The planned mooring site is the Columbia River’s Chinook Landing Marine Park. The carrier, decommissioned in 1993 and mothballed at the Navy’s Inactive Ship Maintenance facility at Bremerton, Washington, last saw action in 1991 in Operation Desert Storm.
Ranger earned 13 battle stars for service in the Vietnam War and was known as the Top Gun of the Pacific Fleet. Supply ships meeting the carrier for underway replenishments in those days would hear the familiar “Lone Ranger Theme” of the William Tell Overture when the ships broke away from each other after the transfer of stores, ordnance, or fuel was complete.
The ship played the roll of the carrier Nimitz in the 1980 film “The Final Countdown,” and the USS Enterprise in the 1986 films “Top Gun” and the “Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home.”
“Imagine living wage jobs, tourism and national status as the largest floating museum in the world. Everyone would recognize the name Fairview, Oregon,” said Fairview Mayor Mike Weatherby.
Plans call for the 1,046-foot-long, 90,000-ton USS Ranger to serve as a museum, education center, emergency preparedness center with 100,000 square feet of gathering space.
The USS Ranger Museum Foundation will file its Phase II application in the ship’s acquisition process with the Navy in September. According to the foundation’s studies, the Columbia is wide enough and deep enough to accommodate moving Ranger to Fairview.
The Vietnam-era Navy scenes in my recent novel, Garden of Heaven, were inspired by my period of service aboard the USS Ranger in 1968 and 1969 during two WESTPAC cruises. The novel tells the story of a man’s spiritual journey through the mountains of Pakistan, the swamps of North Florida, the beaches of Hawaii, the waters of the South China Sea and the ivy-covered halls of an Illinois college as he attempts to sort out the shattered puzzle of his life.