August 2018 Project Update – Sad News…

Categories: Message from Frank Lennon,Project Updates,RI Aviation Hall of Fame,USS Saratoga

I am posting sad news.

Based on information we received in the past few days, we are suspending our full-time efforts in pursuit of the donation of the USS John F Kennedy. (See details below).

Instead, we will redouble our efforts to develop a land-based facility at the former Quonset Point Naval Air Station, which would incorporate museums and memorials for the USS John F Kennedy and USS Saratoga, as well as a permanent home for the RI Aviation Hall of Fame.

At the same time we will keep a pilot light lit in hopes that a permanent mooring solution may arise prior to the day that CV-67 is towed away to be scrapped. (From past experience, we believe that date is years in the future.)


Despite the Navy’s announcement earlier this year of their plans to dismantle JFK, we continued to work behind the scenes to develop an alternative berthing location and plan that would be solid enough to return CV-67 to donation status.

Last November, we were approached in confidence by representatives of a Fortune 500 company. We were told that this company had a potential mooring location available, along with enough acreage to support the parking and infrastructure we would need. Over the next three months, supported by donations to the Engineering Fund, we worked with their engineers to develop a conceptual proposal. We presented that proposal to this company at the end of February.

We were initially encouraged by the positive feedback we received at the regional level. However, communication dried up by early summer, and last week we received word that this company had shelved the JFK proposal while they evaluated other uses for their site.

There is still a chance that at some point down the road this company will reconsider the JFK option. However, we can no longer sustain full-time pursuit of the carrier with the chances of success being so slim.

While the fat lady has not yet sung, she is clearing her throat and we must accept that reality.

Rhode Island Aviation Hall of Fame, Inc. (RIAHOF) has fought for eight years to bring USS JFK to Narragansett Bay. Even if the Navy continues with its plans to dismantle CV-67, we do not plan to give up and walk away. To do so would be a slap in the face to the volunteers who have worked more than one hundred thousand hours in pursuit of this goal–to say nothing of the many contributors from all over the country and the world who have helped keep this dream alive with their donations.

If we are unable to save the ship named JFK, we must find another way to honor all the JFK sailors who served so honorably in her. It would be foolhardy for us to just give up and allow all those years of hard work and all the money spent so far to simply go down the drain with nothing to show for it. Rhode Island Aviation Hall of Fame, Inc. fully intends to accomplish its mission of preserving our naval and aviation history, and if one means of doing that is closed off to us, we must find another.

The Foundation’s non-profit mission was (and still is) to develop a world-class family attraction, education center, job training facility and memorial. Our fallback solution is to develop a land-based facility that will accomplish that mission.

In that facility we plan to allocate significant space for a USS John F Kennedy museum and memorial, as well as a permanent home for the RI Aviation Hall of Fame and a commemoration of all US Navy vessels bearing the name Saratoga.

We have collected a wealth of memorabilia and artifacts over the years, and we firmly believe that it would be criminal to allow that material to sit in a warehouse to deteriorate, away from the public eye.

While Rhode Island Aviation Hall of Fame works its way through this transition, the infrastructure we have built up over the years will continue to grow and serve our community. At the same time we will continue  to work with  the various organizations that have partnered with us over the years.

The bottom line is that our non-profit cause (and entity) will continue on for the foreseeable future. RIAHOF, in conjunction with our sister entity, the USS Saratoga Museum Foundation, will also continue to operate many of the other worthy projects launched over the past several years—to include a number of our educational initiatives.

— Frank Lennon

11 Responses to "August 2018 Project Update – Sad News…"

  1. jon C lyons Posted on December 13, 2018 at 8:26 AM

    Mr. Lennon,
    Looking for pictures of bow cat door on JFK. I sent an email on it and would appreciate pictures of it. A. Lion in a green sweat shirt with an A7 in Slingshot. A A7:on deck, F14 flying overhead with a helo flying SAR. I am the artist and would appreciate the pictures for my family.

    Jon Lyons(Rm2AW/Retired)

  2. MM2 Brian Warren Posted on December 2, 2018 at 12:59 PM

    I still wish you could find a way to save JFK. Galveston Island or Texas City Dyke would be ideal year round.
    Don’t let them melt down such a great unique vessel to make paper clips!

  3. LCDR Joseph L Nettles Posted on November 3, 2018 at 1:35 PM

    Please keep up the efforts to save the USS Kennedy.

  4. Robert L Vogel Posted on October 22, 2018 at 12:00 PM

    Why has the state of Massachusetts not found a home for the JFK to Honor the Kennedy Family ?

  5. Hans Gruber Posted on October 22, 2018 at 11:53 AM

    Wow, this is devastating not only for the volunteers, but for all who served on JFK. I can’t believe how little the Navy cares about its history and legacy. It’s also sad that the only carrier museums are WWII era. No Forrestals or Kitty Hawks. There will never be even a chance for a nuke carrier to be a museum. Look at the cost and complexity of disposing of the Enterprise. I’m guessing the Kennedy family support has been tacit since CVN-79 was announced to carry on the JFK name.

  6. Dani Cowart Posted on September 17, 2018 at 11:15 AM

    My husband was stationed on the USS JFK and I was really looking forward seeing the carrier that he served on and was planning a trip from Mississippi to see it. Is there any
    way that anyone is allowed to see the ship? I surely hope that the project is able to continue. Sincerely, Dani Cowart

    • dave weber Posted on December 31, 2018 at 4:06 PM

      doesn’t look good for our ship. If you want to see her, she is moored at the former Philadelphia Naval Yard, now owned by the city of Philadelphia. You can drive “on base” and drive right up to her and see her….very impressive! You can’t board her, but standing there looking up at her…….awesome! I spent a year on her (1972) attached to the air wing, in RVAH-14 as a plane captain. Hope this helps.

  7. Manny Rocha Jr Posted on September 15, 2018 at 6:59 AM

    I have a Shaft Ally Hatch Brass Hand Wheel from 1988 Repair off the Kennedy
    Put the new one on and took the old one home.
    The DCPO of the day for my Div said to throw it out after putting a New one on.

  8. Eddy Seely Posted on September 12, 2018 at 8:17 PM

    I’m hoping the fat lady does not sing on this project. My father served on the USS JFK, and it would be something in coming years to take him back and to see this ship with him and with my own eyes, The stories he tells me can only be told not see. Good luck and keep fighting.

  9. Steve Rogers Posted on September 11, 2018 at 9:59 AM

    Is it money? If the answer is yes then I have a plan that I can put in place to get funding. How much money is needed? While a museum is nice, it is no carrier named JFK.

    A very short answer to my questions is all I need.

    Thanks for your response in advance.

  10. Jo Ann Engelhardt Posted on August 23, 2018 at 7:38 PM

    I have no doubt that the hard work of Frank Lennon, his Board, and all the volunteers is not in vain. The Foundation has already contributed to the community and it will continue to do so together with solid partners who will help us reach the next step and bring us closer to showcasing RIAHOF’s amazing collection and honoring all the service men and women who made the Saratoga and the JFK memorable.

  11. Tom Tramantano Posted on August 22, 2018 at 2:17 PM

    Frank, I am sorry to hear the news. I do understand the stumbling blocks that are in the road to saving our beloved ships, having gone through the same system of disappointments trying to save the America. I wish you all the best with your mission.

    Tom Tramantano, Sr.
    USS America Carrier Veteran’s Assoc.

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