Monday, 9 March 2015

Space Ranger

Oddly stepping slightly away from our usual intergalactic musings,  I read this week that the USS Ranger is due to be scrapped after a lengthy campaign to save her from the scrap merchant.

Self-respecting Star Trek fans will know this was the aircraft carrier which stepped in to sub for the USS Enterprise CVN-65 in The Voyage Home.

Aside from guest-starring in Star Trek IVRanger (CV-61) also appeared in Top Gun as well as more importantly undertaking operational tours in Vietnam and the first Gulf War before being decommissioned in 1993. For some time she sat preserved in the Bremerton Naval Base with the possibility of being donated as a museum but the clock ran out. Sitting for manay years alongside Forrestal Class sister ship USS Independence and the carrier USS Constellation,  March 5th 2015 marked the beginning of the end for the great ship.

Already the USS Saratoga, and USS Forrestal - two of the four Forrestal Class supercarriers - have made their way to the Brownsville ship-breaking yard and this week the Ranger started her similar 16000 mile six month journey to face a similar fate. The reason for the length of the trip is because she won't fit through the channels of the Panama Canal. USS Independence, which sat near her at Bremerton is still awaiting her fate.

Given that we have recently lost two other high-profile names linked to the fourth Star Trek movie it seemed appropriate to pay respects to the naval carrier which saw operation for over 35 years from her commissioning in 1957. Truly a sad day for all those campaigning to save her since 1993 but also one more piece of Star Trek history that will soon only be a memory.

In other news, the former USS Enterprise CVN-65 remains as Newport News awaiting a similar fate. After being deactivated in 2013, there has been some interest in preserving the one-of-a-kind carrier as a museum but given that the removal of the eight nuclear reactors meant carving holes in her hull it seems very unlikely. Anyway, as part of her inactivation process all the useful materials have been removed. There has been a suggestion that her island structure may be saved but this is only a possibility at this time. Thanks to John Peters on Risa I understand that the ship will only become decommissioned once her fuel is removed.

On the brighter side though it was announced at that decommissioning ceremony that the third Gerald R Ford Class carrier, CVN-80 will be named USS Enterprise. She is due to be commissioned in 2025 at current estimates.

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