JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A part of Jacksonville history could be back in the River City by next year. That's what supporters of the USS Adams say.
The Navy destroyer was based out of Mayport for more than 20 years before it was decommissioned. Now a local group is raising money to bring it to Jacksonville's Northbank downtown, and open it to the public as a museum.
"It's incredible, we've been able to make progress and keeping her from being scrapped and being turned into sheet metal," said former captain, Bob Branco.
Branco fondly remembers his time as captain of the USS Adams in the 1980s. Now, he's one of about 1,000 people pushing to get it back in Jacksonville for all to enjoy.
"It's been in our history. The Blue Angels were born here in 1946. The Naval history in Jacksonville is something we need to define and educate, not just Jacksonville, but the country," said Christopher Flagg, Adams Advocate.
The destroyer and its sailors used to call Mayport home from the 1960s to the time it was decommissioned in 1990. For the past six years, the Jacksonville Historic Naval Ship Association has been trying to bring it back to the River City. This time putting it on the St. Johns River downtown, in between the sports complex and the Main Street bridge.
"We're about a year out. We have a little more financing to do, need everybody's help to give us a dollar or something more than that. But we're really down to the final stages," said JHNSA President Daniel Bean.
Bean said the group has already raised about $500,000. Bringing the Adams down here and making it into a museum would cost about $2 million.
"Blast it, paint it, put it down, refurbish it so it can be open for business around this time next year," Bean said.
Bean said the governor is already on board, and he expects Jacksonville City Council to vote to allow it on the Northbank. He said the ship won't cost the city any money and once it opens, it will be self-sufficient, running off money made through admission fees. The group said having the ship as a centerpiece downtown will not only fill a gap between the Hyatt Hotel and the sports complex, it'll bring the city money, as visitors will come from across the country to see it.
"It's not just about bringing the Adams to Jacksonville, it's about how this ship can be a catalyst for multiple activities related to the revitalization of downtown," Flagg said.
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