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USS Intrepid

by Geraldo Rivera | Nov 07, 2006

The sun, the moon and the stars were all in alignment here in New York, yesterday. Unfortunately, nobody checked with Ole Man River. And so the USS Intrepid, the World War II era aircraft carrier scheduled to be moved, never left her dock on Manhattan's West Side. The ceremony began with Senator Hillary Clinton saying "Let us wish it a safe and successful journey."

It's a good thing Hillary's re-election campaign went better than her attempted sendoff. Despite the presence Monday of both New York senators, two former mayors, and enough veterans and military brass to launch an invasion, Intrepid wasn't going anywhere.

The crowd of VIP's had packed a west side pier to watch one of the most famous warships afloat, make her way to a multi-million dollar overhaul and fresh paint job over on the other side of the river in New Jersey.

The problem is, Intrepid wasn't afloat at all.

And so the crowd of dignitaries and luminaries who had helped cast off a thick, ceremonial, yellow mooring line could only watch, fixed grins attached, as a fleet of powerful tugboats struggled in vain to loosen almost a quarter century's worth of river mud and muck tenaciously gripping the famed 27,000-ton Fighting I to the bottom of the Hudson River.

Since 1982, the vessel has proved to be one of New York's most enduring attractions...bringing war buffs, GI's, tourists and hordes of school children, including my own, to the Sea-Air museum contained within her 920-foot hull.

On board, children of all ages thrilled to the ship's fabled history...fighting off kamikaze and torpedo attacks during the Second World War...recovering space capsules from the Pacific Ocean, and serving with distinction in the War in Vietnam.

Already in the junk heap, she was rescued by generous donors, towed to Manhattan, and converted into the very popular museum, her flight decks crowded with vintage aircraft, an old submarine and a supersonic Concorde Airplane alongside.

The 63-year old girl was definitely due for an overhaul. But despite a very high tide; the recent expenditure of more than 1.2 million dollars to dredge 25 years worth of silt from under her vast bottom; and another $250,000 just for the tugboat rental for the day, even the combined 30,000 horsepower of those six big tugs couldn't drag her more than fifteen feet.

And it wasn't for lack of trying. The powerful tugs huffed and they puffed, but the river wasn't letting go. In the words of one official, her screws, that is Intrepid's four giant propellers are hopelessly stuck in the mud.

Although everyone longed to watch her make one last roundtrip journey to the dry dock and back, it not likely that she'll be moved any time soon, if ever. So they may just build a new dock around her where she sits, stuck in the mud of Ole Man River.

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