Back in the early 70's the World War II era submarine U.S.S. Ling was towed through a dredged Hackensack River and docked at a sight behind a diner and the offices of The Bergen Record. The owners of the newspaper and local donors raised the money to move the U.S.S. Ling from Brooklyn to the site in Hackensack. The U.S.S. Ling never saw combat in World War II but for decades served as a training vessel at the Brooklyn Navy Yard.
When the U.S.S. Ling was first opened for tours my father took me there. I was about 12 years old. The tour was given by a navy veteran who explained what life was like on a submarine. We saw the tiny bathroom, shower and beds the men who served on the submarine had to use. The dining area was very small too. What I remember most is seeing how close they were to the torpedoes and the heavy smell of diesel oil which the sub used for fuel. Years after the sub had stopped running the smell remained. The submarine veteran who was giving the tour said the fumes were much stronger when the sub was running and below the surface. All I could think as a 12 year old was how brave all the men who served on these submarines were.
Twenty years later I visited the U.S.S. Ling again with my young family. By then there was an impressive museum and memorial park as well as the submarine.
Several years ago the property where the dock and museum sits had to be sold by the newspaper. A developer plans to build an apartment complex there. Hurricane Sandy damaged the dock and efforts to raise money to restore and move the sub have failed. Today the sub sits mired in the mud because the Hackensack River is no longer being dredged. Thousands of people have visited the U.S.S. Ling over the years but today no one knows what to do with her.
My friend and former WNNJ Morning host Rob Moorhead helped edit this drone video of what the once wonderful U.S.S. Ling Naval Museum looks like today.
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