Skip to comments.Carrier Forrestal headed for scrap heap
Posted on 01/31/2014 4:28:58 PM PST by South40
The decommisioned carrier Forrestal, the first of the Navy's "supercarriers" and a technological marvel when it was launched in the 1950s, will begin its final journey on February 4th when it is towed out of Philadelphia for a trip to Brownsville, Texas, where the ship will be dismantled and recycled.
The Navy announced on Friday that the 1,067-foot carrier will be towed down the Delaware River, along the eastern seaboard, and across the Gulf of Mexico to All Star Metals, a company that's expected to spend about two years dismantling the nearly 60,000 ton flattop.
The move is part of a long term effort by the Navy to get rid of up to seven decommissioned carriers, including the Constellation, which operated out of San Diego for most of its 41 years of service. The "Connie" is expected to be released to a salvage company this year. The Navy hasn't announced which contractor will get the job. But it's likely that the carrier will be towed from Bremerton, Washington to Brownsville, where about half of all "ship breaking" in the U.S. is done.
The Forrestal was commissioned in October 1955, the first in a new class of conventionally-powered carriers whose design reflected lessons learned during World War II, and the emergence of jet aircraft. The ship feature an angled flight deck that allowed the carrier to carry out more landings and launches, and a greater variety of flight operations. The same basic design was used for the two other ships in her class, the Ranger, which operated out of San Diego for years, and the Independence.
"Forrestal helped established naval superiority in the Cold War, and post-Cold War eras," said Eric Wertheim, a defense analyst at the U.S. Naval Institute, an independent think tank in Annapolis, Maryland.
"The air superiority that Forrestal could project -- even during her final years -- was better than that of any foreign aircraft carrier operating today."
The ship's first deployments were largely uneventful. But things changed in the 1960s, when Forrestal became one of main carriers used to bomb sites in Vietnam. The ship also experienced tragedy. On July 29, 1967, while the carrier was in the Gulf of Tonkin, a rocket that had been fixed to an F-4 Phantom misfired and set off a fire that killed 134 people and injured 161 others. The injured included a little-known aviator named John McCain, who went on to become a U.S. senator, and a candidate for president.
The carrier also suffered a major fire in July 1972, while it was at dock in Norfolk, Virginia. The fire caused the Forrestal to list badly, and there was concern that the ship might capsize. The incident gave deeper meaning to the Forrestal's nickname, the "Forest Fire."
The fires detracted from the carrier's otherwise stellar reputation for air operations.
The Forrestal was decommissioned in Philadelphia in September 1993. For awhile, it appeared that the ship might be moved to Baltimore and turned into a museum. But the plan didn't pan out, leading to the Navy's decision to release the Forrestal to a salvage company.
Wertheim was saddened by the thought of a once-bustling carrier heading for the scrap heap.
"It was a true city, with barbershops and dentists and doctors and a post office," Wertheim said. "You had thousands of people going about their jobs fopr months at a time, and large crowds would gather when it came home from deployment. "The children of those sailors are now grandparents themselves."
I toured the Forrestal in Mayport when I was in high school in the 1970s. After spending a day on a carrier, I became a submariner when I joined the Navy. :-)
Both my submarines got cut up for scrap more than a decade ago (except for the reactor compartments which are buried in Washington).
Of interest to our group.
A goos documentry on the Forrestal fire.
The USS Forrestal Fighter Aircraft Fire
I toured her when she was in Pearl in 1985. Only carrier I have ever been aboard. I toured the USS Bowfin that same day.
That’s the only reason I know the Forrestal.
Thank you Senator McCain
Trial by Fire. That was the name of the training film they showed us at RTC Orlando. It’s on youtube.
McCains claim to fame!!!
My older brother was on the Forrestal when it exploded. I remember it well,although he doesn’t talk much about it...
Mccain the jinx.
We wish juan mclame could be decommissioned!
Many of our allies could use a first or another carrier, yet we keep scrapping these. Why?
Fair Winds And Following Seas, USS Forrestal
A 60-year-old carrier may be a tremendous rust bucket — dunno — six decades of salt water.
Because its worn out.
Ships get old.
Today I feel old.
I remember well when this ship first went to sea...It was on every newsreel and yes, in black and white on TV!
The Forrestal has been one of my favorites since I was a young boy and put together a plastic model of it. Toured the Ranger CV-61 when it was in Pearl Harbor.
You know folks, I may take a real beating for this, but here goes anyway.
I realize that these old carriers are nowhere near the value our current carriers are. I still wonder if at some point, if a grand attack were made and we lost a number of carriers, if it might not be a good idea to have these older ones around that could be refitted and put pack into service faster than ones built from scratch could be.
Many many hours of fun putting her together. She was a beauty.
I did not know she was still afloat. Like my model, I assumed she went to the breakers yeas ago.
Well, it was exciting as hell, I was about 40 feet from F-14s shooting off the cats, and could reach out and slap the wheels as they taxiied away from the trap wires. Only drawback was I stunk like kerosene for a week.
The skill and trust shown in allowing visitors on deck during ops was incredible, I still do not know how or why they justified it. But it sure as hell was fun.
I was in Norfolk at the time of the fire.
We could see the flames over at D & S piers.
Went over to the main base (via fleet landing) the next day.
Really scary seeing a carrier with a list.
We flew A3D's with VAH-5 and RA5C's with RVAH-7. My first carrier landing was on Forrestal,coming aboard in the ship's C-1.
I made two Mediterranean deployments aboard Forrestal. I served on board six other carriers but CV-59 remains one of my favorites...happy youthful memories and she was a good feeder!
He opposed the communists (and the creation of Israel out of Palestine and was defenstrated.
He was proven right not long after he died when the Commies attacked in Korea. But by then the planned first supercarrier, USS United States had been killed off by his successor just a few weeks after he was forced from office.
space battleship yamato.
if it costs less to refit, these guys arent nuclear, and you gotta wnder about the steam catapults.
may be better to sell to an ally and also get paid to help them refit them.
As long as they were a good ally, say Britain, Canada, Australia, I could be moved to agree with your take on it.
If they were kept active, it would be fairly easy to pull them in to fill gaps in coverage if the need should arise.
This just raised my attention because all of a sudden they’re all being salvaged. Come-on... what’s up with that. If not before now a few at a time, why all of them right now?
We’ve just learned that they plan on down sizing our flat-tops on the high seas to two. Two / world-wide. So here we are junking the others. Something smells very fishy about all this.
When Boehner stops sobbing, someone should ask him..., “What the hell?”
I know nothing about carriers. Need a knowledgeable answer:
Could it be totally gutted down to the hull and remade to a helicopter carrier or combat support vessel?
Or is the steel body used up as in metal fatigue?
These ships are so old and outdated, rather than try to restore one it would be more cost effective to just build one anew.
Thanks for the info!
where isthisthat we’ll only have two carrier groups.
last time i heard it was scheduled to go from 12 to 10, and that was primarily b/c of commission/decommision dates.
i do know there are issues with older ships and the steel under the water line.
McCain had nothing to do with the cause of the fire.
The Chief with the PKP bottle is dead.
On the forum several days ago, there was an article that there would only be two carrier groups active on the high seas. The others would remain in port or in U. S. coastal water. Frankly, it really angered me to read about it.
Check this out and tell me steam isn’t coming out of your ears by the end of it.
I have a few traps on the FID in my logbook. Sorry to see her go to scrap. I guess we’ll all be shaving with her in s few years....
A knackered old ship like this would cost a fortune to crew and maintain. One of the key advantages of the Queen Elizabeth carriers under construction in the UK is that they are having a lot of automation built into them to reduce the need to have a large crew. The fact that they have the latest in marine gas-turbine technology in their powerplants means that they are a lot more fuel-efficient as well...
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What, no Brownsville Casino?
Metal fatigue is an issue as is corrosion. Steel looses about half its strength after 10e7 cycles. Think ocean waves large and small here.
It can’t be stressed enough that US carriers finish their service lives having been ridden hard and put away wet.
The Forrestal was designed for a service life of 25-30 years. In the mid 1980s she underwent a service life extension that was supposed to give her another 15 years. It didn’t go well. In fact none of the SLEPs went well. Except for maybe Independence, which quickly replaced Midway in Japan following her SLEP and was very well cared for by the Yokosuka yard workers.
Forrestal was murdered by the US government.
Canada hasn’t had a carrier since 1970, and buying a couple of dozen choppers is a huge defense expenditure up here. The Conservatives are determined to balance the budget within two years, so there would be no sale up here.
That’s okay. It wasn’t my intent to say Canada would want to go this route, but more to say that Canada would be the kind of ally the U. S. wouldn’t mind having one or two of our older carriers in an operational condition. I appreciate the mention.
Not sure what carrier burned at Norfolk, or when. Forestal’s big fire was in the Gulf of Tonkin.
Try five paragraphs from the end.
You got me. I always heard of the underway fire (how many times did we see “Trial by Fire”), but never another fire inport.
Because alliances change.