Alaska’s United States Senators Mark Begich and Lisa Murkowski re-introduced legislation this week to preserve the Coast Guard Cutter Storis for use as a maritime museum in Juneau.
The bill would transfer ownership of the Storis from the U.S. government to the nonprofit Storis Museum, headed up by a group of Juneau residents. Attorney Joe Geldhof is a member of the museum’s board of directors. He says the legislation is a big step toward bringing the ship to the Capitol City.
(29Storis1 :22s "Because the Storis was commissioned by the United States of America, it takes an act of Congress to transfer it to the museum – and that’s what the legislation is about. We have to do some more fundraising and work cooperatively with the City and Borough of Juneau to make a home for the Storis. But this is an important milestone on the path to obtaining the vessel and establishing a maritime museum in Juneau.")
Congressman Don Young plans to introduce a companion bill in the U.S. House.
Similar legislation was included in early versions of last year’s Coast Guard Authorization bill. But it was removed shortly before the bill passed Congress. It’s not certain if this new legislation will be able to pass as a stand-alone measure, or if it too will become part of a larger bill.
In the meantime, Geldhof says the Storis Museum is working with the City and Borough of Juneau to locate the retired cutter near two new municipal cruise ship docks, scheduled to be built by the summer of 2015.
(29Storis2 :09s "It’ll be a great location, because we have hundreds of thousands of cruise passengers, and one of the things Juneau really needs is more value added attractions.")
The Storis is currently moored in Suisun (suh-soon) Bay near San Francisco, with other mothballed U.S. ships that are part of the National Defense Reserve Fleet.
Originally commissioned in 1942 as an ice patrol tender, the Storis served in the North Atlantic during World War II. It was reassigned to Juneau in 1948, and was part of the Coast Guard’s Alaska fleet for nearly 60 years. It was decommissioned at a ceremony in its last homeport of Kodiak in 2007. The highlight of its service was a 1957 sailing of the Northwest Passage.
More information on the proposed museum can be found online at Storis museum dot org.