|Historic ship now in hands of Naval Museum
|by Nathan Rushton, 12/11/2005
|Just what exactly that odd-looking gray ship docked east of the Samoa
Bridge along Eureka’s barren Waterfront is is likely to have crossed
the minds of more than a few residents over the years.
curious will soon get a chance to tour the vessel in the spring
following the official transfer of the 200-ton World War II-era troop
transport and beach landing craft ship from area doctor Ralph Davis to
the Humboldt Bay Naval Sea/Air Museum.
The 158-foot-long and
24-foot-wide LCI(L)-1091, which stands for Landing Craft Infantry
Large, is the last of its kind in operation out of the nearly 1,000
that were built.
Although Davis announced the donation of the
ship to the Humboldt Bay Naval Sea/Air Museum during a National LCI
Association gathering in Eureka in June, the ship was transferred to
the museum in a ceremony Friday on Woodley Island.
Davis from an Alaskan fisherman in 1988, the ship had been used since
the 1960s as a salmon processing and canning ship on the Yukon River.
a few modifications, Davis turned the LCI(L)-1091 into perhaps the most
formidable and certainly the most unusual albacore fishing vessel
Davis said it was fitting that the ship should end up as
a museum piece since it served in two wars, made the transition to the
fishing industry and had become the flagship of the National LCI
The LCI(L)-1091 participated in one of the
bloodiest battles and the largest amphibious invasions in the Pacific
campaign on the island battle of Okinawa.
The battle to capture Okinawa saw more than 30 allied ships and craft sunk and more than 12,000 Americans killed.
it was decommissioned in 1955, LCI(L)-1091 was used as a medical ship
in the Korean War and for transport purposes at the Bikini Atoll
nuclear tests of the late 1940s and 1950s.
shallow-draft vessel, which could deliver its cargo of 200 fully
equipped soldiers onto the beach, wasn’t designed for high speeds,
comfort or fishing, Davis said “she rides pretty well.”
“If you’re bucking into heavy winds, you have got to slow down because she’ll pound the daylights out of you,” Davis said.
though Davis has been captain of the LCI(L)-1091 for the past 20 years
and has used the ship for his yearly August albacore fishing trips, he
said he wasn’t sad to see it go because it will remain close by.
Marsh, project manager for the Humboldt Bay Naval Air/Sea Museum, said
right now the organization is trying to gain publicity and raise
awareness in the community that the ship will soon be ready for public
“We hope that it will be moved to a permanent, more accessible location in the spring,” Marsh said.
The ship’s current mooring location east of the Samoa Bridge doesn’t allow easy access except by another boat.
the ship will likely remain docked most of the time at its permanent
home — wherever that ends up being — possibilities for the LCI(L)-1091
include sight-seeing and whale-watching excursions.
include staging a full-on beach landing on a Crescent City beach and
navigating the vessel on the approximately 30-hour trip to the Bay Area
to participate in San Francisco’s annual Fleet Week event, a U.S. Navy
and U.S. Coast Guard tradition of military demonstrations and air shows
by active duty ships and aircraft.
“We have to put (the ship)
back into original condition — as close as possible anyway,” said Don
Hanner, the treasurer and a board of directors member for the museum
Hanner said plans are already in the works to purchase
and restore five original equipment 20mm guns and “gun tubs,” which are
currently in Texas.
Before the guns can be purchased and
shipped, the sale has to be approved by the Association of Historic
Naval Ships, which oversees the Humboldt Bay Naval Air/Sea Museum
“One of our top priorities is to get it Coast Guard certified,” Hanner said.
part of the certification process, the ship must be inspected by the
Coast Guard to ensure that the ship is seaworthy and capable of
In addition, the LCI(L)-1091 will have to be
moved to a boat repair yard to have the bottom scraped and inspected
for “soft spots” before it can be repainted, Hanner said.
The ship will also be made wheelchair accessible.
|Copyright (C) 2005, The Eureka
Reporter. All rights reserved.