All posts in “USS Ranger (CVA/CV-61)”

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Catching Up: The Latest on the ex-USS Ranger, Reviews and More…

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.

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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 1280px-US_Navy_071222-N-6597H-116_The_amphibious_assault_ship_USS_Tarawa_(LHA_1)_transits_through_the_Indian_Oceana 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….

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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.

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P.S.  Apropos the opening line:

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Remember the aviator’s motto – “It didn’t happen if there isn’t a patch…”

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USS Ranger – Sad News

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.

Dave Todd
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:

USS Ranger (CVA-61/CV-61) Foundation

Third ship of the Forrestal-class CVA’s – the first supercarriers . . .

Veteran of Vietnam and Desert Storm, Southern Watch and Restore Hope . . .

Last ship to bear the storied name, Ranger, that began with John Paul Jones . . .

Decommissioned in 1993 as part of the post-Cold War rush to the peace dividend, she now sits in deep preservation at Bremerton Navy Yard, awaiting her fate:

And that, dear reader, is something you may have a chance to have a say in.

There is a movement underway to save Ranger and turn her into a museum serving the northwestern US (an area, incidently, which has a deep linkage to carrier aviation).  The Ranger Foundation is seeking support, fiscal and moral, to save this ship, one of the first of the supercarriers.  It is important to remember that there are a finite set of conventional carriers to fulfill this role — and in all likelihood, with the possible exception of Kennedy (CV-67), the rest of the “newer” conventional carriers of the Kitty Hawk-class will likely be sunk as part of test and development programs given their similarity to the Nimitz-class hulls (as was the case with America (CV-66)). The nuke carriers, beginning with Enterprise in a few years, in all likelihood won’t be able to serve in this role.

So, please hurry over to the Ranger Foundation’s website and pitch in to save this piece of aviation and naval history — time is not a luxury.  The Foundation has gained Phase 1 approval from the Navy and are working towards a permanent moorage in Portland, Oregon-but without funds for the studies that need to be done now, they will not be successful.  And Ranger will end up as another sinkex victim.

(h/t Tailhook)

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