The U.S. Navy's Naval Sea Systems Command has decided to sell the decommissioned USS Ranger aircraft carrier to a scrapyard, ending the USS Ranger Foundation's lengthy effort to bring the ship to Fairview as a tourist attraction that officials said would bring 350,000 visitors and $46 million annually to the town.
USS Ranger Foundation
The years-long effort to create a USS Ranger memorial and museum garnered support from local city council members, state representatives and Oregon's congressional delegation, as well as grassroots support, with 130 volunteers, including Ranger veterans, raising more than $600,000 and opening a USS Ranger Foundation site in Fairview.
But the aircraft carrier will not settle in the Columbia River.
"After a lengthy review process, no organization has been able to meet the Navy's minimum requirements," said Chris Johnson, spokesman for Naval Sea Systems Command.
The USS Ranger Foundation failed to meet the Navy's minimum Phase 2 requirements to donate a carrier. Those involved in carrier donation processes say the requirements are extensive, from a daily cleaning plan to revenue projections.
But the foundation isn't giving up, said Lonnie Dicus, senior adviser to the USS Ranger Foundation.
"While we are certainly disappointed," he said, the foundation will "reconnect with our partners in this project -- business, civic, political partners -- and come up with a strategy and ... go back to the Navy with what we hope is a compelling case to continue to work with us on donating the ship."
Dicus said the donation was terminated when the foundation missed a deadline to file its Phase 2 application -- a 1,000-page document that must include site information.
In July, the development company Columbia Edgewater donated 30 acres of land in and around the Columbia River, changing the site profile in the application. The foundation was unable to compile the required information on the new site before the deadline, Dicus said.
The Navy placed the USS Ranger, decommissioned in 1993, on donation hold in March 2004 upon the request of a group of Northwest Navy veterans, most of whom served on the Ranger. The group sought out cities willing to adopt the carrier and settled on Fairview.
The USS Ranger Foundation started its application in 2009 and was given priority to adopt the carrier in 2010. The Navy would have retained ownership of the carrier.
Ranger supporters said the massive carrier could attract tourists on their way to Multnomah Falls and become a Portland attraction positioned in east Multnomah County, like the former Multnomah Greyhound Park dog racing track in Wood Village and the McMenamins Historic Edgefield property in Troutdale.
But critics pointed to seemingly insurmountable obstacles, such as a bridge span across the Columbia that BNSF Railway Co. would have to temporarily remove and dredging the Army Corps of Engineers would have to perform in order for the carrier to make it to the site.
USS Midway Museum volunteers in San Diego warned the USS Ranger Foundation the donation wouldn't be easy. The Midway carrier arrived in San Diego after a 12-year recruitment effort, including 36 state permits and a 3,000-page application, said Scott McGaugh, marketing director for the museum.
For now, the USS Ranger will suffer a different fate.
It is being prepped for scrapping, Johnson said, and soon the Navy will put it up for private shipbreaking yards to bid on. Whichever yard wins will tow the ship from the Naval Inactive Ship Maintenance Facility in Bremerton, Wash., and dismantle it to sell as scrap metal.
That is, unless the USS Ranger Foundation can win over the Navy.
"If we didn't think there was a compelling case here, we wouldn't be spending our time on this," Dicus said. "The fact of the matter is, there's not a lot of downside and there's a lot of upside for them to work with us."
Source: Oregon Live. By Sara Hottman. 4 October 2012http://www.oregonlive.com/gresham/index.ssf/2012/10/fairviews_bid_for_uss_ranger_f.html