USS Midway (CV-41) was an aircraft carrier of the United States Navy, the lead ship of her class. Commissioned a week after the end of World War II, Midway was the largest ship in the world until 1955, as well as the first U.S. aircraft carrier too big to transit the Panama Canal. She operated for 47 years, during which time she saw action in the Vietnam War and served as the Persian Gulf flagship in 1991's Operation Desert Storm.
Decommissioned in 1992, she is now a museum ship at the USS Midway Museum, in San Diego, California, and the only remaining U.S. aircraft carrier commissioned right after World War II ended that was not an Essex-class aircraft carrier. In August 1991, Midway departed Yokosuka and returned to Pearl Harbor. Here, it turned over with Independence which was to replace Midway as the forward-deployed carrier in Yokosuka. RADM Joseph Pruher and the staff of Carrier Group ONE cross decked from Independence.
RADM Pruher was the last admiral to break his flag on Midway. Midway then sailed to Seattle for a port visit. The ship then embarked "tigers", guests of crew members for the final voyage to San Diego. Midway was decommissioned at Naval Air Station North Island on 11 April 1992 in a ceremony in which the main speaker was Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney. The ship was stricken from the Naval Vessel Register on 17 March 1997. During decommissioning, Midway, its sailors, and their families were filmed for the movie At Sea, a documentary on carrier life shown only at the Navy Museum in Washington, D.C.
On 30 September 2003, Midway began its journey from the Navy Inactive Ship Maintenance Facility, Bremerton, Washington, to San Diego, California, in preparation for use as a museum and memorial. The aircraft carrier was docked in early October at the Charles P. Howard Terminal in Oakland, California, while work proceeded on the Broadway Pier in downtown San Diego. On 10 January 2004, the ship was moored at its final location, where it was opened to the public on 7 June 2004 as a museum. In the first year of operation, the museum had 879,281 visitors, double the expected attendance.