100. Aircraft Carrier Intrepid

On This Page:

  1. Level
  2. Fast Facts
  3. Exhibit Description
  4. Photos & Videos
  5. More Information
  6. Statistics

Level: Pier 86

Floor plan of Pier 86. A red star marks the center of Intrepid.

Read directions to USS Intrepid

Fast Facts

  • The aircraft carrier USS Intrepid served in the U.S. Navy from 1943 until 1974.
  • Carrying a crew of around 3,000 people, the ship served in World War II, the Cold War and the Vietnam War.
  • Intrepid opened as a museum in 1982.
View of Intrepid at Pier 86.

Exhibit Description

Welcome aboard the former USS Intrepid, an aircraft carrier that served in the United States Navy from 1943 until 1974. We say “former” because Intrepid isn’t in commission anymore. Intrepid served as a floating military airfield that carried U.S. Navy aircraft all over the world.

Intrepid is 893 feet (272 m) long, about as long as three football fields. If you stood the ship on end, it would be almost as tall as the Chrysler Building in New York City. The ship has a long, flat flight deck. This is where aircraft took off and landed. The hangar deck, inside the ship, was where crew members stored maintained aircraft. The ship is a maze of passageways, ladders and compartments, or rooms. Some contained machinery or equipment, or served as workshops for the crew. Still other areas were living spaces for the crew of about 3,000 people.

Here is information to get you oriented. The front of the ship, called the bow, points toward Manhattan. If you’re inside the ship by the Information Desk, you’re also near the bow. As you face the bow, the right side of the ship is called starboard. The left side is called port. You board the ship from a pier on the port side.

You can explore many spaces within the ship. Five decks have spaces that are open to visitors. They are, from top to bottom, the flight deck, gallery deck, fo’c’sle deck, hangar deck and third deck. Two levels of the ship’s island—the tower on the flight deck—are also open. The flight deck, hangar deck and third deck are accessible by elevator. The gallery deck, fo’c’sle deck and island can be reached by stairs or naval ladders—ladders with handrails that are at a steep angle.

Photos & Videos

Video description: The video presents the history of USS Intrepid. Former crew members, as well as other narrators, describe significant moments in the ship’s history. Archival footage and photographs illustrate the experiences of the ship and its crew.

Go to transcript

Black and white aerial photo of aircraft carrier USS Intrepid at sea, crew members and airplanes visible parked on aft flight deck.
Intrepid operating off the coast of Cuba in 1969. The ship is in its final configuration. (Collection of the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum. Gift of Eugene Herrman. P2015.44.01)
Color photo of ten men posed in front of a Grumman F9F-6 Cougar airplane on the flight deck with wings folded up, other airplanes visible in background.
These men served with squadron VA-76 on board Intrepid in 1958. The ship deployed to the North Atlantic that year. (Collection of the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum. Gift of the family of John D. (Jack) Rivers, AE2. P2016.70.17)

More Information

On December 1, 1941—just six days before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor—the keel for USS Intrepid (CV-11) was laid. Commissioned on August 16, 1943, Intrepid was the third of 24 Essex-class aircraft carriers. The mission of these mobile airfields was to bring the might of the U.S. military to the doorstep of Japan.

During World War II, Intrepid participated in the invasion of the Marshall Islands, air strikes against the Japanese base on Truk, a major naval clash in the Philippines’ Leyte Gulf and the amphibious assault on Okinawa. Between February 1944 and April 1945, Intrepid was struck by a torpedo and damaged by five kamikaze attacks. The ship was repaired and returned to service after each strike. With the defeat of Japan in August 1945, Intrepid’s original mission was complete. The ship joined the reserve fleet.

In the 1950s, the Cold War gave Intrepid a new role. Intrepid was refitted to accommodate heavier, faster jet aircraft. Recommissioned in 1954, Intrepid embarked on Mediterranean deployments and participated in naval exercises. Monitoring Soviet submarines became a growing concern in the 1960s, and Intrepid was converted into an anti-submarine (CVS) carrier. Intrepid also served as a recovery vessel for two NASA missions: Mercury 7 in 1962 and Gemini 3 in 1965.

In 1966, Intrepid was temporarily converted to a “special attack carrier” and deployed to Vietnam. Intrepid served three tours of duty in the Gulf of Tonkin. Intrepid squadrons bombed targets in North and South Vietnam, provided support for ground attacks and battled North Vietnamese jets in the air. Following the Vietnam War, Intrepid resumed an anti-submarine role. By the 1970s, Essex-class carriers proved unable to support the U.S. Navy’s latest aircraft. Intrepid was decommissioned on March 15, 1974.

New York City developer and philanthropist Zachary Fisher spearheaded a campaign to save Intrepid from the scrap yard. The ship opened as a museum in 1982 and was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1986. 

Statistics

Laid down: December 1, 1941
Commissioned: August 16, 1943
Decommissioned: March 15, 1974
Crew complement: Approx. 3,000 people
Length overall: 893 feet (272 m)
Extreme mean: 192 feet (59 m)
Height from keel to uppermost structure: 208 feet (63 m)
Full load displacement: 41,434 tons (37,588 metric tons)