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Intrepid Museum Ship to undergo repairs

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Storied military ship, museum to be renovated<]

Friday, July 7, 2006; Posted: 10:05 a.m. EDT (14:05 GMT)

NEW YORK (AP) -- The USS Intrepid is steeped in history: the aircraft carrier took part in major battles and withstood repeated kamikaze attacks during World War II, and later saw duty in Korea and as a recovery ship for NASA.

For the last 25 years, Intrepid has served a quieter purpose as a floating military museum, docked in the Hudson River.

Now, the aging ship will undergo an extensive overhaul. Governor George Pataki said Thursday the state would add $5 million to city and federal funds, totaling $58 million, for an 18-month project to renovate the USS Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum. It will close in the fall.

"Yes, it is a museum that tells the story of heroes of the past, but it is also a home for the heroes of today," Pataki said at a formal announcement of the plan on the ship's flight deck.

The 27,000-ton carrier, nearly 900 feet long, will be towed to a drydock for repairs -- most likely the former military ocean terminal in Bayonne, New Jersey, said Peter Shugert, a spokesman for the Army Corps of Engineers.

The work also would include dredging 13,000 cubic yards of riverbed mud and upgrading pier 86, where the ship is moored, he said.

All warships undergo periodic overhauls and refurbishing due to the effects of salt water corrosion, whether from constant motion or simply sitting idly in port. Intrepid officials had hinted a year ago that the ship needed some work after 25 years at the same location.

The ship has become one of the city's most popular tourist attractions since real estate millionaire Zachary Fisher saved it from the scrapyard in the late 1970s and moved it to pier 86, next to the cruise ship terminal on Manhattan's West Side.

Over the years Intrepid's deck has become filled with an impressive array of historic aircraft and other war artifacts. It wasn't known what would happen to those aircraft, ranging from a Russian-built MiG fighter to an American SR-71 high-altitude spy plane, during the renovation.

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If you've seen the Intrepid, you would wonder how they could clean and paint if for that little, much less refurbish the interior spaces and provide better viewing for the planes. Recommissioning the ship would probably cost more than 10 times as much. We're talking about a 900 foot long ship that is loaded with electronic and mechanical equipment, and has been moored in one spot for 25 years! http://www.earthcam.com/usa/newyork/intrepid/

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In my last Navy job, twenty years ago, I was planning overhauls for Navy aircraft carriers. I can assure you that an overhaul for an active carrier costs hundreds of millions of dollars. $58 million for this one is a bargain. I served aboard that ship as a midshipman 1st class in 1963.

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