SAN DIEGO, California (AP) # The aircraft carrier USS Midway arrived Monday in San Diego Bay, where it will soon have a permanent home along Navy Pier as the nation’s biggest museum devoted to carriers and naval aviation.
Tugs pulled the 74,000-ton decommissioned warship down the Pacific coast from a naval graveyard off Washington state to begin its new life. After taking on restored vintage aircraft at the Navy base in Coronado, the Midway will cross the bay to the city’s waterfront next weekend to become the San Diego Aircraft Carrier Museum. A spring opening is planned.
The Midway will be the nation’s fifth and largest aircraft carrier museum. The others are the Intrepid in New York; the Yorktown in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina; the Lexington in Corpus Christi, Texas; and the Hornet in Alameda, California.
Museum backers raised $8 million and spent more than a decade clearing regulatory hurdles to get the Midway out of mothballs.
“Someday, we’d like to be talked about in the same breath as Sea World and the zoo,” said Scott McGaugh, a museum spokesman. “It’s remarkable to think San Diego has almost a 100-year history with the Navy and yet has no naval aviation museum.”
The Midway was the world’s largest warship when it was launched in March 1945, less than six months before the Japanese surrender in World War II. The ship got its name from the Battle of Midway, the turning point of the Pacific war in which U.S. forces defeated a Japanese fleet in 1942 near the mid-Pacific atoll.
The Midway served three combat tours in Vietnam and launched warplanes over Iraq in 1991. The ship saw many firsts, including the first jet takeoff from a carrier and the dawn of naval missile warfare when a captured German V-2 rocket was launched from its deck.
The Midway was decommissioned in 1992 as the longest-serving carrier in U.S. Navy history. About 200,000 sailors and airmen called the Midway home over the years.