Visiting a Fletcher-class Destroyer
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Abbot is gone forever, but four of its nearly identical siblings are still afloat. You can even choose a ship to visit that best reflects either World War II or the Cold War.
Of course the best way to understand any navy ship is to visit it on active duty; next best thing is to visit a museum ship.
Destroyer visits are fun and educational, partly because the ships are small enough to be seen stem to stern in just an hour or two. They are also relatively easy to tour, with no towering superstructure or endlessly descending lower decks; less mobile visitors can see a lot just by touring the main deck. You might even get a former destroyerman as a tour guide, especially on a weekend. (In the photo at right, former Abbot engineering officer Mal Hill gave a tour of Cassin Young to a group of naval cadets in 2008.)
All of these ships are associated with museums ashore. None of the Fletchers are seaworthy, but all look as if they could steam away tomorrow. The museums in Boston, Buffalo and Athens also display other historic warships.
These are the surviving Fletchers, listed oldest to youngest:
- The Sullivans (DD 537)
- Buffalo and Erie County Naval & Military Park, New York. Cold War configuration. Abbot and The Sullivans were decommissioned together in 1965. Moored in Lake Erie, where the fresh water helps slow rusting and decay. www.buffalonavalpark.org
Buffalo and Erie County Naval & Military Park 1-716-847-1773One Naval Park Cove Buffalo New York 14202
- Charrette (DD 581)
- Park of Maritime Tradition in Faliron Bay, Athens, Greece. After more than a decade in mothballs, Charrette was recommissioned Velos (Α/Τ Βελος) by the Greek Navy in 1959 and retired in 1991. Its Cold War modifications for NATO duty included a large tripod mast and electronic warfare antennas. A successful mutiny aboard Velos while off Italy in 1973 helped muster worldwide attention to a military coup in Greece, and so today the preserved ship is still revered as a monument to Greek democracy. Visit the official web site.
Park of Maritime TraditionFaliron Bay Athens Greece
- Kidd (DD 661)
- Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The only Fletcher in World War II configuration, including the original single mainmast. Kidd and Abbot served in Destroyer Squadron 48 during World War II, and are thus considered sister ships. Kidd is moored on the east shore of the Mississippi River, just north of the Horace Wilkinson (Interstate 10) Bridge. Its hull is exposed annually by a seasonal drop in water level, making it possible to closely inspect the entire ship including the rudder and screws. www.usskidd.com
U.S.S. Kidd Veterans Memorial 1-225-342-1942305 South River Road Baton Rouge Louisiana 70802-6220
- Cassin Young (DD 793)
- Boston. Displayed in Cold War configuration and moored near the historic 1797 frigate Constitution in Charlestown Navy Yard. An excellent National Park Service video tour is available on the web site. www.nps.gov/bost/historyculture/usscassinyoung.htm
Boston National Historical Park 1-617-242-5601Charlestown Navy Yard Boston Massachusetts 02129