THE HELM UNIT of the USS Gyatt, a 1945-built destroyer, was found stored in the basement of Bath City Hall.

THE HELM UNIT of the USS Gyatt, a 1945-built destroyer, was found stored in the basement of Bath City Hall.

BATH

The enigma surrounding a 1944 helm unit of a destroyer found in Bath City Hall has been resolved.

In an email on Monday, Maine Maritime Museum’s senior curator Nathan Lipfert said Paul Berry of the Bath Naval Historical Park organization had contacted him over the weekend and shed some light on the wheel’s origin.

Active in the mid-1990s, the organization operated out of an office in the City Hall basement, and was raising money to bring the USS Charles F. Adams, a Bath-built DDG-2 destroyer, to the city as a museum ship, though their efforts were ultimately unsuccessful.

During this time, members of the group also borrowed the helm unit of the USS Gyatt, a 1945-built destroyer that was constructed at Federal

Shipbuilding and Drydock Co. in New Jersey, according to Lipfert.

“(Berry) wasn’t sure about what vessel the thing came from, but once I knew it had something to do with Bath Naval Historical Park, I went back in our files and dug out clippings we had … and I found a record of them receiving the helm unit in 1995,” he said.

The Gyatt was converted from a DD-712 to a DDG-1, the world’s first guided missile destroyer, in 1956.

“Since the BNHP project was abandoned, their people have been waiting to see where the Charles F. Adams will end up, thinking that any future Adams museum will want the Gyatt helm,” Lipfert said.

Berry declined to comment further on the matter in an email on Monday night.

While bringing a destroyer to the city has been considered by the museum in the past, Lipfert said it was a challenging task.

“It was just beyond our ability to fundraise, so I think those guys who tried to raise the money back in the ’90s found out the same thing — it’s just very difficult to support a ship like that,” he said.

However, preserving the Adams wasn’t a lost cause. Another group in Florida has been actively pursuing the vessel in order to conserve it in Jacksonville.

For now, the museum will temporarily hold onto the Gyatt helm.

“We will store it until the BNHP folks are ready to send it back to the Navy or wherever it needs to go,” Lipfert said.

Last Monday, the museum had posted photos of the helm on its Facebook page, in hopes that someone in the community might come forward with more information.

“It was almost disappointing how quickly it came together,” Lipfert said with a laugh on Monday. “But it’s pretty definite, and also disappointing in that it’s not a Maine ship. It’s not something that’s of a lot of interest to us, although it’s an important piece.”

Lipfert said he would also consider reaching out to the curator of the Navy to see if they had any other pieces from past Bath-built destroyers that could be of use at the museum.

Bath group

• ACTIVE IN THE mid- 1990s, the Bath Naval Historical Park organization operated out of an office in the Bath City Hall basement, and was raising money to bring the USS Charles F. Adams, a Bathbuilt DDG-2 destroyer, to the city as a museum ship, though their efforts were ultimately unsuccessful.


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