Just in time for the holiday weekend, the USS Slater is back at its dock at the Port of Albany.
It spent the past several months in dry-dock in Staten Island getting some needed repairs. So did Executive Director Tim Rizzuto, who was there for 84 days to oversee the restoration and the new paint job. That’s the first thing visitors will notice – it’s called "dazzle camouflage."
“During 1944-45, the Slater actually carried this pattern when she was in the North Atlantic,” Rizzuto said. “And the whole idea wasn’t to make the ship invisible, but to confuse an observing submarine as to the ship’s identity and direction. So it’s supposed to break up the silhouette of the ship.”
In 1945, Japan kamikaze pilots in the Pacific were attracted to the dazzle patterns so the Navy went to solid blue and later gray after that, Rizzuto explained.
“They use some fairly natural, nice colors when they put these camouflage patterns together and nobody sees that because World War II is a black and white war in everybody’s mind, all the photography,” he said. “So now we’re bringing it to life, in color, in that sense and let people see what the sailors saw.”
The Slater has been docked in Albany since 1998. Volunteers have been putting the artifacts back on board – everything from uniforms to steering wheels to mess trays. There are 17,000 volunteer hours from veterans and once in a while a WWII vet will still give a tour, Rizzuto said.
It’s now open for tours Wednesdays through Sundays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. June to November. Tickets: Adults: $8, Seniors (65+): $7, Children 6-to-14: $6.
The Slater returned on July 1, pulled by some tugboats. She is the last destroyer escort afloat in America. She is named for Frank Slater, a sailor killed aboard the USS San Francisco during the battle of Guadalcanal in 1942. It was one of more than 500 destroyer escorts in the war. Most were sold to other countries after WWII ended.