‘Top Gun’ carrier makes final journey to the scrapyard

Posted at 10:47 AM, Mar 06, 2015
and last updated 2015-03-06 10:47:18-05

(CNN) — The aircraft carrier USS Ranger, which saw action in the Vietnam War and Operation Desert Storm and had appearances in the movies “Top Gun” and “Star Trek IV,” is on its final journey, a five-month cruise at the end of a tow cable from Bremerton, Washington, to a scrapyard Texas.

The 56,300-ton warship, which was launched in 1956, was decommissioned in 1993 but kept in storage for possible reactivation until March 2004 when it was stricken from the Naval Vessel Register and made available for donation to a group that could preserve it and turn it into a museum.

Previous: Group makes last-ditch effort to save ‘Top Gun’ aircraft carrier USS Ranger

But attempts by groups in Long Beach, California, and Fairview, Oregon, to do so came up short of meeting U.S. government requirements for donation.

The Long Beach group called itself Top Gun Super Carrier in reference to the Ranger’s role in the 1986 Tom Cruise movie. The carrier was used for interior shots in the film, which also featured appearances by the carriers USS Carl Vinson and USS Enterprise, according to Internet Movie Database.

In December, the Navy paid International Shipbreaking of Brownsville, Texas, a penny to take the carrier off its hands. The shipbreaker makes its profit by selling the parts of the ship for scrap.

The Ranger, which left Bremerton on Thursday, follows two of its predecessors in the Forrestal class of carriers — the Forrestal and the Saratoga — to scrapyards in Brownsville.

Another carrier, the USS Constellation, part of the Kitty Hawk class, was towed to Brownsville last year. Like the Ranger, the Constellation was stored in Washington and because of its size had to be towed all the way around the southern tip of South America, as it would not fit through the Panama Canal.

The Ranger’s final journey is expected to take four to five months, the Navy said.