The Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum kicked off their Fleet Week 2014 activities as visiting ships made their way up the Hudson River Wednesday morning, May 21. The United States Navy vessel USS Oak Hill (LSD-51) and Coast Guard cutter Campbell (WMEC-909) stopped at Pier 92, a short distance from the museum, where they will remain through Memorial Day, May 26. The ships will be open for public tours from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., May 22-26, and will depart New York, Tuesday, May 27.
The aircraft carrier USS Intrepid was built during World War II. She was launched April 26, 1943 and commissioned August 16 that same year. While fighting in the South Pacific, she sustained and survived five kamikaze attacks and one torpedo strike. In later years, she also served in the Cold War and Vietnam, and as a recovery vessel for NASA. When she was decommissioned in 1974, she was originally going to be scrapped but was saved by the Intrepid Museum Foundation. She opened as a floating museum in New York, August 1982. and designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1986. It is because of her connection to WWII that her Fleet Week-Memorial Day events will focus on the WWII time period.
The museum is located at Pier 86 in Manhattan. Tour guides for the Intrepid will be giving Fleet Week-themed talks from May 21 through Tuesday, May 27. Scheduled topics include how Navy ships get their names, aircraft carriers of World War II, how recycling helped with the war effort, and stories about Normandy.
Thursday’s Salute to Freedom gala honors Americans who have served the nation through sacrifice, patriotism, technology and research. The honorees for this year are Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt. The 2014 Intrepid Freedom Award goes to Secretary Hagel for defending this nation’s freedom and democracy. Immelt will receive the 2014 Intrepid Salute Award for his achievements in business and philanthropy. He has sought to employ veterans, aided in worldwide education programs and invested in defense technology.
Pier 86 will have activities for all ages on Friday, May 23, from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. In addition to tour guide talks, there will be a U.S. Coast Guard Drill Team demonstration at 1:00 p.m. At night, seating begins at 7:30 for visitors who wish to watch the movie Top Gun on the flight deck.
Saturday’s events inside the museum include a scavenger hunt, tours of the ship that focus on a sailor’s life, astronaut life and apparel. Outside on the pier, displays and activities are from the major armed forces branches: U.S. Navy, Coast Guard, Army, Marine Corps, and Air Force. Visitors will have a chance to meet former crew members as the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum honors those who are in New York for Fleet Week.
Sunday offers more chances to participate in the scavenger hunt, ship tours, displays, activities and tour guide talks. A special family-friendly program highlights what it was like to be a pilot on a plane that took off from the ship’s flight deck. Artifacts and replicas of the WWII time period will be part of the event. Sunday evening, visitors will have a chance to see a USO show.
Memorial Day offers both fun and solemnity. While the pier activities and ship tours continue, the Intrepid Museum takes time at 11:00 a.m. to honor fallen heroes with a special ceremony complete with wreaths, a 100-foot American flag, rifle salute, and Echo Taps. At 2:00 p.m., the U.S. Coast Guard is planning a special Search and Rescue demonstration in the Hudson River. The activities wind down as a special screening is held of the new TNT series, The Last Ship.
This is the 26th year of Fleet Week in New York. In addition to the USS Oak Hill (LSD-51) and Campbell (WMEC-909) at Pier 92, the USS Cole (DDG-67), USS McFaul (DDG-74), and Coast Guard cutter Katherine Walker (WLM-552) are docked at the Sullivan’s Pier in Staten Island.
The link for the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum Fleet Week schedule is provided below. The link is also provided below for the full schedule of Fleet Week events throughout New York.
By Cynthia Collins