- The Washington Times - Monday, November 6, 2006

NEW YORK (AP) — The legendary aircraft carrier USS Intrepid got stuck in the deep Hudson River mud yesterday as powerful tugboats fought to pull it free to tow the floating museum downriver for a $60 million overhaul.

The mission was scrubbed for the day at about 10:30 a.m. as the tide went down, said Dan Bender, a Coast Guard spokesman. There was no immediate word when the effort would resume.

After 24 years at the same pier on Manhattan’s West Side, the World War II warship began inching backward out of its berth, but moved only about 15 feet before its giant propellers jammed in the mud. The decommissioned warship no longer has engines of its own.

“We knew it was not going to come out like a cruise ship,” said Matt Woods, the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum’s vice president for operations.

Six tugboats had strained to move the giant ship.

“We were able to move her 15 feet, and then she came to a halt. We tried to add more power with another tugboat but we couldn’t wiggle her free,” said Jeffrey McAllister, the chief pilot of the tugboat operation.

Yesterday’s departure was timed to take advantage of the yearly high tide so the tugs could pull the 27,000-ton ship out of the slip where it has rested in up to 17 feet of mud. Removal of 600 tons of water from the Intrepid’s ballast tanks gave the ship added buoyancy, and dredges removed 15,000 cubic yards of mud to create a channel from pierside to deeper water.

The Intrepid serves as a living memorial to the armed services, a tourist attraction that draws hundreds of thousands people a year and, if the need arises, will become an emergency operation center for city and federal authorities. The FBI used it as an operation center after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

The carrier’s $60 million refurbishment, which is expected to take up to two years, will include opening up more interior spaces to the public, upgrading its exhibits and a bow-to-stern paint job in naval haze gray. The pier will also be completely rebuilt in the Intrepid’s absence. The city is contributing $17 million, the state $5 million, the federal government $36 million, plus $2 million in private funds.

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