For some time now we’ve been hosting a link for the USS Ranger Foundation, a group dedicated to moving the ex-USS Ranger (CVA/CV-61) to a site in the northwest US for establishment as the centerpiece of a maritime museum. Contingent on that hope was approval by the US Navy to do so and raising significant funds to execute the move and berthing infrastructure. Alas, the thin strands of hope appear to have been cut given this letter recently received from the Ranger Foundation:
Foundation Looking at Options
Over the past several years, the USS Ranger Foundation has been working to save an important historical naval asset and bring it to our region as the keystone of the development of a community heritage project. We have been fully aware that making something this big happen would take a significant effort by all and would involve overcoming many challenges.
We are of course disappointed at receiving the recent decision by the Navy not to proceed with the donation of ex-USS Ranger to the Foundation. We understand as part of follow-up contact with the Navy that certain constraints would not allow us more time to develop our project.
In response to the Navy’s decision we are now reaching out to our community and all those involved with the project to determine where to go from here. We have no doubt there is substantial local and regional support for a community heritage project that includes an important historical naval asset as its centerpiece. The offer of land and riverfront as a site for the ship by Columbia-Edgewater, LLC was a significant show of support for the Ranger effort; that support still exists. Our many volunteers have demonstrated a level of energy and enthusiasm that has been an incalculable asset to the project. We take this opportunity to thank everyone for their contributions of time, treasure and commitment. We look forward to continued support from those who have responded so positively to the idea of welcoming Ranger to our community. Such support is a large part of making such a significant project viable. With regard to options that may still exist with the Navy, we are working closely with the staffs of Senators Wyden and Merkley and Representative Blumenauer. We will continue to keep you updated as we develop options and determine how the USS Ranger Foundation hopes to proceed.
Thank you all for your long-lasting support of a monumental effort. It has been a long and winding road, and we think there is still territory to be explored.
A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all.
Executive Vice President \ Acting President
USS Ranger Foundation
It would appear then that Ranger will eventually be disposed along with the sister ships of the Forrestal-class, the first of the supercarriers. Only one example of all the supercarriers built from Forrestal forward is currently planned for preservation as a museum, the ex-USS John F. Kennedy (CV-67). As we presently see with examples such as the ex-USS Olympia in Philadelphia and ex-USS Yorktown in Charleston, maintenance of any museum ship is an expensive proposition, even if they start off in the best of conditions (e.g., ex-USS Midway). From my own experiences with JFK and in light of her final days preceding commissioning, I have my doubts about her material condition going into museum ship status. Even given the fact that these are the smallest of the supercarriers, Forrestal-class ships like the Ranger are still significantly larger than the Midway, Hornet and Yorktown CVs currently on display and in the Navy’s inventory as museum ships (Navy still owns them and can demand return if they are not being properly maintained). Perhaps some elements may be retained if she is to be sent to the brokers — the island is perhaps the most iconic part of the carrier next to the flight deck and that might be recovered and re-purposed as part of a shore-side exhibit, not unlike what has been done with nuclear powered subs and mentioned lately for the Enterprise. Still, we’d hoped that as perhaps the best ship in material condition in the class, Ranger might have been preserved – but it is not to be.
I never flew from nor served on Ranger, but many of my friends and shipmates, living and passed did. We’ll continue to host the link and pass information and advocacy along until the bitter end in the hope that in the larger context of naval aviation history, some aspect of her life and service to this Nation will be preserved. In the meantime, ponder: