Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The sad case of the USS JOHN ROGERS

We had some high hopes back in the summer of '06. High hopes that the last available, almost fully intact WWII FLETCHER class DD, the USS JOHN ROGERS (DD-574) could make it home and become a museum. Plans were made, things set in motion. Promises made to good people.

Sadly, it looks like it just isn't going to happen.
In its glory days, the United States Navy destroyer John Rodgers was one of the most decorated warships of World War II. Now, its hull rusting and its big guns whitened by bird droppings, the abandoned destroyer finds itself in the midst of a final battle, one that could turn the historic ship into a museum or, alternatively, into a heap of scrap.

The John Rodgers was one of 175 Fletcher-class destroyers that shepherded aircraft carriers and provided withering cover fire during amphibious landings. During two and a half years in the Pacific, it fought the Japanese in the Philippines, Kwajalein Atoll, Guam, Iwo Jima and Okinawa. It steamed into Tokyo Bay in September 1945, having earned a remarkable 12 battle stars without losing a single sailor.

Fletcher destroyers were one of the most successful weapons deployed during the war, although they suffered heavy losses from kamikaze attacks in the western Pacific. Only five of the ships remain today: four as museums (in Buffalo, New York; Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Boston; and Greece) and the John Rodgers, which is tethered to a dock in Lázaro Cárdenas, in the state of Michoacán on the Pacific coast, where Mexican officials want it removed forthwith.

After the John Rodgers retired from the U.S. Navy in 1946, it was loaned to the Mexicans, who renamed it the ARM Cuitláhuac. Eventually the Mexicans bought it outright and used it on patrols, including hunts for narcotics traffickers, up until July 2001.
Then there is the condition of the ship. Left alone in seawater for more than a year and a half, the John Rogers is showing signs of wear. Rust is building up and the wind is tearing away at the deck where American sailors once watched some of the Pacific war's greatest battles unfold.
There is someone to blame too. Read it all.

Maybe best to keep this image instead.

No comments: