USS Forrestal Newport R.I. Nov. 2007
Photo by John Sees
Forrestal Ceremonies & Information Page
Updated: August 15, 2012
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USS Forrestal Assn. Reunion
Northern Virginia/Washington D.C.
Word Document: Banquet Speech"I was a Sailor Once" by Ken Jack, Guest Speaker
In front of the RF-8G at Udvar Hazy Space & Air Museum, Dulles
L-R: George Montgomery, Tom Pinkley, John Sees, Ken Jack
TO SEA--One Last Time
01:00 AM EDT on Wednesday, June 16, 2010
"REMEMBER THE SPIRIT"
"First In Defense"
"Forever in Dignity"
USS Forrestal CVA-59 moved from its pier at New Port R.I. on June 15
(FORRESTAL's final destination is Philadelphia Naval Shipyard).
By Richard Salit, Journal Staff Writer
The aircraft carrier Forrestal is towed out of its berth Tuesday and into Narragansett Bay, heading for Philadelphia.
The Providence Journal / Frieda Squires
MIDDLETOWN — Like a frail elder being helped out of bed, the rusty old aircraft carrier was carefully nudged away from the pier where it has sat idle for the past 16 years and slowly towed out to sea by doting tugboats on all sides.
Still, the 1,067-foot Forrestal managed to regain its massive majesty as it traveled beneath the Claiborne Pell Bridge under blue skies one last time.
“She’s tired,” said Steve Quadrilla, who watched from a nearby charter boat as the vessel that was his home from 1969 to 1972 passed. But, he said, “To see her moving along was a good feeling.”
Decommissioned and tied up at Naval Station Newport in 1993, the Forrestal remained an eye-catching fixture on the Aquidneck Island shoreline ever since. By itself, the ship was a sight to behold. But since the Forrestal was docked alongside the Saratoga, another mothballed aircraft carrier that arrived the same year, the pair grabbed even more attention.
Soon, however, the Navy base, once home to a bustling fleet of active warships, won’t even have any relics left. The Iowa, the retired World War II-era battleship, departed in 2001. And plans are under way for the Saratoga, the last remaining mothballed warship at the base, to also be towed away. It’s likely to depart in 2011, with the scrap yard its final destination.
The Forrestal’s fate is uncertain. But as with the Saratoga, any hope of turning it into a floating museum was scuttled after the Navy determined that no viable proposals had been offered. As a result, the Forrestal will be towed to a Navy storage site in Philadelphia, due to arrive on Thursday, and will either be dismantled or sunk to create an artificial reef.
So large it was classified as a supercarrier, the nearly 60,000-ton Forrestal was launched in 1954. Despite its size, it could still attain speeds of 33 knots. The Forrestal saw action in the Vietnam War — as well as tragedy.
On July 29, 1967, while operating in the Gulf of Tonkin and serving as a base for air strikes into North Vietnam, a rocket aboard the Forrestal misfired, igniting a massive fire that burned for hours, killing 134, and destroying 21 aircraft.
Quadrilla, 62, of Plainville, Mass., was a petty officer second class while serving aboard the Forrestal two years after the fire. After both he and the ship retired, he joined other members of the USS Forrestal Association for exclusive Veterans Day ceremonies alongside the ship, docked at Pier 1 in Middletown.
The association learned about the impending departure of the Forrestal, and Quadrilla, head of the New England chapter of the group, arranged to board the charter boat Amazing Grace with about a dozen others to watch the momentous event up close. It took a half-dozen smaller tugboats and the 226-foot, ocean-going Navy tug Apache to move the Forrestal from the dock and out into Narragansett Bay.
“I couldn’t even imagine what it was like for the people that were crossing over the Newport bridge and looking at this massive aircraft carrier and not knowing what was going on,” he said.
Navy spokesman Lisa Rama agreed, saying, “You would had to have been texting, reading a book or sleeping to not realize the vessel was going under that bridge.”
Rama said that the Forrestal’s departure attracted a great deal of attention on the base. Both the Officers Club and Enlisted Club opened earlier than usual for personnel to gather and take in the spectacle and people driving down roads on the base pulled over to watch.
“A lot of folks were lining the waterfront on the base,” said Rama. “A lot of folks are sentimental. The only vessel that’s left is the USS Saratoga. It looks a lot different at Pier 1.”
Internal Links to Pictures of the Forrestal's Move
Photos by Bob Sees
EXTERNAL LINK:-Another great article on Forrestal's move.
- John Sees Update: 6/16/10---"Returned from Newport and the Forrestal transfer today. Forrestal is on yet but another journey enroute to her final demise. Commercial Tugs started her out from the pier straight back into the bay where they turned her 90 degrees to starboard to line her up to be towed.
We departed the boat wharf at 0800 with 14 aboard. That is all that took the trip. When approached
from the south and came up to Forrestal where the Navy Tug Apache T(ATF) 172 was backing up to attach the towing cable. We circled the Forrestal around the stearn to the sunny side where we spent most of the morning. We followed Forrestal under the bridge and to the last buoys before the last light and open sea. The weather could not have been better; cool, sunny and clear skies.
Last Veteran's Day the Association made arrangements with the PAO office to take 5 Flags provided by the Forrestal Association and fly them from the stern flag post of Forrestal which they did. These Flags were presented to various members and Steve Squadrilli had one and brought it with him. We raised the Ensign on the Flag Pole of the charter boat and it stayed there the entire time we were out chasing Forrestal.
I expect half a dozen pictures for the web site will follow shortly. Overall a good day on a sad occasion.
6/17/2010:Ex-USS Forrestal Towed from Newport to Philadelphia
NEWPORT, R.I. - The decommissioned aircraft carrier ex-USS Forrestal
59) will be relocated from Naval Station Newport's Pier One tomorrow
morning, June 15, to the NAVSEA Inactive Ships On-site Maintenance
Philadelphia for continued safe stowage pending its final disposal.
The ex-USS Forrestal is expected to be moved away from Pier One at 8:30 a.m., and is expected to pass under the Newport Bridge at 10:30 a.m., pass Ft. Adams at approximately 10:45 a.m., and pass Beavertail State Park at approximately 11:30 a.m. THESE ARE ONLY ESTIMATES BASED ON OPTIMAL
The ex-Forrestal is expected to arrive in Philadelphia on June 18, 2010. The Navy has not yet made a final decision on how to dispose of ex-Forrestal.
The first of the "supercarriers," USS Forrestal was commissioned Sept. 29, 1955 and was in service for more than 38 years. The Navy made the ship available for donation to an eligible organization for use as a museum or memorial in 1999, but no viable applications were received and the ship
was removed from donation hold in 2004.
CDR Carla McCarthy
Naval War College Public Affairs Officer www.usnwc.edu
- EXTERNAL LINK: Forrestal Move Photos --Matt Gineo
- Forty-two years ago today the survivors of the FORRESTAL Fire gathered in hangar bay one to honor their shipmates. Another memorial ceremony begins across this country in the hearts of the survivors, and the families of our fallen shipmates.
Click for WORD document showing:_the Memorial Ceremony cover and text from the first ceremony
Ken Killmeyer, Historian
USS FORRESTAL Association, Inc
UPDATE (7-7-09): Navy: Forrestal to be Scrapped or Sunk
By Andrew Scutro
Posted: Thursday Jun 25, 2009 15:27:22 EDT
The famous aircraft carrier Forrestal will be cut up for scrap or sunk
as an artificial reef, the Navy has determined.
"Right now, the two disposal options being considered are partial
dismantling and recycling, or full dismantling and recycling," said
Katie Roberts a spokeswoman at Naval Sea System Command.
A partial dismantling would result in the hulk of the ship sunk as an
artificial reef, as the carrier Oriskany was in 2006.
Forrestal, named for former Navy Secretary James Forrestal, was the site
of a horrific fire on July 29, 1967, off the coast of Vietnam that
killed 134 men and destroyed 21 aircraft.
Oriskany was one of the ships to come to Forrestal's aid during the
blaze, which started on the flight deck, but spread below.
Forrestal, which was commissioned in 1955, soon returned to sea and
operated until being decommissioned in 1993.
Requests for cost estimates and shipyard capability for the dismantling
work are due at NavSea's program for inactive ships on July 10.
Forrestal will be towed from its current home in Newport, R.I. to the
inactive ship storage site in Philadelphia by next spring, pending
transfer to the dismantler.
The last Navy surface ship to be scrapped was the former destroyer
tender Puget Sound, Roberts said. That work was completed in March 2009
at Esco Marine, a ship recycler in Brownsville, Texas.
Both Forrestal and the carrier Saratoga are now tied up at an aging pier
on Naval Station Newport, R.I., but due to deterioration of the
facility, both ships need to be relocated by the end of September 2010.
Roberts said Saratoga is "in the process" of being donated to that
ship's foundation, which wants to preserve it as a museum, likely in
Contributed by J.J. McKenna
County approves Navy memorial at airport
By ANGELA WARD
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Gregg County commissioners gave tentative approval Monday for a memorial to the USS Forrestal at the East Texas Regional Airport.
Zack Methvin is heading up a drive to build the memorial to the ship on which his father, Lonnie, served. The ship was the scene of the worst naval disaster of the Vietnam era, when 134 sailors were killed during a chain of explosions in July 1967.
"It's important that we honor the men who served on this ship and educate future generations about the sacrifices they made," Methvin said.
The planned memorial would feature an A4 Skyhawk and an Navy F4 Phantom fighter jet, along with a plaque listing the men who died on the ship. Lonnie Methvin had served on the ship in the early 1960s. Although he had left the Navy by the time of the accident, it had a profound impact on him, his son said. Lonnie Methvin now lives in Houston, where he works for an engineering firm. He owns property in White Oak and plans to retire there. The family is descended from Longview founder O.H. Methvin.
Zack Methvin said he hopes to have the Skyhawk and plaque in place by the end of December and will add the Phantom later. The Navy has agreed to donate a Vietnam-era Skyhawk to the memorial.
Commissioners gave preliminary approval to the project, but will return later to give final approval of maintenance and insurance contracts, said Judge Bill Stoudt. The county is not being asked to contribute any money toward the project, only to allow a piece of land by the main entrance to the airport to be used for the memorial.
In other airport-related business, the court authorized a transfer of $231,847 from the Capital Improvement Fund to the Airport Improvement Fund for the South General Aviation Development project. The money will be used to build access roads, public parking and water and sewer lines near the new hangars at the airport.
While many projects at the airport are funded primarily through federal grants, this amount is county money. The money is part of the $11.5 million the court approved for infrastructure improvement when setting the budget, Stoudt said.
The court awarded a $36,233 contract to C.D. Thomas Utilities to install water and sewer lines to the project.
For information on the Forrestal Memorial, visit www.forrestalmemorial.com
2008 Veteran's Day Ceremony pierside of USS Forrestal - by John Sees
Click on picture to enlarge
The photo I chose for this year's card is not of the usual RF-8, but of the Forrestal (on the left) and the Saratoga (on the right) moored at Pier 2 Naval Station Newport, RI. It was taken on November 8th this year during the annual Veteran's Day gathering of the Forrestal Assn.
The pier is condemned and is scheduled for demolition sometime after October 1st 2009. The ships are essentially homeless and the Forrestal is slated for scuttling as early as April 2009. The Saratoga's fate is not known at this time but NavSea has no place to put it.
I thought the photo was appropriate as so many of us made cruises on either or both at some time while assigned to VFP-62. I am sure most of you have not seen either ship in many years so I chose this opportunity to feature them before they are gone.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all.
- Webmaster's Note: The Forrestal will be sunk in deep water in 2009. John's brother Bob took pictures and you can see them by clicking on the EXTERNAL LINK:
2008 Forrestal Veteran's Day Photos .
[Webmaster's Note: John told me that the Veteran's Day ceremony took place during very stark weather. You can see the islands of both ships covered with fog and look as if they are fading away, as they are in reality. Some members of the Forrestal Assn. are circulating petitions to present to congressmen in hopes of a last minute reprieve for the Forrestal. With millions spent on preparing her for sinking, it is a brave but possibily futile attempt. Nevertheless, kudos to them for trying. Click on the picture to enlarge and copy to your computer.]
Photo by Bob Sees
- It was a strange day up at Newport Pierside to Forrestal. Not a steady rain but a drizzle somewhat like a light mist. Clouds were low covering the Island structure and mast and obscuring the far shore most of the morning.
- We had a 9 member color guard of local Sea Cadets in addition to the Forrestal Vets color guard. They announced this was probably the last time [at Newport RI] as the Forrestal will not be there for Veterans Day 2009.
- Future Veterans Day commemorations will be at the monument in the National Veterans Cemetery in Massachusetts with the absence of Forrestal.
- Attendance was 144 members and guests (mostly guests) and ceremony was held similar to last year. This year it was dedicated to the former crew members who have participated in these gatherings over the 8 years they have been held. All of the wreaths that were placed at the gangway over the 8 years are onboard and will go down with the ship.
A Veteran's Day ceremony, organized by Steve Squadrilli and the Forrestal Association, was held on Nov. 10, 2007 at pierside of the USS Forrestal and USS Saratoga in Newport R.I.
Pictures shared by Forrestal Shipmates
Click on underlined text and then Back from the Browser window.
Pictures can be enlarged via browser
- Memorial wreath on Forrestal gangway -Forrestal in background.
- Old VFP sea dogs & photogs- (L-R)John Sees, Ken Jack -Forrestal in background.
- View of Forrestal stern
- Group photo - Forrestal Shipmates Ken Jack (far left) John Sees (right of white flag in green coat -
Photo by John Sees
- Group photo - VFP-62 John Sees- -(green coat) right of flag
- First Super Carrier - USS Forrestal CVA-59 -USS Saratoga CVA-60 in background
- First and second super carriers - (L-R) USS Forrestal CVA-59 -USS Saratoga CVA-60.
Photo by John Sees
Webmaster's Note: It took the threat of really never seeing her again that I chose to drive the 900 mile round trip to Newport R.I. to participate in the Veteran's Day Commemoration at pierside of the USS Forrestal & Saratoga. I wasn't alone; about 50-60 other shipmates, their wives, children, and grandchildren, came to the same realization.
It's hard for the mind to remember after 44 years how big she is. One can only stare in awe at her bulk; she still looks formidable, this the first of the super carriers...the Forrestal class. Since 1993 she has rested there waiting for her human creators to decide her fate. Despite the unsuccessful attempts of her shipmates, some plank holders, to save her, the Navy has decided to sink her as a man-made reef, unlike the Oriskany, in deep water, perhaps because her hull is still classified.
All-in-all, she doesn't look bad. Like those of us who sailed with her, she has the wrinkles of age; some paint hastily applied to prevent the elements from further degrading her; gangways we used to look at, with relief, from the returning liberty boats plying through choppy waves. Our home, away from home. The work place of our youth; the experiences of a lifetime that haven't diminished with fading memories.
What is it that makes us revere the ships that we sail? Why do we get pulled back time and again? They were part of our lives; the formative part; the part that made us into the men we have become. Unlike other life experiences, the Navy packed the excitement of flight deck operations, and seeing foreign places: belly dancers in Istanbul; the ruins of the Middle East; the ports of call that provided the opportunities for good and bad...much like the world we faced after the Navy. We were so young, then.....where has it gone?
Who could say it better than this: "Any man who may be asked in this century what he did to make his life worthwhile ... can respond with a good deal of pride and satisfaction, 'I served in the United States Navy.'" President John F. Kennedy, 1963, Annapolis MD
Some responses to the above tribute:
- Great job of putting it into words. That is exactly what all the rest of us were feeling otherwise we would not have been there.. As for me, I am glad I suggested you come and experience what I have felt many times before. You can't feel the feeling if you don't come and I am sure many do not come because they know the feeling will overwhelm them. Go anyway! John Sees
- So sad to see the Great ships,lying in state.Thanks Ken....Bill Faber
- I remember her well. I was a nugget in VF-14 and was aboard for her first Med cruise in 1957. In 1964, I was O-in-C of the VFP-62 Detachment for a very short cruise--the opening of the NY Worlds' Fair. Our son was aboard for her last Med cruise in about 1990. Great ship.
Forrestal Fire - 1967
[Webmaster's Note: The History Channel aired its new program "Shockwave" on Nov. 30 and included a segment of the Forrestal Fire. If you missed it, they often repeat programs. Check www.historychannel.com. This article was contributed by vfp62.com co-sponsor Pete Wallace. Check "Sea Stories" Page 6 where John Sees and Pete remember a less known fire aboard the USS Enterprise CVN-65.]
Jerseyan recalls living hell on ship
Sunday, July 29, 2007
BY GABRIEL H. GLUCK
It was 40 years ago today, in the waters off Vietnam, that the crew of the USS Forrestal saw the gates of hell.
A missile accidentally fired from a plane on the flight deck triggered a blazing inferno that would claim the lives of 134 men, two from New Jersey -- Francis Campeau of Bergenfield and Richard Vallone of Bridgewater.
Not since World War II had a ship's crew sustained so many casualties.
The Forrestal, the first of the Navy's newest class of super carriers left Norfolk, Va., in June 1967 for what was to be her first combat deployment.
Arriving off the coast of Vietnam on July 25, combat operations went into full swing, with the Forrestal's aircraft flying 150 sorties over the next four days.
The Tonkin Gulf was exceptionally hot and the morning of July 29 was no different. Walter Stinner woke at 4:30 a.m., along with the rest of his crew, to prepare the planes for the day's missions.
Stinner grew up in Elizabeth's port section. Five days after he graduated high school in June, 1967, he enlisted in the Navy. With the war in Vietnam escalating, he figured he'd rather choose the branch of service he would serve in, than have it chosen for him.
Crews were prepping planes for the second launch of the morning, when shortly before 11 a.m., a Zuni rocket accidentally fired from an F-4 Phantom. It flew across the deck, striking a 400-gallon fuel tank on a parked A-4D Skyhawk -- a plane that was to be flown by Sen. John McCain, then a young pilot.
The ruptured tank spewed jet fuel onto the deck, which ignited and spread flames under aircraft fully loaded with bombs and missiles ready for launch. The intense heat started to set them off, blowing holes through the titanium deck plate and then enabling the burning fuel to spread below decks. Night crews who were sleeping below were trapped.
"I was all the way aft, loading my last plane, when behind my back there's this large explosion," Stinner said. "For a few seconds we couldn't see what was happening. But when the smoke cleared, it became obvious we were in for a major fire. It was all hands, general quarters."
"It was frightening," Stinner said. "It was as close as you're going to come to a living hell. You're on an 1,100-foot flight deck with bombs, rockets, missiles, all exploding, ejection seats going off, thousand and thousands of gallons of jet fuel exploding, spreading the fire.
"We were very close to losing the ship. We were listing pretty good," he said. "I cannot stress enough the heroics of 18-, 19-year old kids."
While crews battled the fires, others, including Stinner's crew, had to push the remaining planes overboard before they also exploded.
"We did not have time to unload all this ordnance," he said. "You lined up guys on both sides of the wings and just pushed them over."
Ken Killmeyer can still see images of one of the crew members he helped carry from the flames. Killmeyer is the historian for the USS Forrestal Association.
"I couldn't tell you whether he was black, white or what. He was completely burnt," Killmeyer said, recalling the temporary morgue that was set up on one of the hanger decks.
It was a day that left searing memories for all of the crew who survived, some who still struggle with post traumatic stress, he said.
And then there was the toll on the families, who waited days, some for weeks, before they knew the fate of a loved one.
The Forrestal made her way to the Philippines, where crew members could finally call home and tell family members they were okay.
Mary Campeau, 81, still remembers waiting. "It's pretty awful when you don't know whether it's your son or not," she said. "It was terrible. . .you just sat there waiting and hoping."
Her son thought he would put in his four years and then go to college, she said. "He wanted to be a history teacher."
This weekend, nearly 500 people, former crew members, relatives and friends were expected to attend several memorials to the crew of the Forrestal. At Arlington National Cemetery, there is a grave in memory of the 18 crew members who were either lost at sea -- explosions blew some overboard -- or could not be identified. There also was to be a service at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
Because of the attention being paid to the 40th anniversary, Mrs. Campeau went to Washington, D.C., this weekend with her two daughters.
Most years, she has a Mass said in her son's memory and goes out to Pinelawn, the veterans cemetary on Long Island, where her son is buried.
"Whenever we can, we go out to the grave and put flowers on it," she said. "There's nothing much else you can do."
Gabriel H. Gluck may be reached at (908) 302-1506 or email@example.com.
Forrestal Ceremonial Stone with Plaque
A Dedication Ceremony took place at the Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Agawam, MA. Shipmate Chet Kuzontkoski has worked diligently over the past several months to have a Ceremonial Stone with Plaque produced and placed in the cemetery commemorating all who have served aboard FORRESTAL. The Veterans Memorial Cemetery is located at 1390 Main Street in Agawam, MA.
Home E-mail: SSquadrilli@aol.com
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Created on ... September 05, 2007