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Rep. Rutherford Working To Bring USS Adams To Downtown Jacksonville

U.S. Rep. John Rutherford said he has become personally involved in bringing the USS Charles F. Adams to Downtown Jacksonville, an effort that began 10 years ago. 

Rutherford told our Daily Record news partner Wednesday he is working with the U.S. Naval Sea Systems Command and other officials, including Secretary of the Navy Richard Spencer, to approve the ship’s donation to the nonprofit Jacksonville Historic Naval Ship Association Inc.

The Naval Sea Systems Command is the largest of the U.S. Navy’s five system commands. It designs, builds, delivers and maintain ships and systems for the military branch. The command has the authority over donating or scrapping retired vessels. 

“We’re getting ready to send the final package up to them and hopefully they give us the go-ahead,” Rutherford said. 

The 437-foot USS Adams was commissioned in 1960 and is named after former Secretary of the Navy Charles F. Adams. It was decommissioned in 1990 and currently is at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard. 

The plan to bring back the destroyer, which previously docked at Naval Station Mayport, now spans a decade. 

The Navy plans to donate the ship to the nonprofit, which then will convert it into a floating museum. 

“The Navy actually already had it on the list to scrap but we got them to pause that while they worked out the financing and the berthing side of the agreement,” Rutherford said.

The effort received a boost May 23 when the Downtown Investment Authority approved a three-year economic development agreement with the nonprofit.  

Terms include a 10-year licensing agreement with two five-year extensions to moor the vessel at Pier No. 1 at the former Shipyards property on the Downtown Northbank.

The deal mirrors one that expired in 2017 as the nonprofit failed to reach its funding goals. 

If City Council approves the agreement in late June or early July, the ship could arrive by fall.  

Rutherford said the latest attempt hasn’t been easy, with personnel changes in naval leadership and confusion over whether the nonprofit fulfilled the necessary requirements. 

“We’ve been writing letters, meeting with officials to challenge them on us having met the requirements, and whether they actually moved the goal post on us,” he said.