Friday, April 26, 2013

Great Lakes Naval Cruise 1978

Three U.S. Navy destroyers visited Erie in 1978 and I remember watching a sea of sailors dressed in white walking up State Street for shore leave. I had never seen so many men in uniform before, nor had I ever seen ships of that size.

The ships included the USS Robert A. Owens (DD-827), the USS Davis (DD-937) and the USS William C. Lawe (DD-763). The Davis, at 418 feet with a displacement of 4,000 tons, was the largest, followed by the Owens (390'6") and the Lawe (390'). The Owens, at 3,510 tons, was ten tons heavier than the Lawe.

"The transit of the St. Lawrence Seaway and operations in the Great Lakes provide the crew of these three U.S. Atlantic Fleet destroyers with superb training. To capitalize on these training opportunities, selected members of the Naval Reserve are assigned to the ships for two-week periods of active duty. This is the first cruise of Navy ships on the Great Lakes since 1963. The presence of these ships gives you a chance to view, first-hand, units of your Navy. The officers and men of the task unit welcome you aboard and are eager to answer your questions.

Enjoy more historic facts and photos of Erie, PA at:


  1. I toured one of those ships that year when it was docked at the public dock. I may have some souvenirs from it somewhere.

  2. I visited the Owens in Detroit when I was 10. I still have pics of the event. An officer from the Owens gave my family an extended tour of the ship, We even had cake in the galley! It was a very cool day that I remember very fondly.

  3. I was on the Owens at 17, part of the United States Navy delayed entry program for that cruise.