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!).
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.
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.”
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.
Britain’s last “Harrier Carrier” ex-HMS Illustrious (R06), the fifth warship and second flattop to bear the name in the Royal Navy since 1789, had been courted by three different cities in the UK for use as a floating museum ship in the past couple years. Alas, that is not to be.
She was the oldest ship in the Royal Navy’s active fleet when she was paid off 28 August 2014 after 32 years’ service and will not be replaced until HMS Queen Elizabeth is formally commissioned in May 2017.
The only operational aircraft carrier in the British fleet, she lost her fixed wing air arm when the MoD retired the Harrier fleet in 2006 and served as an LPH after that, only operating helicopters. The last of the 1980s era Invincible class of 20,000-ton harrier-carriers, she was to be kept as a museum ship but that fell through and the Crown has sold her to the Turks for £2 million.
She will leave Portsmouth for the breakers this fall.
USS Olympia fought over by 4 Groups
Looks like the Olympia, Dewey’s flagship during the whole “You may fire when ready Mr Gridley” hate at Manila Bay in the Spanish American War, may not be sunk as a reef after all.
The 115-year old spring chicken is being fought over by four groups, one that wants to keep it in Philly, another that wants to tow it to Baltimore, a third that says Parris Island is the way to go and the four wants to bring it to SF…..