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The 1958 destroyer USS Edson (DD-946), one of 18 built Forrest Sherman-class destroyers, is, along with USS Barry (DD-933), one of two surviving members of the class. Of the two, both slated for preservation, Edson, is the only unmodified Forrest Sherman destroyer, and as such retains the highest level of integrity. The destroyer, the oldest ship type to have seen continuous service in the U.S. Navy, and the most built type of major surface warship in the history of the U.S. Navy, was the focus of considerable design effort, planning, and construction from the mid-1880s through the Second World War. The ultimate, last class of destroyer, was the Forrest Sherman class. Reflecting combat lessons of the Second World War and operational characteristics specified by destroyer commanders during that war, the Forrest Sherman-class destroyers were built to be effective anti-submarine warfare platforms and screening escort vessels for fast carrier task forces.
The Forrest Sherman class destroyers, many later modernized for more effective antisubmarine (ASW) and anti-aircraft (AAW) warfare, served as the major U.S. all-gun and general purpose destroyers during the Vietnam Conflict and through the 1970s. They were in turn replaced by the frigates and cruisers of the modern, nuclear Navy. USS Edson served with distinction from 1960 to 1989. Her service included extensive Vietnam War gunline duty between 1964 and 1974, and training duty from 1977 until she was retired and placed on display in 1989. Last of her type, this all-gun destroyer's high degree of integrity exemplifies her significance as the best example of her class and the end of the destroyer type.
Edson served as a museum ship at the Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum in New York City from 1989 to 2004. After several years in naval storage, the Saginaw Valley Naval Ship Museum at Bay City, Michigan, and the Wisconsin Naval Ship Association at Sheboygan, Wisconsin, both submitted applications to relocate Edson and reinstate her as a museum ship in their respective locations. The Bay City proposal was successful.
The Navy declared USS Edson seaworthy in July 2012 and it began its journey to Michigan soon thereafter. After almost a year at a temporary mooring at Wirt Stone docks, it was floated up the Saginaw River to its permanent mooring site on May 7, 2013, where USS Edson is now a museum.
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