The Intrepid Sails Alone

The USS Intrepid, an aircraft-carrier-turned-tourist-attraction docked in New York City, is due for a good scrubbing and mending. It hasn't been in motion since 1982, when it was saved from the scrap yard and sailed to its Hudson River pier. Now its owners want to tow it downriver to Bayonne, New Jersey, where it will be dry-docked until late 2008 to undergo maintenance and repairs.

The problem, however, is that over the last 24 years, the Intrepid -- whose weight is given at anywhere from 27,000 to 41,000 tons -- has sunk into the mud.

Dredging 16,000 cubic yards of Hudson River gunk, draining 600 tons of water from ballast tanks, and timing the move for the highest tide of the year (November 6), has been expensive, and the ship's owners hired a charity auction firm to concoct a novel way to raise the necessary cash (Charity auctions have turned to quirky items to pry museum money out of rich patrons. In October 2006, the Hiller Aviation Museum in San Mateo, California, made the news when someone paid $1,200 for an M&M that had been in space.)

The auction firm decided that the Intrepid's most valuable asset was its exclusiveness. It advertised a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity: the chance to ride the carrier on its five-mile voyage. Only six tickets would be made available. The minimum bid for each was $100,000.

No one bid.

Stuck with a hefty bill and no way to pay for it, the ship's owners are casting about for new sources of funding. Here's a suggestion: hire a George W. Bush look-alike, hang a giant "Mission Accomplished" banner from the superstructure, and offer the affluent -- depending on their politics -- either a unique photo op, or a chance to throw a pie.

UPDATE: Nov 12, 2006 - The Intrepid is stuck in the mud, after a fleet of tugboats only managed to move it about 15 feet, according to the New York Times. The US Navy has agreed to spend $3 million dollars to help move the floating museum...

689 W. 46th St., New York, NY
By subway: A, C, or E trains to 42nd St./Port Authority Bus Terminal. Walk north four blocks to 46th St., then west four blocks to the Hudson River.
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