by Max Marbut
The Landing’s new naval history tenant is part museum, part retail store and part public relations and fund raising effort.
The museum part includes a few scale models on loan from the Jacksonville Maritime Museum and Jacksonville Historical Society, but the main focus is the USS Charles F. Adams, a U.S. Navy destroyer that was launched in September 1959 and served America’s maritime defense for more than 33 years. It was decommissioned in November, 1992 and now sits in storage in the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard, part of what’s called the “Mothball Fleet.”
Wayne Misenar is part of a national association of former officers and enlisted personnel who served on the Adams. The group believes their former vessel should be taken out of storage and moored near the south end of the Acosta Bridge. They also believe having the ship on the Downtown riverfront would be an asset for several reasons.
“First and foremost, it would be an attraction, something for people to do here that they can’t do anywhere else between Charleston, South Carolina and Mobile, Alabama,” said Misenar.
While what’s known as the “Historic Fleet,” a collection of vessels that have been preserved past their military usefulness and open to the public, is represented in 35 of the 50 United States, there is not a single example in Florida.
“Bringing an attraction like the Adams to the riverfront would benefit all the businesses Downtown,” added Misenar.
He said the plan to bring the warship to Jacksonville and transform it into a museum would cost about $6 million, then require income of $1.1 million per year to maintain the ship. Misenar said in addition to public tours with paid admission, the 437-foot ship could generate even more revenue through what he called “after hours” uses.
“Part of our plan is to convert some of the interior spaces into meeting rooms and the ship would be a great location for a reception or a retirement party, military or otherwise. There’s a lot we could do with it if we had it,” said Misenar.
He admitted the effort to bring the Adams to Jacksonville didn’t start recently. Misenar and his former shipmates have been trying to make it happen for a few years but they are not discouraged. Opening the museum and store at the Landing gives them the opportunity to tell the story of the ship and hopefully build support from the community for its relocation to the Southbank.
“We are dedicated,” said Misenar. “There have been dozens of miraculous events in the last two years that indicate to us this will happen. It’s an uphill battle, but we’re determined to see the USS Charles F. Adams Downtown.”
The Adams Class Naval Ship Museum is located on the ground floor of the Landing between the Compass Bank and the Toy Factory.
The Adams Class Naval Ship Museum is also a store stocked with clothing, caps and other memorabilia representing all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces.
This model of the USS Charles F. Adams marks the location of the museum and was made by a member of the local Adams Class veterans association.
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