Local students to restore ship as tourist attraction

Central Valley Business Journal, March 2012

By KEITH MICHAUD/Business Journal Editor

STOCKTON – The USS Lucid is being recalled to duty – in a manner of speaking.

The Aggressive Class minesweeper built in 1953 served this country for two decades or so, but in recent years it had fallen to disrepair.

That is, until David Rajkovich and volunteers who a few years ago formed the Stockton Historical Maritime Museum found it tied up at a Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta island. Students at the county’s Building Futures Academy near Louis Park in Stockton, AmeriCorps workers and volunteers will work to restore the ship over the next five years so that it can be moored at the Stockton Waterfront as a tourist attraction.

Students won’t only learn practical skills associated with the restoration, but also personal and historical lessons by talking with the men who served on the USS Lucid and ships very much like it.

“I have serious doubts there’s another (school) district in the nation that has its students restoring a ship,” Rajkovich said to a crowd March 15 in kicking off the restoration. “And if so, I want to hear about it.”

Rajkovich, county Office of Education and academy officials, Stockton Mayor Ann Johnson, and others spoke that day to a crowd in an academy warehouse out of the rain, the USS Lucid just outside.

San Joaquin County Superintendent of Schools Mick Founts reminded the crowd of the challenges facing schools, especially in California. And that not all students thrive in a typical classroom setting.

“They’re a lot of kids who learn from getting dirty. … Sometimes getting dirty brings education to light,” said Founts.

“This is the best classroom in the world,” said Founts.

Rajkovich also spoke of the students to be involved in the restoration. He said that while they may have had problems in the past, now in the right learning environment they were polite, respectful and eager to learn.

The USS Lucid was built in New Orleans, but there were three other ships built at the Colberg Boat Works in Stockton. Rajkovich said volunteers searched around the country for information and plans for the Aggressive class minesweeper, but only found that information in Stockton. Henry Colberg, grandson of the Colberg Boat Works founder, was able to loan the museum 700 pages of blueprints and home movies showing the launchings of the three ships built in Stockton. Today, Rajkovich was able to repay Colberg with the gift of a recovered ashtray from one of those three ships, the USS Engage.

Rajkovich said it will take $1 million or more over the course of the project, but that volunteers have already recovered original parts and fixtures to be used in the restoration.

Contact the author about this and other stories at kmichaud@cvbizjournal.com.


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