City finds home for bell from USS Biloxi

A piece of Biloxi history has returned to a secure location, the lobby of City Hall, where it stood decades ago before being loaned to the Maritime & Seafood Industry Museum.

The solid-brass ship’s bell from the USS Biloxi, a light-cruiser that distinguished itself in World War II, was moved to the City Hall lobby from the grounds of the Seafood Industry Museum. The bell had laid next to the Golden Fisherman statue, which was stolen and later recovered in pieces.

The bell is one of two artifacts the city possesses regarding the storied USS Biloxi. The other is the ship’s superstructure, which stands in Guice Park, near the Biloxi Small Craft Harbor.

The 608-foot, 10,000-ton USS Biloxi, known by her 1,200 officers and crew as “The Busy Bee,” earned nine battle stars during her service from January 1944 to May 1945. During that period, the Biloxi completed one of the longest continuous tours of combat duty by any U.S. warship, never missing a major operation in the Pacific.

Operating in support of carriers making air strikes against the very heart of the enemy homeland, Tokyo itself, the Biloxi saw action in battles at Okinawa, Iwo Jima, Formosa, Leyte Gulf, Saipan, the Phillipines, and was one of the first ships to evacuate allied prisoners of war from Nagasaki, Japan shortly after the atomic bomb was dropped.

On March 27, 1945, during the assault on Okinawa, the Biloxi was attacked by four Japanese kamikaze planes. Three were shot down, but a fourth, riddled with bullets, crashed into the Biloxi, and a 1,100-pound bomb was later found unexploded below the ship’s hangar deck.

The ship was decommissioned on Oct. 29, 1946, and broken up for scrap. The ship’s superstructure, however, was saved and erected in Guice Park near the Biloxi Small Craft Harbor.

Learn more online about the Biloxi

—To see photos of a Public Works crew moving the bell into the City Hall lobby, click here.

—To see a compilation of World War II press releases about the wartime exploits and achievements of the Biloxi, click here.

—To see before-and-after photographs of the USS Biloxi superstructure at the small craft harbor, as shown on a page from “Katrina & Biloxi,” click here.

Council to meet Tuesday afternoon

City Councilmembers face an agenda of more than two dozen measures when they meet Tuesday at 1:30 p.m. at City Hall.

Councilmembers also may vote on two ordinances having their second reading: One involves re-zoning of an Oak Street lot where a Vietnamese restaurant once operated, and the other involves rates charged by taxicabs in Biloxi.

To see the complete agenda and available resolutions, click here.

News and notes

Updates: Several key post-storm reports have been updated on the city web site.

—-To see the updated debris-removal totals, click here.

—-To see the updated totals on city-issued building permits, click here.

—-To see the updated report on condo development or proposals, click here.

Book signing: Wal-mart reports that nearly 150 copies of “Katrina & Biloxi” were sold during the 90-minute book-signing session with Mayor A.J. Holloway on Friday afternoon.

Webcast: Hear about the issues du jour in the “City Desk” program that was taped on Thursday, click here.