The World War II-era ship will
display and preserve artifacts significant to American maritime,
military and industrial history. The fully operational cutter may
also be able to visit public festivals throughout the Great Lakes to
promote local tourism, as well as provide schools and other groups
with an educational and interactive venue for classes, field trips,
youth overnight encampments and cooperative programs.
will give the public a unique, firsthand understanding of our
nation's maritime and industrial history," Blagojevich said. "I'm
pleased we were able to work with the federal government and the
American Academy of Industry to make sure the Acacia can continue to
play an important role in our region."
The Illinois Department of Central Management Services worked
with both the U.S. General Services Administration and the U.S.
Coast Guard for several months to ensure that Illinois was awarded
the ship, by enrolling and certifying the eligibility of the
American Academy of Industry. Central Management Services manages
the state's surplus property program, which has been successful in
acquiring millions of dollars in federal property each year.
"The efforts of the state of Illinois were critical in making the
Acacia project a reality," said Marty Hecker, vice president of the
American Academy of Industry. "We're looking forward to establishing
the academy with this historic cutter as a permanent service where
education, industry and community can interact."
While the cutter is moored in Burns Harbor, Ind., American
Academy of Industry and Central Management Services personnel have
secured a temporary site at U.S.
Steel, with an eye toward moving the ship to downtown Chicago in
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"We are delighted to help preserve this proud piece of American
history and to deliver for Illinois a truly vibrant and educational
marine display that will enhance education and tourism," said Paul
Campbell, director of Central Management Services.
A multipurpose Coast Guard vessel built in 1944, the Acacia is
equipped to maintain buoys and lighthouses, break ice, conduct
search and rescue, firefighting, and other assignments.
From 1977 until its decommission on June 7, 2006, the Acacia was
assigned to Lake Michigan. The cutter was responsible for Chicago's
harbors and for maintaining the 210 buoys, lighthouses and other
navigational aids from Calumet Harbor through Wisconsin's Door
County peninsula. During the winter season, the Acacia was one of
several Coast Guard icebreakers engaged in keeping the shipping
channels open for the coal and ore ships supplying power plants and
industries throughout the Great Lakes.
More than 6,000 crew members served on the Acacia during its
62-year career throughout the Great Lakes. First commissioned on
Sept. 1, 1944, the ship was named after the original U.S. Lighthouse
Service cutter Acacia, which was sunk by a German U-boat off the
British West Indies on March 17, 1944.
[News release from the governor's