Migliore, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations will bless the Intrepid and crewmembers prior to the ship’s departure.
Intrepid’s trek will begin at the Staten Island Homeport, where former crewmembers will participate in a ceremonial sendoff, including a traditional line toss. Rear Admiral James L. (Doc) Abbot Jr. (ret.), 82, former commanding officer of the USS Intrepid in 1960-1962, will take the helm once more, “pronouncing orders” authorizing the ship’s movement. The ceremonies will be highlighted by colorful water sprays from New York City Fire Department boats, USCG Seneca and USACE vessels. In addition, WWII Patrol Torpedo Boat PT 728 will accompany the Intrepid on her voyage home. The PT 728 is one of only three surviving WWII Patrol Torpedo Boats and has recently undergone a major overhaul including installation of deactivated torpedoes and machine guns.
As she leaves Staten Island, the Intrepid will travel through the harbor past the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. As she passes opposite Lower Manhattan, she will pause, all engines to neutral, at the World Trade Center site in a momentary tribute to those who lost their lives at Ground Zero on September 11, 2001. Former crewmembers will unfurl a 60-foot American Flag, the same flag that flew over Liberty Plaza in the days immediately following the September 11 attacks and inspired countless New Yorkers who went to work and school in Lower Manhattan each day.
Intrepid is expected to reach Pier 86 at West 46th Street at approximately 1:45 p.m. At that time, tugboat captains will confer on tidal conditions and determine when they will begin to push the Intrepid back into her berth alongside the newly rebuilt pier.
The day’s events will also include a reception ceremony at Pier 86, with scheduled remarks from City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Borough Presidents Scott Stringer (Manhattan), Helen Marshall (Queens), Marty Markowitz (Brooklyn) and Adolfo Carrion (Bronx).
In the weeks after the Intrepid’s return, the Growler submarine, which is currently being restored, and the British Airways Concorde, will also return to Pier 86 in time for the museum’s November 8th reopening. Tickets to visit the new Intrepid can be purchased through the website www.intrepidmuseum.org.
The funding for the refurbishment of the Intrepid was a public-private partnership that included federal, state and city funding, in addition to private and corporate donations.
“We are so grateful for the support of our devoted board members and friends as well as the corporations and foundations that have contributed,” said Intrepid Co-Chairman Charles de Gunzburg. “Without their help, this project would not have been possible and the future of the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum would have been in doubt. This project is a terrific example of how a strong public/private partnership actually should work and works so well.”
“As everyone remembers, our original plans got a little ‘muddied’ when we first tried to move the Intrepid out in 2006 due to her propellers being firmly stuck,” said Bill White, President of the Intrepid Museum. “With the help from our friends in the military, including the Army Corps of Engineers and USN, and further dredging, our second attempt to move her was successful. We could not do this without the support of our nation’s military – many of whom will be with us today on our voyage back.”
Intrepid officials were carefully monitoring weather reports up until the time of today’s departure due to a chance of heavy winds. The move would have been postponed if winds exceeded 20 knots (23.0 MPH) in any direction except westerly or if over 25 knots (28.8 MPH) westerly. If the winds warranted postponement, the move would have been made tomorrow at the highest tide.
“And of course, none of this would have been possible without the backing of our landlords, The Hudson River Park Trust, its chairman Diana Taylor and President Connie Fishman,” continued White. “They have been great partners in this project and we are looking forward to having our new Pier 86 be a wonderful addition to the Hudson River Park.”
According to Susan Marenoff, Executive Director of the Intrepid Museum, before the Museum closed for renovations, it was receiving over 750,000 visitors a year. “We are looking forward to opening our doors to the public beginning Saturday, November 8th,” she noted. “With all the new exhibits and state-of-the-art attractions, the Intrepid will be of interest to those who have been here before and first-timers.”
Perkins+Will, a Chicago based firm, was selected to work with the Intrepid’s exhibits department and curators to redesign the Intrepid’s hangar deck exhibition space. When the Museum reopens, visitors will experience a world-class environment showcasing the latest in hands-on and interactive exhibit technology, ensuring that visitors to the Intrepid from across the U.S. and around the world will have a fun, inspiring and educational experience they’ll never forget.
“We also have new sponsors including an unprecedented level of partnership with Bank of America, and new services for our visitors including a new food service provider, new flight simulators, a new website, and an expanded retail store,” said Marenoff.
While the Intrepid was on leave, the museum’s education team continued to offer programming such as its “Intrepid Sails” which went to schools, community-based organizations and special events at the New York Hall of Science in Queens.
“We are very much looking forward to having student groups return to the museum to be able to take advantage of our many unique conferences and programs that have been so successful in the past,” said Marenoff. “We know the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum will again be a truly enjoyable and educational experience and on everyone’s ‘must-see’ list.”
When the museum closed on Sunday, October 1, 2006, it had been at its home at Pier 86 for 23 years. The USS Intrepid was one of the most successful ships in U.S. history, but while in New York, it became a national historic landmark and one of the city’s most unique attractions.
“This is a truly historic and exciting time for the Intrepid. We are excited to be returning to Pier 86 and continuing the mission of Zachary and Elizabeth Fisher, our founders, to honor our heroes, educate the public, and inspire our youth,” added White.
ABOUT THE INTREPID:
One of the world's largest maritime museums, the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, is housed aboard the 900-foot-long ESSEX class aircraft carrier Intrepid, which saw service during World War II, the Cold War, and the Vietnam War. It also served as a prime recovery vessel for NASA during the Mercury and Gemini space programs before it was retired in 1974. Four years later, Zachary Fisher established the Intrepid Museum Foundation for the sole purpose of "saving the Intrepid for generations to come." Listed in the National Park Service’s National Historic Landmark register, the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum was opened as a symbol of peace and education in August 1982. The Intrepid has been undergoing extensive renovations since fall of 2006 and will return to its home at Pier 86 in October 2008. Prior to leaving its home on the Hudson River at West 46th Street, the Intrepid attracted more than 750,000 people each year from around the world, from children to senior citizens and world leaders. It also hosted more than 150 special events, and served as a focal point during New York’s annual Fleet Week celebration. The Intrepid produces a wide range of public programming, and is recognized worldwide as an historic icon that makes history come alive for visitors through its unforgettable series of dynamic and interactive exhibits. For more information, visit www.intrepidmuseum.org