USS Intrepid Gets Stuck in Mud on Move to New Jersey

She survived five kamikaze attacks and one torpedo, but the USS Intrepid was no match for a bit of New York City mud.

Crews called off a move of the 63-year-old aircraft carrier Monday after a small armada of tugboats couldn't free the ship from its berth at Pier 86.

Officials planned to move the ship to Bayonne, N.J., to undergo a nearly 2-year restoration as part of a $60-million rehabilitation project that will revamp the Intrepid — now the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum — and the badly crumbling pier that she has called home for the last 24 years.

Click here to view's Photo Essay I of the Intrepid

Click here to see Photo Essay II

Crews have worked for the last month-and-a-half removing some 27 feet of silt in preparation for the move, said Kent Karosen, an executive committee member of the museum's board of trustees.

A group of political dignitaries gathered at an adjacent pier to mark the day's sendoff, including last-minute campaigner Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., and former New York City mayors Ed Koch and David Dinkins.

Soon after the ceremonial line toss, it was apparent the ship was not going to leave her berth without a struggle.

One tugboat after another pulled at the dormant ship, moving it 15 feet. After that, it wouldn't budge.

At one point six tugboats strained to free the vessel as other tugboats hovered nearby, mimicking the seagulls circling overhead.

Efforts of a seventh tugboat failed and crews called off the move at 10:30 ET, according to Kathleen Lynn, a spokeswoman for the museum. No plans have yet been made on a new effort to move the ship.

Several dozen veterans had traveled to the aircraft carrier to ride aboard the flight deck for the journey to New Jersey, many for the first time since they left the service.

"Where in the United States can you go where there's 900 feet of history?" said Ed Coyle, who stood aboard the 900-foot flight deck as a 17-year-old on Aug. 16, 1943, when the vessel was first commissioned.

"It's good to know it's here, you know," Coyle said. "It's good to know that maybe some younger people are getting a little taste of history."

The Intrepid saw action in the south Pacific during World War II, surviving so many kamikaze attacks the Japanese referred to her as a ghost ship. During the late 1960s, the ship was base for a group of light attack planes off the coast of Vietnam.

"It has had a multitude of jobs from picking up astronauts in the Pacific to fighting in Vietnam," Fisher said.

The Navy decommissioned the ship in 1974, and in 1982 the Intrepid was moved to the west side of Manhattan, where it became a floating museum.

Arnold Fisher, chairman of the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum, said the need to rebuild the pier gave museum officials the impetus to restore the ship. They plan to spend $40 million on restoring the pier and another $20 million on the rehabilitation of the ship.

"We're going to restore this ship to a position where we can continue to honor the men and women who served on her and died on her," Fisher said.

Officials estimate it will take 100,000 gallons of Navy gray paint to refurbish the floating museum, which they hope to have back in her New York City berth by fall 2008.

"We'll all be happy when she moves," Karosen said before the attempt. "She survived five kamikaze attacks and one torpedo, so I think she's going to make it five miles down the Hudson."

Click here to view's Photo Essay of the Intrepid.