In May of 2006, Resolve Marine in conjunction with the U.S. Navy sank the ex-USS ORISKANY aircraft carrier, creating the world’s largest artificial reef. The process to prepare and sink this vessel was a challenging undertaking which took two years and 150 full-time personnel. The vessel was sunk off the coast of Pensacola, Florida, which is the birthplace of U.S. Naval Aviation.
When Joe Farrell, the founder and CEO of Resolve Marine Group, took custody of the ex-USS ORISKANY, out of respect he researched the history surrounding this naval vessel. Much to his surprise, Joe found an intriguing event in the vessel’s past. A young Lt. Commander named John McCain flew off her deck on October 26, 1967.
This would be LCDR McCain’s last bombing mission in Vietnam as during the mission, his A-4E Skyhawk was shot down with a surface to air missile over Hanoi. Due to the ejection, LCDR McCain sustained both a broken leg and arm. The fact that he survived, parachuting into a lake with these injuries, was a miracle itself. LCDR McCain was captured and suffered greatly at the hands of the North Vietnamese. While incarcerated, unbeknown to LCDR McCain, his father, Admiral McCain would assume command of the Navy’s Pacific Fleet and the Vietnam Theater. The Change of command ceremony took place on the USS ORISKANY offshore from where his son, LCDR McCain was held.
As Joe had spent time in Vietnam as a US Coast Guard Explosives Advisor offloading ammunition ships in Saigon and Qui Nhon, Vietnam, this story struck a note. Because he was an advisor, Joe attended Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape (SERE) training which included various techniques including water boarding of fellow service men to prepare them in the event of capture. Joe attained an appreciation and respect for what the LCDR had experienced for the sake of our country. Twelve years ago, he decided he would take a porthole from the ex-USS ORISKANY before his company sank her and present it to this LCDR who not only survived the ordeal, but became one of the most respected Senators of our Great Country.
The attached photos were taken Tuesday May 16, 2017, when Joe joined by his son Joe III and daughter Lana presented this tribute to Senator McCain in appreciation for his service to our country. Joe said:” I am presenting this to you as a gift from the millions of Americans who love you for your service, dedication and what you do for our country.”
Joseph E. Farrell Jr. and Senator John McCain
May 17, 2006 (PENSACOLA, FLA.) – The ex-Oriskany, a decommissioned aircraft carrier, was sunk 24 miles off the coast of Pensacola, Fla., on May 17 to form an artificial reef. The 911-foot ship took about 37 minutes to sink below the surface. After 25 years of service to the Navy in operations in Korea, Vietnam and the Mediterranean, ex-Oriskany will now benefit marine life, sport fishing and recreation diving off the coast of the Florida panhandle. U.S. Navy photo by PH2 (AW/NAC) Jeffrey P. Kraus.