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Rizzo

USS Grand Rapids

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There used to be a small (in US Navy standards) gunboat used in the 70s that was named for The City of Grand Rapids. I came across some interesting information about it here. It was one of seventeen ASHEVILLE CLASS Patrol Gunboats in the US Navy and was nearly destroyed by a fire when it was first built. The boat was later fitted with surface to surface missile capabilities. Although, there probably is really no historical tie to the city other than its name, wouldn't it be cool if the boat could be used as a show piece or small museum? I really don't know its current condition, but if it's waiting somewhere to be rescued that would be an awesome opportunity. Anyone know how feasible it would be to have it on the river? The draft is 9' 6" feet.

Photos of the USS GR

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[ Anyone know how feasible it would be to have it on the river? Somewhere near the public works island? The draft is 9' 6" feet.

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Before folks get too excited, the USS Grand Rapids is -- well -- no longer the USS Grand Rapids. She was decommissioned from the USN in 1977, after only 6 years in commission (the Asheville class gunboats were sort of a failure, I think). She has passed through various hands in the government, and now is known as Research Vessel Athena II. With a hull age of 37 years, I don't know how much longer she will be with us.

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haha 37 years lol your are nuts. Uhm the USS Constitution is still in service and still is in use by the US Navy. It was laid down in 1794 comminished in 1797. So uhm you said the USS Grand Rapids could be rough shape, interesting. [email protected] <[email protected]> is the email addy of the last known place for the ship. BTW if you are wondering if the hull of a steal warship is possible to be saved well the USS Texas is still floating since 1910. So uhm your comment about the hull is kinda funny. We do have warships afloat right now that have served longer than that. The nimitz is pretty close as well.

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haha 37 years lol your are nuts. Uhm the USS Constitution is still in service and still is in use by the US Navy. It was laid down in 1794 comminished in 1797. So uhm you said the USS Grand Rapids could be rough shape, interesting. [email protected] <[email protected]> is the email addy of the last known place for the ship. BTW if you are wondering if the hull of a steal warship is possible to be saved well the USS Texas is still floating since 1910. So uhm your comment about the hull is kinda funny. We do have warships afloat right now that have served longer than that. The nimitz is pretty close as well.

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The USS Silversides was a neat experience, especially the mechanics behind submersibles. Honestly, the last thing of interest while touring the ship was its war record. What I remember was a great fascination of the machine itself. I would have the same for either of the two. It seems the general population would find the same to be true. The ship would be cool as a exhibit on Museum Row -- just an idea.

Not sure why there has to be a tone to this thread.

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The USS Silversides was a neat experience, especially the mechanics behind submersibles. Honestly, the last thing of interest while touring the ship was its war record. What I remember was a great fascination of the machine itself. I would have the same for either of the two. It seems the general population would find the same to be true. The ship would be cool as a exhibit on Museum Row -- just an idea.

Not sure why there has to be a tone to this thread.

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I agree to your last, but I wasn't the one who called someone "nuts."

The problem with including the USS Grand Rapids is that she isn't the USS Grand Rapids any more, and hasn't been for decades. The USS Silversides was, fortunately, still in commission as a Reserve ship in Chicago, so all the operational goodies that make her so fascinating were still available when she went to Muskegon.

If you want an example of a ship that was a warship/research vessel/museum ship, see HMCS Sackville in Halifax. She is the last surviving example of a Flower-class corvette, a very important convoy escort type during World War II. It was well worth returning Sackville to her wartime appearance, and she is a nice tourist draw.

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I'm not pointing fingers or anything. I'd like to keep this thread in brainstorming mode.

I understand that the USS Grand Rapids may no longer remain appropriate as she is not known by her christened name. The whole concept is still interesting, especially for the downtown riverfront. Do you know of any small to midsized naval boats that might have historical context to Grand Rapids? :)

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During WWII both Grand Rapids and Muskegon had frigates named after them which were at least twice the size as the gunboat from the 1970s. Unfortunately after the war the Grand Rapids was scrapped and the Muskegon sold off to France.

I don't know how much this ship was modified after becoming a research vessel but ships have been converted and then later restored to their original state before. LST-393 was converted to the Highway-16 transport ferry after WWII. The Highway-16 operated between Muskegon and Milwaukee from 1946 to 1973. It sat unused for three decades, but today it has been restored to its LST configuration and last year its landing doors were reopened for the first time since they had been sealed in the 1940s. So if someone could somehow get ahold of this research ship I'm sure it could be made into the USS Grand Rapids museum boat. The question is how much would it cost?

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During WWII both Grand Rapids and Muskegon had frigates named after them which were at least twice the size as the gunboat from the 1970s. Unfortunately after the war the Grand Rapids was scrapped and the Muskegon sold off to France.

I don't know how much this ship was modified after becoming a research vessel but ships have been converted and then later restored to their original state before. LST-393 was converted to the Highway-16 transport ferry after WWII. The Highway-16 operated between Muskegon and Milwaukee from 1946 to 1973. It sat unused for three decades, but today it has been restored to its LST configuration and last year its landing doors were reopened for the first time since they had been sealed in the 1940s. So if someone could somehow get ahold of this research ship I'm sure it could be made into the USS Grand Rapids museum boat. The question is how much would it cost?

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The two ships mentioned by Eridony, USS Grand Rapids, PF-31 and USS Muskegon, PF-24, were World War II frigate based on the British River-class design. They were built to mercantile standards, which are less stringent than military standards, and were intended to be basically "throwaway" ships. (Most were scrapped within a few years of the end of the war.) However, the lead ship, USS Tacoma, and two ships eventually sold to Thailand, remain as museum ships in Asia. Pretty remarkable, and USS Tacoma (now the Taedong of the South Korean navy) is still afloat. The Grand Rapids and the Muskegon were built at Superior, Wisconsin and, I believe, sent down the Mississippi to be outfitted. Both were used as weather ships. The Grand Rapids was scrapped in 1947, while the Muskegon survived in France until the mid-1950s.

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The difference, in my opinion, is that LST-393 is one of two remaining LSTs, and a ship that served at Normandy and in the Med. And, an LST was a cargo ship, which is what Highway 16 was. Find some old anti-aircraft guns, reconfigure the bridge a little, and slap on some gray paint and you have LST-393. The USS Grand Rapids had a short, undistinguished career in the USN (as did most of her class, though some served in Vietnam in the "Brown Water Navy"). I just don't think she would be worth the money to restore. (And museum ships, even famous ones, are having problems. For example, the USS Hornet, which saw distinguished service in World War II and which picked up the Apollo 11 astronauts, is struggling in Alameda.)

A better candidate for a museum ship might have been the SS Grand Rapids, a Grand Trunk Railroad car ferry that steamed between Grand Haven, and later Muskegon, and Milwaukee for decades. Unfortunately, she was scrapped in the 70s or 80s. However, SS Milwaukee, her sister ship, can be seen in Manistee and is well worth a visit. Another candidate might have been USCG Woodbine, a 180-foot buoy tender that served at Grand Haven for decades and had a pretty interesting war record (service in the Pacific) to boot. Unfortunately she too, has been scrapped. There is a surviving buoy tender in Port Huron of the same class that can be visited.

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As you can see, I am pretty passionate about ships, and love museum ships. I would urge everyone to visit these ships, not just view them from the outside. Go to Saugatuck and visit the S.S. Keewatin. She is one of the last of the classic Great Lakes cruise ships, and was built in Scotland the same year as the Lusitania (also built in Scotland). We can't visit the Lusitania -- she is a disintegrating pile of rubble on the bottom of the Atlantic. But we can visit the Keewatin, and get an idea of what early 20th century marine architecture is all about. Go to Manistee and visit the S.S. Milwaukee. My first time on a big ship was the trip I made with my folks on the Pere Marquette 21, a near sister of the S.S. Milwaukee. The Pere Marquette is gone, but we can experience a Lake Michigan car ferry of the 1920s by visiting the Milwaukee. (Heck, take the S.S. Badger from Ludington to Manitowoc, and experience a lake crossing. And when you are in Manitowoc, visit the museum there and see the engine from the Chief Wawatam, which used to carry freight cars across the Straits of Mackinaw. And then, visit the USS Cobia, another World War II submarine that has been beautifully preserved.)

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The Pere Marquette is gone, but we can experience a Lake Michigan car ferry of the 1920s by visiting the Milwaukee.

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Or to visit a ship that's over a century old and was a Lake Michigan car ferry from 1941 until 1970 visit the Milwaukee Clipper in Muskegon. Soon it'll be moving to its new location next to the LST-393.

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