USS Intrepid (CV-11, later CVA-11 and CVS-11)

USS Intrepid (CV-11, later CVA-11 and CVS-11),

On December 1, 1941, six days before the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, the Intrepid's keel was laid in Newport News, Virginia. The eleventh Aircraft carrier built by the United States Navy, it was the third among the Essex Class, developed in the early forties. The epitome of technological advancement for their time, the 24 Essex ships were sixty feet longer and more than a third heavier then the preceding Yorktown class. Designed to carrier approximately 100 airplanes they greatly improved the Navy's air striking power and were directly responsible for naval success in the Pacific. Constructed in just eighteen months, the 900 foot long and 42,000 ton Intrepid was commissioned on August 16, 1943.

During World War II, the USS Intrepid earned the nickname the Fighting I, as it weathered five Kamikaze attacks during its missions in the Pacific. Under constant repair throughout the two years it served in World War II, it became a symbol of hope for its resilience and its success in damaging the Imperial Japanese Fleet. The World War II years were just a small portion of the Intrepid's entire military career. After a brief decommissioning the Intrepid was refitted for the Jet age in the early 1950s, where it was re-designated CVA-11. With a new angled flight deck and enclosed hurricane bow, the Intrepid was re-commissioned in 1954 for active military service.

In total, the USS Intrepid served a thirty-one year military career. In 1962, Intrepid received its last designation and was reclassified as an anti-submarine warfare support aircraft carrier, CVS-11. In its last years the Intrepid served three tours in Vietnam and was a primary recovery vessel for NASA, during the infancy of the program. In the late 1950s and early 1960s the Intrepid embarked on Mediterranean deployments and participated in naval exercises. Monitoring Soviet submarines became a growing concern in the 1960s, especially with the threat of nuclear war. On March 14, 1974 the Intrepid was officially decommissioned. Destined for the scrap yard a campaign, headed by Zachary and Elizabeth Fisher, was instituted to save the Intrepid. In 1982 it became a museum and has had a successful career, reopening November of 2008 after a two year, multi-million dollar renovation.

This project will be an effort to digitize cruise books, which are housed in the museums collection, three of which are currently on display. The cruise books were created by the crew, for the crew and bound into a yearbook format. They are a compilation of written material and photographs, each providing a glimpse into the life of the 3000 sailors who served onboard the Intrepid each year. The cruise books are a very unique part of military history as they provide information about military service through the eyes of those who experienced. The books were created with the specific intention of preserving memories for those on board.

The photographs and written material provide an interesting image of those who fought for the United States, many of whom were at the average age of nineteen. While studying United States military history there is very little attention paid to the individuality of the men who have served and continue to serve the nation. These books provide an interesting look not only into the vast military career of the Intrepid, but into experiences of the crew. It is a chance to see aspects of their lives that include, but were not limited to preparation for combat. The Intrepid became a city at see while it was deployed and for thirty years it was much more then a warship to those who spent time onboard. The cruise books show men at liberty, traveling to foreign countries, celebrating holidays and practicing traditions.

Three books will be selected for digitalization, representing three distinct periods of the Intrepid's history. Access to this resource will be a great educational tool for the public as nothing similar has been digitized for internet use. In addition, the Intrepid's education program uses references from the cruise books in their programming and while access has been granted to these books through interactives at the Museum, nothing is available for classroom and home use. These cruise books will help to educate, but also honor the crew who were prepared to sacrifice their lives for the American way.

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