During our time in Baltimore Clinton and I were able to visit many fascinating areas and wonderful historic places in the city. Most of them were within easy reach, such as the Historic Ships in Baltimore. I’ve written already about Constellation and Torsk but there are actually four ships that you can visit. If you are able to take the whole day we recommend seeing all four, but it does take time and be aware that these are historic ships. If air conditioning wasn’t the latest technology in their time, don’t expect it in your time. If you take an Uber like we did, just tell them to park near the Baltimore World Trade Center/Aquarium. There is a turn-around that makes it easy for them to exit, and it is right there for you to easily walk to and start your adventure!
The Coast Guard Cutter Taney was build in the Philadelphia Havy Yard on May 1, 1935 when her keel was laid. Commissioned on Ocotber 24, 1936 Taney spent her first port in Honolulu, Hawaii to intercept opium smugglers and carry out search and rescue missions. After an armament upgrade in 1940 and 1941, Taney was assigned to the US Navy’s Destroyer Division 80. She was tied up at Pier 6 when the Japanese flew over the city, but she was able to engage the planes and immediately commence anti-submarine duties after the attack subsided. In 1943, Taney was transferred to the Atlantic Theater as the command vessel for six convoys of troop and supply ships.
After World War II Taney was moved to Alameda California where she participated and carried out decades of weather patrols, fisheries patrols, and rescue missions. During the Korean War Taney received additional weapons and carried our plane-guard duties off Midway and in Alaska. Taney served in the Vietnam War by participating in Operation Market Time, where she intercepted illegal arms and supplies and provided medical assistance. After the war she would see similar tours of duty with more weather patrols and “hurricane hunting” with a new Doppler weather radar installation. Completing the Coast Guard’s last ocean weather patrol in September 1977, Taney had the distinction of closing out Ocean Weather Station HOTEL.
Carrying out search and rescue duties, fisheries patrols, and drug interceptions was a major life for Taney and is evident with her last missions. During the period of 1977 – 1986 she made 11 major seizures of illegal drugs including the largest bust in US History. In December 1986 she was given to the city of Baltimore in preservation of history and culture, and to serve as a memorial after 50 years of continuous service to the United States.
Taney was a large ship that was a lot of fun walking through. It’s set up for easy navigation through the ship with tons of information along the way. Another fun tour was of Chesapeake, a Lightship completed in 1930 and used in the US Lighthouse Service. A lightship is as ship that literally acts like a lighthouse. They are used in deep water or areas that are unsuitable for lighthouse construction. If you’ve ever read about life in a lighthouse can you image if the house was a ship?
Built in South Carolina, the vessel featured the latest technology and updates including an efficient diesel-electric power-plant. Besides all her fancy technology, the ship was equipped with two 5,000 pound mushroom anchors that were designed to hold the ship in rough weather.
Like most ship accomodations the Lighship was designed for efficiency, but not necessarily crew satisfaction. A crew of 16 with several away on shore leave at any given time included crew accomodations of an electrically powered galley and regrigerator unit. Surprisingly to us today this was a major advancement for the 1930s. The strenght of Chesapeake and her crew was evident many times, but more so on two separate occasions where the Lightship rode out hurricanes so powerful that the crew had to drop the spare anchor after the chair broke, and run full ahead into the wind in order to remain stationary. Lightship 116’s final duty was at the approaches to the Delaware Bay until replaced by a automated light buoy in 1970. Since 1982 the ship has been part of the Historic Ships in Baltimore.
What I like best about Baltimore is not only her diverse, fantastic history but the amazing opportunities you have to learn about that history while living or visiting the city. Clinton and I rarely drove downtown on weekends, instead relying on Uber. We loved walking places if we could, and truly enjoyed the ease of getting around the heart of the city. If you plan to head to Baltimore in the future make sure to spend some time learning about the city and her history!