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For many, the USS Kennedy stood the tallest

By Scott S. Greenberger, Globe Staff, Globe Correspondent, 7/17/2000

sk Joanne Price about the USS John F. Kennedy and the tourist from Sarasota, Fla., ticks off statistics like a four-star admiral.

TALL SHIPS COVERAGE

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* Hostility left in Tall Ships' wake
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* Aboard USS John F. Kennedy


   

The aircraft carrier lodges 5,222 sailors, serves 15,000 meals a day and has a 280,000-horsepower engine, Price said.

The sheer size of the modern warship wowed many of the 7 million who have trekked to the waterfront since Tuesday to catch a glimpse of maritime history.

''It was phenomenal, huge,'' said the 35-year-old mother of three. ''You can't appreciate the magnitude of it until you get on board - it's a floating city.''

The traditional sailing ships that have lined the docks of Black Falcon Terminal and Charlestown Navy Yard have made memories for Bostonians and out-of-towners. But for Price, and some 50,000 who lined up to board the Kennedy, the most impressive part of this weekend's Tall Ships festival was the ship that wasn't really a ''Tall Ship'' at all.

Crew members were overwhelmed by the public's enthusiasm. ''They were so happy - not just impressed, but happy,'' JFK Airman Charles Perez of Bayonne, N.J., said. Perez was one of many JFK sailors strolling around Quincy Market last night. The ship departs today at noon.

Tourists at Quincy Market treated Perez and his shipmates like minor celebrities - although not all the tourists were interested in their ship. A gaggle of teenage girls from a summer camp in Maine, who posed for a photograph with two of the JFK's crew, said they hadn't seen the ship, but they sure liked the sailors.

Besides the USS Constitution, the Kennedy - named for the PT boat commander who was the last president from Massachusetts - is the vessel most closely identified with New England. That bit of history might have motivated many of the thousands who waited for up to five hours just for a peek at the flight deck.

The Kennedy, in fact, was christened by Caroline Kennedy at Newport News, Va., in 1967, and sports admiral's quarters designed in part by the late Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.

The ship, which has been deployed 16 times in the Mediterranean and the Middle East, boasts an impressive battle record. On Jan. 4, 1989, F-14 Tomcats from the JFK shot down two Libyan MIG-23s. During Operation Desert Storm, it launched 114 strikes and 2,895 sorties.

Price's statistics don't tell the full story of the ship's magnitude: It is 1,052 feet long, 252 feet wide, 23 stories high from keel to mast and is equipped with a flight deck that is 4.65 acres.

''It was pretty impressive,'' said Lori Dutcher of Gaithersburg, Md., whose father was a Navy man. ''I was on Navy ships as a child, but when I see them now they're still awesome.''

Sail Boston organizers advised anyone who wants to see the JFK depart to find a spot on Castle Island. Arriving today are four more Class A Tall Ships from Brazil, Colombia, Argentina, and Venezuela, which will be open for viewing through Thursday at the Black Falcon Pier.

Globe correspondent Thomas Grillo contributed to this report.

This story ran on page B04 of the Boston Globe on 7/17/2000.
© Copyright 2000 Globe Newspaper Company.

 


 


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