MIKE GOODWIN Staff writer
Caption: U.S. NAVY THE NAVY'S USS Schenectady was a 522-foot tank landing ship named after the county in 1970 at the suggestion of a Schenectady elementary school pupil.
SCHENECTADY -- The USS Schenectady is no more.
The Air Force dropped satellite-guided bombs on the long-mothballed 522-foot tank landing ship Tuesday afternoon in a Pacific Ocean weapons test dubbed ``Resultant Fury,'' blowing massive holes in the city and county's namesake vessel.
We successfully struck the Schenectady, said Capt. David Faggard, Pacific Air Forces spokesman at Hickam Air Force Base in Hawaii. It's definitely taking on water. It's sinking.'
The ship was first struck at 5:34 p.m. EST and sank at 6:45 p.m.
A decade ago, Mayor Frank Duci mounted a failed effort to move the decommissioned ship to Schenectady. But on Tuesday, there was no saving the vessel, though a pod of whales swimming in the vicinity of the ship forced a 40-minute postponement of the attack.
A B-52 bomber from Andersen Air Force Base in Guam pummeled the ship with seven 2,000-pound satellite-guided bombs developed by Northrop Grumman Corp., sending fireballs and plumes of black smoke from the USS Schenectady, Faggard said. A B-52 from Barksdale Air Force Base in Shreveport, La., finished the job, striking the ship with four laser-guided bombs.
They all put holes in it, large, large holes, Faggard said.
The attack on the ship was the grand finale of a $10 million, two-day demonstration of Northrop Grumman's new Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System.
The weapons system is the latest update of smart bombs and will allow the military to hit moving targets on land or at sea. Previously, such bombs could only be used on stationary targets.
The attack comes after the Navy secured a treasure trove of artifacts from the ship, which was decommissioned in 1993. Among the items the Navy historians held onto were the USS Schenectady's wheel, bell and spy glass. Local military retirees and historians hope to someday display the items in Schenectady.
The ship was stripped of its insignias, plaques and other distinguishing characteristics in preparation for the exercise.
Kathryn Weller, curator of collections at the Schenectady Historical Society on Washington Avenue, has been in contact with Navy archivists who, she said, have assured her that a number of items will be available for display in Schenectady.
We can have the items for up to five years she said.
Another exhibit of local USS Schenectady memorabilia is currently on display at the historical society. Weller said the organization is already planning an exhibit of the Navy artifacts at the Gillette House, a Stockade landmark that is undergoing renovations to house the county's chamber of commerce.
We would like to do a semi-permanent exhibit, Weller said.
The USS Schenectady is a Newport-class tank landing ship. It was named after Schenectady County in 1970 at the suggestion of a Schenectady elementary school pupil, who wrote a letter to the secretary of the Navy.
At the time, Schenectady residents held a number of functions to salute their namesake.
Chester Chet' Watson of the Schenectady/Upper Hudson Council of the Navy League said an exhibit will allow local residents to celebrate the ship named in their honor.
We're going to make a big deal about it,' said Watson, a retired Navy lieutenant commander.
This article has been provided by Michael Huber, Interactive Audience Manager of the Albany Times-Union 518-454-5069. It originally appeared in the Times-Union, Capital Region section, page B1, on Wednesday, November 24, 2004. The crew of the USS Schenectady appreciates the Times-Union and Mike Hubers efforts to help keep the memory of a valient ship alive.
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