Carrier Has Fans, Detractors In Portland, ME, And Newport,
The aircraft carrier USS John F. Kennedy (CV-67), which was the
second to the last non-nuclear aircraft carrier to see active duty
in the U.S. Navy, was decommissioned on August 1st, 2007 after
nearly 40 years of service. "Big John" has since been berthed at
the NAVSEA Inactive Ships maintenance facility in Philadelphia,
where she has become eligible for donation as a museum and memorial
to a qualified entity.
CV-67 Enters Port At Mayport, FL. Navy Photo
Two organizations have made such a request, though the sea lane
to a final permanent home has not exactly been smooth sailing.
Groups in Portland, ME and Newport, RI have made proposals to
the Navy, but one has met with some official and civic
opposition. The New York Times reports that Portland City Council
member David Marshall said the carrier is "not a good fit" for the
harbor. He said it would block some views and be a potential
liability for the city, a sentiment expressed by some who have
spoken before the City Council.
But the head of the nonprofit group trying to secure the carrier
for Portland, Richard Fitzgerald, disagrees. He told the paper that
having the Kennedy in the harbor would set it apart from others in
New England. "It would be the best thing that ever happened to the
state of Maine," he told the Times.
Fitzgerald says that the ship is no bigger than the cruise ships
Portland it trying to court for additional business for the port,
but Marshall's contention is that cruise ships come and go, and
that Big John would be a permanent resident in the harbor. Marshall
says he also worries about financing for the project, which would
include a museum, which is estimated at about $71 million over 10
years. Fitzgerald indicated that the money would be raised through
private donations, and that no city money would be used for the
File Photo Courtesy U.S. Navy
A bit south of Maine, the Rhode Island Aviation Hall of Fame is
also pitching to bring CV-67 to Newport, with the effort led by
U.S. Representative Patrick Kennedy and other public figures. They
say Portland's bid is more of a sidebar than a story. The museum
says it has already identified $10 million in commitments to bring
the carrier to the city which was home to the Kennedy Summer White
House and has other strong connections to the family.
Newport's bid is not deterring Fitzgerald, however. "It will
happen in Portland," he told the paper.