America · Conservation · Logistics · Travel

Baltimore Harbor Historic Ships

US Sloop-of-War Constellation US Submarine Torsk US Coast Guard Cutter Taney and Lightship Chesapeake 

Located within easy walking distance of each other in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, these historic ships exhibit life at sea from the mid-19th century to the mid 1980’s.  Also included in the collection is the Seven Foot Knoll Lighthouse which marked the entrance to the Patapsco River and Baltimore Harbor for over 130 years.

Restoration One of the most essential functions of Historic Ships in Baltimore is the ongoing maintenance and restoration of our ships.  The Museum’s dedicated Maintenance & Restoration staff and volunteers work to ensure that these national treasures survive for future generations.

Collections consist of approximately 50,000 objects, photographs and documents. These artifacts tell the stories not only of the ships and lighthouse, but of the thousands of brave sailor for whom these historic sites were a duty post, a home, and a way of life. New items, often donated by former crew members and their descendants, are rotated into exhibits so there are opportunities to see something new in future visits.

On Board Activities

Pier 1: USS Constellation Your first stop may be Pier 1 and an exploration of the Museum Gallery where USS Constellation’s history is portrayed through artifacts and personal effects which belonged to the ship’s crew. Once on board, uniformed crewmembers can answer questions and help to make your experience a memorable one.  There are four decks to explore: the top or spar deck is where all sailing operations took place; the next deck down is the gun deck where the ship’s main battery of guns, the Captain’s Cabin and the Galley are located.  Exploring further you will reach the berth deck where the majority of the crew lived and socialized; going down one more ladder you will be in the ship’s hold where food, water and gear for a crew of 325 was stowed.

Pier 3: USS Torsk & Lightship 116 Chesapeake Living on board a lightship was no picnic.  Long boring days sitting on station and terrifying nights in storms made for a duty that took a very special person to fulfill.  While on board Chesapeake you can see the exhibit on sailor’s Canine Companions. The US Submarine Torsk is a highlight of the Historic Ships collection.  Traversing the boat from stern to bow you will view the torpedo rooms, the navigation station, the operation station, the engine room, the crews mess and crew berthing areas – over eighty sailors lived aboard and the only way to pass someone was to turn sideways.

Pier 5: USCGC Taney & Seven Foot Knoll Lighthouse Taney was decommissioned in Baltimore in 1986 and remains much as the Coast Guard left her.  The tour takes you around the deck to the bridge and below decks to the berthing areas, mess deck, the wardroom (officer’s quarters) and back onto the fantail. The Seven Foot Knoll Lighthouse contains an extensive exhibit on the building of the light as well as information on lighthouses around the Chesapeake region.  Built in 1856, it is one of the oldest Chesapeake lighthouses still in existence.

Education Programs

The Historic Ships Overnight Programs provide an immersive hands-on historic experience with a twenty-first century applicability that encourages team-work, problem solving, and learning.

walk in the footsteps of sailors and learn about life aboard ship

USCGC Taney an immersive, hands-on experience aboard a WWII veteran that saw action in the Atlantic and Pacific.   Activities encourage teamwork, communications skills, and quick thinking.  Overnighters learn first-hand about signaling at sea, steam engines and propulsion, shipboard damage control, and navigation.

USS Torsk a hands-on experience aboard a WWII fleet submarine.   Overnighters learn about things that are absolutely unique to submarines including periscopes, torpedoes, buoyancy and how submarines manage to exist below the surface.

USS Constellation walk in the footsteps of sailors and learn about life aboard a mid-19th century, U.S. Navy warship.  Participants become Landsmen, USS Constellation’s newest crew members.  Overnight recruits “learn the ropes” and quickly develop both a working nautical vocabulary and a familiarity with the basics of life aboard a man-of-war including Civil War-era dining, hands-on activities, and the navy hammock.

Guided Tours

Ship as a Machine a walking tour with demonstrations and one hands-on activity (Bracing the Yards). This tour examines the purpose, design, and construction of sailing warships and focuses on those aspects of Constellation’s build that make her uniquely suited for the role she played. Basic questions are answered such as: If the wind blows to the right, why does not the ship move to the right; what keeps the ship from turning over in the water; how are warships built differently than merchant ships.

Constellation Fights the Slave Trade her proudest service may have occurred during the three years immediately before the Civil War when, as flagship of the navy’s African Squadron, she led this nation’s fight against the trans-Atlantic trafficking of slaves. Tour and hands-on activities combine to bring into view Constellation‘s active career combating the slave trade and her exciting pursuit and capture of the slave ship Cora from which she rescued 705 captive Africans.

Day Programs

Historic Ships in Baltimore’s half-day programs provide an immersive hands-on historic experience with a twenty-first century applicability that encourages team-work, problem solving, and learning. Each program provides introductory ship tours, after which students focus on two of six particular areas of the ship and begin to develop a more specialized vocabulary and skill set.  At the end of their 2 ½-hour program, learning is reinforced in a written exercise and assessment.  Assessment results are forwarded to the teacher.  Each program provides a uniquely different approach toward reading, listening, development and reinforcement, involve hands-on activities and are fun, including a live-firing of one of the USS Constellation’s cannons.

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