In an Aug. 3 e-mail to the Navy's Ship Donation Program office, Richard J. Fitzgerald announced that the Portland, Maine group that has been trying to get the retired aircraft carrier USS John F. Kennedy a permanent berth in their city, will withdraw their bid to get the ship and throw their support behind the Rhode Island group’s effort to bring it to Newport County.
“I came away from my conversations with the Navy convinced that the probability of getting the ship to New England would be greater if the two organizations worked together toward that common goal,” said Fitzgerald. “While we believe that Portland would still be a good location for the ship, Rhode Island was further down the road with their plans and fundraising, and it therefore makes sense to play that hand out first.”
Earlier this year, the Navy described Rhode Island Aviation Hall of Fame (RIAHOF) as “the sole viable candidate” but still gave the Maine group six months to catch up.
“That wasn’t great for either of us,” said Frank Lennon, who heads up the Rhode Island effort. “This project only succeeds if we raise enough money for it, and it is doubly difficult to raise money if both parties are trying to do so…at the same time for the same project.”
The USS John F. Kennedy Museum/Maine (USSJFKM) will now assist RIAHOF in its efforts to bring the ship to Narragansett Bay as a family attraction, education center and memorial.
“We look forward to the opportunity of saving the JFK…for the ship’s veterans and for all of New England,” wrote Fitzgerald.