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Posted on Jan 15, 2009 in War College

USS Intrepid Back in New York City

By Peter Suciu

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A very special day for the Intrepid was on November 11, 2008 when President George W. Bush was presented with the Intrepid Freedom Award during the ship’s rededication ceremony.

For nearly two years the waterfront on Manhattan’s West Side just wasn’t the same. Missing was the aircraft carrier USS Intrepid, the centerpiece of the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, which had left New York City on December 5, 2006, to Bayonne Dry Dock & Repair in New Jersey. There the ship, which had been a floating museum since August of 1982, underwent necessary repairs to ensure that the ship would be around for many more years to come.

After a trip to Staten Island for interior refurbishment and installation of new exhibits the Intrepid was ready to come home. She arrived in October of this year, and officially opened in November. President George W. Bush was on hand on Veterans Day, November 11, 2008, as part of the official rededication ceremony. It was good to have her back home.

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If this ship could talk it would have many stories to tell. The keel for the Intrepid was laid down just six days before the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, and when she headed to the Pacific she was greeted by a baptism of fire, taking part in the invasion of the Marshall Islands in early 1944. Damaged during the fighting the ship returned to Pearl Harbor for repairs and then headed back to the action. In October 1944 the Intrepid took part in the Battle of Leyte Gulf, and planes from the carrier helped sink the Japanese battleship Musashi.

Following the battle the Intrepid suffered her first kamikaze hit, and in November would be hit two more times by the suicide pilots. In March 1945 a bomb exploded just off the ship’s bow, but the Intrepid remained in action and helped sink the Japanese battleship Yamato just weeks later. But before the end of the war, the ship was struck a fourth time by a kamikaze attack. These attacks earned the nickname "The Ghost Ship" by the Japanese, who couldn’t believe the Intrepid wasn’t sunk!

During the Cold War the Intrepid was called back to service and took part in multiple space-mission recoveries including the Mercury 7 space capsule and the Gemini 3. The Intrepid took part in three tours in Vietnam before being decommissioned in 1974. It finally served as an exhibit ship at the U.S Navy and Marine Corp bicentennial celebrations in Philadelphia in 1975–1976. This would not be the last time the ship saw a role as an exhibit, of course.

Zachary Fisher, a New York real estate developer, founded the Intrepid Museum Foundation in 1979, and the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum opened to the public on August 3, 1982. It was the site of numerous celebrations and notable occasions, and was called upon to serve a role in the greatest tragedy in New York City’s history. On September 11, 2001, the ship became a temporary headquarters for the FBI during the 9/11 attacks on New York.

Following the recent repairs the ship is back at home, proudly displaying more than 30 aircraft, with interactive exhibits for all ages and plenty of attractions that serve as a reminder to the courage and sacrifice of the men who served aboard the USS Intrepid.

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