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Anchors aweigh on historic riverfront naval museum plan

Anchors aweigh on historic riverfront naval museum plan

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A group of Columbia history buffs working to create the Missouri Naval Museum in Jefferson City wants to purchase two Navy ships and dock them on the riverfront by the summer of 2009.

The ships the group has selected are the USS Trout, a 1950s era submarine, and the USS Canon, a Vietnam era gunboat. Plans for the museum also include a 3,500 square-foot onshore facility with offices and a small theater.

The museum organization, which recently received its not-for-profit certification, estimates that the museum project would cost $2 million. The project’s most expensive element is the $300,000 needed to transport each ship from Philadelphia to the Gulf of Mexico and then up the Mississippi and Missouri rivers to Jefferson City. The museum plans to hire a professional fund-raiser to aid its development efforts. Currently a Columbia physician is helping to raise funds.

Bryan Ross, president of the museum’s board of directors and a Missouri Department of Transportation employee, cooked up the idea with fellow master’s degree alumni of the University of Missouri-Columbia Truman School of Public Affairs: Dennis Stroer, a lieutenant in the MU police force, and Mike Morrison, a Navy veteran.

“There are no Navy museums in the state of Missouri,” Ross said. “The nearest were in Omaha and Little Rock. There was an opportunity here to present Navy history to Missouri.”

For a land-locked state, Missouri is surprisingly well connected to the Navy, producing at least four admirals and thousands of other Navy personnel.

There also were several important gunboat battles along the Missouri and Mississippi rivers during the Civil War. During World War II, Japan’s surrender was signed on the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay, partly in deference to President Harry S Truman. v

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