USS HENRY B. WILSON DDG-7
By Steve Patterson
Posted Dec 26, 2018 at 5:49 PM Updated Dec 26, 2018 at 8:31 PM
A group that campaigned for years to make the decommissioned destroyer USS Adams a museum in downtown Jacksonville says it’s starting from scratch after being rejected by the U.S. Navy.
“We believe our mission of bringing a naval warship museum to Jacksonville is a just cause,” said Dan Bean, an attorney who is president of the nonprofit Jacksonville Historic Naval Ship Association.
The group, organized in 2008 to pursue an Adams-class destroyer, told supporters last week the U.S. Navy “has reversed course” and decided against releasing the ship, which will instead be scrapped.
Bean said he felt he never received a clear answer as to why the ship wouldn’t be released and said the initial Navy response to the group’s request had been extremely positive.
While he called the decision deeply disappointing, Bean said his group still wants to bring some type of museum ship to the city and will look for new candidates.
“We felt that the Jacksonville market is perfect for a Navy warship,” Bean said. “It’s our hope that the Navy, if they don’t want to release the USS Adams, that they’ll consider releasing another ship.”
The Adams was the first of a class of 23 U.S. Navy guided-missile destroyers built in the 1950s and ’60s. It was homeported at Mayport for a stretch and decommissioned in 1990.
The ship was stored in Philadelphia after decommissioning and had deteriorated since it left service.
“It was going to take some elbow grease and some money to ... [restore it] to the condition where it would be a museum ship,” said Mike Kegley, president of a Michigan nonprofit who said he saw the Adams while he was arranging for his group’s decommissioned vessel, the destroyer USS Edson, to be moved to Bay City, Mich.
Kegley said the main factors any group seeking a museum ship has to consider are having money to maintain the vessel and a stable, secure place where it can be moored.
The Adams was intended to be moved to an area along the Shipyards on the Northbank and was shown in conceptual plans for the area’s redevelopment that Jaguars owner Shad Khan presented to city officials in March.
But an unsigned development agreement between the city and the ship society that was circulated to City Council members in June said the ship could be required to move “without cause” — for any reason — on seven months’ notice from the city.
If the Navy isn’t willing to release another vessel, Bean said, the ship society might contact places where ship museums are struggling and ask about vessels they might be willing to give up.
Steve Patterson: (904) 359-4263