Intrepid could be used as command center
The aircraft carrier Intrepid — in the midst of an 18-month makeover — returns to its mission as a floating military museum in fall 2008. But the legendary World War II ship is also available as an emergency operations center in the event of another terrorist attack.
“If there is another terrorist attack and Intrepid is called to duty, she will be ready to go back into service of her country,” Bill White, president of the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, said Thursday.
Intrepid is considered ideal for a law enforcement because it could be immediately and easily converted into a full-fledged, secure auxiliary emergency operations post with air, sea and land capability, according to Mr. White.
The FBI and other law enforcement agencies used the Intrepid for more than a month after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attack. A temporary command post was set up with hundreds federal agents and members of the FBI-NYPD Joint Terrorism Task Force fielding thousands of phone calls over the weeks. Many of them slept in sleeping bags in the ship’s hangar bay.
It was the first time since the storied Intrepid was mothballed by the Navy in 1976 that the ship was called to serve.
The Intrepid also is regularly used by federal, state and city officials for drills and military training maneuvers. Painting apprentices even practice skills while hanging off it.
The federal government provided $31 million toward a $50 million project to rebuild Pier 86 in the Hudson River along Manhattan’s west side, where Intrepid has been moored since it opened as a museum 25 years ago. The vessel is on target to return home on Sept. 26, 2008, and reopen to the public on Veterans Day, Nov. 11, 2008.
On Thursday, some 150 officials from 80 agencies — including the FBI, Federal Aviation Administration, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, fire and police departments — discussed preparations for the return.
It is “a Herculean task” to move around an engineless ship, as long as three football fields, in one of the busiest harbors in the world, Mr. White noted.
In November, plans to move the 36,000-ton war relic for its overhaul were delayed after its rudder and 15-foot propellers got stuck. A Navy dredging operation cleared the mud, freeing the ship to be towed to Bayonne, N.J., for exterior work. After that, it was towed to Staten Island, where it is undergoing a 12-month refurbishment, including the installation of state-of-the art exhibits.