NIP Partnership with USS Midway Museum: Refurbishing CVIC Space

Naval Intelligence Professionals is partnering with the USS Midway Museum to completely refurbish the carrier intelligence center (CVIC) spaces in the popular San Diego attraction. The San Diego NIP Chapter is well integrated into the planning efforts, with Commander (Ret) Phil Eakin, Master Chief (Ret) Stan Kowalsky, Commander (Ret) Diana Guglielmo, and Captain (Ret) Mo Fox leading the team’s effort. The goal for completion of the project is May 2025.

Midway Museum
The USS Midway Museum, located in San Diego California, offers the public an exciting opportunity to visit and learn about one of the U.S.’s historical aircraft carriers (CV-41).

The display will be aimed at telling the story of the Desert Storm era with a focus on the people: what missions intelligence and cryptologic sailors in CVIC supported and how they did it. Enlisted experience is a focus for the entire Midway Museum and will be reflected in CVIC as well.

Retired Rear Admiral Terry Kraft, the USS Midway Museum’s president and CEO, enthusiastically endorsed the project during a meeting in August 2023 with the NIP Chair, retired Vice Admiral Bob Sharp, pointing out the critical value his (Kraft’s) intelligence teams provided to him during his years on active duty. “This is a win-win,” said Kraft. Sharp agreed, saying “The CVIC experience onboard Midway will spotlight Naval Intelligence to the thousands of visitors who explore the ship each year. By partnering with Midway, NIP will provide our members’ knowledge and experience to make Midway’s CVIC the best part of the museum.”

This project represents a long-held dream for several key members of the San Diego NIP Chapter. Commander (Ret) Phil Eakin, Captain (Ret) Frank Kelly, and Intelligence Specialist Master Chief (Ret) Stan Kowalsky have been lobbying to refurbish the CVIC spaces for years. 

NIP Board Members voted in August 2023 to approve the project, which will require a 20K financial contribution by NIP. USS Midway expects to invest more than half a million dollars in museum funds to complete the project.   

Timeline

The timeline envisioned for the refurbishment of the CVIC spaces involves 1) cleanup of the spaces; 2) development of the storyline for the tour; and 3) preliminary design ideas. NIP’s role is to provide subject matter expertise throughout, particularly with developing the story line— what tasks were done and what systems were used—and finding vintage systems that can be displayed. The museum has a professional design firm that will design the visitor experience (display maps, a touch board, interactive experiences and learning, etc.)

2009: 
Plans for CVIC restoration were fleshed out, but put on hold because the space was not conveniently placed to be on a tour route.
2018-2020:
The spaces were set up for informal “Behind-the-Scenes” membership events. Those tours lasted until the pandemic.
Summer 2023:
Discussions of restoring CVIC began again in earnest with strong backing from Midway Museum CEO Terry Kraft and NIP Chair VADM Bob Sharp.
December 2023:
Construction workers begin clearing the space and installing the necessary lighting and electricity.
May 2025:
Restoration projected to be completed, as announced by Midway Museum CEO Terry Kraft at the museum’s late November 2023 All Hands.
“Behind-the-Scenes” Tours: This space shown here, the largest of the CVIC spaces, was part of the “Behind the Scenes" tours presented on occasion to the museum members to depict the types of activity that took place in a CVIC during the Vietnam War era. This space on CVIC was used for mission planning, briefing and debrief space 
Closer view of images: The image on the right was taken in the Midway CVIC, while the other two were from other carrier cruise books, but in the carrier intel spaces.

Eakin, Kelly, and Guglielmo are docents onboard Midway, leading tours and answering questions from curious visitors. Eakin says that CVIC has been a popular location for the “Behind the Scenes” Midway tour, even in its current state. “People love to hear about what intelligence provided afloat on Midway. Now, Admiral Kraft’s enthusiasm about Naval Intelligence is the game changer. After so many years of trying, it will finally get done in a way we never dreamed.” 

A group of NAVIFOR Reservists toured the Midway, including the CVIC spaces, on 29 June 2023. This is a group photo on the flight deck of the Midway.
CDR (Ret) Phil Eakin leads a group of NAVIFOR Reservists on a tour of the Midway, shown here in the CVIC spaces, 29 June 2023.

Cleaning up the Spaces 

One of the first efforts in the project is cleaning up the spaces to prepare them for the tour display. The photos below show the spaces in their state as of December 2023.

The SIO office. This space is currently filled with empty metal bookshelves where the museum’s air department stored all their aircraft little spare parts stored.
Another view of the SIO office. VADM (Ret) Kraft noted that Midway’s SIO and the CAG intelligence officer shared that space during Kraft’s time on board (and during Desert Storm).  The CAG intelligence officer at the time was then-LCDR Mark Luoma, and Kraft became very good friends with Luoma. Sadly, Luoma passed away in 2021, so Kraft wants to memorialize Luoma in the SIO space once it is restored.
Film processing space, as of January 2023.

Development of the Storyline for the Tour

NIP’s involvement will be critical to developing the “Desert Storm” storyline of the tour as it guides visitors through the CVIC spaces.