NORFOLK, Va. —- Delaware’s big, 16-inch gun is expected to begin its journey across the Chesapeake Bay from Norfolk, Va., this morning.
Its destination: Cape Henlopen State Park and the historic Fort Miles World War II attraction there.
Folks throughout the country can track the progress of the gun as it crosses the Chesapeake and begins rolling through the Delmarva Peninsula to Harrington, Georgetown and then Lewes thanks to the Amateur Radio Emergency Service group in Sussex County.
Bill Duveneck was part of a team of radio operators who went to Norfolk on Monday and installed a special tracker on the gun, similar to ones used to guard the entrance to Delaware Bay.
The tracker uses GPS signals, converts them to radio frequencies and then uses the Internet to plot the location of the gun every 10 minutes, Duveneck said.
It has historic cachet because it was on the USS Missouri when the Japanese signed the surrender documents to end World War II on the battleship’s deck.
Two similar guns were once installed at Fort Miles, the Army’s coastal defense fortification at what is now Cape Henlopen State Park. Those guns were removed after the war and local legend has it that they were scrapped and turned into razor blades.
The Fort Miles Historical Association, the nonprofit group that works with the state park to preserve the World War II history of Cape Henlopen, has been working with park officials for years to locate a 16-inch gun —- the largest mounted at the fort.
The USS Missouri gun was discovered in a naval yard in Norfolk. It was destined for scrap until the association requested it and launched a fundraising effort to move the gun to Delaware.
A 12-inch gun was trucked in several years ago, restored and is part of a display at the park.
Duveneck said the 16-inch gun is so large that it is on a supersized flatcar.
The first stage of the journey involves loading the rail car onto a train barge for the Chesapeake Bay crossing. That is expected to happen at the Little Creek Rail Yard this morning. The expected departure time is 10:30 a.m.
The bay crossing takes several hours and the barge will offload the flatcar at the Cape Charles Rail Yard sometime in the afternoon. The best estimate is between 4 and 5 p.m. From there, it will head north through the Delmarva Peninsula to Pocomoke City to Harrington, then to Georgetown and, finally, Lewes.
A special celebration is planned in Georgetown on April 16. A second event is planned at Cape Henlopen State Park on April 28.