A Future After Retirement
Veterans of the decommissioned destroyer Arthur W. Radford (ex-DD-968) should consider taking up scuba diving. If things go as planned, the 563-foot-long Spruance-class destroyer will be sunk off the Delaware coast in the late spring or early summer in a joint effort by environmental officials in Delaware, New Jersey, and Maryland to create an artificial reef.
The longest vessel ever to be reefed in the Atlantic is intended to attract scuba divers and saltwater anglers. Plans call for her to rest on the ocean floor 26 miles southeast of Indian River Inlet at a depth of about 120 feet. There, she will be the building block for a one-square-mile reef equidistant from fishing ports in Indian River; Cape May, New Jersey; and Ocean City, Maryland.
"I would love the opportunity to be able to dive on a ship that I served aboard during my 30 years in the U.S. Navy," said Commander Doug Warner, a scuba diver and the Radford's former combat systems officer. "I have fond memories of sitting out on the fantail at sunset having a cigar in the Persian Gulf with the crew and our executive officer, Lieutenant Commander Robert Schlegel, who lost his life in the September 11, 2001 attack on the Pentagon. He was a true American hero and Sailor."
The Radford, built by Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula, Mississippi, was named for Admiral Arthur W. Radford, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The sixth in her class of 31 destroyers, the warship was commissioned in 1977 and decommissioned in 2003. Like her earlier decommissioned sisters, she was to become a target ship. But in January 2008, the Navy offered her as an artificial reef following the great success of the 2006 sinking of the 904-foot-long Oriskany (ex-CVA-34), now the world's largest artificial reef, in the Gulf of Mexico off Pensacola, Florida.
Partially due to a letter-writing campaign by fishing and diving groups wanting to duplicate that success, New Jersey, Delaware, and Maryland jumped at the opportunity to acquire the Radford for their reefing program. The states hired the Virginia-based American Marine Group, which specializes in creating artificial reefs, to carry out the mission.
Once the ship is scuttled, there will be only one remaining Spruance-class destroyer afloat, the decommissioned Paul F. Foster (ex-DD-964).
Jay Black, a Radford second-class interior communications specialist from 1981 to 1985, has mixed feelings about the sinking of his destroyer, but added, "The way I see it, at least her being sunk where divers and fisherman will congregate will mean she will still be in service, so to speak."
With the issuance of the Distinguished Sailors stamps in February 2010, the U.S. Postal Service honors four Sailors who served with bravery and distinction during the 20th century: Admiral William S. Sims, Admiral Arleigh A. Burke, Lieutenant Commander John C. McCloy, and Officer's Cook Third Class Doris Miller.
Sims (1858-1936) commanded U.S. naval forces in European waters during World War I and was an outspoken reformer and innovator who helped shape the Navy into a modern fighting force. Burke (1901-1996) was a leading destroyer squadron commander in World War II and as Chief of Naval Operations played a major role in modernizing the Navy and guiding its response to the Cold War. McCloy (1876-1945) has the distinction of being one of only 19 men in the nation's history to receive two Medals of Honor for separate acts of heroism. Miller (1919-1943), the first African-American hero of World War II, received the Navy Cross for his actions at Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941.
Historic Site Rescued
Aerospace contractor Lockheed Martin has donated $400,000 and a force of company volunteers to the rescue of the beleaguered Washington Crossing Historic Park in Pennsylvania. (See "Showdown on the Delaware," p. 66, December 2009 Naval History.)
Because of an ongoing state government budgetary crisis, the 500-acre state park and its deteriorating visitor center in Bucks County closed last fall despite emotional pleas from veterans, historians, and local residents to keep it open. The park marks the spot where General George Washington and his Continental Army made a daring Christmas night crossing of the Delaware River in 1776 to capture a garrison of Hessian mercenaries at the Battle of Trenton, New Jersey.
Lockheed Martin Space Systems, located in Newtown Township about six miles from the site, stepped forward in December at the annual re-enactment of the crossing to pledge $400,000 to upgrade the visitors center. The company, which employs 1,200 people in Newtown, also offered a five-year commitment by employees to help maintain and staff the park, which draws an estimated 100,000 visitors a year. Details are to be worked out.
A $4.2-million renovation of the visitors' center is in the works from state funds earmarked several years ago but never used. Lockheed's money will be used to add an education wing to the center to better tell the story of the crossing. The expansion had been cut from the original plan last year to bring it within budget. The entire project is expected to go out to bid this year. Meanwhile, a fledgling volunteer support group is taking shape to raise funds for the park and offer assistance. For information, go to www.FriendsofWashingtonCrossing.com.
Ready for Prime Time
On 30 January the Battleship Missouri Memorial reopened after a 12-week, $18-million drydocking for maintenance and preservation work at Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard. The "Mighty Mo," site of imperial Japan's unconditional surrender at the end of World War II, is docked near the USS Arizona Memorial along Pearl Harbor's Battleship Row. The two warships are powerful symbols of the full circle of the Pacific war from the Pearl Harbor attack on 7 December 1941 to the war's end on 2 September 1945.
The battlewagon has been a museum ship since 1998, when she was transferred from the Navy to the nonprofit USS Missouri Memorial Association.
In October 2009, a dollar bill signed in June 1945 by two Sailors of LSM-326 was returned to one of their families after an article about the bill's discovery was published in Naval History. (See "History in a Wallet," p. 66, August 2009 Naval History.) Christal Samson of Webster, Massachusetts, the granddaughter of Fireman First Class A. Paul Samson, received the dollar from Kevin M. Franklin of Colonie, New York, who obtained it from a bank after cashing a check.
"Thank you so much for all your effort in getting this dollar bill into my hands," Ms. Samson wrote. "It was a great pleasure to be able to hold a dollar bill my grandfather signed so many years ago."
She sent this photo of her grandfather, right, with two unidentified Sailors. Could one of them be Motor Machinist's Mate Third Class R. W. Brown who also signed the bill?
Out of the Shadow
A year-long celebration of the life of one of Britain's greatest naval heroes, Admiral Lord Cuthbert Collingwood, kicked off in late January at the Discovery Museum, Newcastle upon Tyne. Featuring a series of events across North East England, including a commemorative event at the Collingwood Monument at Tynemouth, a major exhibition at the Discovery Museum, and a naval parade and memorial service at St. Nicholas Cathedral in Newcastle upon Tyne, the Collingwood 2010 Festival honors the admiral on the 200th anniversary of his death.
The event is devoted to bringing Collingwood out of Vice Admiral Horatio Lord Nelson's shadow and into the public consciousness. At Trafalgar in 1805, Collingwood was Nelson's second in command. His ship, the Royal Sovereign, was the first into action, and as Nelson lay mortally wounded, Collingwood directed the fleet to victory. After the battle, he took command of the Mediterranean Fleet and died, still on watch, on 7 March 1810.
Cold War Prize Competition
For a sixth year, the John A. Adams Center at the Virginia Military Institute will award prizes for the best unpublished papers dealing with the United States military in the Cold War era (1945-91). Any aspect of the Cold War is eligible, with papers on war planning, intelligence, logistics, and mobilization especially welcome. Essays that relate aspects of the Korean War and Vietnam to the larger Cold War are also open for consideration.
Prizes will include a $2,000 cash award for first place, $1,000 for second, $500 for third, and plaques for each winner.
Entries should be tendered to the Adams Center at VMI by 15 July 2010. A panel of judges will over the summer examine all papers and announce its top three rankings early in the fall of 2010. The Journal of Military History will consider the award winners for publication.
For more information, contact Professor Malcolm Muir Jr., at [email protected] or (540) 464-7447/7338.
Baltic Treasures Threatened
Scientists and historians give some credit for the preservation of the 17th-century warship Vasa (See "Museum Report," page 80) to the brackish water of the Baltic Sea, which prevented her destruction by shipworms. Wooden vessels yet to be recovered—or discovered—there may not be so fortunate. The shipworm—specifically the Teredo navalis—is gaining a foothold in the Baltic because of climate change, according to researchers at the University of Gothenburg.
According to university marine biology researcher Christin Appelqvist, "We're quite worried about wrecks off the coast in southwest Sweden, outside of Skane," where she and her colleagues estimate thousands of well-preserved shipwrecks are scattered.
Traditionally, shipworms have avoided the Baltic Sea because of its lower salt content. But the Teredo navalis, one of 65 species of the mollusks found throughout the world, has recently been making its way into the Baltic. This is a relatively new phenomenon, which Appelqvist and her colleagues believe may be due to warmer seas caused by climate change.
"The warmer temperatures mean that the shipworm is less stressed and can thus tolerate lower salinity," she explained. "The warm water also results in a longer breeding season."