Been a very busy winter and spring here in the Scribe’s household – between the demands of customer support during the Great Musudan Snipe Hunt and mom corporate’s demands for a tech writer, our days/nights/weekends have been filled with briefs, drafts (*not* of the liquid variety) and teleconferences measured in hours, not minutes; our time’s been pretty well soaked up. That said, it looks like a pause in the action has afforded itself with an opportunity to catch-up and provide some updates on earlier items.
Wither ex-USS Ranger (CVA/CV-61): When last mentioned here, the Navy had placed the Ranger (currently in storage at Bremerton) on the disposal/scrapping list, much to the dismay of the USS Ranger Foundation which has been striving mightily to get a carrier for a museum in the Northwest. However, a recent email from the Foundation’s president:
Last summer, the USS Ranger Foundation submitted a Phase II Donation Application. As you know, the Navy decided not to proceed with the donation of ex-USS Ranger to the Foundation. The Navy has since issued a ship-demolition RFP that includes Ranger.
What do we do next?
The Navy’s decision may have appeared to be an end to the effort. We did not believe it should be. In response to the Navy’s decision we reached out to our community and all those involved with the project to determine where to go from here. The USS Ranger Foundation Board of Directors, at its most recent meeting, decided to continue investigating the possibility of having one of the two decommissioned Tarawa-class ships transferred to donation hold when it is released from Reserve-B status. Our preference is ex-USS Tarawa (LHA-1), the lead ship of the class. The Foundation’s intention at that time would be to prepare and submit a donation request based on the Fairview site which held so much promise as a future home for Ranger.
While the effort to preserve the Ranger herself may have failed, the Foundation nonetheless demonstrated a desire and following for an exhibit, centered on a large deck in the Northwest -
The efforts of the Foundation defined and focused a widely-felt need for such a ship-based memorial. A well-thought out proposal for a naval and community heritage site was developed. Widespread enthusiasm and support for such a project arose. Much effort was put into addressing the technical and logistical aspects attendant on a ship donation by the Navy. In the end, the challenges posed by the combination of ship size and barriers along the route to the inland site were not met to the satisfaction of the Navy.
The purpose behind the urge to preserve Ranger remains, and remains valid. It goes beyond the desire simply to preserve a vessel, and to the desire to commemorate what makes a vessel worth preserving. That purpose is the desire to acknowledge and honor and carry forward what those who served in her and fought in her and her sister ships through the years cherished and believed in: The freedoms and principles that are the foundations of this country, the freedoms and principles that inspire those who serve and strive to preserve and protect them for all.
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 demonstrated a level of energy and enthusiasm that was an incalculable asset to the project; we believe that energy and enthusiasm still exists within the community.
And why Tarawa?
With the assistance of the staffs of Senators Wyden and Merkley and Representative Blumenauer of Oregon, we worked during the winter to identify other Navy ships that would be suitable as the centerpiece for a community and naval heritage center. We believe we have found such a possibility in the ships of the Tarawa class.
Tarawa was the first of five ships in a new class of general-purpose amphibious assault ships, and combined in one ship type the functions previously performed by four different types: the amphibious assault ship (LPH), the amphibious transport dock (LPD), the amphibious cargo ship (LKA), and the dock landing ship (LSD). She was capable of landing elements of a Marine Corps battalion landing team and their supporting equipment by landing craft, by helicopters, or by a combination of both. USS Tarawa (LHA-1) is a United States Navy amphibious assault ship, the lead ship of her class, and the second ship to be named for the Battle of Tarawa during World War II. The first Tarawa was the USS Tarawa (CV-40). Tarawa was decommissioned 31 March 2009, at Naval Base San Diego.
We wish the Ranger Foundation every bit of success in this endeavor – the residents of the Northwest deserve and would support a major naval heritage site – doubly so in light of the area’s own history and role in supporting the Navy and naval operations across the Pacific. To be sure, working something along the lines of tacair and carrier aviation is important, and given the origin and efforts of the Foundation, to be supported. However, I sincerely hope the Ranger Foundation’s leadership looks at the opportunity to host a big-deck amphib as a means to also highlight the Gator Navy which frankly, outside of Little Creek and Coronado, pretty much stays off the radar of popular knowledge and enthusiasm. Preserving the Tarawa opens the doors to addressing that distressing shortcoming, offers the deckspace to host a variety of tailhookers and amphib-based air as well as offering an opportunity to engage another partner with deep reservoirs of enthusiasm and engagement – the Marines. Best wishes for success and watch this space for further developments….
WWATMD?: (What Would Alfred Thayer Mahan Do) A Navy that finds itself shrinking in terms of ships and aircraft – but not Flag officers. Sequestration. Budgetary pressures and a strategic realignment to the Pacific. And a country that is almost past a decade plus of two land wars in Central Asia and seems to be asking itself why we need a Navy (and if we do, what form should it take). It’s enough to make a navalist ask “What would Mahan do?” Author Naval Aviator and navalist in his own right, LCDR BJ Armstrong, has something to say on the subject, via the Naval Institute Press, and soon we’ll have a chance to see for ourselves when 21st CENTURY MAHAN: Sound Military Conclusions for the Modern Era arrives in the mail for review. Also en route is the book former SEAL Chris Kyle was working on when he was so tragically murdered; AMERICAN GUN – A History of the U.S. in Ten Guns. As a collector and firearms enthusiast (and historian), I am very much looking forward to reviewing this latest work from Harper Collins press. Stay tuned…
Finally, today also represents something of a turning point as a truly gifted leader, thinker and exceptional naval officer, ADM James Stavridis closes out one career in service to this nation and soon, embarks on another as Dean of Tufts’ Fletcher School of Diplomacy and President of the USNI Board of Directors. Fair winds and following seas Admiral and best wishes for you and your family as you chart a new course.
P.S. Apropos the opening line:
Remember the aviator’s motto – “It didn’t happen if there isn’t a patch…”