USS Newport News CA-148 Museum and Memorial Foundation

As most of you probably know, a sizeable number of our fellow shipmates have spent a number of years building a remarkably nice museum in honor of the ship and crew of our beloved 'Thunder'. In addition to filling up a berthing compartment on our sister and host ship, the USS Salem CA-139, (the world's only preserved heavy gun cruiser) berthed in the Fore River Shipyard at Quincy, Massachusetts, once one of the Nation's largest Shipbuilding Enterprises. our museum crew has restored the interior and exterior of Turret #2, which is dedicated as a memorial to our mates who lost their life in the turret explosion of October, 1972 off the coast of Viet Nam. We also maintain several other spaces and areas which have been placed in our care by the U.S. Navy Shipbuilding Museum, which operates the USS Salem as a museum ship. (a California non-profit organization)

**please know that this portion of our NEW website is in the re-building process and will most certainly be updated regularly as more information is gathered. Thank you for your understanding and patience during this intense updating process.

USSNN Museum main case - ships bell - powder cases - ships wheel

The Aquisition Process

As you may have well guessed, it took quite a bit of work to aquire space onboard the USS Salem CA-139 to build and outfit our allotted space to house a Museum to represent the USS Newport News CA-148 in all her Glory, and to keep her memories alive.

Click the 'Process' button below to see the CHRONOLOGY OF EVENTS it took to
"make It Happen"

CHRONOLOGY OF EVENTS

June 25, 2000 – Al Siegel, John Noll and Doug Schumejda visit the Salem
July 10, 2000 – Al Siegel E Mails John Frohock about the possibility of getting a museum space
July 11, 2000 – Al Siegel E Mails Chuck Zendner requested permission from the association to move forward with the museum project. Chuck responds the same day and volunteers his support and gives me his blessings. Names Al “Project Leader” later names such as Anal Al etc are in the future
July 11, 2000 – John Noll and Al e mail back and forth about ideas for the museum
July 11, 2000 – Chuck sends out an all hands E Mail notifying the group about the museum plan
July 11, 2000 – Bob Freeman and Rick Stone are the first to volunteer to help with the effort, joining John Noll, Al Siegel, Doug Schumejda and Chuck Zendner
July 12, 2000 – Formal letter sent to Joanne Walsh and Jim Fahey from Al Siegel to solidify the museum deal
July 15, 2000 – Al Siegel notifies Chuck and John that our request has been granted and that we need to start formation of a committee regarding museum design, and mentioning that when completed we need a formal dedication ceremony.
July 16, 2000 – Chuck notifies the entire e mail group that we have officially been given space for the museum
July 17, 2000 – numerous e mails from various crew members offering assistance and items to donate
July 17, 2000 – Bob Freeman offers to go to the ship and take pictures etc – whatever we need
July 17, 2000 – Larry Delong offers his help and numerous memorabilia to donate
July 17, 2000 – Bill Anderson of the Salem offers his assistance to our volunteers that are going to the ship to photograph and measure the area in our assigned space – B308L (turns out this was the same location as OE berthing where John Noll, Doug Schumejda and Al Siegel bunked – what a coincidence).
July 19, 2000 – Bob, John and Al trade e mails about the visit to Salem . Included with them is shipmate David Holt.
July 22, 2000 – John Noll, Bob Freeman and David Holt go to Salem to measure and photograph our space
July 22, 2000 – Ralph DiGiacomo offers his help (and throws in his brothers for good measure  )
July 22, 2000 – Chuck and Herm Fischer offer to set up web pages for compartment photos, donations etc
July 22, 2000 – John Noll sends out an all hands e mail describing the visit to Salem, requests memorabilia, and discusses first workparty to start the museum process
July 23, 2000 – All hands e mail sent by Al letting everyone know about an upcoming planning and exploring workparty 9/23/200 to 9/26/2000
July 23, 2000 – various e mails about budget. First guess we need $35,000 or so for all the cabinets, lighting etc
July 23, 2000 – Don Shirey of the Salem Assoc offers any help we need with tools and manpower
July 24, 2000 – Ron Prisco offers his help and items to donate
July 24, 2000 – Chief Goad ready to join the effort with his vast array of photographic skills and used coffee cups (didn’t all chiefs have a ton of them?)
July 29, 2000 – E Mail to key players from Al Siegel re: Salem visit; Web site; memorabilia; money; space design; workparties; volunteers
July 31, 2000 – John Noll submits a space drawing of the compartment. At the time it showed half of the compartment to be used by the USS Boston (that was later handed over to us). Working name for the museum space was “Thunder Room”
August 6, 2000 – “Doc” Lanier joins the museum group and offers all the square needles he has saved for a rainy day…
August 6, 2000 – Franklin “Rags” Ragland, the father of the Newport News organization. joins us.
August 13, 2000 – Bob Freeman makes the first memorabilia donation to the museum
Dec 6 2000 – e Mail to Al Siegel from Norm Cary regarding items available for the museum including: ship nameboard, ship wheel, builder’s plaque, navy commendation plaque and assorted machinery plates. All we need to do is send a formal request via the Salem curator
Dec 14 2000 – Bill Anderson advises that the wall splitting the compartment has been built
Dec 16 2000 – Al Siegel contacts NBC, ABC and CBS for archive footage of Newport News
Jan 16 2001 – Al heard from the various networks and arranges to receive film clips
Jan 16 2001 – Jim Fahey of the Salem formally requests the Naval Historical Center to loan us Newport News artifacts
Jan 18 2001 – John Noll arranges for display cases for the museum – cost about $5200
Jan 18 2001 – Bob Freeman works with sign painters and Plexiglas contactors to set up wall display area
Jan 22 2001 – Frank Dengler retired Cdr advises Al that he bought a NN mooring bitt from the salvage yard where the Newport News was being scrapped. He took it to the Battleship Texas area at San Jacinto Park in La Porte Texas. When he moved to San Diego he offered the bitt to ex NN sailor Richard Joyave. Frank gave me Bill’s contact info.
Jan 27 2001 – Al receives a phone call from Richard Joyave who has the bitt in his backyard and wants to donate it to the museum. Al asks for help with how to get the thing all the way from Texas to Mass
Jan 27 2001 – Doc Lanier immediately steps up and takes charge of the bitt project
Feb 6 2001 – 7 display cases weighing 1700 pounds arrive at the Salem and keep pier side due to snow that prevented bringing them on board
Feb 7 2001 – Bob Freeman gets quote for lettering for wall display $1350.00
Feb 11 2001 – Doc Lanier reports he spoke to Richard Joyave and is working on ways to get the bitt to the ship
Feb 12 2001 – Bill Anderson of the Salem Assoc advises that his guys put together a working party and moved all the display cases below decks to the port compartment next to the museum location. He was concerned about weather damage. What is left for us to do is move them to the starboard side and place them where we want.
Feb 17 2001 – Newport News working party including Bob Freeman, Al Babson, Tony Gallagher, Bob Lanata and Ron Prisco move and install the display cases
Feb 19 2001 – Chuck sends out all hands e mail telling the crew about the status of the museum and adding pictures to the web page showing the display cases
Feb 20 2001 – Rags asks Al to do a presentation at the reunion about the museum
Feb 26 2001 – John Noll, Bob Freeman and Al Siegel make arrangements to be on the Salem March 22-24 in order to catalogue and store donated memorabilia and plan further build outs, install electrical and start the painting
Feb 28 2001 – Jim Fahey advises that the NHC has approved the transfer of items to the museum
Mar 6 2001 – further e mails from Mike Lanier. He has spoken to Richard Joyave and Richard is going to get the 3000 pound bitt on a pallet and secure it. Now Mike has to find the mode of transportation
Mar 8 2001 – Bill Anderson advises that he has had the compartment painted for us at a very nominal charge
Mar 25 2001 – Al e mails all hands about the mini workparty and what we need to do next. Requests everyone to send in their memorabilia
Mar 26 2001 – display cases and wired and lighting is up and running
Mar 26 2001 – Mike Lanier reports that the bitt is on its way from Houston Texas, bound for Philadelphia
Mar 29 2001 – Bitt arrives in Harleysville, PA.
April 3 2001 – Items arrive from NHC
April 9 2001 – numerous e mails about ship’s ribbons
April 11 2001 – mooring bitt arrives at the Salem and is stored on the pier
June 2001 – Al and Mike Lanier attend the reunion in Norfolk. Along with their wives, Wendy and Peg, they travel to the mariner’s museum in Newport News to see the ship’s bell. Al was told by the NHC that it was on display. It wasn’t. With the help of the asst curator, they find the bell in a storage shed, gathering dust. Also see the Captain’s plaque, and the memorial tablet honoring the fallen shipmates from the Oct 72 explosion. That tablet was out of sight behind some bushes
June to August 2001 – numerous letters from Al Siegel to Dr. Norm Cary of the Naval Historical Center requesting that we get the bell
November 8 2001 – Rags goes to the Mariners Museum to arrange to get the memorial plaque and asks Al to send a letter to the Collections Manager at the museum. Al sends the letter the next day
November 18 2001 – Al sends a follow up letter to Dr. Cary about the Bell
December 8 2001 – Al sends yet another letter to Norm Cary of the NHC in an attempt to get the bell from the Mariner’s Museum
December 9 2001 – Bob Freeman, Al Siegel, John Noll and Mike Lanier begin plans for the 2003 museum dedication as part of the 2003 reunion in Quincy
January 28 2002 – After 7 months of e mails and phone calls, the NHC has agreed to release the bell to our charge. We need to contact the Mariners Museum to arrange turnover.
March 6 2002 – Master Chief Franklin “Rags” Ragland and Tim DeSalvo pick up the bell and the memorial plaque at the Mariners Museum and begin the 17 hour drive to Quincy
March 8, 2002 – The Ship’s Bell and plaque arrive home and are brought aboard the USS Salem
March 23 2002 – Firemen and riggers work the bell through the hatch and place it inside the display area
March 13 2002 – Al begins plans for a big workparty to be held September 19 - 22. This workparty will be responsible for cleaning the entire T2 barbette as well as Mount 51 and the museum. The turnout is extraordinary.

A BIG BRAVO ZULU to all involved in creating a World Class Museum / Memorial Dedicated to Our USS Newport News CA-148