Friday, December 23, 2011

Vallejo Loses Historic Ship to L.A.?

The recent announcement by the Navy that the World War Two battleship USS Iowa would go to Los Angeles instead of Vallejo is not the first time that Vallejo faced the possibility of losing a historic ship to southern California. Nearly 100 years ago, in September, 1914, the Vallejo Evening Chronicle published an article about the fate of the Receiving Ship Independence, a historic vessel that had been a landmark on the Mare Island water- front since 1857:

"Would Save Independence: Los Angeles Starts Movement to Secure Old Relic From the Navy"

"If Vallejo and other cities in this vicinity do not want the old Independence as a relic there are cities farther away that do. Los Angeles has decided that the frigate would be of value at their port as shown by the following clipping taken from the Los Angeles Examiner."

"By resolution the City Council yesterday requested Mayor Rose to enter into into communication with Secretary of the Navy Daniels urging that official to donate the United States Steamship Independence, the historical craft built at the Boston Navy Yard in the early part of the last century, to Los Angeles as a relic. The resolution was presented by Minute Clerk Carroll at the request of Councilman Betokuski, who is now out of the city."

"The vessel is now at the Navy Yard at Mare Island."

"The resolution calls attention to the fact that the city's acquisition of this historical craft would be acceptable, as forming the nucleus of a naval museum at the Los Angeles harbor."

USS Independence was launched in 1814 at the Boston Navy Yard as the first ship-of-the-line in the U.S. Navy. After more than 40 years of service she was transferred to the Mare Island Navy Yard in 1857 where her upper decks were roofed over and she was converted to a receiving ship. The vessel was a well known landmark on the Mare Island waterfront for many years, but eventually time took its toll on the old wooden-hulled ship.In 1912, Independence sank at her moorings. Efforts to pump out and refloat the vessel were unsuccessful, and the Navy finally decided to scrap the old relic.

Ultimately, the plan put forward by Los Angeles did not come to fruition. Independence was towed out to the mudflats of the Bay and burned. Today, only photographs and a handful of artifacts from the ship survive.

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