Museum ships and submarines that are national monuments

philadelphia cream

The white and buff protected cruiser Olympia, found at the Independence Seaport Museum in Philadelphia, was Commodore George Dewey’s flagship at the Battle of Manila Bay during the Spanish American War. During this 1898 engagement, Commodore (later Navy Admiral) led his column of ships into the bay and destroyed the Spanish fleet in the Pacific. The implications of Dewey’s victory were immense and are still felt today: the Philippines was annexed and the United States became a permanent power in the Western Pacific. Olympia, fast and heavily armed, is the only surviving ship of the conflict. On weekends there are guided tours of the engine room, which featured a number of innovations for the time. But Olympia also wore technological anachronisms, like a battering ram’s bow, should a captain wish to impale his opponent’s ship. Admission for adults is $18, children and seniors $14 and includes access to the museum.


On the Delaware River in Camden, NJ, one can walk and climb 1.5 miles of the giant battleship New Jersey. What often brings visitors to a battleship are the huge main guns – the New Jersey ones could launch a small compact car 24 miles. Visitors are encouraged to explore and can view New Jersey’s turrets, magazines, engine rooms, and boiler rooms. Deep within the ship, among 1940s analog computer tables and a cacophony of clanging bells, one can pull the actual triggers that “fire” the main turrets, and be rewarded with a rumbling video showing the guns firing. Elsewhere is “Jason’s Kids Kompartment”, a play area for the youngest. Night programs for families and youth groups include dinner, salute rifle shooting and movie night in the mess decks. The ship also has a entertaining youtube channelhosted by Chief Curator Ryan Szimanski. Adult admission for self-guided tours is $25, children ages 5-11, $20; under 5, $5. Night programs are $75 per person.

Newport News, Virginia.

In the second year of the Civil War, The battleship fought the battleship for the first time, with the United States Navy Monitor against the Confederate ship Virginia in the waters of Hampton Roads, Virginia. The heavyweight slugfest ended in a draw, and the Monitor sank in a storm the same year. off Cape Hatteras in North Carolina until 1973. Successive expeditions recovered the large rotating center turret, main guns and engines, and many recovered parts can be viewed at the sailors’ museum and park in Newport News, Virginia. Admission for children and adults: $1.

Charleston, South Carolina

The Confederate States of America’s Hunley was the world’s first successful combat submarine, sinking the USS Housatonic in 1864. The Civil War victory was short-lived: the submarine vessel disappeared that night there and was not discovered until 1995. When it was raised in 2000, the remains of the eight-man crew were found inside. Now the main part of the submarine can be seen from the mezzanine at Warren Lasch Conservation Center in Charleston, SC, which also exhibits many recovered artifacts. Admission: $18 for adults, $15 for seniors and veterans and $10 for students and children 6 to 12 years old.

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