Leaving Maine and the awesome aircraft at Bangor Airport behind, we drove on to the Boston area. This was where our most exciting day was planned; a trip to Battleship Cove. Battleship Cove is a museum of sorts, comprised of a battleship, destroyer, submarine, and missile corvette. Understandably, I was really looking forward to touring such an extensive collection of vessels!
It was a quiet day at Battleship Cove- although I don’t know why, because it was hot and sunny and the middle of summer! We toured the gift shop and then purchased our tickets and entered the museum compound. First we saw two restored PT boats, which were very sleek vessels. One of them (PT-617) was visibly advertised as being similar to the PT boat of John F. Kennedy.
The camouflaged hull of PT-617
Battleship Cove boasts another Kennedy connection- its resident destroyer is the USS Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr.; and was named after John F. Kennedy’s older brother who was killed in action in 1944. After her post-war training exercises and peacekeeping/stabilizing missions, this destroyer contributed to the blockade of Cuba, and later (after the US Navy’s Fleet Rehabilitation and Modernization program) was outfitted for anti-submarine activities.
The 5 inch guns of the USS Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr.
A giant computer and gyro compass in the control room show the ship’s age
The massive ASROC anti-submarine missile system on the deck was very impressive
Another clue to the destroyer’s later role as an ASW vessel: a brightly-coloured torpedo
Rear view of the USS Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr.; the bow of Battleship Cove’s submarine is visible in the foreground
The battleship USS Massachusetts was next on our self-guided tour. Laid down in 1939, the Massachusetts served extensively in WWII and is a large and well-armed ship. She had a vast deck which was boiling in the July sun, and below deck it was an absolute maze. Things were not very clearly labelled and we basically just roamed around the ship as we liked, which could be less than ideal for some people. However, I enjoyed it that way- it was neat to just wander about and try to find one’s own way through the vessel.
A T-28 Trojan greets visitors about to board the USS Massachusetts
View from the stern
Three enormous aft-facing guns- the Massachusetts has nine such 16-inch guns
The sound of these guns must have been terrifying!
We soon discovered one of the best things about the USS Massachusetts. Scattered around the deck were numerous quadruple Bofors mountings; the Bofors being a 40 mm gun used widely during WWII by both armies and navies. These mountings were not cordoned off as one might expect, and it was possible to actually sit behind them in the operators’ seats. Then we realized that the cranks for traverse and elevation were still working! Although I was initially hesitant to move the guns- I’m not used to museums being so hands-on- the opportunity was too cool to pass up, and my brother and I each took one seat at the Bofors. Immediately we became six years old again, and acted in conjunction as we pretended to shoot down attacking enemy fighters!
One of us was in charge of elevation, the other of traverse. What fun!
The quadruple Bofors mounting that we partially operated.
The superstructure of the USS Massachusetts looked especially enormous from the deck, and most of it was accessible via either exterior staircases or interior doors. Again, it was fun to roam around and figure out how to get to various parts of the ship.
The port side of the imposing superstructure
The view of the bow, taken from beside a Bofors gun
And the view from the bow
This turret was also accessible to visitors, if you could make the 4 foot climb into it
The mangled remains of a used 16-inch shell from the main guns
Evidence of just how tall the superstructure is- this isn’t even the top!
Inside the Massachusetts were endless passageways and rooms filled with either original fixtures (like bunks, tables, etc.) or informative displays. In particular, there were several rooms filled with models of ships and aircraft relevant to the battleship’s history.
The crew’s five star quarters
The rollers used for transporting shells around the ship
One of the many featureless halls below deck
The bridge was actually smaller than I expected…
… although it did offer an unparalleled view!
The USS Massachusetts is a spectacular ship, and it was great fun to tour her. Many hours could be spent aboard, and I’m not sure we actually saw every part that was open. There is a snack bar on board, and we stopped to refresh ourselves there before heading to the Hiddensee missile corvette. Although I love WWII relics like the Massachusetts and Joseph P. Kennedy, jr., I couldn’t board the Hiddensee fast enough- I was about to tour a real, modern-era Soviet-built corvette!