The USS Charles F. Adams Naval Ship Museum proposed for the Shipyards property Downtown moved this week a step closer to its grand opening.
Legislation to authorize the Downtown Investment Authority to execute a development agreement between the city and the Jacksonville Historic Naval Ship Association Inc., 2014-426, was introduced to City Council on Tuesday by council member Bill Bishop.
“It’s the next step in the many steps required,” said Joe Snowberger, association commodore and CEO.
The bill sets out a 10-year license agreement with two five-year renewal options. In addition to moving the Cold War-era guided missile destroyer to Jacksonville and mooring it along a pier at the Shipyards property, the association also would construct, operate and maintain a naval museum at the site.
Snowberger said that portion of the project includes some improvements to the pier, a parking lot and a welcome center for visitors.
The vessel’s first mission was to take part in the blockade of Cuba during the Cuban Missile Crisis. The Adams spent 21 of its 30 years in service stationed at Mayport Naval Station, which inspired the association’s motto “Bring home the Adams.”
The final application for donation of the Adams must be submitted to the U.S. Navy by Monday. The 150-page application includes submitting business and fundraising plans, he said. The association anticipates its application could be approved by the end of September.
Then the Adams will be inspected by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to confirm the vessel is environmentally fit for transport and use as a public floating museum.
Assuming the process proceeds on schedule, Snowberger said the Adams could be towed to Jacksonville as soon as six months after the association’s application is approved, but certainly before December 2015.
In the meantime, he said, the association will present the site and museum design to the Downtown Development Review Board and then apply for city permits for construction.
Restoration of the destroyer will begin before it leaves the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard, where it has been berthed since 1990. The exterior refurbishment will be complete when it’s towed into the St. Johns River, Snowberger said.
At that point, the Adams will be berthed either at its new home at the Shipyards property or at a temporary location for further restoration of interior spaces. Snowberger said about 90 days after the Adams arrives in Jacksonville, it will be ready to open to the public.
Snowberger said the association has secured a letter of credit to cover the cost of bringing the ship to Jacksonville, but a new fundraising campaign is underway.
Myriad sponsorship opportunities and levels, including one-time and recurring donations, are available from a $25 individual membership to the highest level of sponsorship – the $1 million “Plank Owner” level. Snowberger said the association launched the new marketing effort to raise the remaining $1.5 million of the $3.5 million budget for the project.
“We’re talking to corporations and even some smaller businesses about naming rights. It’s an opportunity for a company to have a legacy branding impact,” he said. “But with memberships starting at $25, there’s a way for everyone to get involved in bringing home the Adams.”