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THE CAMPAIGN FOR

USS FORREST SHERMAN DD-931

(proposed location subject to final approvals from the Navy)
 

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The USS Forrest Sherman DD-931 was the first of a new class of destroyers developed after World War II, and the prototype of all the fast ships in today’s modern Navy.  It was built by the Bath Iron Works in Bath, Maine during 1953-1954, one of the premiere shipyards in this country that is still building ships for the Navy today.  Named for the youngest Chief of Naval Operations and hero of the Second World War, Forrest Percival Sherman, a long time resident of the State of Maryland, she was commissioned in 1955 by the legendary former destroyer commander and then CNO, Admiral Arleigh Burke, and Mrs. Delores Sherman, Admiral Sherman’s widow.  The Sherman is known as the “Last of the Great Gun Ships”.

The Sherman was an engineering marvel, ranging from her 1200 pound steam plant enabling her to go faster than any war ship then afloat, her fully automatic gun control systems that allowed her to take on multiple targets, to her fully air conditioned crew spaces that made the ship more habitable.  She had participated in the ill-fated Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba, rescuing many of the escaping combatants, the invasion of Lebanon where she received a unit citation, the protection of the Straits of Formosa in the Pacific, the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway, and the Iranian Hostage Rescue Mission. 

The Sherman’s long and distinguished career as a war ship ended in 1982 when she was decommissioned and laid up in the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard as part of the inactive fleet.  But the Sherman’s decommissioning was not to be the end of her battles.  While two of her sister ships have been retained as museum/display ships in Washington, D.C., and Bremerton, Washington, the Sherman was sold twice for scrap and towed away to meet her fate.  Somehow she escaped the breakers torch and was taken back by the Navy and returned to Philadelphia.  She was then scheduled to be sunk as part of a Naval exercise in January of 2001.

The USS Forrest Sherman DD-931 Foundation, Inc., a 501 (c)(3) non-profit corporation registered in Bel Air, Maryland, was formed in late 2000 to save and restore this historic vessel and bring her to Maryland as a museum/display ship. Through the efforts of the Foundation and subsequent actions by the Navy, the ship was removed from the disposal list and placed into the formal “Donation Hold” category. This category is reserved by the Navy for historic vessels that the Navy desires to enter the nation’s museum fleet. By this action the Navy has recognized the importance of the Sherman to the history of the United States Navy, and the desire to see her maintained for future generations.

As the result of legislation introduced by Congressman Wayne Gilchrist, and supported by the entire the Maryland Congressional Delegation,  as well as U. S. Senators John Warner and Carl Levin and Congressmen Duncan Hunter and Ike Skelton, the Chairmen and Ranking Members of the House and Senate Armed Services Committees, Congress enacted legislation as part of the Defense Authorization Bill for Fiscal Year 2006 that requires the Secretary of the Navy not to dispose of this historic ship, but to donate it to the Foundation.  The Foundation had been previously determined by the Navy to meet the requirements for donation of the vessel under Section 7306(a.)(3) of Title 10, United States Code.  The Foundation has submitted its application for donation of the vessel, and it has been accepted for review by the Navy.  Notice was posted in the Federal Register by the Navy as required by law, and the six-month waiting period for any additional donation requests has expired.  The Navy will now work directly with the Foundation to complete the donation process. 

The Forrest Sherman, never having been dismantled, is intact, allowing funds allocated for restoration and renovation to be used to best effect in preparing the Sherman for her new life as a museum. Priority will be given to the following areas in the Sherman’s restoration and renovation program:

§         General cleaning and repainting of all areas.

§         Restoration of crew berthing areas and bathrooms.

§         Restoration of galley and crew mess.

§         Restoration of navigation and steering components.

Restored and refitted for her new life as a museum and dormitory, the Forrest Sherman will be brought to an appropriate berth. Once on site, the Sherman will play a vital role in expanding tourism and in supporting the programs of the museum including:

§         Overnight Sleep Aboard Program—this interactive learning experience will offer approximately 350 beds per night.

§         America at Sea—introduces the facilities for these behind-the-scenes ship tours.

§         Science and the Sailor—this educational enhancement program, exploring how mathematics, science, and engineering technologies are key to the process of ship design and operation.

§         Maryland Summer Center for Maritime Studies—introduces this six-day experience for students entering grades 7-9 that focuses on the mathematical and scientific principles involved in ship design, buoyancy, propulsion, and other technology dependent systems.

The addition of the USS Forrest Sherman will constitute an important enhancement of the financial operations of the museum and the economy. With educational programs and museum exhibits implemented, the ship should add measurably to the annual operating revenues of the museum and as well as encouraging increased tourism in the area.

Overnight Sleep Aboard Program—the Forrest Sherman has the potential to add as many as 350 berths to this program. The Overnight Sleep Aboard Program draws school and youth groups from all over the Mid-Atlantic States.

Conservative financial models estimate the potential operating revenue from the Overnight Sleep Aboard Program at $215,000.  This is based upon approximately 100 children per night during the 90 day prime period.  The history of sleep aboard programs on other ship museums of the historic fleet is actually far greater.

Admission Fees and Attendance—the addition of a destroyer to the historic fleet will allow for a modest ticket price of $5 for adults, $3 for children 7-18 years of age, and zero cost for children under 7. In the interest of presenting the most conservative financial model, annual attendance has been projected at a total of 85,000.

Projected annual fees from attendance ($4 average x 85,000 attendance) should generate income of $340,000.

 §         Total projected annual revenue from visitors:           $340,000

 §         Total projected revenue from sleep aboard:             $215,000

The projected annual operating revenue is an essential component of the current financial model for this new historic ship museum. But it is not adequate to cover all elements of the ship’s installation, the development of interactive museum exhibits, equipment and furnishing of food preparation and dormitory areas, and long-term maintenance and preservation.

Additional funds are being sought in the form of charitable contributions in the amount of $3 million. These funds will provide the following:

  §         Dockside Infrastructure                                $1 million (estimate)

 §
        
Beginning Permanent Endowment                 $2 million

   
§         Total                                                                 $3 million

 

The USS Forrest Sherman is an important ship and represents a significant addition to Maryland’s fleet of historic ships. The Sherman was the first of a new class of destroyers and pioneered radically improved propulsion and weapons technologies that quickly became fleet standards. She is unique in never having been physically altered for missile technologies and is historically accurate, the last of the great gun ships of the American Navy.

The Sherman is more than a historic artifact, however. She is a symbol and a reminder of our national traditions of service and self-sacrifice. As noted actor Hal Holbrook stated, “The campaign for the U.S.S. Forrest Sherman is about education—educating the youth of today about the responsibility of citizenship, about our national ideals, and historical values. This is about America and our American way of life, and the determination and sacrifices of so many over the years to protect and preserve it.”

A complete history of the USS Forrest Sherman DD-931, and the efforts of the Foundation to restore this historic vessel, may be found on the Foundation’s home page on the web at: www.ussforrestsherman.org. The founding officers of the Foundation were Kurt A. Wagemann, President; Robert Mehlrose, Vice President; and George C. Lussier, Jr., Secretary/Treasurer.  A Board of Directors consisting of CAPT. Russell S. Crenshaw, Jr., USN (ret), Herbert M. Katzenberg, CAPT Frederick Kelley, USN (ret), CAPT A. Jim Booth, USN (ret), CAPT John E. Sherman, USN (ret), Paul F. Nace, Rowland S. Johnson, and CDR James S. Stirling, USN (Ret) later joined these officers.

 

 

U.S.S. Forrest Sherman DD-931 Foundation, Inc.

720 Reedy Circle

Bel Air, Maryland 21014

Telephone/Facsimile: 410-836-9260

kurt.Wagemann@verizon.net