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?

There are many more wonderful photos of the event from the wonderful Cassin Young Volunteers website.

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!)

Posted by UltimaRatioReg in History, Maritime Security, Navy, Travel

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  • Excellent post! It was a beautiful day as I sat and hung out with my three retired Sailors, a radioman, a Bubblehead & a SeaBee to watch this event.

    You are completely correct in stating the necessity of preserving these important examples of Naval history. I love that you mentioned the efforts to preserve the USS Olympia. Have you “liked” their Facebook page yet?

  • Byron

    If Maggie will put me up and feed me, I’ll be glad to do the hull survey 🙂 Actually, you won’t know anything till they UHP (ultra high pressure) water blast the hull to get the sea life off her. Biggest problem with repairs is the hazmat procedures for dealing with all that red lead the Navy used in the way back when. If they find any holes in the water/air interface, they’ll just slap a piece of steel over the hole and seal-weld it in place, none of the NAVSEA procedures will apply for inactive warships.

    Damn what I’d give to walk her decks and crawl around her innards!

  • Andy (JADAA)

    Hope they fix what needs fixing, mending and repairing and then give her a paint job from the war so she’ll really represent those great vessels as they appeared. Oh, and send the measurements to DC so they know what a real LCS should look like. 😉

  • Surfcaster

    Brings a good question (snark). What will Freedom and Independence look like in 65 years? Forgetting something improbable like actually needing to fight or sumptin’.

    “On 12 April, it was Cassin Young’s turn, when a massive wave of kamikazes came in at midday. Her accurate gunfire had aided in shooting down five aircraft, but a sixth crashed high-up into her foremast, exploding in midair only 50 feet (15 m) from the ship. Casualties were light; only one man was killed and one other wounded. Cassin Young, although damaged, made Kerama Retto under her own power. After repairs there and at Ulithi, she returned to Okinawa 31 May, and resumed radar picket duty.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Cassin_Young_%28DD-793%29#1945

  • eastriver

    Thanks, URR, for helping us keep these old beauties in mind.

  • Mary

    My father was on the Cassin Young during the Korean War. Glad to see she is being taken care of. He loved that ship, and I hope to get a chance to see her.

  • Johnnie Lingron

    My father served on the awesome ship Cassin Young ..I can’t tell you how proud I am that it has been restored and is now a museum ….thank you everyone that restored her. I appreciate everyone that had a part of this.

    Your truly

    Johnnie Lingron (daughter or Herbert Howard Lingron coxswain DD793)

  • Torey

    Does anyone know when the ship will be coming out of the drydock? I recently moved to the Navy Yard and am would love to be there when they bring her out of the drydock! Any updates or info would be great, thanks!

  • The Cassin Young was last drdocked spring/summer 1980. I worked on her as a laborer with the park service while in college. They actually gave hard hat dry dock tours during he respite in dry dock 1.She is a cool ship and i enjoyed working on her and on the dry Dock itself. As a point of interest, we had the first coat of red led on when water was discovered on the constitution. The Park Service was informed the they had 24 hours to remove the young from the dry dock for the Constitution. Luckily the leak on Old Ironsides was found and repaired without the need for dry docking and the work continued on the Young. As a sad aside, what a pity the USS Olympia, a far more unique and far more historic vessel has never had the care given to the Casin Young and faces the possibility of being scarped or sunk as a reef.

  • Cees van der Leeuw

    Visited the Cassin Yopung twice (last time in 2009) and it pleases me to see it is taken care off very well.
    Form experience I know there is a LOT of time involved in keeping historical items like these in good shape and preserve them for the future.
    A big thank you to all the folks that make this possible in in order.Keep the good work going folks!
    Kind regard from a Dutchy

  • Clark Davidson

    I got help with the dry docking and rehab on the USS Cassin Young last summer and fall. It was a unique once in a life time experience. There was a great crew of sub contractors and Park Service Staff and volunteers involved that pulled it all together. The above water portion and interior of the ship was in amazing condition because of the continuing hard work of the Park Service and Volunteers.

  • John Warren

    As a Grandson of Cassin Young, it is a pleasure to hear all the kudos for the ship, her crew and those trying preserve her. Cassin Young was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for actions at Pearl Harbor, and the ship was named in his honor after being Killed in Action commanding the UUS San Francisco at the Naval Battle at Gaudacanal (sp). Its easy to let our history slip away, so thanks to the Park Service and everyone involved in the restoration.

  • Barry Wilkinson

    I put hundreds of volunteer hours, on Saturday mornings, on this ship spanning 24 years. My fear is that the Navy has already made it’s decision what to do with her and we won’t know what it is until it’s done.I live in Michigan now and I have sent emails to both of my Senators asking for their help in saving this ship.

  • Dan Rush

    I was a Sea Cadet with USS Boston Division out of Northie’s Coast Guard station and spent many Saturdays helping to restore old “Clinker” to her fighting trim. She was my first experiance with a navy ship and I went on to serve 20 years because of her influence. To lose her would be a great shame to those who served on her and died aboard her. We simply can not allow the Young to be lost without a fight.

  • my father who passed away in 1996, served on the USS Cassin Young during WWII. Where is it today and is it open for tours?

  • Rick Barron

    I am a nephew of Cpt. Cassin Young’s Brother; Col.Edward H. Young. I appreciate all of the continued interest and posts on this website and I look forward to many more. I look forward to seeing this fine ship floating again.