Former USS Forrestal veterans gather for ceremony at Port of Brownsville
POSTED: Friday, February 28, 2014 - 11:56am
UPDATED: Thursday, March 6, 2014 - 3:39pm
BROWNSVILLE, TEXAS (KVEO NEWSCENTER 23) — The U.S. Navy’s first supercarrier, the USS Forrestal, was remembered today as one of the most important aircraft carriers in military history. Launched in December 1954, the ship was formally decommissioned in 1993 and was recently awarded to Brownsville, Texas-based All Star Metals (ASM), a subsidiary of Scrap Metal Services (SMS), for dismantling.
The ship, which was an engineering marvel when built in Newport News, Virginia, in the early 1950s, was home to more than 3,500 men and women and was named after former Navy Secretary and first Secretary of Defense, James Forrestal. At the time of its launch, the ship exemplified the United States military’s innovation and shipbuilding expertise by incorporating the first steam catapult, the use of optical landing systems and an angled flight deck.
“The USS Forrestal is an important piece of our nation’s history and we are honored to have the opportunity to give the ship one final goodbye before her next era of service,” said Jeffry Gertler, CEO of SMS. “We take the responsibility that has been entrusted to us very seriously and we will work closely with the U.S. Navy and the USS Forrestal Association to ensure the ship’s legacy lives on for generations to come, far beyond its physical presence here in Brownsville.”
“Today marks a bittersweet moment for all of us who served on the USS Forrestal. While the ship will soon be physically dismantled, those of us who served will always remember and honor our fellow crewmembers who served on the ship and were instrumental in its legacy,” added Ken Killmeyer, Historian of the USS Forrestal Association. “The men and women of the Forrestal will be forever bonded by our time on the ship and the legacy and impact it has had on our naval operations. We bid a fond farewell to the ship and look forward to working together to keep her memory alive for many years to come.”
In November 2013, after a lengthy procurement process with the U.S. Navy, Illinois-based SMS and its subsidiary, ASM, one of the largest ship recyclers in the United States, were awarded the contract for dismantling the ship. In February 2014, the ship was towed from its berth in Philadelphia, to its current and final resting place in the Port of Brownsville, Texas. Beginning in March 2014, ASM will begin a 24-month dismantling effort that is expected to be an important economic development project for the region. All material recycled from the USS Forrestal is expected to stay in the United States and will be used to build American-made products.
The recycling facility at the Port of Brownsville is the largest of its kind, sitting on 119 acres, and is an economic powerhouse for the community, employing more than 600 people. Both ASM and SMS will work closely with the USS Forrestal Association to preserve the history of the vessel. A special website has been established to provide information and progress of this project and is accessible at allstarmetals.wix.com/forrestal.