Depot museum to get battleship relics

Published 11:52 am Thursday, February 20, 2014

U.S. Navy Photo by 2nd Class Oscar Espinoza

U.S. Navy Photo by 2nd Class Oscar Espinoza

Mementos from the most recent ship to bear the name USS Vicksburg will be housed at the Old Depot Museum, Dave Benway, the museum’s curator and master model maker told Vicksburg Lions Club on Wednesday.

The museum recently received a letter from U.S. Navy Secretary Ray Mabus indicating the items would be donated to the Old Depot Museum once the ship is decommissioned, he said.

“We will get the flag, bell, officers’ china, sheets and pillow cases and anything else that we want,” Benway said.

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In August, Lamar Roberts, director of the museum sent a letter to Mabus, a former governor of Mississippi, seeking a loan or donations of items from the USS Vicksburg (CG-69), a Ticonderoga-class guided missile cruiser. Now, the museum is just waiting for the ship to be decommissioned by the Navy, Benway said.

“We have to wait until that ship is retired,” Benway said. “As soon as they make plans we will be notified.”

Speculation about the eventual decommissioning of the current USS Vicksburg has been swirling since the beginning of the 2013 fiscal year.

Four warships have been christened the USS Vicksburg, and the Old Depot Museum is already home to a model of the modern-day cruiser and an assortment of memorabilia that was donated by sailors aboard the World War II-era incarnation of the USS Vicksburg.

The World War II-era items include the ship’s logbook, photos and 8 mm films, which are currently tucked away in the museum’s library.

Benway is also constructing a nearly 7-foot scale model of the USS Vicksburg (CL-86), a Cleveland-class cruiser that launched in 1944.

“It’s almost finished,” he said.

The first USS Vicksburg was commissioned in 1863 and served as a Union blockader during the Civil War, and the second boat to use the name was commissioned in 1897.

The Old Depot Museum, in the former Mississippi Valley and Yazoo Railroad Station, is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday though Saturday. Admission is $5.50 for adults and $3.25 for students.