The Saginaw Valley Naval Ship Museum has a $750,000 contract with a Tampa, Florida, firm for towing the 418-foot destroyer to Bay County..
EDSON AWEIGH! Backers of Destroyer Museum Ship Say Plans Underway
Backers of the USS Edson museum ship say the ship will be docked in Bay City probably sometime in August.
The Saginaw Valley Naval Ship Museum has a $750,000 contract with a Tampa, Florida, firm for towing the 418-foot destroyer to Bay County.
Mike Kegley, president of the museum, has told the news media that
Dann Ocean Towing of Tampa, Fla. placed the winning bid on the tow trip out of three bidders.
The museum, a non-profit organization, reportedly has assets on hand and an offer of substantial financial backing from the Bay County Growth Alliance to pay for the towing.
Fundraising is continuing for operation of the museum and for ongoing maintenance of the ship, to be manned by volunteers. Up to 80,000 visitors a year are expected to tour the ship or be involved in educational programs.
A request by State Sen. Mike Green, R-Mayville, for a $300,000 appropriation from the state budget may still be viable, according to State Sen. Roger Kahn, R-Saginaw, chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee. Local legislators are seeking support from Republican members of the Michigan House where the request was stalled in the Appropriations Committee early in June and never reached a vote.
A docking plan is in final stages, according to reports from museum officials, although docks have been built, and mooring chain and facilities are on hand.
The Bay City Times reported last Tuesday that the towing firm will pick up the ship at the former Philadelphia Navy Yard one day after the Navy deadline of July 17.
Two tug boats are needed to tow the destroyer on the trip through the St. Lawrence Seaway taking up to six weeks and requiring 93,000 gallons of diesel fuel for the tugs.
The deadline of July 17 for the USS Edson to leave Philadelphia marks 60 days from the date museum officials and the Navy signed a transfer of ownership at a ceremony held near Bay City's Independence Bridge Boat Launch, where the ship is slated to be moored.
Kegley reported recently that the ship is being prepared for the voyage including rigging a generator to operate flood lights. There is a 19-page checklist document necessary to assure the ship is seaworthy," Kegley said. "We don't need it sinking." The entire cost of the project is estimated at $1.4 million.
Ship project backers have been raising funds for the past 15 years as well as working with the U.S. Navy NAVSEA division to win approval for towing and docking plans.
Community Article 07121
Dave Rogers is a former editorial writer for the Bay City Times and a widely read,
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