What does the Baltimore Maritime Museum contain

The Baltimore Maritime Museum is a unique collection of three maritime vessels and a lighthouse that visitors can explore to learn more about life at sea. Four National Historic Landmarks, as well as associated artifacts and exhibits, provide visitors to the museum with a rich historic perspective. Whether exploring an 1850s lighthouse or sleeping overnight in a submarine, this museum offers an engaging experience few other museums can match.

With a goal of supporting heritage tourism, the Baltimore Maritime Museum is dedicated to preserving and sharing a unique nautical way of life with the people of Maryland and other visitors. The Baltimore Maritime Museum is also a part of the Living Classrooms Foundation and a partner with the National Historic Seaport of Baltimore, which seeks to join together the historic maritime treasures of the city.

Lightship 116 aka Chesapeake
The first historic landmark is a maritime vehicle akin to a floating lighthouse. Built in 1930, the Lightship 116, otherwise known as the Chesapeake, was once a vital tool used by the US Lighthouse Service. Equipped with (then) state-of-the-art technology, this ship was able to indicate location in all types of weather and lighting conditions. Using a 13,000 candlepower electric lamp atop each mast, a fog bell mounted on deck, an electric foghorn, and a radio beacon, the ship was a signaling powerhouse in its day. Two 5,000 pound anchors steadied the ship in all sorts of rough weather.

Lightship 116 was put to service first on Fenwick Island Station in Delaware from 1930 to 1933, but the ship’s glory days were during World War II, when it was used to mark the entrance to Chesapeake Bay and later served as a patrol and inspection ship near the Cape Cod Canal. After the war’s end, the ship plowed the waters off Cape Henry, Virginia, guiding maritime traffic into and out of Chesapeake Bay for more than 20 years.

By the 1960s, however, technical upgrades (including radar) made the ship’s purpose obsolete, and in 1971, Lightship 116 was acquired by the US National Park Service. Eventually in 1982, it was moved to the Baltimore Maritime Museum site, where it continues to serve as a historic learning tool about early ship navigation.

USS Torsk
Built in Portsmouth, and launched in 1944, the USS Torsk was a fleet submarine deployed to the Pacific during World War II. It was stationed at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, and trolled the seas off the coast of Japan during 1945. The USS Torsk sank three Japanese ships before the war’s end, its legacy. However, the sub continued to be used for training purposes, as well as participating in active deployments in the 1950s and 1960s. In 1962, the USS Torsk earned the Navy Commendation Medal for its participation in the Cuban Missile Crisis, where it participated in a blockade of the island. After more than 10,000 dives, in 1972, the submarine was decommissioned and moved to the Baltimore Maritime Museum.

US Coast Guard Cutter Taney
One of 7 treasury or secretary-class cutters built before World War II (1935), the Taney was based in Honolulu, Hawaii, during the attack by the Japanese. Serving at sea for 80 of the first 90 days of World War II, the ship continuously conducted anti-submarine patrols following the Pearl Harbor attack. It was then refitted and moved to the Atlantic Theater, where it escorted convoys traveling between the US and North Africa. Later it was again converted to new use, this time serving during the Battle of Okinawa, where it earned the name Queen of the Pacific after downing 4 Japanese kamikazes.

Following its illustrious history of service during World War II, the ship served stateside, with duties ranging from ocean weather patrol to search and rescue to law enforcement, and more, while based in California. It also rejoined active duty during the Vietnam War in 1969 and 1970. After service in Vietnam, the Taney returned to its former duties related to rescue, drug interdiction, and training until 1986, when it was decommissioned and moved to the Baltimore Maritime Museum.

Seven Foot Knoll Lighthouse
With a beacon first lit in 1856 and operational for more than 130 years, the Seven Foot Knoll Lighthouse is the oldest surviving screw-pile lighthouse. This innovative design eliminated the need for an underwater foundation of masonry, instead relying on a corkscrew base that could be put into the soft sea floor.

No doubt the most remarkable event associated with the lighthouse occurred in 1933 when Lighthouse Keeper Thomas Steinhise faced heavy seas and hurricane force winds to rescue the sinking tugboat Point Breeze. Steinhise was awarded the Silver Lifesaving Medal for his bravery during the heroic rescue of the vessel’s men from drowning.

Automated in 1948, the Coast Guard maintained the lighthouse, but by the 1960s, plans were already under way to replace Knoll Lighthouse with another navigational marker. However, Knoll Lighthouse continued to maintain its role until it was moved to Baltimore in 1988. From 1989-1997, the lighthouse functioned as the Living Classrooms Foundation headquarters, and in 1997, it became part of the Baltimore Maritime Museum.

The Baltimore Maritime Museum maintains an active program of engagement with veterans who served on one of its ships or at the lighthouse. The museum maintains an active archives of artifacts, oral histories, and photographs documenting these historic landmarks.

Overnight Programs
The Baltimore Maritime Museum also conducts programs that engage visitors through overnight stays on its submarine and cutter vessels. Through interactive learning, visitors are given a unique opportunity to experience first hand what it was like to serve aboard these historic maritime vehicles.

This is a great opportunity for families to share in the learning experience. Children as young as first grade are allowed to participate in these overnight adventures with their parents.

Exhibits and Special Events
In addition to the overnight programs, which operate on a regular basis, the Baltimore Maritime Museum has an active program of ongoing exhibits, such as Lightship 116 Mascots (a history of seagoing dogs), and special events. Among events held in the past at the museum have been Pearl Harbor Remembrance Ceremonies, Lighthouse Challenges, and a teacher appreciation month.

The Baltimore Maritime Museum is a wonderful hands-on experience for children and adults of all ages, leaving visitors with a new knowledge of what life at sea truly meant. Historic treasures and a knowledgeable staff combine to create a unforgettable visit for sailors of all ages.