EDITORIAL: USS Des Moines gone, but concept should live on
It was a contentious fight, far more contentious than Superior usually sees. Efforts to bring the USS Newport News, and later the USS Des Moines, to Superior brought out strong emotions among proponents and anti-war activists alike. The battle li...
It was a contentious fight, far more contentious than Superior usually sees.
Efforts to bring the USS Newport News, and later the USS Des Moines, to Superior brought out strong emotions among proponents and anti-war activists alike.
The battle lines were simple: Veterans and those who felt a heavy cruiser would bolster the city's tourism industry were anxious to obtain one of the mothballed ships before they were scrapped. Opponents said neither of nearly identical the sister ships had a connection with Superior, and they represented war -- killing and death.
The Newport News was scrapped long ago, and last week came news that the Des Moines is being hauled from Philadelphia to Texas to face the cutting torch.
Duluth, which also debated using the Des Moines as a static tourist display and memorial, shifted its focus to the Sundew, moving the retired Coast Guard vessel into a berth alongside the Irvin near the DECC. Meanwhile, Superior never pursued an expansion of its waterfront ship displays, and continues to struggle to keep the SS Meteor fit for public tours.
Would the Des Moines have worked out? We'll never know for sure, but the number of Korea- and Vietnam-era veterans motivated to voluntarily maintain such a large vessel declines each year. And without volunteer help, the vessel quite likely would have become a drain on taxpayers.
One could argue the same might eventually become true of the Richard I. Bong museum. But his strong local ties make that far less likely. Combined with his many feats of honor and bravery, future generations are far more likely to keep the center going.
Superior continues, however, to have ample unused waterfront space that is ripe for some type of expansion within the tourism sector. Barker's Island continues to be among the city's more striking successes. Despite earlier controversies, the concept deserves additional consideration.