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Display Ship Barry’s departure from WNY - What to know

Barry Curator
Frank Thompson, deputy director of the Collections Management Division of the Naval History and Heritage Command, inspects photos aboard the Display Ship Barry at the Washington Navy Yard in early 2015. Thompson and other members of the NHHC have been cataloging historical items aboard DS Barry for removal and preservation before the ship is dismantled. (U.S. Navy photo by Patrick Gordon)

07/09/15 12:00 AM

By Patrick Gordon
NSAW Public Affairs Office

The Display Ship Barry has always been a popular spot at the Washington Navy Yard. Located at the yard’s Pier 2, for years it was open to the public for tours and ceremonies. But after more than 30 years berthed at the Washington Navy Yard, time has taken its toll on the ship.

As the Navy prepares to retire DS Barry, many in the public are asking what the fate of the ship will be and why these decisions have been made.

A Lifetime of Service

DS Barry had a storied history in service to the country, both as an active warship and a display ship.

USS Barry (DD 933) was the third Forrest Sherman-class destroyer built and the fourth vessel to bear the name of the illustrious Revolutionary War naval hero, Commodore John Barry. Commissioned on September 7, 1956, Barry served 26 years in the Atlantic and Pacific Fleet. Barry supported the 1958 Marine and Army airborne unit landing in Beirut, Lebanon. In 1962, the ship was a member of the task force that quarantined Cuba in response to evidence that Soviet missiles had been installed on the island. In Vietnam, the destroyer operated in the Mekong Delta and supported Operation Double Eagle, the largest amphibious operation since the landings in Korea. The ship was credited with destroying more than 1,000 enemy structures, and for its service in the Vietnam conflict earned two battle stars. In the early 1970s the ship was homeported in Athens, Greece, as part of the Navy’s forward deployment program.

USS Barry was decommissioned November 5, 1982, after 26 years of service. It began its new career as the WNY display ship in 1983 where it was open for public tours training, shipboard familiarization, and as a ceremonial platform.


The DS Barry will be removed this year after 60 years of service and 32 years as a display ship at the historic Washington Navy Yard on the Anacostia River. The ship continues to have maintenance challenges and is planned to be removed in 2016 and sold for scrap.

The Barry’s hull has not been dry-docked since before it was decommissioned and is in poor condition. If left in place, the ship’s hull plating will corrode to the point it may lose its watertight integrity, creating a negative impact on the environment of the local community.

Impact by local construction projects has played a part in the decision to remove the ship as well. With the Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge construction planned to begin later in 2016, the ship will be land-locked if not removed by that time. If removal of DS Barry is delayed, in-place dismantlement of the upper decks of the ship will be necessary to get underneath the new fixed-span bridge.

The ship has also seen a decline in visitors in recent years, going from 20,000 visitors in 2011 to 9,000 in 2014, and many of those were for official Navy functions or for specially arranged group functions. Further, the ship’s annual operating budget is $90,000, which has only included cosmetic upkeep and minor repairs.

The Barry does not meet criteria to be designated a historic ship the National Park Service and is not eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places, and it’s current material condition has deteriorated to the point that its repair for donation is not feasible.

Given this information, it was decided the removal of the display ship would be best for the taxpayer and best for the neighboring community. After approval from Vice Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Michelle J. Howard, the Naval Sea Systems Command plan to recycle the DS Barry was put into action.

Dismantling, Offloading, and Preservation

The DS Barry’s removal is a coordinated effort with Naval Support Activity Washington, NAVSEA, the Defense Logistics Agency, Naval Facilities Engineering Command, and Navy Headquarters.

NAVSEA, with the support of the Defense Logistics Agency, Disposition Services, will solicit and award a sales contract for the towing and dismantling of DS Barry. The eventual scrap/sale contract will be inclusive of both ship transport from WNY and eventual recycling at a to-be-determined ship dismantling facility.

The Navy does not make money from recycling ships. The Navy incurs the cost of providing full-time, on-site surveillance of the dismantling process to ensure that the ship is properly dismantled. The Navy has historically dismantled its ships in the United States for the purpose of demilitarization and has no future plans to export ships for scrapping, thus, the DS Barry will be scrapped in the U.S.

Preservation of some shipboard items and equipment is taking place. Naval History and Heritage Command personnel have been aboard and have identified items of historical importance that they wish to retain. NHHC is in the progress of coordinating, on their end, the process of receiving those identified items of historical interest. Sailors have been working aboard the ship, consolidating gear and materials space-by-space. NSAW has been offloading consumables, IT equipment, HAZMAT, and items destined for disposal from the ship, which is expected to be completed by the end of August.

NAVSEA 21I will conduct an open house on DS Barry which is currently scheduled for non-profit organizations July 13 – 17 to remove non-historical items. Each group will submit a list of desired equipment they want to remove from the ship, which will be preapproved prior to the open house by Inactive Ship Maintenance Office Philadelphia.

Private citizens are a different matter, however. Title 10 U.S.C. 7545 and Title 10 U.S.C. 2572 prohibit the Navy from donating shipboard material of historical significance – such as bells, compartment plates, the ship’s wheel, etc. – to private citizens. These items have been turned over to the Naval History and Heritage Command where they will be saved for posterity.

Looking Forward

While the Navy has not decided whether or not it will replace the DS Barry with another ship at the Washington Navy Yard, removal of the Barry before such a decision will be made is scheduled to occur in order to avoid additional costs to taxpayers.

Since 1948, the Navy has donated 48 ships for use as museums throughout the country. For those who still wish to visit a Forrest Sherman-class destroyer like the DS Barry, two still remain on public display. These are the ex-Turner Joy (DD 951), which was donated in 1991 to the Bremerton Historic Ships Association in Bremerton, Wash., and the ex-Edson (DD 946), which was donated in 2012 to the Saginaw Valley Naval Ship Museum in Bay City, Mich. Other ships closer to Washington, D.C., include The 19th Century frigate Constellation and WWII submarine Torsk, located in the Inner Harbor of Baltimore, Md., and the battleship Wisconsin, located in Norfolk, Va.

For more information on the Display Ship Barry, and other information about the Washington Navy Yard, visit