Back In 2007, a campaign was launched to return the USS Adams to Jacksonville and convert her into an interactive science and history museum. The Adams is a guided missile destroyer commissioned during the height of the Cold War, her maiden voyage being the naval blockade of Cuba during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. Following her success in that short-lived campaign, the Adams would go on to participate in over thirty years of military operations. Throughout these troubled times, she protected countless U.S. and NATO service men and women around the world. Decommissioned in 1990, having achieved her purpose in helping the U.S. win the Cold War, she has spent the last quarter of a century bobbing listlessly in a Philadelphia military shipyard. Due to the efforts of the Jacksonville Historic Naval Ship Association (JHNSA) and the Adams Class Veterans Association (ACVA), she may soon return to the warm waters of the St. Johns River, and to the citizens of Jacksonville who enjoyed her protection during the late sixties and early seventies.
The plan is bold, estimated to cost around $4 million dollars. Phase one, restoring the 440-ft. powerhouse to its previous form, requires the acquisition of certain parts that have proved particularly costly and time consuming, as much of the instrumentation was destroyed upon her decommission in order to safely store her. Once the restoration phase is complete, she must then be sailed down to the north bank of the St. Johns River and docked on the north bank, just a short walk from Everbank stadium. Then, the job of developing the pier and shipyards property with parking spaces and restroom facilities begins, as well as the creation of the basic tour routes and first berthing compartments for sleep-overs.
The payoff could be huge; if the projections are accurate the Adam’s museum and surrounding attractions could generate $4million dollars of new revenue for the city, annually. If that number seems high, just look to the success of waterfront maritime museums in Baltimore, San Diego, and in Sydney, Australia. According to sailbaltimore.org, in the forty years since Baltimore opened their museum, an admittedly much bigger attraction, over 5 million tourists have contributed over $200 million dollars to Baltimore’s economy. Picture a riverfront bustling with activity permeated with restaurants, hotels and shops with the Adams’ museum at the center and Everbank as the backdrop. This is, however, only a part of the Adams’ appeal, albeit the largest part, but it is far from the whole.
The benefit to our youth could be incalculable. Jacksonville University, University of North Florida and Florida State College at Jacksonville have all started developing coursework centered around the Adams. Future mathematicians, scientists and engineers will have the benefit of working first-hand with equipment previously off-limits to civilians. Add to that the growing number of Duval County Schools who are excited at the potential the museum will have in inspiring children who need direction. Facilities that would enable students and scout troops to stay overnight would let the city host varied events and ceremonies.
Furthermore, this is a great opportunity for the city of Jacksonville to pay homage to our military service men and women, in particular those that represent the US Navy. Jacksonville and the Navy are inextricably linked, with over 50,000 active duty and navy reserve personnel stationed in one of six naval bases that populate the area, who contribute estimated $ 1billion dollars annually to our economy. This city loves its armed service personnel; that is why so many choose to retire here after their duty has been completed. This project allows the city the chance to bring another veteran home. If you would like to get involved, please visit www.ussadams.com.