About The USS Midway Museum

Midway is listed as the #1 “Thing to Do” in San Diego via TripAdvisor!

We are proud to have over 13,000 Midway Members dedicated to the success of Midway and her mission.

Home to more than 700 events per year, the Midway is one of San Diego’s top event spaces!

Over 750 volunteers proudly drive the Midway’s operational success daily, keeping the Midway Magic alive!

Midway History: Our Journey

The USS Midway was the longest-serving aircraft carrier in the 20th century. Named after the climactic Battle of Midway of June 1942, Midway was built in only 17 months but missed World War II by one week when commissioned on Sept. 10, 1945. Midway was the first in a three-ship class of large carriers that featured an armored flight deck and a powerful air group of 120 planes.

From the beginning of its service, the Midway played key roles in the Cold War. In 1946, it became the first American carrier to operate in the midwinter sub-Arctic, developing new flight deck procedures. The following year, Midway became the only ship to launch a captured German V-2 rocket. The trial’s success became the dawn of naval missile warfare. Just two years after that, Midway sent a large patrol plane aloft to demonstrate that a carrier could deliver atomic bombs.

Midway served with the Atlantic Fleet for ten years, making seven deployments to European waters, patrolling “the soft underbelly” of NATO. A round-the-world cruise took Midway to the West Coast in 1955, where it was rebuilt with an angled deck to improve jet operations.

Midway’s first combat deployment came in 1965 when it flew strikes against North Vietnam. Midway aircraft shot down three MiGs, including the first air kill of the war. However, 17 Midway aircraft were lost to enemy fire during this cruise. In 1966, Midway was decommissioned for a four-year overhaul.

Over a chaotic two-day period during the fall of Saigon in April 1975, Midway was a floating base for large Air Force helicopters that evacuated more than 3,000 desperate refugees during Operation Frequent Wind.

As potential threats to the Arabian oil supply grew, and to relieve strain on U.S.-based carriers, Midway transferred to Yokosuka, Japan, making it the first American carrier homeported in a foreign country.

In 1990, Midway deployed to the Persian Gulf in response to the Iraqi seizure of Kuwait. In the ensuing Operation Desert Storm, Midway served as the flagship for naval air forces in the Gulf and launched more than 3,000 combat missions with no losses. Its final mission was the evacuation of civilian personnel from Clark Air Force Base in the Philippines after the 20th century’s largest volcano eruption of nearby Mount Pinatubo.

On April 11, 1992, the Midway was decommissioned in San Diego and remained in the inactive ship fleet in Bremerton, Washington, until 2003, when it was donated to the 501(c)3 nonprofit San Diego Aircraft Carrier Museum organization. It opened as the USS Midway Museum in June 2004.

Key dates in USS Midway History


Operation Frostbite: First Carrier to operate extensively in the sub-Arctic


Operation Sandy: The only successful launch of a German V-2 rocket from a ship, the dawn of naval missile warfare


First successful landing using “Hands Off” auto-pilot technology


Midway pilots shoot down first MiG of the Vietnam War


Midway pilots aircraft shoot down last MiG of the Vietnam War

First aircraft carrier homeported in a foreign country: Yokosuka, Japan


Operation Frequent Wind: Lead the evacuation of Saigon; rescues 3,073 refugees in two days


Operation Desert Storm: Flagship of Persian Gulf air operations in Operation Desert Storm

Operation Fiery Vigil: Rescues 1,800 Americans fleeing the Mt. Pinatubo volcano eruption


Decommissioned in San Diego


The fight to bring Midway to San Diego – a huge community effort that set the tone for volunteer involvement


Opens as the USS Midway Museum in San Diego, CA


Surpasses 5 million visitors since opening


First Navy ship museum to host 1 million visitors annually

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