Hub To Get Farewell Visit As Ship Named For JFK Is Mothballed

December 19th, 2006  
Team Infidel

Topic: Hub To Get Farewell Visit As Ship Named For JFK Is Mothballed

Boston Globe
December 19, 2006
By Matt Viser, Globe Staff
Its hulking size speaks of the era in which it was built. But like that time in US history, the 1,000-foot-long aircraft carrier named for the 35th president has faded.
The Navy announced yesterday that the USS John F. Kennedy, built shortly after the late president's death, is being decommissioned next year. On its final tour, it will dock in the home of its namesake.
"This is Boston, this is Massachusetts, and this is our ship," said Lieutenant Paul Brawley, a Boston-based spokesman for the Navy. "It's named after a native son, and it means an awful lot here."
The ship, which is wider than two football fields and as tall as a 23-story building, is scheduled to be stationed at the North Jetty in South Boston's Marine Industrial Park from March 1 to 5.
"I welcome the Navy's decision to allow the people of Massachusetts to say a fond farewell to the USS John F. Kennedy," US Senator Edward M. Kennedy said yesterday. "I am deeply grateful for the dedication and commitment of those who served on her crew. She will always hold a special place in the hearts of those who loved her well."
When the ship last docked in Boston, in May 2005, crowds lined up as early as 2 a.m. to wait in snaking lines that grew to a half-mile long . About 60,000 showed up over two days, according to Brawley.
The base of the aircraft carrier was laid on Oct. 22, 1964, 11 months after Kennedy was assassinated.
It was christened on May 27, 1967, by Kennedy's daughter, Caroline, who was 9 at the time.
"I am very pleased that it will have this final opportunity to visit Boston, a city that my father loved so very much," Caroline Kennedy said yesterday.
Marines who have served on the aircraft carrier refer to it as "Big John," and can recite its motto -- "Date nolite rogare," or "Give, be unwilling to ask" -- that refers to the famous line in Kennedy's 1961 inaugural address.
The ship supported US forces in Beirut in 1983 and launched the opening bombing runs of the Persian Gulf War in January 1991. In one of its more recent missions, in 2004, the carrier was sent for a stint during the Iraq War.
The USS Kennedy, currently based in Mayport, Fla., originally was scheduled to remain in the fleet until 2018. But it is slated to became a casualty of a recent round of cost-saving measures by the military. It is the third-oldest carrier and one of only two in the fleet still powered by oil.
The military will save $85 million a year in maintenance and operating costs when the carrier is decommissioned, according to Commander Chris Sims , a Navy spokesman.
The USS Kennedy will be kept in working condition in case it needs to be used for a national emergency, Sims said, and it could be used as a museum.
Former sailors stationed on the ship are hoping it is not destroyed.
"I would like to see us bring a pier at the Kennedy Library and have it right there for everyone to see; I don't want to see it used for target practice, and I don't want to see it broken up," said Paul Pomerleau, 52, of Randolph, who was stationed on the ship from 1971 to 1972. "Being a native of Massachusetts, I hate to see anything with the name John F. Kennedy be put in mothballs."
December 20th, 2006  
It will be a sad day when that happens.

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