The U.S.S. Slater is one of the many places we visited during our weekend in Albany. The Slater rests in the illustrious Hudson River. It’s a beautiful river, so wide and flat. It is unlike other rivers I’ve seen closer to home. The Hudson is much more impressive and cosmopolitan than the meandering Mohawk River, and bluer and deeper than the earthy Susquehanna River.
It is just a huge, huge river. No wonder Henry Hudson thought he could find the Pacific from here.
The U.S.S. Slater is a museum ship, resting fully in the water. We were given the opportunity to watch a video before crossing the deck to the ship for our tour. We always appreciate a good documentary, so we gladly sat for it.
The U.S.S. Slater is a Destroyer-Escort ship. It is the only Destroyer-Escort ship still afloat on display. The ship is named for a young sailor, Frank Slater, who was killed during World War II during the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal.
From the official www.ussslater.org Slater website:
During World War II 563 Destroyer Escorts battled Nazi U-Boats on the North Atlantic protecting convoys of men and material. In the Pacific they stood in line to defend naval task forces from Japanese submarines and Kamikaze air attacks.
Today, only one of these ships remains afloat in the United States, the USS Slater. Moored on the Hudson River in Albany, New York, the USS Slater has undergone an extensive ten-year restoration that has returned the ship to her former glory. The ship is open to the public from April through November with hour-long guided tours, youth group overnight camping, and has become a popular destination for naval reunion groups.
We paid the fees and boarded the Slater for the guided tour. As usual, my kids knew almost as much as the tour guide, so we had fun and enjoyed some lively conversations with the employees. By the way, if you are ever on a group tour and there is a gang of two adults and four kids who are constantly talking, peppering the tour guides with jokes and questions, and answering all trivia questions correctly, it’s probably us.
The tour was great, if a bit crowded. The ship’s interior rooms have low ceilings, and from time to time we had to clamber through hatches and down precarious mini-stairwells.
The exciting thing was seeing all the equipment– radios, dispatch machines, and the machine guns with scopes!
Our gracious tour guide let us take the ship out for a spin (kidding!).
But boy, my sons loved getting behind the helm, believe me- they talked about this for weeks.
In 1951, as part of the Truman Doctrine, the Slater was handed over to the Hellenic Navy for training of their troops, and was renamed the Aetos-01. Certain sections of the ship were remodeled by the Greeks at that time. Funky Grecian tiles still remain in the kitchen and elsewhere. The ship has been in a number of movies, including “The Guns of Navarone.”
Donations from Destroyer-Escort sailors bought the ship back to us from the Greeks. The Russians tugged the ship into New York harbor in 1993, where the ship underwent extensive renovations. It became a museum on the Hudson in 1997.
The Slater is the property of the Destroyer-Escort Historical Museum, not the U.S. Navy, so the Slater will never be called into active service again.
The tour was really great. The tour guide was amiable and talkative. Our tour lasted about an hour. The walk was rather rigorous– we had to hop over small impediments, duct under low pipes and ceilings, clamber up and down narrow stairs, and scrunch through hatches– all just like in the movies. We thoroughly enjoyed our visit! It is a terrific and wholesome visit for young boys, especially.