A replica of the last major piece of missing equipment for the USS Kidd, a torpedo blast shield, will arrive in Baton Rouge this week, ending the search for missing pieces that began when the destroyer arrived in the city 37 years ago.
“Atop the torpedo tubes, a blast shield enclosed the three crewmen stationed there and protected them from the concussion of the 5”/38-caliber gun immediately behind them,” Ship Superintendent for the USS KIDD Veterans Museum Tim NesSmith said. “KIDD’s was removed during the Cold War. We’ve always kept an eye out for one and collected data for the day we could fabricate one if an original couldn’t be found.”
Greg Shears, a destroyer veteran and aviation worker who’s volunteered at the museum since 2010, reached out to Advance Fabrication, LLC, of Litchfield Park, Arizona, to see if the company could create a replica of the shield.
The company agreed to do the job at-cost and rallied other companies in the Phoenix area to do the same or to provide a discount, including Lil’ Red Wagon Welding, LLC; Superior Metal Forming; and Glendale Steel Supply. PPG Industries, which provides discounts to historic ships nationwide, also joined in the effort.
Even after discounts, projects costs totaled $10,000, so Shears and his wife donated $5,000 toward it.
James Landry, an Abbeville native and longtime USS Kidd supporter, matched the Shears’ donation.
The piece’s transportation is being handled compliments of Beryl and Elaine Shears of Western Pilot Service in Phoenix.
The lifting and installation of the shield will optimally coincide with the year’s Fall Field Days, the same volunteer program that got Shears involved.
“As one of only four remaining Fletcher-class destroyers of 175 constructed, USS KIDD continues to amaze visitors with her historic authenticity,” Rosehn Gipe, the incoming USS Kidd executive director, said. “We are delighted that this group of volunteers has worked together to fund and re-create the torpedo blast shield.”
For more information about this project, contact Tim NesSmith via phone at 225-247- 4273 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information about USS Kidd Veterans Museum, contact Rosehn Gipe at 225-342-1942. Ext. 12 or email at email@example.com.