In 1955, a 424-foot military destroyer launched from Maine to enter the Navy.
Almost 30 years later, the Navy decommissioned the same vessel to the Washington Navy Yard as a display ship.
And on Saturday morning, a formal departure ceremony is scheduled to give former sailors, Navy employees and locals an opportunity to say goodbye to the USS Barry.
“I’m glad we’re able to bring the crew pier-side before the ship leaves,” Navy spokesman Brian Sutton said. “There are also a lot of neighborhood folks who have interest in the area, so we would love for them to drop in as well.”
The ceremony is set to begin at 10 a.m. at the Washington Navy Yard’s Cold War Gallery. It’s free and open to the public, and attendees can access the gallery through the Washington Navy Yard Riverwalk, with a government-issued identification card.
The event will honor the destroyer a final time with speeches and a small celebration, commemorating its military career and role as a permanent, public display ship at the Navy Yard.
In the late 1950’s, the Barry was assigned to the Atlantic and Pacific fleets, patrolling waters around the world and responding whenever needed.
When on active duty, the Barry was part of the blockade of Cuba during the 1962 missile crisis. The destroyer also successfully stopped a Russian ship that tried to depart the Caribbean without having its cargo inspected, according to Stars and Stripes. During the Vietnam War, the Barry is credited with destroying more than 1,000 enemy vessels, earning two battle stars in the process.
The Barry then served visitors of the Washington Navy Yard from 1984 to 2014, showing what it is like to live and work on a military ship. But over the years it has spent in the Anacostia River, the battleship has seen fewer and fewer visitors and mounting maintenance requirements to keep it safe for tours.
Now, the destroyer is more of an “industrial area” than a museum as historical organizations take away its artifacts for preservation and other displays, Sutton said. The Barry’s future is only certain up until Saturday’s departure ceremony.
But where is it going? No one knows yet, not even Sutton.
“The Navy hasn’t put out a contract on it, but that should be happening within the next few weeks,” he said. “One of the contracts will be awarded between December and January. The Barry will probably be moved not long after that happens.”
Tug boats then will tow the Barry downriver and on to its new home. While there are several Navy yards along the East Coast, it could end up anywhere.
For now, the destroyer will maintain its post on the banks of the Anacostia, waiting for its next assignment.