Sunday, January 01, 2006

World War II-era sub could stay docked in Muskegon


November, 2004

USS Silversides (SS-236) was commissioned into the U.S. Navy on December 15,
1941, just eight days after the attack on Pearl Harbor. She left for the first of her
14 war patrols on April 30, 1942.

MUSKEGON, Mich. -- More than 15 years after the World War II era submarine USS Silversides docked in its first temporary location, directors of the Great Lakes Naval Memorial and Museum say it should stay where it is.

"We just think this is where we want to stay," Robert G. Morin Sr., chairman of the museum board, told The Muskegon Chronicle for a recent story.

The first step will be to secure a long-term lease for the channel-side property from its owner, the city of Muskegon. A proposed 30-year lease is scheduled to go before city commissioners Tuesday.

"I think it's a good idea. I'd rather see development there than on the Lake Michigan beachfront," said Commissioner Kevin Davis.

The museum board also is considering several building plans drawn up by Hooker/deJong Architects and Engineers, but has not approved a final design.

Shortly after it was towed to Muskegon from Chicago on Aug. 8, 1987, the Silversides was berthed along the south side of the channel, next to a U.S. Navy Reserve Center that has since been displaced by the museum.

It was an attractive spot, especially because the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had offered to lease space along the channel wall for two years at no cost. But the long-range goal has always been to locate the submarine closer to downtown.

"It's a temporary site until we can get something permanent," Morin, then serving as president of the Muskegon Historic Ships Association, said at the time.

Several other sites nearer downtown have been considered over the years, notably Heritage Landing. The idea, which was widely supported, was to enhance the sub's visibility to visitors, especially with the anticipated completion of Shoreline Drive.

In April 1991, the submarine was moved to new site on the Muskegon Lake shoreline opposite the Union Depot.

The submarine was towed back to the channel in the summer of 1992, although Morin said again that it would be only temporary.

Several years later, an effort was launched to combine the Silversides with LST-393, a veteran of the D-Day invasion. However, the museum board and the Mart Dock never consummated the agreement.

Since then, museum officials have been quietly working with the city for a long-term lease agreement for land along the south side of the channel.

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