Warships of Philadelphia

Warships of Philadelphia

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  • Mar, 13 , 24

In addition to the ocean liner SS United States, which has made several recent appearances in this newsletter thanks to Schiffer’s recent publication of SS United States: An Operational Guide to America's Flagship by Rindfleisch, Bauer, and Daywalt, there are also quite a few naval vessels to see in Philadelphia.

The US Navy’s largest Naval Inactive Ship Maintenance Facility or NISMF is in Philadelphia. More than twenty ships are stored in the “Navy Yard,” most of which have been stricken and are likely to be scrapped. These include five Ticonderoga-class cruisers and seven Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigates. The most striking ship at the Navy Yard is USS John F. Kennedy, a supercarrier that was decommissioned in 2007. This particular ship will be leaving for the scrapyard imminently.

Farther north from the Navy Yard in Old City, there is Independence Seaport Museum. In addition to a very nice museum and gift shop, visitors can go on board two significant US Navy vessels, the cruiser Olympia and the WWII submarine Becuna.

Olympia was quite advanced when it was commissioned in 1895, and it played a key role in the Battle of Manila Bay during the Spanish-American War. Thanks to the raising of significant funds, a lot of restoration work has been done to Olympia over the past decade or so, and the ship is looking great. Becuna was in service from 1944 until 1969 and sank several Japanese ships during the Second World War. The day I visited was quite cold, and both ships were being cleared of snow and ice.

From the Seaport Museum, one can see an imposing sight moored off the opposite shore, the USS New Jersey. New Jersey is an Iowa-class battleship, one of the latest, most lethal battleships built anywhere in the world. It too is available for tours year round. If you visit, be sure to keep an eye out for USS New Jersey (BB-62): From World War II, Korea, and Vietnam to Museum Ship by David Doyle in the gift shop!

Along with the above, Philadelphia has plenty of other ships to see and nautical history to learn about. It is well worth the trip for the naval history enthusiast.

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