Officials approve bringing 13-ton anchor from USS Platte to Platte City

Photo courtesty of The remains of the USS Platte (AO-186) — a retired U.S. Navy fleet oiler ship — sit at Southern Recycling in Amelia, La. The company purchased the vessel and is currently scrapping it out. The City of Platte City has agreed to transport the anchor from the ship, named after the Platte River, to Platte City at a cost of about $3,800. Platte City mayor Frank Offutt went looking for a historical relic to anchor a 175th anniversary celebration. He found one — quite literally.

Thirteen tons worth of actual anchor.

The Platte City Board of Aldermen unanimously approved an expenditure of about $3,800 during its regular meeting for the transport and placement of a 13-ton anchor off of the scrapped USS Platte (AO-186) — a decommissioned U.S. Navy Cimarron class fleet oiler. The money will come out of the city’s general fund and should not require an amendment to the budget.

Photo courtesty of The USS Platte (AO-186) — a retired U.S. Navy fleet oiler ship — is seen at its launch on Jan. 30, 1982 in New Orleans. The ship was decommissioned in 1999, and after its recent sale, it sits at Southern Recycling in Amelia, La. The company is currently scrapping it out. The City of Platte City has agreed to transport the anchor from the ship, named after the Platte Rivers, to Platte City at a cost of about $3,800.

“I was tickled pink but also overwhelmed,” Offutt said of the opportunity to acquire such an item with a name tied to Platte County. “I guess an anchor is available to us and sitting down in a small community on the Gulf of Mexico in the state of Louisiana to be ours if we would like to have it.

“This would be what the mayor envisions is our contribution, the city’s contribution, toward the 175th anniversary, and we’ve still got the anchor when the celebration is over.”

While Platte County recently wrapped up its 175th anniversary celebration, the founding of Platte City is generally traced back to 1840. Officials have opted not to pursue another lengthy series of events but plan to mark the occasion with a single commemoration, potentially coinciding with July 4 festivities.

Offutt found information on the USS Platte — like all oilers, named after rivers — and set out to acquire the ship’s wheel or some other small memento.

Instead, Southern Recycling in Amelia, La., which recently bought the ship from the United States to scrap, offered up the anchor, which stands about 13 feet high and is about 12 feet wide from tip to tip. The city plans to place the anchor at Settler’s Crossing — the small park located at the end of Main Street near the Platte River — alongside a Vietnam War-era howitzer artillery moved in June of 2006 from the Platte County Courthouse to its current location.

Eventually, the city will pursue a permanent concrete setting to stand the anchor up along with a memorial plaque.

“We’d have to reset it at least once,” said Platte City city manager DJ Gehrt, who indicated that officials hope to have the plaque ready for the dedication with an expenditure of up to $5,000 total approved with Tuesday’s vote. “We want to, once we have it here and really figure out how it’s configured and how it’s all set together, put it on definitely a significant pad.

“We want to have it to where it’s not just lying on its side, so it’s a little more set up. Once it’s here, we can build and fabricate that and move it one more time to its final place.”

The keel of the AO-186, the second USS Platte in the Navy’s history, was laid in 1981, and it was launched in early 1982. She was commissioned in 1983.

The vessel — basically a large, mobile gas station —served all across the world before its decommissioning in June of 1999. The Platte then remained in the James River Reserve Fleet, or Ghost Fleet, near Fort Eustis, Va. until Southern Recycling moved the 708½-foot-long, 36,814-ton ship to its current location in November of last year.

The USS Platte’s most notable historical event was a collision with the USS Trippe on April 19, 1989, which occurred approximately 500 miles east of Jacksonville, Fla. This was overshadowed by a major naval disaster that occurred the same day — a turret explosion on the USS Iowa (BB-61) that killed 47 sailors off the coast of Puerto Rico.

“(The anchor)’s a fairly significant artifact. It’s big,” Gehrt said.

The anchor could be in transit within a few weeks once the city gives official notice to Southern Recycling. Of the total cost, $3,000 will be for the transport from Louisiana, while Absolute Crane of Platte City will charge a minimum fee of $800 to hoist it onto the park land.

The cost of the plaque, base and re-setting will be determined later.