418-foot destroyer USS Edson, set to become centerpiece of ship museum, arrives in Michigan

The Associated Press

BAY CITY, Mich. - Hundreds of people lined the shore Tuesday to watch the arrival of a 418-foot destroyer that's expected to become the centerpiece of a ship museum in Michigan.

The USS Edson, which served during the Cold War and the Vietnam War, arrived in the Bay City area after being propelled by tugboat for the trip from Philadelphia that started last month. It will be established as the centerpiece of a floating ship museum about 90 miles northwest of Detroit on the Saginaw River.

"This is a historic event," Gary Irons, an instructor on the Navy sea cadet ship Grayfox, told MLive.com (http://bit.ly/RwQmSS ). "I was up at 3 a.m. with my wife to watch it pass by Port Huron."

The Edson was launched in 1958 and is recognized as a national historic landmark. Its first deployment was to the Western Pacific in January 1960. It was deployed to Vietnam three times. Turning it into a museum is expected to cost $1.4 million, officials have said.

A contract was signed in May transferring ownership from the Navy to the Saginaw Valley Naval Ship Museum. The Edson's permanent home will be near the Independence Park Boat Launch in Bay County's Bangor Township.

"She's finally here," said Saginaw Valley Naval Ship Museum President Mike Kegley.

As the sun rose Tuesday, a group of 10 veterans joined the crowd gathered at the Bay City Boat Lines dock in downtown Bay City to board the Princess Wenonah. The boat took passengers on a cruise down the Saginaw River to greet the Edson as the ship arrived at a temporary dock.

The veterans wore hats from the USS Blandy, the Edson's sister ship. The ships are nearly identical, said Robert Cassity of Morris, Ill., who served as a boiler man on the Blandy from 1968 to 1972.

"This is a reunion for those of us who served on the Blandy," Cassity said. "It's a chance to get together and reminisce. There are a lot of memories."