SURRATT: Time to consider bringing the USS Vicksburg home

Published 8:00 am Friday, May 12, 2023

If Vicksburg would like to add one more tourist attraction, it might want to pay a visit to the U.S. Navy.

According to a May 2022 U.S. Naval Institute News article, the Navy is looking to decommission the USS Vicksburg as part of a plan to remove the remaining 22 Ticonderoga Class cruisers from the fleet over the next five years, and the Vicksburg is set to be decommissioned in 2024.

Having warships as floating museums is not unusual. Baton Rouge has the USS Kidd, a World War II Fletcher Class destroyer; Houston has the battleship Texas, the last of a class of warships known as Dreadnaughts; and Mobile has the battleship USS Alabama. Why shouldn’t Vicksburg have its namesake moored at the riverfront for all to see and tour?

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Of course, having such a feature wouldn’t come cheap. There is the legal cost associated with having the ship turned over to the city and/or Warren County and the expense of getting the Vicksburg here, which, of course, would have to be done once the level of the Mississippi reached a certain height.

And once we get her here we’ll have to find a place to put her, possibly by the depot to tie her in with the museum, which has a model of the Vicksburg on display, and in a docking system to keep her moored safely such as a cradle-like system like the Kidd in Baton Rouge.

Yes, it will take a lot of money to bring the Vicksburg here but think about it — we bring the cruiser here, get its mooring settled and open it up for visitors to tour, for special events like fundraisers, company dinners and parties or have groups like Boy Scouts spend the night onboard or maybe a holiday light show or a laser show with the Fourth of July fireworks. The cruiser’s interior could have a small museum about it, the Ticonderoga Class ships that preceded it and followed it, and something about the people who sailed them. There could also be relics from the Siege of Vicksburg and the city and county could partner with the National Park Service, or as in the case of the Texas, state parks officials.

While all this sounds a bit rich for the city’s blood, think about this. Tourism is a serious, competitive business, much like economic development and each feeds off the other — a tourist base enhances an area’s economy and a good economy with a lot to offer attracts more tourists.

An attraction like the USS Vicksburg can be an asset toward improved tourism for the area and help provide a strong attraction that might keep a family an extra day here.

It’s worth a shot.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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