PORTLAND – The Portland Regional Chamber is endorsing efforts to bring the aircraft carrier USS John F. Kennedy to Portland.

“That could be a grand slam home run for our city and region,” said Godfrey Wood, CEO of the business group. “The possibility that Portland, as one of two finalists, could be the permanent home of the world-known aircraft carrier USS John F. Kennedy is a tremendous opportunity we cannot waste.”

Portland is one of two finalists to become the final home for the ship, which was decommissioned in 2007. The name of the other finalist was not released.

A local nonprofit organization, JFK for ME, was formed to pursue the carrier. The group has until early next year to submit a proposal for the second phase of the selection process.

The proposal must include a plan for turning the carrier into a museum and a business plan for the museum. It also must address environmental considerations and the availability and suitability of waterfront facilities.

The third phase of the process calls for details on towing the ship from its berth in Philadelphia, mooring it and operating the museum.

The Navy is not obligated to turn the ship over to any group. It could send it to a scrapyard or reopen the process.

Wood noted that decommissioned carriers have been turned into museums in six cities and are profitable, helping to attract youth groups and conventions. The chamber also said the carrier could help the economy by generating new jobs.

Wood said the chamber would like to see the business plan and hear details about the location for the ship — it is more than 1,000 feet long and 252 feet wide — and its environmental impact.

He also said the chamber could work with JFK for ME to mitigate any issues that arise.

JFK for ME has estimated that the ship could provide more than 100 permanent jobs. Preliminary plans call for a convention center and a restaurant on board, plus an ice rink on the deck in the winter.

 

Staff Writer Edward D. Murphy can be contacted at 791-6465 or at: [email protected]