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Home > Curator's Corner > March 2014 > The Intrepid Museum Celebrates the 40th Anniversary of Intrepid's Decommissioning
The Intrepid Museum Celebrates the 40th Anniversary of Intrepid's Decommissioning
Intrepid Teens Blog
Posted: 3/18/2014 10:33:33 AM

Intrepid Fleet

Intrepid on the way to join the reserve fleet in Philadelphia in March 1974. (Collection of the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum.)

On March 15, 1974, the crew of the aircraft carrier Intrepid gathered on the hangar deck to mark a solemn occasion: the ship’s decommissioning. The ceremony at Naval Air Station Quonset Point, Rhode Island marked the end of Intrepid’s three-decade naval career. The ship’s last commanding officer, Lee Levenson, praised the men who served on board the ship over the past three decades. Intrepid’s commissioning pennant was lowered, and the crew of nearly 700 men—far fewer than the 3,000-plus of a typical World War II crew—left their ship for the last time.
Invitation to the decommissioning ceremony

Invitation to the decommissioning ceremony. (Collection of the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum. Gift of Charlie Kampton.)

Intrepid was one of 24 ships of the Essex-class. While frequent modernizations extended their lifespans, these vessels became outdated by the 1960s. A number of Essex-class carriers served during the Vietnam War, but they could not handle the U.S. Navy’s most modern aircraft, such as the F-4 Phantom. As newer, larger aircraft carriers joined the U.S. Navy fleet, the Navy began to retire its Essex-class ships in the late 1960s. Intrepid was one of the last Essex-class carriers to leave active service.
Commemorative coin

Commemorative coin from Intrepid’s decommissioning. (Collection of the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum. Gift of R.K. Zimmerman.)

Most Essex-class ships were scrapped, but Intrepid avoided that fate. After the ship’s decommissioning, Intrepid joined the reserve fleet in Philadelphia. In 1975-76, Intrepid was a highlight of the U.S. Navy’s bicentennial celebrations in Philadelphia. New York City developer and philanthropist Zachary Fisher spearheaded a campaign to save Intrepid, and the ship opened as a museum in 1982. Intrepid is one of only four Essex-class ships that survived, all of which are preserved as museums.

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the decommissioning of Intrepid. We are grateful to all the men who served aboard the ship during its career.