Historic Ship MARY A. WHALEN
12:30 pm - 6:00 pm
Ira S. Bushey & Sons, 1938

Last-of-her-kind coastal oil tanker built in 1938. Originally called the S.T. KIDDOO, the MARY A. WHALEN worked until 1994 and is now the home of non-profit PortSide NewYork.  Listed in the National Register of Historic Places, the WHALEN is the only oil tanker in the world repurposed for public culture and education. This storied ship is graced with polished brass & varnished wood. The tour includes the engine room, galley with wood-paneled fridge & diesel stove, wheelhouse, cabins. A restoration of the tanker is currently underway. She is as significant an artifact as Ira S. Bushey & Sons, a Red Hook business that ran an innovative shipyard, fuel terminal, and fleet of tankers, tugs and barges, that closed in the 1980s. She is also important due to her role in the 1975 Supreme Court legal decision US vs RELIABLE TRANSFER. She is also a rare surviving example of a bell boat; where the captain rang bells to the engineer two levels down to indicate speed and direction. Speaking tubes were also used to communicate within the ship.

The MARY has quite a Sandy story because the PortSide crew rode out the hurricane on the ship, and then brought their office equipment ashore to run a hurricane Sandy aid station. PortSide won a White House award for that Sandy recovery work. Hearing those Sandy stories is part of the tour. There are other historic ships at our location, that you can see from the pier, providing added interest. PortSide has created a companion, self-guided Red Hook waterfront history tour available online at www.redhookwaterstories.org

For Kids: Stuff to wear (hard hat, life vest), maritime gear to touch. Buckets of water to pump with bilge pump. Model tall ship is inflatable pool of water. Salty Selfies props for photos for photos of kids and adults. Chalk to draw on parking lot surface.

Access Notes: This is a ship. Some floors and stairs have grating so flat shoes with rubber soles are HIGHLY recommended.


Image Credit: Carolina Salguero