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Midway Ship Museum San Diego

The Uss Midway: An Iconic Maritime Museum

Expert Tips on Visiting the USS Midway Museum in San Diego, CA

Downtown San Diego offers a plethora of cultural attractions that are world-renowned. From the historic Balboa Park to the San Diego Zoo and the Padres Petco Park there are often so many choices that everything simply cant be enjoyed in one trip.

The USS Midway Museum was one such choice that was overlooked until recently. Located alongside the Navy Pier in downtown, this real aircraft carrier floats near cruise ships and harbor tours to the extent that I had no idea what I was missing out on until I finally decided to visit.

Described as a floating city at sea, the USS Midway Museum is just that. Commissioned a week after the end of World War II, the Midway was the largest ship in the world until 1955 and so large that it was the first U.S. warship to big to transit the Panama Canal. Serving for an unprecedented 47 years, the USS Midway served in the Vietnam War, 1991s Operation Desert Storm and gained notoriety for operating several naval aviation breakthroughs as well as several humanitarian missions. After being decommissioned in 1992, the USS Midway is the only remaining U.S. aircraft carrier of the World War II era that is not an Essex-class aircraft carrier and the only carrier to serve the entire length of the Cold War and beyond.

The USS Midway is an iconic part of American history and was honored by being opened as a museum on June 7, 2004. Its currently the highest visited naval aviation museum in the nation, exceeding 1 million visitors in 2012.

Visiting San Diego Harbor

A visit to San Diego harbor offers a number of interesting sites for the individual military historian or family looking for entertainment. It can easily fill a day, and visitors can take their time and still see everything with time set aside for lunch aboard Midway or at a local seafood restaurant. There is adequate parking on Midways pier, with all the other sites within easy walking distance. Numerous bicycle taxis move up and down the waterfront if walking is a problem. Midway forms a fitting centerpiece to the San Diego experience. For more information, visit

Miscellaneous Sights On The Uss Midway Museum

Two models show the differences of the first and current aircraft carriers. | Photo by FamilyVacationHub

A plaque commemorating 40 of the commanding officers of the USS Midway Aircraft Carrier. | Photo by FamilyVacationHub

This is the presentation silver of the USS Toledo. | Photo by FamilyVacationHub

A 1st Class Pharmacist Dress White Jumper. | Photo by FamilyVacationHub

USS Midway life raft pod that contains a life raft, food, water and a first aid kit. | Photo by FamilyVacationHub

Madi in the cockpit of a T-2 Buckeye on the flight deck of the USS Midway Museum. | Photo by FamilyVacationHub

Laura and Madi were brave enough to stand on the Flight Deck Horns which hang over the bow of the USS Midway. I was not so brave and volunteered to take the photo. | Photo by FamilyVacationHub

Across the bay you could see the USS Carl Vinson and USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carriers docked in the San Diego Bay. | Photo by FamilyVacationHub

Read the details, get our tips and see more photos of our family day aboard the USS Midway Museum. See our San Diego Tourist Map with Points of Interest for directions to the USS Midway Aircraft Carrier and more family attractions around the city. For more information on the USS Midway and to buy tickets, visit the USS Midway website.

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Missions In The 1980s

Following a period in Yokosuka, Midway relieved Coral Sea 30 May 1980 on standby south of Jeju-Do Island in the Sea of Japan following the potential of civil unrest in the Republic of Korea.

While transiting the passage between Palawan Island of the Philippines and the coast of Northern Borneo on 29 July, the Panamanian merchant ship Cactus collided with Midway. Cactus was 450 nautical miles southwest of Subic Bay and heading to Singapore when she struck near the carrier’s liquid oxygen plant two sailors working in the plant were killed and three were injured. Midway sustained light damage and three F-4 Phantom aircraft parked on the flight deck also were damaged.

On 17 August, Midway relieved Constellation to begin another Indian Ocean deployment and to complement the Dwight D. Eisenhower task group still on contingency duty in the Arabian Sea. Midway spent a total of 118 consecutive days in the Indian Ocean during 1980.

On 16 March 1981, an A-6 Intruder from VA-115 aboard Midway sighted a downed civilian helicopter in the South China Sea. Midway immediately dispatched HC-1 Det 2 helicopters to the scene. All 17 people aboard the downed helicopter were rescued and brought aboard the carrier. The chartered civilian helicopter was also retrieved from the water and lifted to Midway‘s flight deck.


A Tour Through The Uss Midway

USS Midway Museum in San Diego

The first thing that strikes a visitor to Midway is her size. This ship is enormous, towering over the pier and adjacent parking lot. A sturdy gantry leads up to the main entrance on the ships hangar deck, where visitors can pick up an electronic tour guide with a set of earphones. Midways audio guides are easy to use. As you walk through the ship, you will see numbers posted next to the various exhibits. Simply punch in the number on the guides keypad and press the play button. A description of the exhibit will play, explaining what you are looking at and how it worked in relation to the rest of the ship. Many include audio recordings of former Midway sailors describing their personal experiences. The museum has gone to great lengths to portray the everyday lives of sailors aboard ship. Midways crew numbered 4,500 in all, with each man having to perform his particular job to keep the carrier operating. Walking through the ship and listening to the crews testimonials gives visitors some idea of the thousands of individual tasks involved with running a giant aircraft carrier.

The tour is self-paced, and visitors are free to wander at their own speed. Along with the audio guides, museum docents are posted throughout the ship, ready to answer specific questions. Most of them are former sailors who served aboard aircraft carriers, although not all on Midway. They add a rich level of detail to the experience.

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Early Operations And Deployment With The 6th Fleet


Midway was laid down 27 October 1943 in Shipway 11 at Newport News Shipbuilding Co., Newport News, Virginia launched 20 March 1945, sponsored by Mrs. Bradford William Ripley, Jr. and commissioned on 10 September 1945 with Captain Joseph F. Bolger in command.

After shakedown in the Caribbean, Midway joined the U.S. Atlantic Fleet training schedule, with Norfolk as her homeport. From 20 February 1946, she was the flagship for Carrier Division 1. In March, she participated in Operation Frostbite testing the Ryan FR Fireball and helicopter rescue techniques for cold-weather operations in the Labrador Sea. In September 1947, a captured German V-2 rocket was test-fired from the flight deck in Operation Sandy, the first large-rocket launch from a moving platform, and the only moving-platform launch for a V-2. While the rocket lifted off, it then tilted and broke up at 15,000 feet .

On 29 October 1947, Midway sailed for the first of her annual deployments with the 6th Fleet in the Mediterranean. Between deployments, Midway trained and received alterations to accommodate heavier aircraft as they were developed.


Exhibits On The Hangar Deck

The exhibits run the gamut of the ships service, from the post-World War II period through Desert Storm and the early 1990s. Immediately to the right of the hangar deck entrance sits a restored Vought F4U Corsair fighter, perhaps the most recognizable carrier aircraft of World War II due to its distinctive gull wing design. Beyond is a display dedicated to American carrier aviation. Paintings of various carriers and plaques listing the classes and names of all of Americas flattops surround a large-scale model of the USS Gambier Bay , an escort carrier sunk during the battle off Samar by a Japanese task force led by the battleship Yamato on October 25, 1944.

The rest of the hangar deck contains not only historic military aircraft but a number of attractions designed for tourists of all ages. Two more of World War IIs famous naval aircraft are on display, a Douglas SBD Dauntless and Grumman TBM Avenger. The Dauntless was Americas prime dive-bomber during the first half of the war, destroying the Japanese carrier fleet at Midway and turning the tide in the Pacific War. The Avenger torpedo bomber made its first appearance at the Battle of Midway, when six of them took part in the attack on the Japanese Navy. Although five were lost in their first engagement, the aircraft went on to do good service throughout the war.

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Uss Midways City At Sea

This is one of the chow lines on the USS Midway Museum that sailors went through to get their meals. | Photo by FamilyVacationHub

This is one of the galleys that prepared the 13,500 daily meals aboard the USS Midway. | Photo by FamilyVacationHub

The barber shop of the USS Midway Aircraft Carrier. | Photo by FamilyVacationHub

This room is the machine and metal workshop. | Photo by FamilyVacationHub

The USS Midway Chapel was used to hold multi-denominational religious services. | Photo by FamilyVacationHub

This is the USS Midways Radio Messaging Processing Center room. | photo by FamilyVacationHub

Here are the swanky living quarters for executive officers. | Photo by FamilyVacationHub

This smaller kitchen is used to prepare meals for the ship captains. | Photo by FamilyVacationHub

What Is There To Do

USS Midway, the most visited naval ship museum

Prepare yourself for a lifetime memory aboard the USS Midway Museum! You’ll explore a floating city at sea and relive nearly 50 years of world history aboard the longest-serving Navy aircraft carrier of the 20th century.

Admission includes a self-guided audio tour to 60 exhibits throughout the historic aircraft carrier and 25 restored aircraft. Now THAT is pretty cool!

Exhibits range from the crew’s sleeping quarters to a massive galley, engine room, the ship’s jail, officer’s country, post office, machine shops, and pilots’ ready rooms, as well as primary flight control and the bridge high in the island over the flight deck.

Kids can really use those imaginations as they walk around the various galleries decks, imagining what life would have really been like on the USS Midway.

Especially popular are the museum docents you’ll meet throughout the ship. Each is eager to share a personal story, an anecdote, or amazing statistic, adding to your amazement throughout your adventure.

Family oriented activities for all ages are also at the USS Midway Museum, including the very cool flight simulators!

So why not step back in time through the pages of history for your next family day out in San Diego? The adventure awaits!

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Veterans Column: Midway Museum In San Diego A Floating Ship Museum With A Storied History

USS Midway Museum, berthed in San Diego Bay, is an aircraft carrier museum. Midway was named for the Battle of Midway June 1942 of World War II that turned the tide of war between the United States and the Empire of Japan.

I prepared this Midway column as a volunteer on behalf of Gold Coast Veterans Foundation, although my effort was facilitated with great interest and substantial help by my brother, retired Navy Capt. Dennis W. Irelan, whose career spanned 29 years in the U.S. Navy.

Denny was deployed as a Navy pilot on board Midway from 1981 to 1984, during which he logged 360 catapult launches or takeoffs and return carrier-arrested landings. He presently volunteers to share information with visitors as a docent aboard Midway.

Commissioned in September 1945, just days after WWII, Midway was the largest ship in the world for 10 years. She served the U.S. Navy in the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea until its transfer to the Pacific Ocean in the early 1950s.

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In 1973, after duty during the Vietnam War, she was assigned a new homeport at Yokosuka, Japan, to become the forward deployed naval force aircraft carrier for the United States.

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For information about Midway Museum, visit

San Diego Ups Its Meetings And Events Profile With Major Developmentsyour Browser Indicates If You’ve Visited This Link

While SanDiego is typically lauded for boasting perhaps the most agreeable weather in the worldsort of a “Goldilocks” climate where sunny days are tempered by free AC provided by the Pacific Oceanmajor change is also in the air due to a variety of exciting new developments that will increase the city’s desirability as a meetings destination.

Meetings Today

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Uss Midway & The Waterfront

Most kids love boats, so you can imagine how excited they get about a really, really big boat. Downtown San Diegoâs USS Midway Museum is just that: a retired aircraft carrier that is now permanently docked and open to visitors along the cityâs Embarcadero. The deck of the enormous ship is covered with naval aircraft from World War II through Operation Desert Stormânot just for looking at but for climbing inside and exploring, too. Other interactive exhibits include you-are-there-style recordings of real conversations between military pilots and a chance to ride in a flight simulator.

Also on the downtown waterfront, the is fittingly housed within one of the finest collections of historic ships in the world, including the awe-inspiring sailing ships Star of India, HMS Surprise , and the Californian, a replica of a Gold Rush-era revenue cutter and the Official Tall Ship of the State of California. Coolest of all, some of the ships go sailing and whale watching, with you aboard including a 75-minute tour of San Diego Bay aboard an aptly named, Vietnam War-era Swift Boat.

Uss Midway And Maritime Museum San Diego Overview

From mothballs to museum: Midway turns 10

The USS Midway and Maritime Museum San Diego are two of the citys most fantastic attractions! Visit both museums for one low price! Redeem your Smartsave coupon at The Maritime Museum of San Diego. There you can visit the worlds finest collections of historic ships before experiencing life on board the longest-serving American aircraft carrier of the 20th century, The USS Midway!

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*san Diegos Most Popular Family Attraction

A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to explore a historic aircraft carrier. Activities for all ages including self-guided audio tours, theater, flight simulators, climb-in aircraft, ejection seats and cockpits, guided tours of the bridge and more. Audio tours are available in English, Spanish, Mandarin, Japanese, French and German.

Spectacular flight deck views of the downtown skyline, San Diego Bay Bridge, and active U.S. Navy ships! Midway is an opportunity to experience the uniqueness of San Diego, original home of TOP GUN.

Conveniently located in downtown San Diego along the Embarcadero. Parking available alongside on Navy Pier. Closed only on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.

*Cited by TripAdvistor

USS Midway Museum – a real aircraft carrier…fun for the family, once in a lifetime memory for everyone! Create a once in a lifetime memory exploring the USS Midway, the longest-serving U.S. Navy aircraft carrier of the 20th century! Imagine living aboard a floating city at sea with 4,500 shipmates, by exploring galleys, officer’s country, sleeping quarters and the 4 acre flight deck. Admission includes a self-guided audio tour to over 60 locations from the engine room to control tower, narrated by Midway sailors who lived or worked in each.


Need A Little Extra Help

The Midway is a retired aircraft carrier commissioned in 1945. Since their start as a museum, they have made many modifications to improve accessibility for guests with mobility difficulties or other challenges. With the addition of several elevators and access routes, approximately 60 percent of the Museums exhibits are wheelchair accessible.

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Uss Midway Museum In San Diego

  • Cost: $40 per person . Credit card is required to guarantee reservation. Cancellation policy is passengers must cancel 10 days prior to tour date.

Admission Fees: $13 for Adults, $10 for Senior / Retired Military with I.D., $7 for children and FREE for Active Military with I.D.

  • Pickup Location & Time: Bus departs from Palm Desert at 8:00am from the T-Mobile cell phone store parking lot . Physical Address is 34260 Monterey Ave, Palm Desert 92260. Need to arrive 15 minute prior to departure.
  • Tour Information:

Bus will arrive at 10:30am at the USS Midway Museum in San Diego. You will spend approximately 4 hours at the Museum. The bus will depart the museum at 3:00pm.

On board the USS Midway, enjoy your self-guided tour of 60 exhibits throughout the historical aircraft carrier and 25 restored aircrafts. Visitors to the USS Midway Museum enter a floating city at sea and walk in the footsteps of 225,000 Midway sailors who served our country and upheld the American ideals of strength, freedom and peace.

For more information on the USS Midway museum

San Diegos Proud Naval Tradition On Display

San Diego – USS Midway Museum

While Midway is by far the largest thing to see in San Diego harbor, a number of other museums and monuments are well within walking distance and worth spending the effort to visit. Immediately south of Midways dock is a row of veterans memorials dedicated to San Diegos proud naval tradition. There are sculptures dedicated to sailors homecomings and the USS San Diego, a World War II antiaircraft cruiser that earned 18 battle stars during the war. A nine-foot-tall black obelisk commemorates all of Americas aircraft carriers by name.

Perhaps the most moving tribute is dedicated to Taffy 3, the task force of U.S. Navy vessels that fought in the battle off Samar, part of the larger and better-known Battle of Leyte Gulf. When a large Japanese force attacked the American invasion fleet, all that stood in its way were the destroyers and destroyer escorts of Task Force 77.4.3, known as Taffy 3. Joined by planes from some nearby escort carriers , the tiny, outmatched force attacked the Japanese, putting up stiff resistance and causing so much damage and confusion to the Japanese that they retired without achieving their goal of attacking the vulnerable transports of the American invasion force.

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