“BREMERTON, Wash. — Naval Sea Systems Command says the mothballed aircraft carrier USS Ranger, once sought as a Columbia River tourist destination in Fairview, will be towed out of Puget Sound on Thursday on its way to be scrapped in Texas.
“The Ranger was commissioned in 1957 and was active during the Vietnam War and also deployed in support of Operation Desert Storm, the first Persian Gulf War. The carrier was decommissioned in 1993 at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard.” – The Oregonian
Yes, I know, Naval Sea Systems Command (NSSC) has no reason to expect anyone to save the old treasure now as last-ditch efforts to bring the ship to San Diego as a museum apparently went nowhere.
The ship is in relatively good shape, as pictures showed last fall when the State of Oregon named the Ranger as a Heritage Site. That action had no apparent impact on NSSC or on other cities who could have brought together movers and shakers to secure the ship as a lucrative tourist attraction and educational destination.
I was a member of the USS Ranger Foundation, though from the other side of the country, I never could get enough feedback from them to find out why they were moving so slowly, why they couldn’t work with BNSF to work out the problem of a low railway bridge blocking the ship’s passage to the proposed site in Fairview, Oregon, or why they couldn’t attract the interest of more heavy hitters to get the job done.
I was a museum consultant at the time and offered to help, but never got a response. Sometimes, membership doesn’t have its privileges.
So now the Navy has sold the ship for a penny. Perhaps the Navy can spend that penny on a stick of gum or as a down payment on a sheet of stamps. We are not well served by this action. It is short sighted.
A carrier museum could serve a municipality well, for cultural tourist destinations typically bring in visitors who stay longer and who spend more in the community (hotels, gas stations, restaurants) than the average tourist. Some of the ship’s compartments could be devoted to exhibits, while others could have been used for classes, presentations or even as spaces for rental to groups wanting unique places to meet.
Short of a miracle–(Dear Mr. President: How about an executive action on this project?)–the ship will be turned into scrap metal, thrown out with the trash, so to speak, in a way that benefits nobody and does not preserve our history.
I served on board the Ranger in 1968 and 1969 in the Gulf of Tonkin and used my experiences as inspiration for my novel “The Sailor.”