Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Last updated August 12, 2016

Of course, a project this big and exciting warrants a lot of questions. Always check our most recent announcements on our news page, but we hope to help by providing answers to some of the most common questions here:

I would like to visit Big John. Is it currently open to the public?

Unfortunately, no. The USS John F. Kennedy is still property of The Navy, and as such is not open for public tours.

When will the ship be open to the public?

While we are making significant progress toward our goal of opening USS JFK to the public, there are still many challenges to overcome. They include environmental and engineering studies for the Navy, negotiating a long term access agreement for the Navy Pier, and most of all raising enough money to demonstrate to the navy and the State that we can actually successfully execute the project if we are given the ship.

The earliest date that could possibly happen is two years away (2016). Three years is more realistic. The Navy has given us until September 30, 2017 to meet all their requirements and take possession of the ship.

The bottom line is that the sooner we can raise the money, the sooner the ship will open to the public. Please do your part my making a donation or a pledge today. You may also want to read our recent newsletters and the latest project updates for more information on our progress.

Where will the ship be located and why?

The ship will be berthed on the Newport (east) side of Narragansett Bay.  As of January 2014, we are pleased to report that we are several steps closer to meeting the conditions laid down by the Secretary of the Navy and his staff in order to berth the carrier at one of the Naval Station Newport piers in a public-private partnership. Not only is Newport a world-renowned tourist destination and sailing mecca, but it is only a few miles across the Bay from the “Birthplace of the American Navy”. Nearby Naval Station Newport houses the United States Naval War College, the Naval Undersea Warfare Center, and a major Navy training center.

Locating this namesake legacy in Newport County would be most appropriate given President Kennedy’s close association with this area, including his wartime PT Boat training at Melville, his marriage to Jacqueline Bouvier in Newport and the Summer White House years at Hammersmith Farm.

When you combine the naval history of the region with the close connections to President Kennedy and his family, you get a compelling package whose success will be enhanced by proximity to major metropolitan areas. The center of Newport County is 23 miles southeast of Providence, and 61 miles south of Boston. The project will be able to tap into the 3,000,000 visitor-strong annual Newport tourist market in addition to the large population base within 100 miles.

Is my donation tax-deductible?

Yes! The Rhode Island Aviation Hall of Fame is a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation as defined by the IRS. All donations are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law. Our EIN is 20-3466156.

What progress have you made with the Navy concerning access to Pier Two in Coddington Cove?

The Assistant Secretary of the Navy responsible for Navy facilities worldwide met with three of our board members and the CO of Naval Station Newport on this concept. We were gratified to receive official confirmation from the Navy that they would entertain a proposal for a public‑private partnership on Navy property, so long as the proposal did not have a negative effect on the Navy’s mission.

The base commander and his staff provided our engineers with a wealth of data to help us meet those requirements. We inspected the utilities available at the pier, and have concluded they are sufficient for our needs. The last major pieces of the puzzle are the interrelated concerns of security, traffic and access.

We submitted our formal proposal for the use of that pier to the office of the Assistant Secretary of the Navy, and on July 10, 2015 we received a Letter of Intent to proceed. The letter concludes, “…please accept this letter as an indication of the Navy’s intent to work with the Rhode Island Aviation Hall of Fame to…allow the ex-USS JOHN F. KENNEDY to be successfully berthed and operated at Pier 2 as a museum and memorial.”

The letter also required us to address other areas of potential concern. In September 2015, we met with RADM Williamson (CO, Mid-Atlantic Region), CAPT Rios of NAVFAC, NAVSTA NEWPORT CO CAPT Boyer and his PWO, CDR Butler. They told us we needed to address two major issues before the Navy would consider a more definitive commitment for a public-private partnership of some kind involving long term access to Pier 2 in Coddington Cove.

First, we had to provide some level of assurance that our plans to permanently moor the ship there would not run afoul of EPA requirements concerning the environmental remediation of Coddington Cove, resulting from the Derecktor Shipyard contamination.

Second, bringing JFK to Pier 2 would result in changing the Navy’s security perimeter, so that the carrier, most of the pier and the access from Burma Road (Defense Highway) would be “outside the wire”, so to speak. With that change, the Navy wanted to surrender law enforcement jurisdiction for that area to local authority. That meant we needed a some indication from the Town of Middletown that they were willing to take on that responsibility.

I am pleased to report that we made significant progress in addressing both issues.

  1. In January, we finally received the last of the technical and environmental information we needed from the Navy to proceed with our pier proposal.
  2. Based on that data, Dr. John King of the URI Graduate School of Oceanography confirmed that no dredging would be required to bring JFK to the pier and permanently berth her there.
  3. We presented our proposal to the Navy technical team (Newport and Norfolk) and they agreed that our plan created no real environmental obstacles.
  4. The Navy introduced our presentation of the same material to an environmental working group that included representatives of the EPA and RI Department of Environmental Management. That presentation did not raise any red flags with the state or federal environmental officials. The only request EPA made was to send them a copy of the final Environmental Plan we submit to NAVSEA in July.
  5. Subsequent to the environmental discussions, we met with Town of Middletown officials concerning potential changes to law enforcement jurisdiction once the Navy moves its security fence line to accommodate public access to Pier 2. We have since received an email from the President of the Town Council confirming that should not be an issue.

Bottom line: The Navy counsel for Mid-Atlantic Region recommended to our attorney that we draft the new, stronger letter we need from the Navy. We submitted that letter to CAPT Rios, NAVFAC, on Friday, March 4.

While awaiting a response to that request, we also completed our Environmental Plan and a partial Business/Financial Plan to Naval Sea Systems Command on July 12, 2016. We do not expect a response to that 500+ page submission before October.

What is the estimated timeline for the next steps (obtaining approval for use of the Coddington Cove Pier, and obtaining necessary financing to execute the project)?

We still don’t know how to answer this, because we have no idea how long it will take the Navy to respond to our proposals, and what additional information will be required. We don’t know how long it will take to gather and resubmit that information, or how many iterations of this process will be necessary.

I can say that once we receive a positive signal from the Navy that our use of the pier seems feasible, our capital fundraising will be able to commence in earnest.

May I have a flag flown on-board CV-67 for a retirement/honor ceremony?

Yes! Although the ship is not open to the public and is still property of The Navy, the Navy Inactive Ships Maintenance Facility in Philadelphia will accommodate those requests.

Simply send a flag, the name and rank of the honoree and a self-addressed/postage-paid return envelope or box to the address below, and they will return the flag to you with a certificate.

Send flags, along with above info, to:

Navy Inactive Ships Maintenance Office
Phila. Naval Business Center
4701 S 16th Street (Bldg 545)
Philadelphia, PA 19112-5095