Preserving the Past & Protecting the Future – Taking Care of the USS TURNER JOY

Walk the storied halls of the USS TURNER JOY (decommissioned in 1982), a Navy Destroyer that was reborn as a floating museum and is anchored in the heart of the Bremerton waterfront. Join the other 40,000 people who visit the ship each year. A local historic destination, the USS TURNER JOY serves as a monument to Puget Sound’s Naval maritime history. She shares the story of the Navy with all generations similar to the USS WISCONSIN in Norfolk, VA, USS MISSOURI in Pearl Harbor, HI, and USS MIDWAY in San Diego, CA.


Preserving and Protecting

The USS Turner Joy in the South China Sea circa 1964.
The USS Turner Joy in the South China Sea circa 1964.

Not only does she provide education as a museum, the USS TURNER JOY also continues a very important role in providing protection. The 418 foot long ship serves as a portion of the outer breakwater for the Port of Bremerton Marina, protecting the marina from wakes and waves. Just like all museums, the USS TURNER JOY requires regular maintenance and repairs to preserve her for future generations to enjoy. However, unlike land-based museums, maintenance for the USS TURNER JOY requires taking the entire museum on a fifty-mile round trip journey through Puget Sound, Hiram M. Chittenden Locks, and into Lake Union Dry Dock. Her maintenance journey also requires a temporary stand in to provide protection of the marina while she is gone.

An inactive steel-hulled ship must have the hull inspected and preserved every 15 years based on Navy requirements. This process involves placing the ship in a dry dock, removing the sea growth from the hull, inspecting the hull for thinning, repairing thinned areas, removing the existing paint (as required) and applying new paint. The underwater hull of the USS TURNER JOY is protected from salt water corrosion by a high strength 15-year epoxy paint system. This system was applied in October 2001 and was due for repairs. The mooring system for the ship was also due for maintenance and repairs.

A Temporary Breakwater Solution

Barge used as a temporary breakwater during the absence of the USS Turner Joy.
Barge used as a temporary breakwater during the absence of the USS Turner Joy.

State and local governments including the Port of Bremerton, along with fundraising by the Bremerton Historic Ships Association, raised the $800,000 to cover the cost of the maintenance including the trip, hull maintenance, and replacement of mooring hardware. The costs also included rental of a temporary barge to provide protection of the marina while the USS TURNER JOY was in dry dock. On February 2, 2017, the ship was towed by tugs from its home in Bremerton to Lake Union Dry Dock. The USS TURNER JOY returned to the Bremerton waterfront on February 28, 2017 with a new paint job after removal of approximately 25 tons of sea growth from her hull.

Anchors Away

The USS Turner Joy on her way back to Bremerton from Lake Union. Photo courtesy of Erik Benson of Western Towboat.

In addition to the ship hull, the existing anchoring system for the USS TURNER JOY was also overhauled. A lot of the aged mooring hardware components were corroded and damaged as identified by an underwater inspection prior to the ships move. Reid Middleton provided engineering services for selection of new mooring hardware and refurbishment items. The hardware was refurbished or replaced with new hardware including chains, shackles, anchors, buoys, clump weights, and founder plates. These items were purchased in advance to allow for quick replacement on site in Bremerton while the USS TURNER JOY was in dry dock. The new mooring hardware was in place and ready to go when the ship returned from the dry dock allowing for a quick one-day re-anchoring of the vessel.

The newly painted and refreshed USS TURNER JOY was securely moored with new mooring lines at her home at Bremerton Marina on February 28, 2017. The museum reopened on March 4, and is ready for another fifteen years of service.  Why don’t you plan a trip to Bremerton and the USS TURNER JOY U.S. Naval Destroyer Museum to experience how 300 sailors lived and worked, navigating the ship, eating meals in the crew’s gallery, sleeping in the crew’s quarters, and climbing up and down all those ladders.


To be rather than to seem” – USS TURNER JOY motto

One Comment

  1. Willy, I am glad to see that you are taking care of my favorite ship. I put her in commission in 59 and she was the best can I ever rode and I have rode 4

    1. Wayne, thank you for serving our country! The USS Turner Joy has been a fun and interesting project for us.