USS Salem Museum Status

USS Salem Museum Status

Like many other military veterans and youth program leaders in the area, I was distressed to hear about the possibility that the USS Salem museum ship in Quincy might be forced to close forever as a result of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority’s decision not to repair the pier on which the ship is tied up.

The Patriot Ledger ran this story:

http://www.patriotledger.com/article/20140125/NEWS/140127364.

I encourage you to read it.  The ship is tied up to a pier owned by the MBTA, which also uses the pier as a ferry service.  Unfortunately, last year the pier was damaged; the ship (and the ferry) are both closed because of the safety factors.

It would be quite expensive to repair the pier, but I fear the cost of NOT fixing it would be much steeper …

I am and have always been a very big supporter of our museum fleet — I practically grew up at Battleship Cove, and the trips my Dad and I took there, as well as my many drills as a Sea Cadet on the USS Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr., really helped formed me into the person I am today.  I probably wouldn’t have joined the U.S. Navy or felt the call to serve had it not been for these ships, and I know I am not the only one who feels that way.

The USS Salem has been an important part of the local economy since it was brought here in 1994.  I was there when it was towed into Quincy.  A few years later, the ship got “underway” (under tow!) for a day turn-around cruise, and all of the Sea Cadets from the Region were invited to be the deck force, handling lines and helping the crew.  I’ll never forget sitting on top of one of the huge 8″ gun turrets with some of my friends as the ship cruised around Boston Harbor.

And finally, the USS Salem has continued to be an invaluable training resource for Sea Cadets.  While most units can only learn naval seamanship skills in a classroom via PowerPoint, our cadets are able to board a real Navy ship, walk up to the gear, and learn in a hands-on manner.  In 2011, I took my former unit aboard for a night, and we treated the cadets as we would active-duty sailors:  we cooked in the ship’s galley, slept in the crew’s berthing, and spent time in the combat information center, engine room, and other spaces to put our skills to use.  Such opportunities are what makes our program as great as it is.

316855_10150480145357952_1079548417_n

310360_10150480143307952_790813917_n

While I know tough choices must be made in the local economy, I fear the MBTA is making a big mistake.  Based on their public statements, it sounds like T officials feel that fixing the pier just isn’t their problem.  I hope they don’t really feel that way.  The pier does support the USS Salem museum, but it also supports the T water ferry from Quincy, which helps commuters from that city get into Boston for work.  The elimination of that service–and the benefits to commuters–is certainly the T’s problem!  And in addition to the important revenue and prestige the museum brings to Quincy, it also serves as a training platform for our cadets and a spot for local scouts to experience naval life as well.  Finally, and not unimportantly, hundreds of Navy veterans and local volunteers have poured in thousands upon thousands of volunteer hours to chip paint, polish brass, or repair systems to help bring the ship back to its former glory and ensure its availability for future generations.

The potential loss of the USS Salem museum would be a tragedy and I sincerely hope this post will be seen by decision-makers in Boston who may be able to encourage the T’s leaders to think twice before taking this decisive step.  If the pier cannot be fixed, people need to put their heads together and find a new spot for the ship.  We can’t lose it!

4 Comments

  1. Stacy Hortaridis

    My nephews spent a lot of time here as a result of their training through the quincy cadet program. Any suggestions as to what can be done?

  2. Please pass the word across this nation about our dilemma. Write congress ect. The Salem is an important part of history but it is very much a part of our present. What does it say to our youth who volunteer countless man hours to assist with the scout programs and haunted ship? What about our dedicated veterans who show up every day to do repairs,paint,polish ect without asking anything in return? The mbta is not thinking about what they are putting at risk!

  3. It is not just folks where the USS Salem is docked
    who are concerned. I am on the west coast and only
    have heard about this situation via the web. VERY
    distressing that the mbta does not have a clue here.
    I have relatives who are Navy veterans…does the
    mbta have any understanding how this also looks
    nationwide?

  4. Lawrence

    Although the MBTA is helping pay utilities for the USS Salem she is not able to take in necessary revenue. The answer may lay on another pier in the Fore River Shipyard. Jay Cashman is the land owner. Might negotiation start to access Salem from port side from nearby pier? There is an existing launch from the Salem that might be able to transport until she can be repositioned of the pier repaired. Congressmen and mayor”hole in the ground” Koch need to step up help save this magnificent artifact of a most important part of Quincy and Massachusetts history.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Historical US Navy vessels (where are they now - Page 3 - […] USS Salem Museum Status | New England Region (011/013) Nice article …

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>