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Once envisioned as Tampa museum, 'Forrestal' goes to scrapyard

A tugboat pushes the USS Forrestal into the Delaware River on the aircraft carrier’s final voyage from the Navy shipyard in south Philadelphia to a dismantling and recycling facility in Brownsville, Texas, on Tuesday.

Associated Press

A tugboat pushes the USS Forrestal into the Delaware River on the aircraft carrier’s final voyage from the Navy shipyard in south Philadelphia to a dismantling and recycling facility in Brownsville, Texas, on Tuesday.

TAMPA — The old aircraft carrier that some dreamed of bringing to Tampa as the world's largest floating museum has set off on its last voyage — to the scrapyard.

The USS Forrestal, the first of the post-World War II super carriers, was towed Tuesday out of Philadelphia, bound for a scrapping facility in Texas.

A dozen years ago, a group of Tampa boosters fought to raise $10 million to bring the carrier to the Ybor Channel in Tampa's port. They envisioned the museum drawing a half-million tourists a year and doubling as a hurricane shelter and convention center.

Critics doubted that the 1,086-foot carrier would draw big crowds and worried that it would become a black hole for tax dollars.

In January 2002, the effort died. John Kercher, chairman of the local group, said the drive had raised $1.2 million but got caught in a Catch-22 — donors refused to give money until the Navy awarded Tampa the carrier, and the Navy wouldn't award it without assurances that Tampa had the money to take care of it.

Now the Navy has paid 1 cent under a contract to have the 60-year-old vessel dismantled.

Times staff

Once envisioned as Tampa museum, 'Forrestal' goes to scrapyard 02/05/14 [Last modified: Wednesday, February 5, 2014 8:49pm]
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