Washington, DC – The day began with clouds and a little rain, but cleared a bit when it came time for the Navy Display Ship Barry (DD-933) to begin its journey from the Washington Navy Yard pier to the Inactive Ship Maintenance Facility in Philadelphia, PA.

With its mast removed, three tugs from the New Jersey-based DonJon Marine Company maneuvered the once proud and popular museum destroyer from its home at pier 2 of 33 years towards the Frederick Douglass Bridge shortly after 7:30 a.m. Saturday, May 7.

There was a several-minute delay as the swing bridge had to open. One DC resident who came to watch the somber event noted that “it was the first time in the ten-years I have lived here that I have seen that bridge swing open!”

Once the bridge was fully open, the three tugs—Emily Anne, lashed to the stern; Megan Anne, pulling from the bow; and the Thomas D. Witt, on the port side—moved the Barry through and passed the bridge. Awaiting them were boats of all shapes and sizes including two DC fire department boats, the John H Glenn and Fire Boat 2.

One of those watching the passing from on shore was a retired Navy sailor from Virginia. He spent his entire career aboard destroyers and served on the Barry’s sister ship the USS Blandy (DD-943) as a sonar technician. For him, the passing of the Barry signaled the end of an era. “Those were great ships to serve on.” He recalled that “unlike aircraft carriers, destroyers are small enough that everyone knows one another and they looked out for each other on liberty.”

The Barry entourage continued their silent passage down the Anacostia to the Potomac River with an ever growing number of smaller vessels joining the three ships in their transit.

One of those watching the passing of the Barry from the shore of the Potomac was a retired sailor who only gave his first name—John. He came with his wife from Charlotte Hall. He began his Navy career aboard the Barry as a damage controlman and after almost 24 years of service he retired from the Barry’s afterdeck in 2008 as a corpsman. For John, the passing of the Barry “broke my heart to pieces. She was a good ship.”

Like most sailors, their first and last ship holds a special place in their hearts.
John took off his USS Barry ball cap and placed it over his heart as the ship passed by. As the ship disappeared around the bend of the Naval Research Lab heading for the Woodrow Wilson Bridge with “Anchors Aweigh” playing from loudspeakers from the Capitol Cove Marina, John and his wife quietly watched with their arms around each other’s waist.

The Barry was the third of 18 Forrest Sherman class destroyers built. The 418-foot long ship was built by Bath Iron Works and named after Commodore John Barry, an officer of the Continental Navy during the American Revolutionary War and, along with John Paul Jones, is considered “The Father of the American Navy.” 
She was commissioned in 1956 and served mostly on the East Coast sailing the Caribbean, Atlantic and Mediterranean, having participated in the Cuban Missile Crisis and provided gun fire support during the Vietnam War in which she was awarded two battle stars.

While part of the Cuban blockade, the Barry shadowed a Russian diesel submarine and the Soviet freighter Metallurg Anasov.

The Barry was decommissioned in 1982 and began a fixture at the Navy Museum aboard the Washington Navy Yard as the Display Ship Barry in 1984. A Navy Museum official stated that first year, the Barry attracted about 500 thousand visitors however the number dwindled to less than one thousand by 2014. The Navy museum cited a lack of interest, yet those watching the passing of the Barry Saturday morning believe the 9/11 security measures put in place at the Navy Yard have made it difficult for visitors to see the ship. In fact, the following security note is posted on the National Museum of the Navy website “To enter the Washington Navy Yard and visit the National Museum of the United States Navy, visitors must have either a Department of Defense Common Access Card; an Active Military, Retired Military, or Military Dependent ID; or an escort with one of these credentials. All visitors 18 and older must have a photo ID. Museum staff are not permitted to escort visitors on weekends, but may be able to do so on weekdays. Contact us for help with accessing the museum at (202) 433-4882. Please note that the base security protocol can change without notice.”

Navy officials reported last year, “the Barry was proven structurally sound in a hull survey last year but that it had not gone into dry dock for work since it was decommissioned. There is hull deterioration that would need to be addressed in the coming years, and it would be impossible to sail the ship under the new bridge without partially dismantling the ship at Washington Navy Yard – a complex and expensive proposition.”

In 2012, DC transportation officials announced plans to replace and realign the Frederick Douglass Bridge, changing it from a swing to a fixed-span, thus leaving just an estimated 50-feet between the river and the bridge.

The Barry is expected to reach the Inactive Ship Maintenance Facility sometime Monday where it will most likely be scrapped.

The Barry was one of three surviving Forrest Sherman class destroyers. With her departure, that leaves the USS Edson (DD-946) in Bay City, Michigan and the USS Turner Joy (DD-951) in Bremerton, WA.

She is expected to reach the Inactive Ship Maintenance Facility sometime Monday where she will be dismantled.