A tour of the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum (pictures)

New York's Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum has an eclectic mix of vehicles ranging from the Space Shuttle, the Concorde, a cruise missile submarine, myriad aircraft from different eras, and of course, the aircraft carrier Intrepid itself. Here's a full photo tour.

Geoffrey Morrison
Geoffrey Morrison is a writer/photographer about tech and travel for CNET, The New York Times, and other web and print publications. He's also the Editor-at-Large for The Wirecutter. He has written for Sound&Vision magazine, Home Theater magazine, and was the Editor-in-Chief of Home Entertainment magazine. He is NIST and ISF trained, and has a degree in Television/Radio from Ithaca College. His bestselling novel, Undersea, and its sequel, Undersea Atrophia, are available in paperback and digitally on Amazon. He spends most of the year as a digital nomad, living and working while traveling around the world. You can follow his travels at BaldNomad.com and on his YouTube channel.
Geoffrey Morrison
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The fighting I

Viewed from a sidewalk at the edge of Midtown Manhattan, here's USS Intrepid, and the Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum.

Iconic airplanes ranging from F-14 and F-16s, to the Concorde and the Space Shuttle, to the submarine USS Growler, are all on display.

Read on for a full photo tour of these epic vehicles and museum.

For the full story behind the tour, check out A tour of the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum.

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The Intrepid was commissioned in August 1943. After several decommissioning and recommissionings, it was finally decommissioned in 1974. She opened as a museum ship in 1982.

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Still better looking than any modern airliner.

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Relax in the shade

Tables and chairs let you relax under the Concorde for a bit. It's noticeable how small it is from down here.

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I wonder if Concorde pilots would have bets if not to hit this wheel.

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You can't walk through the Concorde anymore without a special tour (which I wasn't able to do). So this, and the following image, are from a walk-through I did a few years ago.

Notice how narrow the cabin and seats are.

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Rarely upgraded, the Concorde was one of the last commercial airliners with a Flight Engineer (the third seat).

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Going down?

The port aircraft elevator. You can ride this at specific times during the day.

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This F-16 flew in Desert Storm, and starred in Iron Eagle.

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Slightly smaller, and slightly faster, than the better known SR-71, the A-12 looks just like it at first glance.

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Swing wings

This was the seventh F-14 built by Grumman. The Navy retired all remaining F-14s in 2006.

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Flight of the...

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I didn't recognize this plane, and hadn't ever heard of the F-11F. Only 201 were made, and it was pulled from service after just a few years, but the Blue Angels flew them from 1957-1968.

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Another oddball, a F9F-8 Cougar, which is a swept-wing version of the F-9 Panther.

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I think these are pretty iconic too, with their big radome hat. This E-1B didn't fly off the Intrepid, but when restored was painted to look like those that did.

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During the summer, there's a line to get up into the Island (where the bridge is). Doesn't take too long, though.

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A lovely Sikorski HH-52.

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About 12,000 of these were built, including many, like this one, built under licence in Poland.

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Is that supposed to be a tiger?

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Ceramic glider

The Shuttle still looks cool, after all these years. This one, the Enterprise, was the first built, but never made it to space.

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Heat shield

It doesn't have the well-used look of the Endeavour(which is in LA).

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The tail cap makes the Shuttle a little more aerodynamic for transport.

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The interior of a Soyuz capsule. Not exactly roomy...

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Be careful.

Do you think this warning saved any lives?

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Backseat drivers

The guy who actually "drove" the ship was stationed behind where I'm standing, taking orders from the officers up here who could actually see where they were going.

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Of an era

Turns out, a lot of this equipment was taken from other ships of the era. So this wasn't necessarily what was installed on the Intrepid at the time of its decommission, but would have likely been found here at some point (like the radar display in the foreground).

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Quite a view

Here you can see a few more of the plane/helicopters I didn't have the room to have full images of, like the Harrier (which I featured in my RAF Museum Tour). Going left to right from there, a HueySea CobraChickasaw, Seaguard, Kfir, and the others I showed earlier.

On the right are a F3H Demon and T-34 Mentor.

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Captain's chair

My car is from the 70's and it doesn't have any cupholders. So clearly the Navy got their money's worth.

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Captain's sea cabin

Just off the Navigation Bridge is the Captain's Sea Cabin. Pretty short commute, that.

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Eyes on the road

Just below frame is the wheel used to steer the ship, using one of these redundant compasses. The tubes are backup for backups, but ensure communication to other important areas of the ship even if power is lost.

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Communications gear and a map table. The latter has New York harbor.

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Hanger deck

The main Hanger Deck has been converted to a museum space. It doesn't even feel like you're on a ship, actually. Too huge and wide open.

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Pretty flower

Prop anyone? The Intrepid had four of these.

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Original Avenger

A mint TBM-3E Avenger. This one was actually built by GM (hence the "M" designation).

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Ball turret

I've actually never seen one of these up close. This is off a different Avenger. Not sure I could even fit in there. There must have been some serious height and weight requirements.

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For "kids"

The Exploreum is an interactive area with a bit of history, science, and exhibits about life on navy ships and boats.

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One of the missions the Intrepid performed in its later life was as the recovery ship for Mercury and Gemini missions.

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Officers' stateroom

Not exactly lavish, but certainly a better living area than the enlisted men several decks below (which we'll see later).

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Anchor chain room

An entire room just for the chains for the anchors (basically). Foreword of this is the Hurricane Bow. It, like this room, was open to the elements originally, but later enclosed (as you see here).

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Marine berthing

The Intrepid's compliment of Marines had their berths up near the forecastle.

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Pilot's escalator

After moving the Pilot's Ready Room deeper into the ship for safety, they needed some way to get the pilots (wearing all their gear) up to the flight deck. So they put in this escalator.

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Off limits

While the lease on the Intrepid is only $1 a year, the museum still has to maintain it. Many off-limits areas are probably that way because of cost to make them publicly accessible/safe. That yellow warning sign, for instances, says "Asbestos."


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Here's how you prepare food for about 3,000 men...

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And here's how you do their dishes.

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A bit of decor

In 1969 the mess was improved to add some color and "unique decor" to give the sailors something to look at besides "endless steel walls."

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Cafe theme

In addition to the Western theme of the Second Class Mess, there was also the cafe theme seen here. All the materials were bought at yard sales.

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Crew berthing

While the officers got reasonable bunk beds, the enlisted crew got squeezed in like this. Not much for privacy.

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The Combat Information Center, the brains of the outfit.

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CIC reverse

This is the opposite angle from the last photo, showing more what the crew stationed here were looking at all shift long. Check out the big headphones.

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Buttons and knobs

Why do I feel like a smartphone and some antennas could do all of this?

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Ready room

After WWII the ready room was moved down here, around the corner from the CIC, (hence the need for the escalator shown earlier).

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Flight ops

Who's where, when, and where are they going?

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A whole room for...

This room was labeled, I'm not kidding, the Shoe Polishing Room. Yep, a whole room just to polish shoes.

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Each sub in the Grayback class carried four Regulus I or two Regulus II missiles.

This should not be confused with Regula I, a notable space station.

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The Growlerhas an odd shape to it, for a submarine. Not quite the sort-of-boat shapes of WWI and WWI subs, yet also not the bullet-shaped modern subs.

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Sideways silo

The wings of the Regulus would fold up. As a sign of how quickly things moved in during the Cold War, the Growler was only in service for 6 years. By 1964 she was already obsolete.

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Forward torpedo Bay

Space is at a premium on these boats, hence the bedding in the torpedo room.

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The box in the lower right is the inertial navigation system.

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Signs, signs, everywhere there's signs.

As you'll see in a few of these pictures, the signs describing each room prevent descent photos. Oh well.

This, as you can see, is the Missile Checkout and Guidance Center, where, presumably, you can check out a missile for day trips, and help it figure out what it should do for a career.

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Officer's mess

Compare this with the luxury of the larger Redoutable.

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The commanding officer's quarters.

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CPO quarters

Chief Petty Officer, the highest ranking enlisted man on the boat. He still has to share a room, but with a bit more space.

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Down periscope

The periscope is set up so you can see out it.

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Despite fictional portrayals, subs rarely use active sonar (i.e. "One ping only...), since it gives away their position.

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Crew mess

Checkers eh? Not even a TV?

Though, I guess in 1964 what would you watch? No Blu-ray, certainly. DVD I guess. Satellite? No, that's crazy. Where would they put the dish?

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Hope you like your neighbor.

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Most crew got to shower about once a month.

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Unlike nuclear subs (with their essentially unlimited electrical power), potable water was a limited resource on diesel-electric subs. This is one of the distillers.

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Engine room

The Growler has three soundproofed, 2-stroke diesel generators. These either recharge the batteries, or power the electric motors (which are attached to the prop shaft).

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Aren't you glad you use dial(s)?

Three engines, three sets of controls and readout dials.

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Aft torpedo room

The aft torpedo room. Two tubes, nine bunks. That's a Mark 37 torpedo.

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Back to shore

For the full story behind the tour, check out A tour of the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum.

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