The reopening of the
shipyard has resulted in a local byproduct beyond industry: Nostalgia and
tearful good-byes. Mare Island
Shipyard operator Allied Defense Recycling began leasing two of the island's dry docks early last year. Since then, the company has been besieged not only by job seekers and curious onlookers, but also former crew members of the ill-fated ships.
Allied Defense safety officer Suzanne Castleman met her first group of ship veterans this month. She took five former Mispillion crewmen and family members on a final ship tour.
Or, to be accurate, they took her on a tour.
"They (served) their service and they served it well," Castleman said of the 66-year-old ship's former crewmen. "It's (moving) to see them so emotional about the ship. ... It's very different to hear the stories when you're standing on the ship with them."
USS Mispillion (Source: http://www.ussmispillion.com/)
Allied completed exterior scrubbing of the Mispillion this week, before it was to be towed to
for dismantling. Texas
The company competitively bids to dismantle federally owned "mothball" ships moored in
but also takes on the more quick-moving hull work. Suisun Bay
Between the 2 types of work, the shipyard has seen its share of ships and associated visitors, said General Manager Gary Whitney. A naval veteran himself, Whitney recalled interacting with crews of the Mispillion, which served as oiler and supply ship to a destroyer on which he served.
The ship's emblem, depicting a sailor hat-wearing octopus aboard a ship gripping various items, reads "If we got it, you can have it."
Employees from a drawer-making factory across the street from the dry docks, Western Dovetail, learned that shipyard onlookers are not all arriving in person.
On Jan. 19, Western Dovetail's long ongoing Web feed of the shipyard, refreshed on the company's website www.drawer.com once every minute, temporarily vanished after an Internet outage.
Company president Max Hunter initially launched the video as a documentary of the shipyard's first dismantling, but noticed that the ongoing footage continued to draw visitors to the company website.
Dana Nunes, in charge of Western Dovetail's customer service and sales, said she received an email from former Mispillion "ship's boy" Chris Munson, asking Western Dovetail to reinstate the webcam, at least until the Mispillion work was complete.
"Many of us have enjoyed, and looked longingly from afar, at the 'Mighty Miss' as she is cleaned," wrote Munson, whose father, Henry Munson, was ship's commander from 1952 to 1953.
"As these are the last days we can see her, your web cam has brought great unity and comfort to Mispillion's crew. We hoped to capture her departure live from your webcam ... at least for these, Mispillion's last days with us."
Efforts by Navy veteran Vern Bouwman to help preserve the Mispillion as a museum ship proved unsuccessful in November, when ship caretaker U.S. Maritime Administration sold the ship to ship recycler Esco Marine for $1.8 million. Bouwman said the vessel is the last World War II-type oiler in existence. Bouwman runs a website, www.navy.
memorieshop.com devoted to U.S. Navy oiler ships, with a page for the Mispillion. Also, more information is available at www.mispillion.com.
Source: times herald online. By Jessica A. York (firstname.lastname@example.org). 28 January 2012