Tour the USS Edson DD-946, US Navy Destroyer | Saginaw Valley Naval Ship Museum in Michigan | Involvement in the 911 Attacks | Edson Incident Haunted Attraction
The United States Navy Destroyer, The USS Edson DD-946 is an absolutely incredible ship to tour! Be sure to visit this Saginaw Valley Naval Ship Museum located in Bay City, Michigan.
By: Sherry Trautman | Travel-Mi.com | Last updated: April 3, 2023
Once Aboard, You Will See:
- Crew's Quarters
- Engine Room
- Mess Deck
- Gun Mounts
- Radio Room
- Galley (kitchen)
- Barber Shop
- Mail Room
- Ship's Store
- Executive Officer's rooms
- Ward Room
- and so much more!
Plan to spend two hours touring the USS Edison. Tours are self guided but there are volunteer tour guides aboard the ship that are happy to answer any questions!
Brief History of the USS-Edson
- The USS Edson DD-946 is named for Major General Merritt A. Edson USMC (1897-1955)
- She was commissioned in 1958
- The USS Edson has traveled all over the world! She spent time in South Vietnam, North Vietnam, various Sea Air Rescue missions in which she was awarded the Vietnam Service Medal and National Defense Metal for operations in the Vietnam Combat Zone.
- In 1967 the USS Edson sustained damage from enemy fire but was able to quickly leave under the cover of battle smoke. This earned her the name, "Grey Ghost of the Vietnamese Coast."
- In 1970 the Destroyer served as a plane guard for several attack carriers. She worked surveillance in Cambodia and was able to rescue the pilots from a downed aircraft.
- In 1971, the USS Edson was involved in heavy gunfire in the Philippines. During this time there were over 4,500 rounds fired, with her guns firing one round every five seconds!!
- From 1977 until 1988, the Destroyer was a training ship for Commanders, Gunners, and Boiler Engineers.
- The USS Edson was awarded several medals and commendations during her service to the United States military.
- On December 15, 1988, the USS Edson was decommissioned after 12 tours.
- On July 4, 1989, Edson became part of the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum in New York and was named a Historic Landmark. She lived in NY for 14 years.
- In 2013, the Saginaw Valley Naval Ship Museum took possession of the United Stated Destroyer so she was towed all the way to Bay City for her new permanent home.
USS Fun Facts
- This United States Destroyer had air conditioning! It was one of the few ships with ac. However, it was crazy hot in many of the areas where the crewmen worked as they had to keep doors closed.
- The USS Edson is open for weddings, tours, parties and events!
- Volunteers are restoring the navel ship to her previous glory. Any funding you can provide is greatly appreciated!
- The USS Edson is a movie star! She was featured on the Twilight Zone!
Let's Tour the USS Edson!
During my visit, I was given an incredible tour of the ship by Bill Randall, a veteran that served 6 years on this ship. Thank you for your service Bill! The tour was outstanding! I learned so much!
I was also provided lots of information about the naval ship by Rev. Gerald Hunter, a tour guide on the ship.
He began learning about the fascinating ship for his books, Haunted Michigan, but along the way he gained a huge passion and fascination for the ship's history. And lo and behold he became a tour guide! Cool, huh!
Haunted Michigan by Rev. Gerald S. Hunter, a tour guide I met on the USS Edson. He has some fascinating stories about haunted locations in Michigan!
Check it out! We love Michigan authors.
Decoding Enemy Messages
This machine intercepted enemy messages. Two men worked in this room to decode the messages. Luckily the room was air conditioned but if the ship was attacked the room was sealed. At this point, the crew had only a few seconds to exit out of the small round porthole and down a ladder before the room was destroyed.
When visiting the Saginaw Valley Navel Ship Museum, further information can be provided by the tour guides.
Let's Talk Showers On A Military Destroyer
And before you ask, no there weren't any women on the ship (I asked!)...
Showers were far and few between due to limited water supply. When you were lucky enough to get a shower, they were limited to three minutes. Which means, soap up fast and get the job done!
Let's Tour the Radio Room and Bridge!
Visiting the Bridge is an absolutely breathtaking experience. You can just imaging the hustle and bustle happening in this room.
Fun Fact: Do you see the burgundy stool in the photo? Right behind the stool is a strategy and planning table. At night, during war time, the crew would pull a black curtain around this table to block out any light so they could keep working. They didn't want the enemy seeing any light through the windows.
The Radio Room was one of my favorite stops. You can hear an actual recording of Morse Code and a Marine Unit in Vietnam responding.
See the USS Edson's Galley (Kitchen), Crew Mess Deck (Dining Area) and Barber Shop
The Barber Shop and Mail Room are right in the Crew's Mess Deck area. They are tiny rooms to the right of the orange fan that you can see in the photo above.
While pointing at the tiny dish cleaning room, I asked, "Are kitchen workers hired for the job or who works in there?"
Bill answers, "You didn't have a choice about working in the kitchen, especially if you were recruited."
Two guys worked in a small space scraping leftover food
into the food grinder that was then dumped into the ocean…
"So basically you were chumming the waters?" I asked. "Yep"
And they frequently saw sharks circling. Yikes!
So basically, you could get a haircut, grab lunch and read a letter from your girlfriend all in one area!
OH, and the haircuts were called a "high and tight." I'm guessing you didn't have a lot of choice for style!
How Did the Destroyer Get Food and Supplies?
The USS Edson received necessary supplies by offboarding items from another ship or a helicopter would land on the Fantail (rear).
Food was stored a long distance from the mess hall.
So how did they get the goods from the storage areas and huge walk in refrigerators to the mess hall?
The crew would work together to create a long human chain so they could pass goods up from the lowest level. For example, one crew member down below would hand goods up to someone on the vertical stairs which would be passed to someone standing at the top.
I got to see the ship's huge walk-in freezer and refrigerator too.
Creep Factor: If
someone died at sea (my tour guide stated two died while he was serving) they would be stored in the refrigerator until they reached a port. Yikes!
Executive Officer's Room Aboard the USS Edson
As you can see, it's good to be an Executive Officer! The accommodations are private and he has a sink, desk and plenty of space to stretch out. Having a door you can close is a precious thing on a Destroyer!
Officer’s Ward Room
This room was the Officer's own dining area in which they had their own chef and different (better?) food. I was told by my tour guide, Bill, that...
"if you weren’t an officer, you didn’t want to be in there as it meant you were getting chewed out."
The USS Edson's Involvement in the 911 Attacks
The USS Edson naval ship was docked in New York City during the horrific 9/11 attacks.
- During this time, FBI and military personnel used the lowest level of the Destroyer as a war room/command center to make plans if the attacks on September 11, 2001 continued.
There are sleeping quarters,
a large bathroom and large workspace in this area.
This room is not part of the tours but marks a fascinating historical record for this incredible ship.
These bunks are three levels high. Makes us not want to complain about our beds at home, right?
Crewmen did not share bunks on the Edson (as sometimes referred to hot bunks) and they had their own personal space to store all of their belongings under their bunks. I thought this was a pretty cool use of space. It even locked.
Now, groups stay overnight on the Edson for one heck of an experience. They can stay in these rooms to learn what it was like to be military personnel on this vessel!
Can you guess why these toilets are so low to the ground? It's so you can keep a good grip, stay steady and not fall off the seat while at sea!
Is the USS Edson Haunted? We Have a Spooky Story...
There's a spooky story about this camera...
Can you see the plexiglass in front of the camera that is firmly attached to the shelf? The plexiglass is high enough that a person can not reach over the top to touch any of the articles on the shelf.
SO, one morning the ship's tour guides came on board and discovered this camera was missing. The plexiglass was intact. Everything else was perfectly in place.
- They finally found the camera...
It was sitting at the bottom of the stairs which were several feet down the hallway. The camera was not broken, it was just sitting there. Spooky, huh!
So you can decide...who (or what) moved this camera without breaking or removing the plexiglass?
The Edson Incident Haunted Attraction
If you love haunted houses, you need to visit the USS Edson in the fall when it turns into a haunted ship! The Edson Incident is not for the faint of heart!
The USS Edson is open for a super scary tour mid September though October.
Tour the Icebreaker Mackinaw Maritime Museum!
Did you know the United States Coast Guard Icebreaker Mackinac is the most powerful ice breaker in the world? What's Cool? You can tour the Icebreaker Mackinaw Maritime Museum (this ship) in Mackinaw City!
Visit Saginaw and Learn More About Bay City!
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