Friday, March 19, 2021

Saving our historic ships


I note that USS The Sullivans, a World War II destroyer named for the five Sullivan brothers who died aboard the cruiser USS Juneau in November 1942, has sprung several leaks and is in danger of sinking without extensive repairs.  Stars and Stripes reports:

Keeping the Buffalo & Erie County Naval & Military Park from going under during the pandemic has been hard enough without also having to worry about keeping one of its star attractions afloat.

After losing 87% of its revenue because of COVID-19 closures and cancellations during the past year, the park recently discovered the destroyer USS The Sullivans taking on water and listing at its dock in Buffalo's inner harbor.

. . .

"She was built to last about 20 years. Destroyers by their very nature, are built with a very thin layer of steel because they've got to be fast and maneuverable," said Paul Marzello Sr., president and chief executive of the park. "Seventy-eight years is a long time to keep these ships in condition to be floating, especially when we want to use them as a museum piece and use them as an educational tool."

Crews from the military park couldn't immediately board the leaning vessel because the gangways had been damaged by a winter storm. When they did, they found that 15,000-20,000 gallons of water had poured in through three holes in its hull.

. . .

Emergency repairs are under way to pump out the water and plug the holes. Officials estimate it will cost $1 million to permanently repair a hull weakened and damaged by the freeze and thaw of decades of winters.

There's more at the link.

There are scores of historic US Navy vessels on display around the country, with many facing the same sort of maintenance challenges and financial issues to keep them afloat.  Many are simply wearing out, and funds may not be available to keep them going, which would be tragic from an historical perspective.  Better-known ships such as the battleship USS Texas (due to receive new hull plating from the waterline down in a twelve-month dockyard stay) and USS Olympia (Admiral Dewey's flagship at the Battle of Manila Bay in 1898) will probably be saved.  Others, like USS Batfish (a famous World War II submarine on display in Oklahoma) may not be so fortunate, because it's harder to raise the money needed to keep them in good repair.

Presently, the US Navy is not responsible for the upkeep of these historic vessels.  Most are in the hands of private foundations.  However, I can't help thinking that it might be a better expenditure of taxpayer funds to preserve at least some historic ships, rather than frittle the money away on endless entitlement programs that never solve anything.  What say you, readers?



Divemedic said...

I have long thought that, instead of just GIVING the money to people, we use that money to teach those welfare recipients a trade. What better way to get people off welfare than to use these types of things to teach welding, pipefitting, electrical work, and other trades needed so they can learn a trade. We get more people off public assistance and stuff like this gets fixed at the same time.

Aaron said...

Preserving historic ships would be an appropriate use of our tax time and money, but so many in power now are ashamed of our history and don't feel it is worth commemorating nor preserving.

You can add USS Clamagore to the list of historic ships that we're going to lose due to lack of funding for upkeep - she's set to be taken out of Patriot's Point in Charleston SC and sunk as a reef this year.

Night driver said...

The USS COD is still sitting in Cleveland, in decent shape, and likely to stay in good shape because folks here in Cleveland care about her.


The question arises, "what do we do when we find that from BEFORE Day One, even as the theft was occurring, we were in a Wilsonian status with Mrs. Biden filling the role of wife-protector?"

I fear THAT will generate a LOT of kinetic reaction.

Night Driver

Sam L. said...

I was fortunate to get onto the USS Missouri (deck only) in '98 before it was towed to Pearl Harbor. As a kid, I went thru the U-505 in Chicago.

Trailer For Sale Or Rent said...

You're going to have to stop making so much sense.
It's racist, or sexist, or something.

Sam Helm said...

On the good side, both the Laffey and the Cassin Young were given the gift of (extended) life recently. The are contemporaries of the Sullivans, and were also sinking at the pier. Thank G_D the people of Charleston (Laffey) and Boston (Cassin Young) were up to the task. It is sad to hear the Charleston couldn't be bothered about the Clamagore, but Patriot's Point also has a carrier (Yorktown) and a tin can (Laffey) to take care of, and there is only so much money.

Jimmy the Saint said...

I agree that history should be preserved. However, since we appear to be headed towards a new Year Zero (and since no one really did much of anything to protect the stuff already destroyed), it does seem like a fool's errand. If a people don't care about their history, they will lose it, one way or another.

Aesop said...

I wouldn't give private museums a single dime.

But as we're going to spend government money anyhow, I totally favor requiring any and all welfare recipients able to work in the adjacent zip codes to put in 40 hours/week cleaning bilges, scraping rust, swabbing decks, painting, and any other good thing for their supper. Call it "skills training". No work, no welfare.

If it's good enough for non-rated squids, it's certainly good enough for welfare layabouts.

As a bonus, since the dot-mil is now taking perverts and mental defectives, we might get some of them full-time jobs in the new Fabuolous Military, and lighten the load on recruiters somewhat. Maybe even turn a cupe of them around, and instill aa sense of reality and responsibility in their misbegotten hearts.

The rest will simply be treated like the brig rats they are, in return for their daily crust.


The Freeholder said...

They're working on the USS North Carolina as well.

Chris Nelson said...

I have mixed options about preserving ships. It's wonderful for history and museums, but basically boats and ships are holes in the water where money is poured...

Will said...

Seems to me that the groups that want to preserve/display these retired ships have a number of problems to deal with, and a lack of imagination or enterprise to solve them in a prudent financial manner.

Storing them floating is to ensure they may last a century at most, and suck up funds that are needed to keep them in a condition that the public is willing to pay to view. that's if it is a fresh water environment.

They are also taking up valuable docking space.

They need to be displayed in a permanent dry-dock situation. End on toward the water would be better, I suspect, but each situation would have to be evaluated for the local area.

The way to make this financially feasible is to then build a structure above the ship, to generate an income. Office space, apartments, manufacturing, whatever. I would also be looking at utilizing the area under the dry-dock. A power plant, either coal, natural gas, or nuke may be a good fit for the location. Could even use excess heat from the plant to keep the ship warm and dry for longevity. Might even be able to fit multiple ships in the space.

Such a storage situation might be a viable way to keep ships such as the Iowa class in an environment that would enable them to be restored to duty if needed. Frankly, the Navy might want to get involved in pushing this, as this sort of thing may actually make a reserve fleet a much cheaper proposition.

Aesop said...

If the group running USS Iowa in San Pedro Harbor were allowed to sell free shots of the 16" guns at City Hall, South Central, etc., they'd be in the black profit-wise in about an hour, and urban renewal in the greater L.A. Area would take about a month.
The county mean IQ would also increase about 20 points by end-of-year.

If the state would also strap Death Row inmates to the shells before launch we could clear out that 40-year backlog by Wednesday next. If they'd just put all of them on the same barge a couple of miles offshore, one shell would fix that in about 90 seconds.

I say about our mothball obsolete fleet what Lincoln said of his Grand Army of the Potomac once: "If McClellan isn't going to use it, I should like to borrow it for a bit."