All I can find is that the Navy chose not to turn it into a museum ship, but I don't understand, and cannot find an official explanation why.

I thought maybe they were worried about classified tech being made public, but that would be a risk with scrapping as well. Then I thought maybe $5 million wasn't enough money, but this doesn't make sense. The Navy doesn't provide any support to museum ships, they're run and funded solely by civilian non-profits; so why should the Navy care if the museum can actually afford to maintain it? And it's not like the Navy wanted the money since they were willing to sell it to scrappers for one cent.

Is there any official explanation of their logic, or perhaps some detail about museum ship creation I missed that explains it?

  • 3
    This isn't strictly a politics question. But I would like to point out that no capital ship launched after 1945 was ever made into museum in USA. Mar 10 at 7:21
  • The US Navy isn't a heritage organisation, it's a branch of the military. Why should they turn it into a museum ship? I feel the question is missing that aspect.
    – Stuart F
    Mar 10 at 9:40

2 Answers 2


The cost to run a museum ship this size is in excess of $1 million per month.

An example is the Midway Museum. As can be seen in their financial statement, the total expenses range between $14 million/year for 2011 to $25 million/year for 2019.

As can be seen, most of that money (75%) comes from ticket sales. So a suitable berth in a convenient location is required to sustain operations.

This has been discussed in more detail on the NavWeaps boards, the last time here: https://www.tapatalk.com/groups/warships1discussionboards/kitty-hawk-departs-bremerton-t45123.html


Because the money raised to make it into a museum was not enough, according to ABC at least:

The Navy sold the vessel after rejecting a bid from the USS Kitty Hawk Veterans Association to convert the ship into a museum stationed at Long Beach, California. The association could only raise about half of the amount required to decontaminate, develop and maintain the ship as a museum.

As I understand it, the ship was built in an era when asbestos was liberally used. There's even a ($12M) lawsuit seemingly won by a former crew member, related to that. So you can see how the Navy might want to avoid possibly being held partially accountable if a not sufficiently decontaminated ship were to become a museum.

The Navy managed to get some money for one of these supercarriers

the USS Constellation was sold to International Shipbreaking, but at a much higher price, with the company paying the military arm $3 million.

And I'm not sure Fox News got that right, because another source says it was the Navy who paid the $3M.

“Under the contract, the company will be paid $3 million for the dismantling and recycling of the decommissioned aircraft carrier Constellation (CV 64),” according to the official U.S. Navy website.

I think all the rest were scrapped for 1 cent though (Ranger, Forrestal, Kennedy). Why that difference is probably more a question for economics SE, than here, I think.

Similarly, the French Clemenceau had a hard time finding a scrapper; India, despite its generally lower environmental standards, blocked the contract; ultimately that ship was dismantled in the UK. Again asbestos is mentioned as part of the problematic materials; approximately 900 tons on that ship, according to one estimate. There are some similar US Navy documents but they lack quantitative data, only saying stuff like "The engine rooms usually contain the most asbestos and, therefore, take the longest for asbestos removal to be complete."

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