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Schumer, Clinton, Higgins Secure Extended Deadline For Bringing Vintage WWII Ship To Dunkirk

Maritime Administration Agrees to An Extension Until April 2007 to Give Local Community Coalition The Time It Needs To Raise Enough Funds To Repair The Ship For Relocation To WNY

U.S.S. Sphinx Would Serve As A Museum For The Community And Monument To The Large Population Of Veterans In New York State

Washington, DC U.S. Senators Charles E. Schumer and Hillary Rodham Clinton and Congressman Brian Higgins welcomed news from the Maritime Administration (MARAD) that it has granted an extension to the Dunkirk Historical Lighthouse and Veterans Museum to raise the money necessary to transport the U.S.S Sphinx, a storied landing craft, from Virginia, to its new home in Dunkirk, NY. Under the new extension, the community coalition will have until April 3, 2007 to ensure adequate funding. The ship will become a floating museum for the community and training facility for various U.S. Army, Navy and Coast Guard units. The current deadline is set to expire this month.

This is a step in the right direction in bringing the U.S.S. Sphinx to its home in Dunkirk to honor our veterans, Senator Schumer said. A large population of Landing Ship Tank veterans resides in New York State, and the proposed floating museum would showcase this communitys great respect for the sacrifice of past patriots. The officers and volunteers of the Dunkirk Historical Lighthouse and Veterans Park Museum have made heroic efforts to raise the funds to bring the ship to Dunkirk. The veterans have worked tirelessly to save this ship, and I am happy they now have the extra time needed.

This is a very positive step for everyone who wants to bring the U.S.S. Sphinx to Dunkirk. This extension is a testament to the hard work of the local community to raise money, awareness and support for the campaign to bring this important potential tourist attraction to Dunkirk. I am pleased that we were able to convince the Maritime Administration to grant this extension and I will continue to work with the community and with MARAD so we can give people the best chance to complete their fundraising efforts, Senator Clinton said.

This extension is welcome news for New York's veterans; getting the Sphinx to Dunkirk is a testament to their service to our country. I am hopeful that the 'Journey to Dunkirk' group will meet their fundraising goals and with the great support of the local community, make Dunkirk the proud home for the U.S.S. Sphinx, said Rep. Higgins.

In October of 2005, MARAD put a oneyear donation hold on the disposal of the U.S.S. Sphinx, delaying the scheduled disposal date until October 2006, on the grounds that the Journey to Dunkirk group had presented MARAD with a sound fundraising plan. Another yearlong extension would give the group the time they need to complete their efforts. The U.S.S. Sphinx is one of the last remaining Landing Ship Tanks (LST) vessels, which served the U.S. Navy in World War II, Korea, Vietnam and elsewhere. President Bush signed the ship over to the Dunkirk Historical Lighthouse and Veterans Park Museum in December of 2002. The officers intend to preserve the U.S.S. Sphinx as a floating museum. In addition, the U.S.S. Sphinx will be used as a training facility for the U.S. Navy Sea Cadet Units, U.S. Army Junior ROTC units, and units from the U.S. Coast Guard. The ship will also house the Lancaster Ham Radio Station. In recent months, the museums Board of Directors has held public events featuring its plans for the ship which generated significant media attention and community support for fundraising efforts.

In a personal letter last month to Sean T Connaughton, the Maritime Administrator for the United States Department of Transportation, Schumer, Clinton and Higgins wrote, Please consider granting another oneyear extension on the disposal of the U.S.S. Sphinx. We are confident that the efforts of the Journey to Dunkirk veterans will succeed if they are given enough time to follow through on their proposal. We appreciate your consideration of their interest and efforts, and look forward to continue working with you on this and other issues that impact the citizens of New York.