Off the coast of San Diego, sits the USS Midway, a once active warship now turned museum.
The USS Midway is an iconic symbol of freedom and history in a city that is home to one of the largest concentrations of military forces in the world.
The USS Midway is the namesake for the Midway class of aircraft carriers and was commissioned in 1945, eight days after the end of World War II.
It was the first aircraft carrier too large to transit the Panama Canal.
The ship served in the Vietnam War and took part in many other pivotal operations during its 47 years of service in the United States Navy.
Decommissioned in 1992, it is still serving as the largest Naval Museum in San Diego, California.
Journey from Bremerton, Wash.
On Sept. 30, 2003, the Midway began her journey from the Navy Inactive Ship Maintenance Facility in Bremerton, Wash., to San Diego, in preparation for use as a museum.
The aircraft carrier was docked in early October at the Charles P. Howard Terminal in Oakland, while work proceeded on the Broadway Pier in downtown San Diego.
On Jan. 10, 2004, the ship was moored at her final location and opened to the public as a museum on June 7, 2004.
The museum had 879,281 visitors in its first year of operation, double the expected attendance. Today, the museum averages 1.5 million visitors per year, and it will host a Top Gun Maverick Party and Movie Night on May 26. Tickets – $30 for general admission and $40 for limited reserve seating – go on sale at 11 a.m. on April 27.
“Being on this ship now feels like home.”-Retired Navy Capt. Tom Finley, a 5000-hour volunteer docent at the USS Midway Museum.
“The process to turn this vessel into a museum was in motion even when it was in Bremerton,” said retired Navy Capt. Tom Finley, a 5000-hour volunteer docent at the USS Midway Museum.
“We’re entirely run by volunteers like myself. I had been on seven other aircraft carriers during my time in the Navy because I was a Navy pilot, so being on this ship now feels like home. Coming here was no different for me.”
Named after infamous battle
The ship was named after the infamous battle of Midway, a conflict that took place in June of 1942 during WWII.
The battle was a major conflict between the U.S. Navy and the Imperial Japanese navy that took place six months after the attack on Pearl Harbor.
The battle dramatically increased confidence and motivation amongst U.S. forces and drained Japanese morale, turning the tide of war in the Pacific strongly in favor of the allies.
Today, the only remaining Midway-class U.S. aircraft carrier, the USS Midway is a unique museum showcasing the history of the Navy.
The carrier is a popular location for reenlistments, retirements, and other important naval ceremonies.
“This ship is such an important symbol and place for people, whether you served or not.”-Retired Navy Lt. Cmdr. Ken Fisher, a docent at the museum
“We’ve already held three ceremonies just today… many choose to have their ceremonies here,” said retired Navy Lt. Cmdr. Ken Fisher, a docent at the museum. “This ship is such an important symbol and place for people, whether you served or not.”
Most volunteers are veterans
Most of the volunteers here are veterans or active duty military, looking to further serve their country through volunteering, officials said.
And the ship has become an outlet for military personnel looking to maintain their connection to the Navy, even after they leave the service.
“We volunteer here because we love to be here,” said Fisher. “Most of us here are retired and this is what we know and this is what we love. I love volunteering here. The people here are amazing and the staff here is outstanding. It’s just a great place to be.”
The USS Midway was active duty for nearly a half century, the longest serving aircraft carrier in the last century, and continues to serve to this day.
Story by Petty Officer 3rd Class Megan Alexander.