Tampa CVA bids for Navy carrier

TAMPA -- Paul Catoe, who took over in May as president and chief executive officer of the Tampa-Hillsborough Convention and Visitors Association, said one of his main priorities is to help in the campaign for Tampa interests to acquire the USS Forrestal aircraft carrier and then to turn it into a museum. The 1,086-foot carrier would be moored in Tampa Bay.

Area officials made a bid to the U.S. Navy in May, but the bidding process will not end until November. Baltimore also is seeking the carrier.

In March, the Navy will make a decision as to where the ship will be relocated. "The Navy would basically give us the ship, and we'd have to raise the funds to keep it," Catoe said.

No taxpayer funds would be used to acquire the ship. Private fund-raising efforts in the Tampa area are under way for the project.

Catoe said ensuring that the area's tourism members "speak as one voice and send out the same message" is another one of his goals.

The Tampa CVA, he said, will be involved in joint promotional efforts with Visit Florida, the state's public-private tourist promotion concern. "I think one of the major reasons the selection committee hired me was that I've been very active in the community, and I know a lot of the players in the market," he said.

Catoe is the former president of WLFA-TV, an NBC affiliate here, and a 30-year resident of the area.

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