New York ship museum to become post-attack command center¤

A legendary World War II ship will become not only a museum but also an emergency operations center in the event of another terrorist attack.

The aircraft carrier, now in the middle of an 18-month makeover, was used by the FBI and other law enforcement agencies for more than a month immediately after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack.

"Within 20 minutes of the second plane hitting the World Trade Center towers, officials requested that Intrepid be used," Bill White, president of the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, said Thursday.

Many of the hundreds of federal agents and members of the FBI-NYPD Joint Terrorism Task Force even slept in sleeping bags in the ship's hangar bay.

The ship had been retrofitted with an onboard facility that could double as an emergency operations center if needed, said Mark Mershon, head of the FBI's New York office.

The 2001 attacks marked the first time the Intrepid was called to serve since it was taken out of service by the U.S. Navy in 1976.

The Intrepid had been moored on the Hudson River along Manhattan's west side since it opened as a museum 25 years ago. After renovations, it will return home on Sept. 26, 2008, and reopen to the public on Veterans Day, Nov. 11, 2008.

The Intrepid took part in every major battle in the last two years of the Pacific War, helping to destroy Japan's powerful Imperial Navy while surviving five kamikaze suicide attacks. It lost 27 crew members. It later served in Korea and Vietnam and as a recovery ship for astronauts.