By Dr. James Doster
A special dinner meeting was held Tuesday, May 22nd
to discuss the concept of bringing a retired U.S. Navy warship to Gloucester City as a museum ship. The meeting, at Vincent's Seafood Restaurant in Gloucester City, was hosted by Dr. Jim Doster and brought together Gloucester city leaders, from the government and business sector, with experts in marine issues and Navy procedures pursuant to museum ship donations. The key speaker was Captain Jim Aldrich, USN (ret) who laid out the process required to procure a retired ship from the Navy. Photo USS Chas Adams at full power
The ship being discussed is the USS Charles F. Adams DDG-2. Adams is the class leader of 23 DDGs built for the US Navy and 6 built for foreign navies. The USS Charles F. Adams is 437 feet long with a beam of 47 feet and is the first ship ever built from the keel up as a missile ship. The USS Charles F. Adams is armed with two 5" 54 caliber gun mounts, six MK46 torpedo tubes, a twin rail MK11 Tartar missile launcher and an eight tube MK16 Anti-Submarine Rocket (ASROC) launcher. Adams was capable of carrying 42 Standard or Harpoon missiles and the ship had nuclear weapons capability with the MK16 ASROC launcher. The personnel compliment of the Charles F. Adams was 363 enlisted men and 20 officers. The keel was laid for the Charles F. Adams on June 16, 1958 and the ship was officially decommissioned on August 1, 1990. Currently, the Charles F. Adams is moored in the back basin of the Philadelphia Navy Yard.
Representing the City of Gloucester City at the meeting was Mayor Bill James, Councilman Jay Brophy and Bob Bevan. The business community was represented by Gloucester City Small Business Association President Dave Stallwood and Vice President Ken MacAdams. Also present at the meeting were 14 former Navy men who are part of the Adams Class Veteran's Association (AVCA) which was formed with a vision to preserve the last remaining DDG of the class as a memorial to the over 60,000 men who operated these great ships. The men of the ACVA were also in town for the purpose of conducting a detailed onboard survey of the material condition of the Adams. During the two day survey, over 335 spaces were inspected, cataloged and discrepancies were chronicled so as to provide a valid baseline for the restoration efforts to bring Adams to museum status.
The benefits to Gloucester City of having the USS Charles F. Adams as a museum ship are varied and numerous. Discussed were the prospects of overnight programs onboard the ship as well as "Reservations Only" dining in the Officer's Wardroom. Area NJROTC units, Sea Scouts and Sea Cadets could all utilize the ships facilities for training and recruitment. Shipboard firefighting training and marine emergency response training were also proposed onboard the Adams. Area veteran's groups would play a large part in the project once the Navy releases the ship to Gloucester City and the ACVA. Daily guided tours would be a positive draw for the city's tourism industry as the Waterfront Development project takes shape.
The first step in procuring the USS Charles F. Adams as a Museum Ship is the filing of a 500+ page application to the Navy, which details towing, maintenance, insurance, mooring, security, environmental and feasibility issues. The ACVA has procured the services of a well respected Marine Engineer, Joe Lombardi who will guide the application process to ensure compliance with all the intricacies which the Navy requires. The City of Gloucester City and the business leaders are exploring avenues in which they could be involved in the mammoth undertaking of establishing a Museum Ship on our waterfront.
Several local residents, upon hearing of the possibility of Adams coming to Gloucester City, have already volunteered to spend time onboard cleaning, painting and restoring the history warship to her original condition. Once the Navy releases the ship to the ACVA and Gloucester City, there will be plenty of work for all hands, but just imagine………What a asset the USS Charles F. Adams would be for our City!