Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum
We set aside a full day to visit the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum in New York City. I realize the mention of a military and science museum conjures up images of war and destruction, technical engineering, and nerdy math, but I was curious to learn more about this gigantic ship harbored on the Hudson River in New York City. We headed to New York City’s floating museum, which is a multifaceted educational program, using videos, exhibitions, and interactive learning programs to enrich the visitor experience.
It’s not a surprise to learn that more than a million people visit the museum annually. The multi-decked ship weighs in at 27,100 tons and a length of 872 feet, so even on a crowded day, there is room for everyone to participate in the museum experience.
The Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum operates as a non-profit, educational institution with several components. The primary feature is the aircraft carrier, USS Intrepid. The second large-scale exhibit is the space shuttle Enterprise. Finally, be on the lookout for a collection of high-speed jets and a guided missile submarine, all available for touring.
We entered from the pier at Pier 86. The museum is visible long before reaching the entry, even if you have to peek between some highrise buildings to see the Hudson River waterfront. The address is West 46th Street at 12th Avenue, and easy to find in New York City’s grid-like street layout.
Key history facts include
- The USS Intrepid is an Essex-class aircraft carrier and nicknamed “The Fighting I”
- She is the fourth US Navy ship with the USS Intrepid name
- This ship was built during World War II and commissioned in August 1943
- Notable service during World War II included the Battle of Leyte Gulf
- Decommissioned after World War II, the ship was updated and recommissioned as a CVA in the 1950’s
- In a third renovation, the ship was an antisubmarine carrier (CVS) and deployed during the Vietnam War in early 1962
- Decommissioned in 1974 and used for hosting exhibits in 1976 for the United States Bicentennial (Philadelphia, PA)
- Established as a museum ship, renovated and moved to New York City in August 1982
- 1986 – Designated as a National Historic Landmark
What to See
At the museum, you’ll find the Space Shuttle Pavilion, where the world’s first space shuttle, Enterprise is housed. Walk on the flight deck to view 28 authentically restored aircraft. These displays include the Lockheed A-12, known as the world’s fastest military jet and an effective spy plane.
Also take a look at the British Airways Concorde, which travels at record-breaking speeds for commercial travel. There’s a submarine that is open to public viewing, an extensive educational center with interactive displays, and a science-based education center known as the Exploreum.
Tip for visiting the Intrepid: Plan to spend a couple of hours to browse the museum. For members of the military, historians, or ship enthusiasts, plan on a full day. Audio Tours, available for rental at the Information Desk, immerse you in the Intrepid adventure. As you walk the ship, you’ll hear audio excerpts from the pilots and crew members who were on board during her various commissions.
Even when it’s foggy and we’re rain-drenched.
When we entered the Hangar Deck, we had a short wait before the next educational video, so we browsed the deck and found this Lego reconstruction of the ship.
Gallery Deck and Third Deck
The ship exhibits on the Gallery Deck and Third Deck offer insights into “a day in the life” of sailors and other on-board personnel including briefing rooms, kitchen arrangements, and sleeping berths. John recognized some of the communications equipment that was in operation during his tenure and paused for a few moments of happy memories.
More than 50,000 servicemen served in the US Navy on board the USS Intrepid during its service years. The museum participates in an oral history program to capture the stories of those who served. Audio clips are available on the USS Intrepid website.
If You Go:
Location: Pier 86, which is 12th Avenue at 46th Street (look for the big ship in the water)
Check the USS Intrepid website before you go. Special programs may cause alternations to the usual exhibit hours and availability.
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