USS Forrestal: Ship Sold For A Penny

By: Val Powell - October 23, 2013

NPR reported today that the USS Forrestal was sold to a ship breaker for just one penny. When the ship was built in 1954, it took over 16, 000 engineers and builders to see it come to fruition. The cost of the ship back then was about $217 million — $2 billion today.

The gigantic, 1067 foot vessel was sold to a Texas company named All Star Metals to be scrapped and recycled. The Forrestal was the U.S. Navy’s first supercarrier. All Star Metals will now have the job of relocating the ship by the end of the year from the Navy facility in Philadelphia to its own facility in Brownsville, Texas.

In December of 1954, the Navy launched the USS Forrestal and later retired it in 1993.  The ship will probably be best known for catching fire in the Tonkin Gulf, just off the coast of Vietnam back in 1967. Stray voltage on the carrier set off a chain reaction of explosions that caused the accident. The fire was devastating, killing 134 sailors and wounding 161 others.

67-year-old USS Forrestal historian, Ken  Killmeyer, survived the accident. He recalls the “total devastation” and the loss of a sense of security both he and his fellow crew members felt prior to the fire. The crew had believed up until that point that they were safer aboard the carrier in comparison to their counterparts on land.

“As crewmembers, we relive July 29, 1967, every time we hear a loud, unexplained noise, whether you’re at the beach or you’re in your office,” said Killmeyer. “Or, some people are affected by certain odors. When you smell flesh burnt from jet fuel, it kind of stays with you forever. You can’t get away from it.”


(photo via Wikipedia)

source: NPR


Val Powell

About the Author

Val PowellI'm a content writer, blogger, SEO enthusiast, visual artist, world traveler and lover of spicy foods. I also live and work in Queens, New York. FOLLOW ME on Twitter! @webnewsreporter or LIKE ME on Facebook! webnewsreporter

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  • Ta_dreamer

    First, the ships name is the Forrestal…not the Forrester, as the 3rd paragraph states.
    Second,this is another example of an ineffective government in action.
    I’m sure that they could have held out for a dollar.

    • michael

      Another name was the USS Forest Fire…

  • ken theobald

    My stepson John Michael Adams was a photographer on the Forrestal. He and 2 others were killed in a helicopter accident (-13 81 on the return from the Med Cruise. My wife and I are sad to see her go to such a ignomanious end.

    • Jeff Conway

      The nation is indebted to your step-son for giving his life for his country. I was in the Marines from 79-82, so we served in the military around the same time. My condolences to you and John’s mom as well.

      Former Lance Corporal Jeff Conway, USMC


    It is sad to see the old warriors go the way of the razor blade factory.
    I was aboard the Forrestal for a few days in the mid 60s when my
    Heavy Attack Squadron was aboard for carrier qualifications. That was
    after the tragic fire swept through the Mighty Carrier. Sad to see
    it go!

  • michael

    Another name was the USS Forest Fire

  • Steve Cole

    I spent 3 years on Forrestal, 76 thru 79. S-5 division. I was hoping for a miracle over the years, that she may become a memorial someday. So long FID.

  • jimmy moon

    I ran lcm-8s for carriers in the med from 73-75 running liberty was not just a job its a adventure sorry to see them go

  • chris

    The USS Forrestal should be made into a museum. My father served on it during the Vietnam as an air traffic controller. US Senator John McCain served about the carrier himself as well. The history of the carrier should be preserved and not scrapped.

  • p j kinng

    The story of the tragic fire and the brave sailors who saved the ship is recounted in the book “Sailors to the End” by Gregory Freeman. John McCain was in a plane in the inferno.

  • http://yahoo iggy

    A penny???? And Jacksonville Florida raised over 4 million to buy the Saratoga and were told no by the Navy……something just isn’t right with these decisions…..

  • Frank Gedeon

    I served aboard Forrestal from 1972 to 1974 before being transferred to the USS John F. Kennedy. At the time I don’t think I appreciated what a great ship the “old FID” was but I appreciated her more after serving aboard Kennedy. Some great times and great friends made which are priceless to me now. I am saddened to see such anoble ship designated for scrap. She will not be forgotten (at least by this old sailor).

  • Frank

    Wow! I knew this day was coming for the once mighty ship. I saw USS Forrestal a year ago this past August at Philly naval yard parked next to my old ship USS John F. Kennedy. (1980-82) At the time it was looking pretty rough as far as rust etc. and I could almost hear her crying out. Hate to see any of these great carriers sunk or cut up. Hopefully plans go thru for USS JFK to become a museum in Rhode Island. Thanks to all US veteran posters for your service and all vets out there!!

  • Keith Ramey

    “Better to give her to the god of the seas than see her broke up for shot and shell in the next war.” ~ FDR on the scrapping of the RMS Mauritania. Good bye old girl, thank you for your service.

  • william shaeffer

    It is a sad day to know that CVA59 is sold for 1 cent. I was there on July 29, 1967 and we did our best not to die. It was not easy. Some of us died but we kept her afloat and back to Norfolk for repair with some quick repair at Subic Bay. Some people make fun of our experience by words like USS Forest Fire. Please stop and give us respect that we earned. To us who served this great ship, thank you for saving our lives and you will always be in my memories. God bless our veterans and our country. It was my great honor to serve.