Navy pays 1 cent to have Philly-berthed USS Forrestal scrapped

The USS Forrestal was offered as a museum but found no takers. It will be towed from Philadelphia to Texas for dismantling.
The USS Forrestal was offered as a museum but found no takers. It will be towed from Philadelphia to Texas for dismantling. (TOM GRALISH / Staff Photographer)
Posted: October 25, 2013

The Navy has paid 1 cent to have the USS Forrestal, the first of the United States' supercarriers, towed from its berth in Philadelphia to Texas to be scrapped.

The Navy said Tuesday it awarded what is called a procurement contract to All Star Metals of Brownsville.

All Star Metals is expected to tow the 1,067-foot carrier from its berth at the Navy's Inactive Ship Facility in Philadelphia to Brownsville before the end of the year, the Navy said.

Christopher Johnson, a spokesman for the Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA), said 1-cent "is the lowest price the Navy could possibly have paid the contractor for the towing and dismantling of ex-Forrestal."

Pat Dolan, a NAVSEA spokeswoman, said All Star Metals will assume all the risks and costs of towing and dismantling the carrier and will sell the scrap with the aim of recovering its costs and making a profit.

In its prime, the behemoth with the four-acre flight deck displaced 60,000 tons and its voids and compartments held more food, fuel, and stores than any other naval vessel. With its air wing embarked, the Forrestal operated with an average crew size of 5,000.

The Forrestal was decommissioned Sept. 11, 1993, after more than 38 years of service.

The Navy offered the ship for use as a museum or memorial, but no viable applications were received, the Navy said.

Built by Newport News (Va.) Shipbuilding, the Forrestal was seriously damaged in a fire that claimed the lives of 134 men on July 29, 1967, off the coast of Vietnam.

The fire broke out after stray voltage triggered a rocket to launch from an F-4 Phantom on deck, the military news site Stars and Stripes recounted Wednesday.

The rocket struck an armed A-4 Skyhawk, rupturing the fuel tanks and sparking a chain reaction of fires and explosions on the deck, Stars and Stripes said.

The A-4 was piloted by Lt. Cmdr. John S. McCain, now the senior U.S. senator from Arizona who months after the fire was shot down and taken prisoner of war in Hanoi.

The three other Forrestal class of aircraft carriers - USS Saratoga, USS Ranger and USS Independence - also have been decommissioned and are expected to be scrapped.

Editors Note: This story was corrected to reflect that the Navy paid 1 cent to have the ship towed and scrapped.

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