What started as an idea among a group of veterans culminated with a museum ship opening on the banks of the Saginaw River near the Independence Bridge in Bangor Township a decade ago.
The Vietnam Era Destroyer, USS Edson
, docked in Bangor Township on Aug. 5, 2012. An official 10-year anniversary celebration
is planned for Sat., Aug. 27 this year.
Peter Gorzenski, Vice President of the Saginaw Valley Naval Ship Museum, says the ship is a popular destination for scouts and kids’ camps, as well as tourists throughout the summer. Over the years, the ship also has hosted a number of overnight stays.
Typically, visitors to the ship can either take a self-guided tour or call ahead to request a guided tour with one of a handful of volunteers.
The USS Edson earned a nickname in North Vietnam when smoke from a battle blocked the ship from view, convincing the North Vietnamese that it had sunk. It re-appeared weeks later, earning the moniker 'Grey Ghost of the Vietnamese Coast.'
Even if you’ve gone on one of those tours, though, there are parts of the ship you haven’t seen. For the 10th
anniversary celebration parts of the ship that aren’t usually open to the public will be available for viewing.
The Edson’s journey to Bay City began about 15 years ago when a group of retired veterans from Bay City traveled to Pennsylvania in search of the USS Charles F. Adams. They wanted to acquire that ship for the museum. When transporting and restoring the Adams proved too costly, though, the USS Edson became a prospect. At the time, the Edson was docked next to the Adams.
It took two tug boats and some negotiation with Canadian officials to get the Edson through the St. Lawrence Seaway. But after a month-long journey, the Edson was moored in its new location.
While the ship has only been in this area for a decade, its history extends back much further.
“The Edson was commissioned in 1959,” says Gorzenski.
The ship, which made 10 tours of Vietnam. was classified as one of the “top-guns” of its era. It fired over 40,000 rounds from its big guns. It was built at Bath Iron Works in Bath, Maine, and carried an average of 270 crew members and up to 30 officers. The ship was also active during the Cold War between the US and U.S.S.R. until its decommissioning in December of 1988.
“If people want to know more, they’ll have to take a tour,” Gorzenski adds.
Beginning at 10 a.m. on Sat., Aug. 27, a color guard will raise the flag on the ship, and the day will be filled with tours, and family events.
Events include Gorzenski the chance to win an overnight stay on the ship for four people, a flyover from a World War II bomber, and a U.S. Coast Guard exhibit. Also on hand will be a small aircraft from James Clements airport, a helicopter, the SWAT truck, and emergency vehicles to tour.
“We’ll also be auctioning off the flag we fly that day,” he says.
The ship is open until November. For information on hours or to schedule a tour with a volunteer guide, call (989) 684-3946
a few days before your visit. Information also is available on the Saginaw Valley Naval Ship Museum website
Beginning in September, watch for information on this year’s Edson Incident, a popular annual haunted ship event.