Tag Archive | museum ship

Museum ships hanging out their shingles again. Others may hang it up

Sadly, as a side effect of the worldwide economic crisis sparked by the COVID 19 response and the extended shutdowns in some areas, it is estimated that one in eight museums currently closed will never reopen.

While not quite a descent into the Dark Ages just yet, that is still a big blow if you think about it. For instance, the Historic Naval Ships Association (HNSA) counts nearly 200 vessels in their “fleet,” which simple math would lead you to deduce that at least 16 will no longer be viable at the end of this crisis, a figure that in reality could be much higher as some museums have numerous ships.

For sure, with everyone sheltering in place, there are no visitors, the key to any museum’s survival. Ships located in states/countries with very strict lockdown seemingly extended forever are surely under the gun.

Last month the Mystic Seaport Museum closed and laid off 199 employees, with no date on the horizon to reopen. At the USS New Jersey (BB62) Museum, with the termination of visitors, and withheld funds from the State of New Jersey, ship managers are almost out of money to maintain the historic Iowa-class battlewagon, the only one that fought in WWII, Korea, Vietnam, and the Cold War.

Everett, Washington’s Flying Heritage & Combat Armor Museum, originally established by Paul Allen, announced, “The current global situation is making it difficult for us to serve our mission and we will spend the months ahead reassessing if, how, and when to reopen.”

How long can large, aging ships located in areas like New York City (USS Intrepid) and San Diego (USS Midway) survive if everything stays shut down in those areas with no expected relaxation of the lockdown rules in the near future?

With all that being said, many vessels have taken advantage of the past couple of months to restore compartments and areas that have long been neglected due to offering 364 days of yearly access to the public.

For instance, check out the USS Alabama/USS Drum‘s social media pages which have detailed an extensive before-and-after restoration of several areas of both the battleship and submarine. They even removed the 30+ planes from the Aircraft Pavilion for deep scrubbing.

USS Alabama’s recently restored sickbay

The Alabama Battleship Memorial Park will open to the public on Saturday morning, May 23, at 8:00 a.m., with new social distancing and hygiene standards in place. The Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum, home of the USS Razorback (SS-394), opened on May 22. 

The South Carolina Military Museum in Columbia is reopening June 1. Likewise, the USS North Carolina Museum is opening on Tuesday, and Patriot’s Point in South Carolina is reopening Friday.

Hopefully they are the first of many.

Hermes, Clamagore, and Newcastle to be no more

Lots of changes among the world’s floating museum ships and those otherwise long in the tooth this week.

Hermes/Viraat

Centaur-class aircraft carrier HMS Hermes (R12) bouncing around the North Atlantic with her bow mostly out of the water, 1977.

Laid down at Vickers-Armstrong on 21 June 1944, two weeks after the Allies stormed ashore at D-Day, as HMS Elephant, the RN carrier HMS Hermes only joined the fleet on 18 November 1959 (after 15 years at the builders) with a much-altered plan that included an angled flight deck to allow the operation of jet-powered aircraft at sea. After legendary Cold War service and a pivotal part in the Falklands War in 1982, she was sold to India in 1987 and took the name INS Viraat (R22) and, homeported in Mumbai, served the Indian Navy for three more decades, undergoing a further five refits while in Indian service.

The last British-built ship serving the Indian Navy, Viraat was the star attraction at the International Fleet Review held in Visakhapatnam in February 2016. Her last Sea Harrier, (White Tigers in Indian service), flew from her deck on May 6, of that year and was given a formal farewell at INS Hansa, in Goa two days later. She was to be preserved as a floating museum, commemorating an amazing career.

Fast forward three years and this is not to be. Deli announced this week that she will soon be scrapped.

Clamagore

In formation on 18 April 1966. The boats seen are: USS BLENNY (SS-324), CLAMAGORE (SS-343), COBBLER (SS-344), and CORPORAL (SS-346)

Subron-21’s GUPPY IIIs in formation on 18 April 1966. The boats seen are: USS BLENNY (SS-324), CLAMAGORE (SS-343), COBBLER (SS-344), and CORPORAL (SS-346)

The submarine USS Clamagore (SS-343), a Balao-class 311-foot “fleet boat” of the type that crushed the Japanese merchant fleet during WWII, commissioned on 28 June 1945– just narrowly too late for the war. However, her Naval service was rich, being converted to a GUPPY II snorkel boat in 1947 and later GUPPY III in 1962– one of only a handful to get the latter upgrade.

Decommissioned in 1973, the boat was still in pretty good shape when she was donated at age 36 to become a museum ship at Patriot’s Point, South Carolina where she has been since 1981, near the WWII carrier USS Yorktown.

The Clamagore (SS-343) being brought to Patriots Point Naval and Maritime Museum, Charleston, SC. 1981. Courtesy Tommy Trapp via Navsource

The Clamagore (SS-343) being brought to Patriots Point Naval and Maritime Museum, Charleston, SC. 1981. Courtesy Tommy Trapp via Navsource

Now, she is suffering from extensive decay and, although a group of subvets is trying to save her (and taking the state to court) Palmetto State lawmakers have voted to spend $2.7 million in public dollars to sink the Cold War-era submarine off South Carolina’s shores.

Newcastle

To replace their aging Adams (Perth)-class DDGs, the Royal Australian Navy in the 1980s ordered a six-pack of Oliver Hazard Perry-class guided missile frigates. Known locally as the Adelaide (FFG01)-class in RAN service, the first four vessels were built in the U.S. at Todd in Seattle, while last two were constructed by AMECON of Williamstown, Victoria.

Besides the names of large Australian cities, the vessels carried the names of past RAN vessels including two HMS/HMAS Sydney’s that fought in WWI and WWII, and Oz’s two aircraft carriers.

Photo by ABPH Tracey Casteleijn/RAN/ #950365-10

Photo by ABPH Tracey Casteleijn/RAN/ #950365-10

Canberra and Adelaide were paid off in 2005 and 2008 respectively, then sunk as dive wrecks. Sydney struck in 2015 and began scrapping soon after, while Darwin was broken up in 2017. Melbourne and Newcastle were to stick it out until the new Hobart-class destroyers arrive to replace them by 2019.

With that, HMAS Newcastle (FFG06), was put to pasture this week after she traveled more than 900,000 nautical miles, visited over 30 countries, conducted six maritime security operations and earned battle honors in East Timor, the Persian Gulf, and the Middle East.

Lieutenant Commander Nick Graney salutes during the national anthem as part of HMAS Newcastle’s decommissioning ceremony at Fleet Base East, Sydney on Sunday 30th June 2019.

Lieutenant Commander Nick Graney, RAN, salutes during the national anthem as part of HMAS Newcastle’s decommissioning ceremony at Fleet Base East, Sydney on Sunday 30th June 2019.

The final Australian FFG, Melbourne (FFG05), is set to be decommissioned 26 Oct 2019 and, like Newcastle, will be sold to Chile to begin a second career on the other end of the Pacific. Should that somehow fall through, the Hellenic Navy has also expressed interest in acquiring these classic but hard-used Perries.

And the beat goes on…

Last of the Yarrow diesel tin cans gets a reprieve

Just after VE-Day, the Royal Navy was able to skate on WWII production destroyers for a while, but by the early 1950s, it was realized that more…um…economical vessels could take up the slack that didn’t require fully-armed 30+ knot greyhounds to accomplish. Roles like ocean surveillance, escorting amphibious task forces and convoys could be filled by a reasonably seaworthy tin can of some 100m in length who, outfitted with a number of fuel-sipping diesels, could run on the cheap and at a lower speed than that needed by HMs carriers. Enter the Type 61 (Salisbury) and Type 41 (Leopard) class vessels.

First of the line, laid down in 1951, the Salisbury-class frigate HMS Salisbury (F32), seen here 5 December 1974. She would later be sold to Egypt and, after that deal was canceled Sale to Egypt canceled whilst on the delivery trip, was retained by the RN as a harbor training ship Devonport. She was later sunk as a target, 30 September 1985. Image via IWM http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205396006

Preceding the 27 iconic Leander-class frigates (which were 113.4m long and used steam turbines), it was planned to have 15 or 16 Salisbury/Leopards in service both with the RN and allied Commonwealth nations.

In the end, three of the planned ships– Exeter, Gloucester, and Coventry— were canceled post-Suez in favor of building more Leanders while another three went to India. The RN kept the rest around well into the late 1970s when they were scrapped or sold abroad (HMS Lynx went to Bangladesh who continued to use her until 2013 while the same country had ex-HMS Llandaff in inventory until 2016).

The last of these still afloat, was a kind of one-off design based on the Type 41/61 to be named the Black Star. Ordered specifically for the government of Ghana– the first British possession in Africa to gain independence– in 1964, she was completed by 1967 but languished at Yarrow Shipbuilders on the River Clyde in Scotland, with an unpaid balance and the regime that ordered her overthrown. Finally, in 1971, some £3,803,148 in outstanding loans made by the Crown to Ghana for the ship’s construction were written off and the ship was absorbed the next year by the Royal Navy, commissioning after modifications 16 May 1973 as HMS Mermaid (F76), the 16th such vessel to carry the moniker.

Mermaid saw brief and interesting service in the Cod Wars with Iceland– ramming and being rammed by Icelandic Coast Guard cutters.

The UK frigate HMS Mermaid collides with the Icelandic Coast Guard Vessel Thor in March 1976, in one of the incidents in the Cod Wars between the two countries. At the time she was one of the few frigates still in the RN with a twin QF 4 inch Mk XVI gun mount, designed in WWII. 

Tragically, just after a NATO exercise, Mermaid sank the wooden-hulled Ton-class minesweeper HMS Fittleton (M1136) during what should have been a routine mail transfer at sea, which resulted in the death of 12, the worst peacetime accident involving the Royal Naval Reserve.

After just four years service with the RN, Mermaid was transferred to the Royal Malaysian Navy in April 1977 to replace a 1944-vintage Loch-class frigate. Commissioned by the RMN as KD Hang Tuah (with the same pennant number), she has been on active duty ever since.

As reported by The New Straits Times, Tuah, now 45 with over 250K miles on her hull, is set for retirement and will be turned into a naval museum.

The transformation of the ship into a museum will be done through collaboration between Boustead Naval Shipyard (BNS) Sdn Bhd and the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture.

KD Hang Tuah, ex-HMS Mermaid, ex-Black Star, soon to be museum ship. Note, her 4-incher was replaced by a more modern 57mm Bofors in 1992

A Libyan dream, by way of Cork

The Libyan National Army (LNA) has taken delivery of the flagship Al-Karama (Dignity) offshore patrol vessel, the former Irish vessel LÉ Aisling.

The LNA released a video on May 17 showing the arrival of the vessel at Benghazi naval base. It was welcomed by the head of the Libyan navy, Commodore Faraj Al-Mahdawi Al-Tarhouni, military advisor Major General Abdullah Aoun and other dignitaries.

The Libyan National Army, led by Khalifa Haftar, controls much of eastern Libya and named the new vessel after the operation to secure Benghazi in 2014.

“The arrival of this vessel is a qualitative leap for our fleet and another success of our armed forces added to the chain of successes locally and internationally,” the LNA said, adding the vessel would be used to protect Libya’s territorial waters and fight against terrorism, human trafficking and illegal immigration.

LÉ Aisling was built in Ireland in 1979 and from 1980 was in Irish Naval Service as a patrol vessel until decommissioned in June 2016. It was sold to Dutch broker Dick van der Kamp for 110,000 euros in March 2017 at auction and subsequently offered for resale for 685,000 euros. The vessel sailed over 625,000 nautical miles during its years of active service.

According to IHS Jane’s, the Aisling was re-registered by Universal Satcom Services FZE based in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in April. It sailed through the Strait of Gibraltar at the beginning of May on its delivery voyage.

The Emer-class offshore patrol vessel is 214-feet long and displaces 1,020 tons. Top speed is 16kts and crew complement is 46. It appears she was delivered to Libya without weapons, although the latter have many at hand they could equip her with.

Named after a style of visionary dream poem, the former Irish Navy’s offshore patrol vessel was built at Verolme Cork Dockyard (and the last greyhull to leave that yard).

Armed with a single 40mm Bofors L70, a couple of 20mm GAMBO cannon and some 7.62mm GPMGs, Aisling made a name for herself in a running battle with the Spanish fishing trawler Sonia (330-tons) in 1984, firing 600~ rounds in warning shots while the Spanish vessel attempted repeatedly to ram. Sonia later sank after Aisling broke contact.

The same year she captured the trawler, Marita Ann, sailing with 160 guns (including some stolen M2 Brownings via National Guard armories) and 71,000 rounds of ammo aboard rumored to have been sent to the IRA by connections of Whitey Bulger.

She also responded to the Air India Flight 182 disaster and others lost at sea.

Class leader LÉ Emer (P21) commissioned into the Nigerian Navy as a training ship and renamed NNS Prosperity in 2015 after a Nigerian businessman’s scheme to use her as a personal yacht fell through. Sister LÉ Aoife (P22) was donated to Malta as P62 in 2015 to help that country pluck migrant refugees from the Med. The half-sister and prototype to the Emer-class, the one-off LÉ Deirdre (P20), was stricken in 2003 and, after a career as a yacht, was scrapped in Florida in 2014.

When you visit just 1 museum ship, you visit many

Floating museum ships around the world take to searching for missing parts and items from their vessel as they often received the ship after decades in mothballs where they were cannibalized to keep units still in the fleet “in the fight.” Others had equipment stripped from them before transfer.

This leaves museums looking for parts from all over.

I know on a visit to the USS Alabama (BB-60) I found Dutch Navy-marked 20mm cannon components. On visiting the USCGC Ingham, there is an amalgam of other 327′ Treasury-class cutters as well as gear from across the Coast Guard. On visiting the USS Kidd (DD-661) in Baton Rouge, they have an unrestored compartment they will show you that illustrates how the ship was received in 1982 after sitting in mothballs for 20 years.

This week the volunteers of the museum ship USS Joseph P. Kennedy Jr (DD-850), decommissioned 2 July 1973, detailed some of the work put in to “Joey P” over the past several years in scouring other tin cans coming up for dismantling or destruction to salvage what they could to make the old Gearing-class destroyer a more complete specimen of her species. The donors range from Fletchers and Shermans to Adams and Farragut-class guided missile destroyers.

ex-USS Barney (DDG-6), moored along two mothballed FFG7s. Barney decommissioned 17 December 1990 after 28 years of service and was sold for scrapping in 2006.

From the group:

As early as 2001, much of the original items needed were missing to make her the period authentic display she is in 2017. Two main groups, the 1970s and the 2000s team have acquired just about all that she needed. From Mexico, California, Virginia, and Pennsylvania came literally tons of equipment from DASH drones to sound powered phone handset cradles. Our crew removed items with respect and honor to those who served on the ships we removed the items from. The history of these ships live on today.. Here is a list of some of the destroyer types ships we acquired items from or a part originally came from:

USS Nicholas DD449
USS The Sullivans DD537
USS Caperton DD650
USS Van Valkenburgh DD656
USS William M. Wood DD715
USS William C. Lawe DD763
USS McKean DD784
USS Basilone DD824
USS Myles C Fox DD829
USS George K. Mackenzie DD836
USS Glennon DD840
USS Perry DD844
USS Robert L. Wilson DD847
USS Harwood DD861
USS Steinaker DD863
USS Stribling DD867
USS Brownson DD868
USS Newman K. Perry DD883
USS Orleck DD886
USS Forrest Sherman DD931
USS Barry DD933
USS Bigelow DD942
USS Radford DD968
USS Peterson DD969
USS Caron DD970
USS Briscoe DD977
USS Connolly DD979
USS John Rodger DD983
USS Thorn DD988
USS Lawrence DDG-4
USS Claude Ricketts DDG-5
USS Barney DDG-6
USS Sampson DDG-10
USS Sellers DDG-11
USS Farragut DDG-37
USS Luce DDG-38
USS Macdonough DDG-39
USS Dahlgren DDG-43

And that’s just the destroyers, the group says they have another list of auxiliaries and cruisers they have been able to salvage gear from.

A dream no more

Irish Warship L.É. AISLING, 2006 armed with Bofors L70 40mm & 20mm GAMBO's Via Shipspotting http://www.shipspotting.com/gallery/photo.php?lid=178486

Irish Warship L.É. AISLING, 2006 armed with Bofors L70 40mm & 20mm GAMBO’s Via Shipspotting http://www.shipspotting.com/gallery/photo.php?lid=178486

Happy St. Patrick’s Day, Btw.

Named after a style of visionary dream poem, the former Irish Navy’s Emer-class 1,000-ton offshore patrol vessel LÉ Aisling (P23) will be put up for auction at the Carrigaline Court Hotel on March 23rd where Cork auctioneer Dominic Daly will seek to obtain the best price for the State for the ship.

One of four Irish Naval Services ships to be built at Verolme Cork Dockyard (and the last greyhull to leave that yard), LÉ Aisling commissioned in 1980 and was stricken last June after over 35 years of service.

Armed with a single 40mm Bofors L70, a couple of 20mm GAMBO cannon and some 7.62mm GPMGs, Aisling made a name for herself in a running battle with the Spanish fishing trawler Sonia (330-tons) in 1984, firing 600~ rounds in warning shots while the Spanish vessel attempted repeatedly to ram. Sonia later sank after Aisling broke contact.

The same year she captured the trawler Marita Ann, sailing with 160 guns (including some stolen M2 Brownings via National Guard armories) and 71,000 rounds of ammo aboard rumored to have been sent to the IRA by connections of Whitey Bulger.

She also responded to the Air India Flight 182 disaster and others lost at sea.

The 214-foot Aisling reportedly put in 628,856 nautical miles in her 35 years and thought was given to making her a museum ship, though that has apparently fallen through.

She is the last of her class in Ireland.

Class leader LÉ Emer (P21) commissioned into the Nigerian Navy as a training ship and renamed NNS Prosperity in 2015 after a Nigerian businessman’s scheme to use her as a personal yacht fell through. Sister LÉ Aoife (P22) was donated to Malta in 2015 to help that country pluck migrant refugees from the Med. The half-sister and prototype to the Emer-class, the one-off Deirdre (P20), was stricken in 2003 and, after a career as a yacht, was scrapped in Florida in 2014.

Quite a beard you have there, Turner Joy

The museum ship ex-USS Turner Joy (DD-951) in dry dock at Lake Union Dry Dock Company, Seattle, WA. for the first time in 16 years as part of a $800,000 refit.

turner-joy-in-dry-dock-at-lake-union-for-first-time-in-16-years
More here

Museum ships don’t age well

Constructed of steel by the lowest bidder, warships have a finite lifespan, especially when semi-preserved as museum ships.

In Florida, Palm Beach County Commissioners voted to use $1 million in funds to jump-start a project to sink the Balao-class submarine USS Clamagore (SS-343) about a mile off the coast of Juno Beach. She is the only known surviving example of a GUPPY type submarine

According to the Sun Sentinel, the WWII submarine has been at Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum near Charleston, S.C. since 1981 and needs a $6 million refirb to keep her there, and annual upkeep of $250,000. Turning her into a reef is cheaper.

In South Korea, the Gearing-class destroyer ex-USS William R. Rush (DD-714), transferred in 1978 under the terms of the Security Assistance Program as ROKS Kang Won (DD-922), arrived at Busan Dadaepo port for dismantling last month after 16 years as a pier-side museum ship.

Rush

Rush, soon to be recycled.

This leaves Eversole, Everett Larson, Sarsfield, Rogers, Orleck, and J. P. Kennedy of that class still afloat.

Meanwhile, in Bremerton, the museum ship USS Turner Joy (DD-951) is set to get an $800,000 spruce up in dry dock. A Forrest Sherman-class destroyer decommissioned in 1982, Turner Joy gave a lot of hard service in Vietnam and can use the TLC. (Photo: Meegan M. Reid / Kitsap Sun)

(Photo: Meegan M. Reid / Kitsap Sun)

Aries may soon ride again

Back in the 1970s Adm. Elmo Zumwalt came up with the idea that flotillas of small, fast attack craft could help control the coastal littoral in time of war. Used in places like the Baltic and Scandinavian, they could blunt potential Soviet Red Banner fleet amphibious operations if the balloon went up.

The only outcome of this was the six pack of Pegasus-class hydrofoils. Termed “PHM” (Patrol, Hydrofoil, Missile) these stubby 133-foot craft could zip at 51-knots when wide open and, using a Mk 92 fire control system, fire off eight Harpoons and a Mk 75 76mm OTO Melara main gun with a crew of just 21 men (skippered by a LCDR!).

USS Aries (PHM-5) back in her fighting trim

USS Aries (PHM-5) back in her fighting trim

The PHMs were home-ported in Key West, Fla. as Patrol Combatant Missile Hydrofoil Squadron TWO, but were decommissioned as a class on 30 July 1993 after just a decade of service that included a lot of USCG missions and regular UNITAS exercises among others.

The Boeing-built craft were all named after Greek mythological figures: USS Pegasus (PHM 1), USS Hercules (PHM 2), USS Taurus (PHM 3), USS Aquila (PHM 4), USS Aries (PHM-5) and USS Gemini (PHM-6).

Bought back in 1996 for $20,000, sans armament and most of her neat-o gear but still with her propulsion and hydrofoils still largely intact, ex-Aries is the only one of her class saved from the scrapper as a museum ship in Missouri.

Aries at Gasconade Shipyard, looking very neutered (via Waterways Journal)

Aries as she appears today at Gasconade Shipyard, looking very neutered (via Waterways Journal)

Now, after a 20-year saga, the last U.S. Navy PHM will soon be used as both a museum ship and training vessel for The Maritime Academy of Toledo as well as the Ohio Naval Militia.

From Waterways Journal:

After spending 18 years docked on the Grand River at Brunswick, Mo., the former Navy hydrofoil USS Aries is slowly coming back to life.

A group of volunteers from the Ohio Navy and the barge industry have been working on the Cold War naval ship since last November at the Gasconade (Mo.) Shipyard, restoring it for future use as a 21st century maritime training vessel.

The Aries remains tied off at the shipyard at the mouth of the Gasconade River, just up from the wine-laden town of Hermann, Mo., until May 2017, when it is hoped that the ship can be moved under its own power to Cairo, Ill., for drydocking. The Aries would then travel north on the Ohio River to Hebron, Ky., in June for final renovations.

The Rev. Kempton D. Baldridge, chaplain for the Ohio River Region with the Seamen’s Church Institute (SCI), Paducah, Ky., said a week-long cadet orientation will likely take place onboard in late July, with a recommissioning ceremony tentatively scheduled for July 30 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Baldridge, who briefly served on the Aries and its five sister ships in the ‘80s as a Navy Reserve chaplain, has helped the Ohio Navy—an organized, all-volunteer unit that has been serving the State of Ohio and the nation since 1896—rehab the vessel by making connections in the marine industry, raising funds and lending a physical hand during the process.

“The day after Aries observes its recommissioning, the vessel will help commemorate the 120th anniversary of the first Ohio Navy training cruise, with a two-week, 902-mile river circuit from Cincinnati to East Liverpool, Ohio, and return,” said Baldridge. “Aries’ crew, which will include a dozen or so maritime cadets, would transit all nine of Ohio’s locks and dams twice, once northbound and once southbound. At least that’s the plan as it stands now.”

More here

The cost of keeping Yorktown in business

The Post and Courier has an excellent article on what it costs to keep a large maritime museum with floating relics in operation.

Built around USS Yorktown (CV/CVA/CVS-10), one of 24 Essex-class fleet carriers built during World War II,  Patriot’s Point has gone through a lot of ups and downs since it was established in 1976, near the bustling NAVSTA and Naval Shipyard in Charleston. At it’s peak in 1989, the museum included not only Yorktown but the WW II destroyer USS Laffey, Cold War era submarine USS Clamagore, nuclear-powered merchant ship NS Savannah and the Treasury-class cutter USCGC Ingham.

Since then, both Savannah and Ingham have been towed to Baltimore and Key West, respectively, Clamagore is set to be sink as a reef in a couple years, and both Laffey and Yorktown have received millions in repairs and need millions more.

The Navy pulled out of Charleston in 1993. Of the 450 acres of state land the park started with 40 years ago, there has been some leased to Charleston Harbor Marina and Beach Club, the College of Charleston, the Patriots Point Links gold club, more to the Medal of Honor Society for a museum, and now a portion along the river in a 99-year lease to a developer.

The hopes: generate $6 million a year to keep the park open, and raise $60 million to refurb Yorktown.

If not…

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