Uss Intrepid CV 11 Later CVA 11 And CVS 11

Project Director: Norma Jean Garriton


The Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum is one of America’s leading historic, cultural and educational institutions. Its mission to honor heroes, educate the public, and inspire youth is an ambitious undertaking that is supported by a dedicated staff, a devoted Board of Trustees, and the continued patronage from the surrounding New York community. All have contributed to Intrepid’s long history of success, from its creation as a warship to its rehabilitation into a museum in 1982. The Fighting I, as it became known to its crew, served thirty-one years with the United States Navy and became one of America’s most decorated warships. After its decommissioning in 1974 it was destined for the scrap yard, until it was purchased for the purpose of creating a museum. Since its doors opened in 1982 the Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum has seen ten million people come aboard. It served its mission in the Navy in the years of its commissioning, and continues to service the nation with its newly designed exhibits and refurbished interior.

Intrepid began its career as aircraft carrier CV- 11 when its keel was laid in 1941. It was commissioned only eighteen months later in 1943 and since has become a cultural icon for America and one of the most popular tourist’s sites in New York City. It exists as a living memorial of the past and a tribute to the courage and bravery of the thousands who served aboard. Its interior has been renovated and preserved, creating of a multitude of exhibits that provide insight into Intrepid’s diverse past. Part of these exhibits boast a digital display of three cruise books, designed by the crew for the crew, memorializing the ships activity through World War II, the Jet Age and Vietnam.

In 1943, Intrepid was commissioned to serve in World War II, but she went on to become the primary recovery vessels for NASA. In the later years of her commissioning she also served three tours of duty in Vietnam, and provided submarine surveillance in the North Atlantic during the Cold War. These missions provide for a wide and diverse history, which is presented on the ship using various mediums to the satisfaction of its diverse audience that range from kindergarten students to older academic scholars. Its existence as a museum is a testament to history and American perseverance in warfare.

Since its opening in the 1980s, 750,000 people visit the museum each year and 50,000 of them are children, k-12, whose schools have partnered with Intrepid for many of its various programs. The co-founders of the Museum, Zachary and Elizabeth Fischer, looked at the aircraft carrier as a landmark in America’s vast military history, which could be used as an important educational tool. Since the Fischer’s successfully saved the Intrepid from the scrap yard in the late 1970s it has served its mission of teaching America’s youth. The establishment of the Michael Tyler Fisher center for Education in 2005 has given a home to meetings, conferences, workshops and seminars for teachers, administrators and students associated with the NYC Public Schools and beyond. Intrepid’s mission to educate the public is at the heart of the Museum’s success as a historic institution and it hopes to continue that mission by expanding into the digital media world.

For the curators and staff at the Intrepid, displaying the hardware used on an aircraft carrier wasn’t enough. To honor those that fought for American freedoms, visitors have to understand the men’s lives in the context of their experiences on board. It’s important to display the humanity of the men who worked on the air craft carrier, most who were no older then nineteen years of age. It is hard to identify with the sailors and marines, if their individual stories are lost among displays of the evolution of flight. Thus, the Intrepid has put a great importance on displaying both artifacts that belonged to the crew and the stories that bind them to the Intrepid and the brotherhood it fostered.

The Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum is hoping to preserve the memory of this brotherhood by digitizing the collection of cruise books. It will then hope to create a website dedicated to portraying an accurate image about what life was like onboard from the perspective of its crew. The website will portray, in its first phase, three of the thirteen cruise books along with additional resources for scholars, young students and teachers. The long-term goals are to completely digitize all thirteen cruise books and incorporate them into the provided resources.

Too often in military narratives, the individuality of those who have served our nation and continue to serve is lost. What life was like for the men who served six to nine months on the Intrepid, is often lost in the greater context of war. Although preserved by the Museum, the exhibits can only reach those who visit. Creating a digitized collection and website honors the sacrifices the men made for the freedoms of Americans. With this free site, their experiences can be brought into classrooms and homes all over the world. There is no better way to display gratitude then honoring them by preserving the memories they cherished enough to record.

The cruise books were compiled by sailors who served onboard the Intrepid and like any yearbook have an assortment of photographs and text, which describe the events of the time period. Printed and bound on the home front, usually on the west coast, the crew members could purchase the book from the years they were deployed to remember their experiences and each other.

The books emerge today as an amazing primary resource, especially since the men were uncensored in there descriptions of events and could provide firsthand accounts of over thirty years of active military service. As an unparalleled educational tool for students of all ages, the cruise books can honor the memory of those who served the nation and teach important lessons about America’s past. Students often learn more from personal stories then they can ever hope to learn from a text book, which isolate them from history and the men and women who lived it.

In 2005 Mayor Giuliani stood on the Intrepid’s flight deck to proclaim that you “can’t stand on this deck without being an optimist”. After surviving the Second World War, three tours in Vietnam, becoming a primary recovering vessel for NASA, and looking for submarines in the cold war Intrepid took on its mission of becoming a Museum with pride. The Intrepid will continue to give back to the military community with digitizing the cruise books, hoping to continue its ambitious mission of honoring our heroes, educating the public and inspiring our youth.

Source of Materials: Intrepid Cruise Books, Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum.

This site will display cruise books from the USS Intrepid, an aircraft carrier for the United States Navy, which was commissioned in 1943. The cruise books are a compilation of photographs and written records compiled by the crew, for the crew documenting life on board. Organized in year-book fashion the books display the ship’s complex thirty-year military career through the eyes of the sailors and marines who called it home. The Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum holds these books in their collection since the ship became a museum in 1982. Pages from the book with be wholly digitized to provide for accurate viewing.

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