Historic aircraft carrier back at Navy Yard

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The aircraft carrier USS Forrestal arrived in Philadelphia Friday morning to await its fate.

The ship, which was decommissioned in 1993 in Philadelphia after 38 years in service, had been moored next to the USS Saratoga in Newport, R.I.

It left under tow Tuesday and arrived today.

The Navy initially had offered the carrier as a possible museum, but withdrew it from the ship donation list when no viable plan emerged.

The ship, the first of the post-World War II “supercarriers,” will now either be scrapped or sunk to become an offshore reef.

In Philadelphia, the Forrestal is docked on the Delaware River at the former Naval Shipyard next to the USS John F. Kennedy, another aircraft carrier that was decommissioned in 2007.

The Forrestal is named after James V. Forrestal, who was Navy Secretary at the end of World War II and became the nation’s first Secretary of Defense in 1947. Shortly after he was fired by President Harry Truman, Forrestal died in May 1949 in a mysterious fall from a 16th floor window of the Bethesda Naval Hospital.

During the Vietnam War, the Forrestal was the scene of the largest loss of life on an an American aircraft since World War II.

But it was an accident – not enemy action – that resulted in the deaths of 134 sailors.

On July 29, 1967, a rocket accidentally fired on the flight deck while the carrier was in the Gulf of Tonkin, sparking a fire that triggered a chain of bomb blasts.

Read more: http://www.philly.com/inquirer/breaking/news_breaking/20100618_USS_Forrestal_arrives_in_Phila__to_await_fate.html#ixzz0rEGFwB4c

Posted by Thomas J. Walsh. twalsh@PlanPhilly.com.

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