Historic Ships in Baltimore

Historic Ships in Baltimore Historic Ships in Baltimore represents one of the most impressive maritime collections in the world, including USS Constellation, USCGC Taney, USS Torsk, Lightship 116 'Chesapeake' and Seven Foot Knoll Lighthouse.
Historic Ships in Baltimore is a 501 (c)3 museum responsible for the preservation of USS Constellation, USCGC Taney, USS Torsk, Lightship 116 'Chesapeake', and Seven Foot Knoll Lighthouse.
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Welcome to the official page of Historic Ships in Baltimore. Located between Piers 1 and 5 in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, the ships and lighthouse reveal Life at Sea from the mid-19th century to the mid-1980's. From fighting the Transatlantic slave trade to daring rescues on the Chesapeake; the historic ships provided humanitarian aid and defended the freedoms we hold dear. Open to visitors daily, the ships offer tours and activities, live cannon firings, educational programs and more!

Mission: Historic Ships in Baltimore is the steward of the US Sloop-of-War Constellation, US Submarine Torsk, US Coast Guard Cutter Taney, Lightship 116 "Chesapeake", and Seven Foot Knoll Lighthouse. It is also the custodian of related artifacts, materials, and histories from these national treasures, celebrating over 200 years of naval and maritime history.

Our final letter is Z for Condition Zebra, as seen on a watertight door on #USCGCTaneyZEBRA provides   the   greatest   ...
04/10/2020

Our final letter is Z for Condition Zebra, as seen on a watertight door on #USCGCTaney

ZEBRA provides the greatest degree of subdivision and watertight integrity to the ship. It is the maximum state of readiness for the ship’s survivability system. Condition ZEBRA is set when the following situations occur: when General Quarters are sounded, when entering or leaving port in wartime, to localize damage and control fire and flooding when the crew is not at General Quarters, or at any time the CO deems the maximum condition of survivability should be set. All fittings marked with X or Y, Circle X, Circle Y,Z, Circle Z, and DOG Zs are closed when condition ZEBRA is set.

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A look up into #USSConstellation's rigging provides a spectacular view. One thing you will see is a set of horizontal sp...
04/09/2020

A look up into #USSConstellation's rigging provides a spectacular view. One thing you will see is a set of horizontal spars crossing the masts. These are yards, the spars on which a ship sets its sails. With the use of braces, or heavy lines that are part of the ship's running rigging, yards can be turned, allowing sails to better catch the wind as the ship tacks.

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Living Classrooms Foundation Visit Baltimore Baltimore Office Of Promotion And The Arts Greater Baltimore History Alliance Baltimore National Heritage Area

These Sound Powered Telephone Jacks, labeled XIJ, are today's letter X.Sound Powered Telephones have a flexible membrane...
04/08/2020

These Sound Powered Telephone Jacks, labeled XIJ, are today's letter X.

Sound Powered Telephones have a flexible membrane inside the receiver. When someone speaks the membrane vibrates and sends the signal to the other receiver. As long as you can speak, the phone will work. Sound powered phones or headsets can be plugged into jacks throughout the ship, like this spot on the bridge of #USCGCTaney
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On #LightshipChesapeake, you can see the Windlass, located forward of the Crew's Berthing.A windlass is a machine that m...
04/07/2020

On #LightshipChesapeake, you can see the Windlass, located forward of the Crew's Berthing.

A windlass is a machine that manipulates the anchor chain on a ship allowing the anchor to be raised and lowered. A notched wheel engages the links of the chain. A brake is provided for control and the windlass is usually powered by an electric or hydraulic motor

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V is for Voice Tube.  These tubes, also known as Speaking Tubes, are simple tubes that connect spaces to speak over long...
04/06/2020

V is for Voice Tube. These tubes, also known as Speaking Tubes, are simple tubes that connect spaces to speak over long distances. You can see them on board #USCGCTaney and #LightshipChesapeake.

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Forward on the second deck of #USCGCTaney, you will see the Upper Handling Room.The Upper Handling Room is where the exp...
04/05/2020

Forward on the second deck of #USCGCTaney, you will see the Upper Handling Room.

The Upper Handling Room is where the explosive shells and cartridges are received from the Powder Magazine. They are then passed to the 5"/38 Gun Mount on the main deck.

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On the fantail of #USCGCTaney, you will see the Tow Bitt.  Tow Bitts are vertical posts on a vessel to which towing or m...
04/04/2020

On the fantail of #USCGCTaney, you will see the Tow Bitt. Tow Bitts are vertical posts on a vessel to which towing or mooring lines are secured.

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Today's letter is S for scupper.  Scuppers are drains on the weather decks to drain water overboard from rain or waves. ...
04/03/2020

Today's letter is S for scupper. Scuppers are drains on the weather decks to drain water overboard from rain or waves. On #USSConstellation, scuppers are visible on the top Spar Deck and the second Gun Deck.

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On #USSConstellation, many visitors stop to look at what appears to be a rope ladder leading up the masts to the fightin...
04/02/2020

On #USSConstellation, many visitors stop to look at what appears to be a rope ladder leading up the masts to the fighting top. These parts of the rigging serve two purposes, structural and practical.

The vertical lines are shrouds, serving to help support the potentially top-heavy masts. The horizonal lines, however, are the ones featured as our letter of the day - ratlines, pronounced "rat-lins." These turn the rigging into a ladder, allowing sailors to climb easily up to the yards to handle the sails.

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Living Classrooms Foundation Visit Baltimore Baltimore Office of Promotion & The Arts Baltimore National Heritage Area Greater Baltimore History Alliance

04/01/2020
USS Torsk (SS-423) Conning Tower Tour

Last month, prior to the shelter in place order, we were able to get a good look around the Conning Tower on USS Torsk. Take a peek at one of the closed spaces on board with our curator, Paul Cora. Learn about the two periscopes, the Torpedo Data Computer, and more!

Tour the Conning Tower of the Tench-Class submarine, USS Torsk (SS-423) with Curator, Paul Cora. USS Torsk was in service from 1944-1968 and sank the last en...

On board a ship, even simple-looking objects can serve important purposes! Today's object is a tool used with the guns o...
04/01/2020

On board a ship, even simple-looking objects can serve important purposes! Today's object is a tool used with the guns on #USSConstellation. When visiting the gun deck, you may notice wedge-shaped pieces of wood seeming to support the barrels of the ship's chambered shell guns. The wedges are quoins (pronounced like "coins"), and they are the tool used to change the elevation of a gun when positioning it for firing. Using handspikes for leverage, the gun crew would lift the breech (back of the gun) up, allowing the quoin to be moved in or out. In this way, a gun could be aimed at higher or lower targets.

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Living Classrooms Foundation Visit Baltimore Baltimore Office of Promotion & The Arts Greater Baltimore History Alliance Baltimore National Heritage Area

03/31/2020
National Museum of Civil War Medicine

Take at look at this new video from National Museum of Civil War Medicine. Brad Stone is also a volunteer docent on USS Constellation. You may have seen him on board in the sick bay!

Docent Brad Stone discusses the work of naval surgeons during the Civil War and highlights the medical situation aboard warships in the 19th century.

03/31/2020
U.S. Navy

In case you missed it: USNS COMFORT arrived in New York City yesterday. Until 2013, Baltimore was the home-port of USNS COMFORT.

COMFORT and MERCY (now in Los Angeles) will provide support to non COVID-19 patients to relieve strain on land-side hospitals.

Read here for more details about these hospitals at sea: https://navylive.dodlive.mil/2020/03/26/usns-mercy-usns-comfort-2020-covid-19-deployment/

In case you missed it: USNS Comfort and crew are docked in New York and ready to support!

Those aren't windows on a ship! A round opening designed to let in light or air is called a porthole. Portholes can be o...
03/31/2020

Those aren't windows on a ship! A round opening designed to let in light or air is called a porthole. Portholes can be opened in fair weather to allow fresh air to enter the ship, or in emergency situations to bring hoses or pumps into compartments. When closed, portholes have a water-tight seal to keep waves and weather out.
This porthole, on the bridge of #LightshipChesapeake, affords a great view of the harbor!

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Living Classrooms Foundation Baltimore Office of Promotion & The Arts Visit Baltimore Greater Baltimore History Alliance Baltimore National Heritage Area

You will find today's object - an engine oil purifier - in the engine room of #USSTorsk. Why did oil need to be purified...
03/30/2020

You will find today's object - an engine oil purifier - in the engine room of #USSTorsk.

Why did oil need to be purified?

When a submarine like Torsk is submerged, it must maintain neutral buoyancy (neither floating nor sinking) in order to control its dive. Torsk did this by taking in or releasing seawater from its ballast tanks.

The ballast tanks also contained the fuel oil that helped power Torsk's engines. Since oil and water do not mix, siphoning off the oil was not a problem - but the oil could still experience contamination from materials (and critters!) in the sea water. In order to remove contamination, oil was put through the oil purifier before entering the engines. The purifier operates as a centrifuge, spinning out anything that has worked its way into the oil.

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Living Classrooms Foundation Visit Baltimore Baltimore Office of Promotion & The Arts Greater Baltimore History Alliance Baltimore National Heritage Area

When you visit our fleet, you will see a blue flag with white stars at the bow of each of our vessels.*This flag is the ...
03/29/2020

When you visit our fleet, you will see a blue flag with white stars at the bow of each of our vessels.*

This flag is the U.S. Naval Jack, which is flown by US Navy, Coast Guard, and other vessels while in port. The jack has one star for every state in the Union.

*Due to the hazardous nature of climbing out on the bowsprit, and maintenance work being conducted at the head of the ship, we do not always fly the jack on #USSConstellation. However, you can see Constellation's jack in this photo; note that it has 34 stars, rather than the modern 50, to match the 1861-1863 pattern US flag that flies at the ship's stern.

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Living Classrooms Foundation Visit Baltimore Baltimore Office of Promotion & The Arts Greater Baltimore History Alliance Baltimore National Heritage Area

The letter "A" may have been for anchor, but so is M! Today's object is the mushroom anchor used on #LightshipChesapeake...
03/28/2020

The letter "A" may have been for anchor, but so is M! Today's object is the mushroom anchor used on #LightshipChesapeake. This special type of anchor was suited to a lightship's mission; its unique shape helped the anchor to be buried deep in the sea- or river-bed, keeping the ship secure at its station for extended periods of time.

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Living Classrooms Foundation Visit Baltimore Baltimore Office of Promotion & The Arts Baltimore National Heritage Area Greater Baltimore History Alliance

03/27/2020

Today marks the anniversary of the signing of the "Act to provide a Naval Armament," and the creation of U.S. Navy.

"The act called for six frigates, four 44-gun and two 36-gun, to be built or purchased. It was decided to build the warships and in the end, three frigates of each rating were built. Timothy Pickering sent a list of proposed names to President Washington in the spring of 1795...
United States.
Constitution.
President.
Congress.
Constellation.
Defender.
Fortitude.
Perseverance.
Protector.
Liberty.

Washington chose the first five names on the list; the sixth frigate, not named by the president, became the 36-gun frigate Chesapeake."

https://bit.ly/2ulSt4d

During the Civil War, #USSConstellation's 320-man complement included 255 sailors (the crew also included marines, offic...
03/27/2020

During the Civil War, #USSConstellation's 320-man complement included 255 sailors (the crew also included marines, officers and petty officers, and the captain).

When signing on to a ship, sailors were "rated" based on their level of experience. While new recruits under the age of 18 would be rated as ship's boys, inexperienced men over that age would be rated as "landsmen." These new recruits would have a lot to learn, but after about three years experience they could expect to have gained the skills necessary to earn the rating of "ordinary seaman." The highest rating for a sailor, "able seaman," was given to highly-skilled men, generally with at least six to ten years of experience at sea.

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Living Classrooms Foundation Visit Baltimore Baltimore Office of Promotion & The Arts Greater Baltimore History Alliance Baltimore National Heritage Area

Have you ever seen a ship's binnacle, and wondered what those spheres on either side are for? It's all about magnetism! ...
03/26/2020

Have you ever seen a ship's binnacle, and wondered what those spheres on either side are for?

It's all about magnetism! Unlike the gyrocompass we featured last week, the compass in a binnacle is a magnetic compass, and is designed to point to the magnetic north pole. However, since the needle in a magnetic compass will also be drawn to nearby iron objects, metal ships like #USCGCTaney will naturally notice interference on their compasses.

The iron balls on either side of the binnacle help solve this problem. They are properly called correction spheres, but are often known as "Kelvin's balls," referring to William Thomson, Lord Kelvin who patented them in the 1880s. The position of these spheres on either side of the binnacle help balance out interference from the ship's hull, and allow the compass to point correctly to magnetic north.

You may see correction spheres today painted red and green, to signify the port and starboard sides of a vessel. But traditionally, as on board Taney, they would be painted black.

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Living Classrooms Foundation Visit Baltimore Baltimore Office of Promotion & The Arts Baltimore National Heritage Area Greater Baltimore History Alliance

The Star-Spangled Banner Flag House
03/25/2020

The Star-Spangled Banner Flag House

#MarylandDay - March 25, 2020, marks the 386th anniversary of the landing of the Ark and Dove in 1634. On this day settlers from "The Ark" and the smaller "The Dove" first stepped foot onto Maryland soil, at St. Clement's Island in the Potomac River. The holiday began its official observance in 1903, to honor Maryland's history and to increase the teaching of state and local histories in the public schools. In 1916, the Maryland General Assembly authorized "Maryland Day" as a legal holiday.

Learn more about the voyage of the Ark & the Dove by visiting the www.thearkandthedove.com/

Sadly, the Maryland Day Celebration is canceled this year but please still visit www.marylandday.org to learn more about partners and future events.

Here is something that you won't currently see on #USSConstellation, but something that has been present for much of her...
03/25/2020

Here is something that you won't currently see on #USSConstellation, but something that has been present for much of her history. The jib-boom is spar that extends from the bow of the ship (attached to the bowsprit), and would support a triangular sail called a jib.

To see a jib-boom and a jib in action, we recommend checking out this graphic from our friends at Pride of Baltimore II: bit.ly/POBIISailPlan

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Living Classrooms Foundation Visit Baltimore Baltimore Office of Promotion & The Arts Baltimore National Heritage Area Greater Baltimore History Alliance

Thanks U.S. Navy for giving us some alternative measurements to consider for those of us who can't "fathom" social dista...
03/24/2020

Thanks U.S. Navy for giving us some alternative measurements to consider for those of us who can't "fathom" social distancing.

How have you stayed in touch with others recently while maintaining physical separation? Our Operations and Administration team just hosted our first online conference call (after just a "little" troubleshooting.)

Can't fathom socially distancing?

Here is a good rule of thumb to use when you can within guidance from your command. Think FATHOM.

Life on a submarine can be cramped and isolating! The men who served on #USSTorsk lived in tight quarters, worked in swe...
03/24/2020

Life on a submarine can be cramped and isolating! The men who served on #USSTorsk lived in tight quarters, worked in sweltering engine rooms and endured extended periods of time with limited access to showers. So how did the submarine service make up for these less-than-ideal conditions?

Food was one way of keeping up morale. Ask any submariner today and they will tell you the same thing; that the submarine service has the best food in the navy. Torsk's crew enjoyed steak dinners, lobster, all-day access to coffee, and (as shown by our object of the day) - ice cream on board!

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Living Classrooms Foundation Visit Baltimore Baltimore Office of Promotion & The Arts Greater Baltimore History Alliance Baltimore National Heritage Area

Although Historic Ships in Baltimore is currently closed, please consider making a purchase from our online ship’s store...
03/23/2020
Historic Ships in Baltimore

Although Historic Ships in Baltimore is currently closed, please consider making a purchase from our online ship’s store. Now available at a special discounted price are the USS Constellation hat and USCGC Taney hat both w/ scrambled eggs. Additionally, we have our USS Torsk enlisted hat. Orders will be shipped on Friday. Thank you so much!

https://www.shop.historicships.org/main.sc

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For #NationalPuppyDay, we wanted to share some photos of the mascot from #USCGCTaney.  Soogie was a Jack Russell Terrier...
03/23/2020

For #NationalPuppyDay, we wanted to share some photos of the mascot from #USCGCTaney. Soogie was a Jack Russell Terrier mix who was on board during WWII.

The same Soogie is a cleaning powder, so it would be like naming a dog Comet or Ajax!

The next space to explore digitally is the Wardroom on board Lightship Chesapeake.  The doors along the sides are the in...
03/23/2020

The next space to explore digitally is the Wardroom on board Lightship Chesapeake. The doors along the sides are the individual staterooms for the officers. They would share the center space.

The wardroom is located aft on board. So if you look closely, you can see the cable in the overhead running to the rudder.

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Living Classrooms Foundation Baltimore Office of Promotion & The Arts Visit Baltimore Waterfront Partnership Baltimore National Heritage Area Greater Baltimore History Alliance

Today we highlight the sleeping arrangements used by the sailors who served on board #USSConstellation in the 19th centu...
03/23/2020

Today we highlight the sleeping arrangements used by the sailors who served on board #USSConstellation in the 19th century: hammocks! Sailors were required to assemble their own hammocks from canvas and rope, which was a daunting experience for new recruits. Willie Leonard, who served on Constellation in the African Squadron, wrote:
"This being my first time on board a man of war, I of course was very green; however, by the kindness of an old salt who swung my hammock and showed me what to do I got along very well... being tired and very homesick, I went to my hammock to turn in. It was a more difficult job than I had imagined, for on trying to get in I pitched head foremost on the deck at the other side of it. After several more times with the same results, I was shown how to get in by a fellow who seemed to have great sport at my mishaps."

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Baltimore, MD
21202

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