NEW YORK (AP) – At high tide on Tuesday, officials will make a second attempt to move the USS Intrepid, which became mired in the mud three weeks ago when high-powered tugs tried to tow the World War II aircraft carrier down the Hudson River for renovations.

Navy crews completed their salvage operation this week, dredging tons of sediment from under the ship’s stern. They were working to free four huge propellers and a rudder which burrowed themselves into thick mud mounds on Nov.6, forcing tugboats to abort the mission to bring the vessel five miles down river to Bayonne, N.J. for a two-year overhaul.

Some surveying was still being done on Friday.

Officials are now scheduled to move the engineless 36,000-ton carrier, now a museum, between 7:30 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday. That will enable them to take advantage of one of the year’s highest tide cycles, according to Bill White, president of the Intrepid Museum Foundation.

“The unfortunate grounding has had a positive benefit,” White told The Associated Press on Friday. “It has served to underscore the national importance of Intrepid’s mission to always honor our heroes and educate about the price of freedom.”

The Intrepid fought in every major battle in the last two years of the Pacific war, survived bombs, torpedoes and five kamikaze plane attacks and lost 270 crew members.

The keel of the historic carrier was laid seven days after the attack of Pearl Harbor, Dec. 7, 1941. It was commissioned in 1943 and later served in Korea, Vietnam and was the recovery ship for NASA astronauts.

Since the Intrepid got stuck, calls and e-mails expressing concern and offering help have come in from around the world, including the Vatican and from former crew members who served on the Intrepid’s decks, according to White.

“Once Intrepid is moved, we have to harness all of this positive energy we have received into the need to help our troops and their families,” White said.

The Intrepid was rescued in 1981 from the junk heap by the late Zachary Fisher, a New York builder, who transformed the 900-foot-long aircraft carrier into a sea, air and space museum. It draws about 700,000 visitors annually.

After a quarter of a century moored to the same berth, Pier 86, in the Hudson River, the ship is overdue for restoration and refurbishment.

The $60 million project provides for the ship’s repair and the rebuilding of the deteriorating pier where Intrepid is moored and where it will return in November 2008.

“It was a demanding task that required long hours and dedicated people to set her free to make her next voyage,” said Shugert.

Once underway, the journey is expected to take about eight hours at a pokey 3 knots.

“We did the best we could to make her ready for tow,” said Peter Shugert, spokesman for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which has partnered with the Navy in the salvage operation.”The difference this time is there’s less sediment to put her in mud lock.”

Shugert said 39,000 cubic yards of the material has been dredged: Picture roughly 4,000 dump trucks worth of sediment, perhaps rolling down the New Jersey Turnpike, Los Angeles freeway or a meandering Kansas farm road. In this case, the material is environmentally processed and taken by barge to the Fresh Kills landfill on Staten Island.



On the Net: www.intrepidmuseum.org


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