NEW YORK – The USS Intrepid is steeped in history: the aircraft carrier took part in major battles and withstood repeated kamikaze attacks during the Pacific War, and later saw duty in Korea and as a recovery ship for NASA.
For the last 25 years, Intrepid has served a quieter purpose as a floating military museum, docked in the Hudson River.
Now, the aging ship will be renovated, a process expected to be outlined Thursday. Officials were scheduled to announce that the USS Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum will close this fall for an extensive overhaul, a process expected to last 18 months to two years.
Gov. George Pataki confirmed the renovation plan Wednesday night, saying in a statement that it would "add additional support to the grandeur befitting Intrepid's legacy" as an "American icon and an awesome reminder of the sacrifices of generations of soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines."
The 27,000-ton carrier, nearly 900 feet long, would be towed to a drydock for repairs — most likely the former military ocean terminal in Bayonne, N.J., said Peter Shugert, a spokesman for the Army Corps of Engineers.
The work also would include dredging 13,000 cubic yards of riverbed mud and upgrading pier 86, where the ship is moored, he said.
All warships undergo periodic overhauls and refurbishing due to the effects of salt water corrosion, whether from constant motion or simply sitting idly in port. Intrepid officials had hinted a year ago that the ship needed some work after 25 years at the same location.
The ship has become one of the city's most popular tourist attractions since real estate millionaire Zachary Fisher saved it from the scrapyard in the late 1970s and moved it to pier 86, next to the cruise ship terminal on Manhattan's West Side.
Over the years Intrepid's deck has become filled with an impressive array of historic aircraft and other war artifacts. It wasn't known what would happen to those aircraft, ranging from a Russian-built MiG fighter to an American SR-71 high-altitude spy plane, during the renovation.