Tucked into Charlestown Navy Yard are several true treasures of American Naval history. Of course, the main attraction is Old Ironsides, the world-renowned USS Constitution, one of the US Navy’s six frigates, berthed at Pier 1. There are many other buildings and structures, including the Marine Barracks, and the museum building, rich in tradition and history, and worth the Boston traffic battle. (Boston Maggie, by the way, is apparently an honorable Grand Admiral or something, having grown up within sight of “Chaahhlstown Navy Yahhhd”, and able to arrange just about anything for anybody, if she likes you.)
But beginning early on Monday morning, 9 August 2010, two of the other wonderful and historic attractions have been intertwined, as the World War II Fletcher-class destroyer Cassin Young (DD-793) slipped into the ancient but still working Drydock Number One for her first drydocking since her arrival in Boston from her purgatory in mothballs at Philadelphia.
From all tales told by docents and National Park Service folks, Cassin Young was in some rough shape, and needed repairs to hull plating that had seen the light of day only once since her mothballing in the Spring of 1960 (that was in 1978, upon her arrival in Boston). She was leaking and the museum was wary of even the “weather turn-around” which had been conducted periodically.
As the water drained away, the signs of decades-long immersion in the warmish salt water were apparent, as the images of her screws and rudder (above) clearly show.
After a great deal of scraping, the condition of the hull plates, sonar dome (the downward protrusion from the hull in the center picture above) and the shafts, screws, and rudder are clearer. What say you, Byron? Can you tell from these photos how she is faring?
Even though I seem to be a magnet for showing up at museum ships that are closed, (right Maggie?) sometimes in doing so, I find a gem or two. I am thrilled that Cassin Young is undergoing this 4-month drydocking. She is one of only a handful of Fletchers remaining in existence, and has been largely restored to her World War II configuration.
I shudder to think of what the underside of the unique and irreplaceable USS Olympia looks like. Somehow, some way, funds need to be found for the dredging, drydocking, and repair of the last remnant of America’s steel Navy.
If we do not preserve the few remaining examples of the great and rich history of the United States Navy, we will have done a great disservice to the men who made that history. Perhaps we will be doing an even greater disservice to tomorrow’s sailors, severing forever a link with a glorious and heroic past.
UPDATE: My reference of 1978 for the last drydock of Cassin Young is in error. It should read 1980, when she arrived at Boston. She was still in Philadelphia in 1978.
(Thanks, Jack Swanson, for pointing that out!)