USS John F. Kennedy unlikely to be turned into a museum





PEOPLE WAITED in a milelong line to see the USS John F. Kennedy when it docked for a weekend at the North Jetty in South Boston earlier this month. The 82,000-ton aircraft carrier, soon to be decommissioned, had barely departed before cries went up to bring it back permanently as a floating museum.

The idea is intriguing, but no one should be planning a nautical outing anytime soon. The Navy doesn't abide hasty reuses for its decommissioned warships. And it doesn't appear to be nostalgic in choosing between mothballing a ship and placing it on so-called "donation hold" status -- in which the ship is available for acquisition by a nonprofit organization but can still be brought back to service in an emergency. Nothing less than a superb business plan is likely to get the attention of the secretary of the Navy, warn those who keep such museums afloat.

Of the five US aircraft carriers now operating as museums, the USS Midway Museum in San Diego is the gold standard. Roughly 800,000 visitors board the ship each year, according to Midway's marketing director, Scott McGaugh. The action doesn't stop when the sun goes down. Corporate parties, conventioneer dinners, and dances take place on the flight deck some 200 nights each year. Councilor Stephen Murphy of Boston sensed the spectacular tourism potential of a carrier when he raised the banner for berthing the USS Kennedy in Boston for good. But the gulf between idea and implementation is vast.


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