Author Topic: Carrier Forrestal headed for scrap heap  (Read 426 times)

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Carrier Forrestal headed for scrap heap
« on: February 02, 2014, 11:34:09 PM »
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."

Offline AbaraXas

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Re: Carrier Forrestal headed for scrap heap
« Reply #1 on: February 03, 2014, 12:16:37 AM »
It is sad the maintenance costs are so high on those ships. You just can't store them away like the bone yard for aircraft like at Davis-Monthan.

The desert is so much better for preservation than sea water.

To get the scope of Davis-Monthan, you really need to see the satellite view.

Offline rangerrebew

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Re: Carrier Forrestal headed for scrap heap
« Reply #2 on: February 03, 2014, 06:59:14 AM »
It was known in the Navy as the "Forest fire," a reference to a huge, tragic fire on board that served as a training film in basic.
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Offline Relic

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Re: Carrier Forrestal headed for scrap heap
« Reply #3 on: February 03, 2014, 09:54:19 AM »
It was known in the Navy as the "Forest fire," a reference to a huge, tragic fire on board that served as a training film in basic.

Saw it many times. Worked with a guy that was on during that event.

Offline DCPatriot

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Re: Carrier Forrestal headed for scrap heap
« Reply #4 on: February 03, 2014, 10:03:42 AM »
The Forrestal was the very first plastic model that I recall getting as a little boy.  A gazillion parts and pieces.

...never did finish the damned thing.
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Offline Chieftain

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Re: Carrier Forrestal headed for scrap heap
« Reply #5 on: February 03, 2014, 10:06:22 AM »
Saw it many times. Worked with a guy that was on during that event.

I worked with several who fought that fire....not a fun time at all, and not the only big flight deck fire during that era.  Enterprise suffered a massive fire on her flight deck too.  There have also been a number of high visibility aircraft crashes over the years on other decks (Nimitz had a couple) as well as major equipment failures both aircraft and shipboard that resulted in a plane in the water.

As to scrapping Forrestal, its really the only thing to be done with her.  That class carrier was powered with oil fired boilers and there are thousands of feet of pipe on them that is insulated with the worst form of asbestos.  The bilges are all a mess, were difficult for the crews to clean, and only get worse as the ship ages.  At some point you end up with a hull that is too compromised to move, like the USS Texas; a WWI era battleship that is essentially sunk in the slip she's been docked in for decades, with not enough money in the world to move her much less adequately repair her. 

Carriers make great museums where they can be maintained, but not all carriers are museum worthy.  You don't hear a peep about the Enterprise being saved, mainly because the main spaces are about to fall right out the bottom and the entire reactor space will have to be removed and buried at the Hanford WA disposal site.....

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