Which Aircraft Carrier Featured in Top Gun: Maverick?

The insider-level access granted to the “Top Gun: Maverick” production is hardly surprising, as the success of the original film reportedly provided a noticeable boost to US Navy enrollment. Given the sequel’s focus on technologically advanced fighter jets, it’s no surprise that a more modern aircraft carrier like the USS Abraham Lincoln was chosen for filming, though it wasn’t the first carrier to appear in a “Top Gun” film. Frankly, with the cavalcade of callbacks throughout the sequel, it was surprising “Top Gun: Maverick” didn’t at least nod to the carrier Pete Mitchell flew from in the original.

That carrier was the USS Ranger, a 56,300-ton behemoth launched in 1956. It went on to see combat action in the Vietnam War and Operation Desert Storm, all while making cameos in Hollywood productions like 1985’s “Top Gun” and 1986’s “Star Trek IV: The Undiscovered Country.” If you’re wondering why the Ranger didn’t return for a “Top Gun: Maverick” close-up, it’s because the US Navy decommissioned the aircraft carrier in 1993. Although the Ranger was reportedly kept in storage for nearly a decade, it was finally removed from the active Naval Vessel Register in 2004.

Attempts were made by two separate groups to preserve the carrier or even turn it into a floating museum, but both ultimately failed. In the end, the battle-tested and big-screen-famous USS Ranger was unceremoniously shipped off to a ship-breaking company in Brownsville, Texas to be disassembled and sold off for scrap.

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