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Battleship Cove
Aerial View of Battleship Cove
Established 14 August 1965
Location Fall River, Massachusetts
Type Maritime museum
Public transit access Southeastern Regional Transit Authority

Battleship Cove, located in Fall River, Massachusetts, is a nonprofit maritime museum and war memorial that traces its origins to the wartime crew of the World War II battleship USS Massachusetts. This dedicated veterans group was responsible for the donation of the decommissioned vessel from the Navy and its subsequent public display in Fall River, Massachusetts. Formally registered as the U.S.S. Massachusetts Memorial Committee, Inc., Battleship Cove was incorporated as a nonprofit educational organization and granted §501(c)(3) status by the Internal Revenue Service in 1964. The site is located at the confluence of the Taunton River and Mount Hope Bay, an arm of Narragansett Bay.

Battleship Cove lies partially beneath the Braga Bridge and adjacent to Fall River Heritage State Park, at the heart of Fall River's waterfront. The battleship forms a small cove which serves as a protected harbor for pleasure craft during the summer months. The Fall River Yacht Club maintains a dock nearby. The site also contains the historic 1920 Lincoln Park Carousel, originally located at Lincoln Park in nearby North Dartmouth, Massachusetts, restored by local vocational high school students and installed in a new pavilion in the early 1990s.


In its first year open to the public, more than 250,000 visitors explored the historic vessel, USS Massachusetts. Soon after, the battleship was recognized as the official memorial to Massachusetts citizens who gave their lives in World War II (and later, the Persian Gulf War), and her interior spaces were reconfigured to accommodate exhibits.


Battleship Cove

In 1972, the USS Lionfish, a Second World War-era attack submarine, joined the battleship for public display. Also that year, the Nautical Nights overnight camping program commenced as a model program, enrolling more than 500,000 youths to date. The following year, the USS Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr., a Gearing-class destroyer, was added to the fleet and immediately designated as the Commonwealth’s official memorial to the Korean and Vietnam Wars.

Soon after, the Mayor of Fall River christened this important site “Battleship Cove”. In 1975 Tin Can Sailors, Inc., a national organization of 24,000 destroyer veterans, was founded at Battleship Cove.

The year 1984 included the addition of a T-28 Trojan. This aircraft served as a US trainer, and also served in the VNAF South Vietnam Air Force, reflecting immigrants in the Commonwealth who had served in the Vietnamese armed forces. A new gift shop helped fuel the organization’s growth. In 1985, the Commonwealth awarded a $2.5 million grant for the preservation of the Kennedy, and in that same year the National Park Service designated the Massachusetts, the Lionfish, and PT-796 as National Historic Landmarks. Subsequently, both the Kennedy and PT-617 received NHL status, giving Battleship Cove the highest concentration of such south of Boston. Presently comprising eight vessels, the Battleship Cove fleet is the largest and most diverse collection of historic naval ships in the world.

Battleship Cove in 2007

In the 1990s the organization continued to improve with over sixty new exhibitions related to the historic ships and veterans. The success of the overnight program, high visitation from school groups, and general admissions supported an expanded staff and improved ship maintenance efforts. On June 14, 1997, the Cove acquired a Cold War relic: the Soviet-built missile corvette Hiddensee. Three years later, the Commonwealth awarded the Massachusetts and the Lionfish a $10 million grant for significant, dry-dock restoration work.

Since 1964, Battleship Cove has hosted more than 5 million youth, veterans, and tourists. As goals for continued success as an educational, historical museum, the Cove is dedicated to expanding and sustaining its outreach with programs like the Battleship Cove Community Boating Program, the Raytheon Inspiring Technological Exploration (RITE) Program, and the Veterans’ Voices Oral History Program.

USS Massachusetts[]

Main article: USS Massachusetts (BB-59)

Battleship Massachusetts in 2012.

The largest ship in the Battleship Cove fleet, USS Massachusetts (BB-59) is the centerpiece of the collection. Known as "Big Mamie" to her crewmembers during World War II, a battleship of the second South Dakota class, was the seventh ship of the United States Navy to be named in honor of the sixth state. Her keel was laid down 20 July 1939 at the Fore River Shipyard of Quincy, Massachusetts. She was launched on 23 September 1941 sponsored by Mrs. Charles Francis Adams III, and commissioned on 12 May 1942 at Boston, Massachusetts, with Captain Francis E.M. Whiting in command.

Massachusetts received eleven battle stars for World War II service and earned a reputation as a "Work Horse of the Fleet". During World War II, no United States Navy personnel were killed in action while aboard the Massachusetts. It is said that "Big Mamie" fired both the first US Navy 16 inch shells of World War II (at the Vichy French battleship Jean Bart in the Naval Battle of Casablanca during Operation Torch); and the last (at a Japanese steel works at Hamamatsu), hours before the war ended.

The USS Massachusetts is one of only eight United States battleships remaining, of the many that were produced in the first half of the 20th century.

USS Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr.[]

USS Kennedy in Battleship Cove

Main article: USS Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. (DD-850)

USS Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. (DD-850) is a Gearing-class destroyer of the United States Navy. The ship was named after Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr., a naval aviator, son of the former Ambassador to Britain, Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr., and older brother of future President John F. Kennedy. Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. is presently on display as a museum ship in Fall River, Massachusetts. Among the highlights of its service are the blockade of Cuba during the Cuban Missile Crisis and the afloat recovery teams for Gemini 6 and Gemini 7. It is now a floating museum in Battleship Cove, Fall River, Massachusetts.

In the spring of 2000, Kennedy was brought to Rhode Island Sound for the movie Thirteen Days, portraying both herself and the USS John R. Pierce (DD-753).

USS Lionfish[]

Main article: USS Lionfish (SS-298)

USS Lionfish

USS Lionfish (SS-298), a Balao-class submarine, was the only ship of the United States Navy named for the lionfish, a scorpaenoid fish found in the West Indies and the tropical Pacific. After completing her shakedown cruise off New England, she began her first war patrol in Japanese waters on 1 April 1945. Ten days later, she dodged two torpedoes fired by a Japanese submarine and on 1 May destroyed a Japanese schooner with her deck guns. After a rendezvous with the submarine USS Ray, she transported B-29 survivors to Saipan and then made her way to Midway Island for replenishment.

On 2 June she started her second war patrol, and on 10 July fired torpedoes at a surfaced Japanese submarine, after which Lionfish's crew heard explosions and observed smoke through their periscope. She subsequently fired on two more Japanese submarines and ended her second and last war patrol performing lifeguard duty (the rescue of downed fliers) off the coast of Japan. When hostilities ended on 15 August she headed for San Francisco and was decommissioned at Mare Island Navy Yard on 16 January 1946.

Lionfish was recommissioned on 31 January 1951, and headed for the East Coast for training cruises. After participating in NATO exercises and a Mediterranean cruise, she returned to the East Coast and was decommissioned at the Boston Navy Yard on 15 December 1953.

In 1960, the venerable submarine was called to duty again, this time serving as a reserve training submarine at Providence, Rhode Island. In 1971, she was stricken from the Navy Register, and in 1973, she was unveiled for permanent display as a memorial at Battleship Cove, where she has evolved into one of the museum’s most popular exhibits and a revered monument to all submariners.


Main article: German corvette Hiddensee


Originally commissioned by the East German Navy as the Rudolf Egelhofer, the Hiddensee is a Tarantul-class corvette built at the Petrovsky Shipyard in 1984, located near the former Soviet (now Russian) city of Saint Petersburg (formerly Leningrad). An example of a Soviet-built missile corvette, Hiddensee was designed to oppose any naval threat to the East German Coast, and to fulfill this mission carried long-range STYX anti-ship missiles and an array of defensive weapons designed to ensure her own survival.

Following the reunification of Germany, the Hiddensee served with the Federal German Navy until her decommissioning in April 1991. Shortly thereafter she was reactivated and transferred to the U.S. Navy. Joined briefly by a crew of 20 former East German sailors, a small civilian U. S. crew conducted extensive testing with the vessel at the Navy's Solomons, Maryland, facility in the Patuxent River. After 50 underway deployments in the Chesapeake Bay and Virginia Capes areas, Navy budget cutback severely curtailed operations, but she continued on as a research vessel until April 1996.

The Hiddensee joined the Battleship Cove fleet in Fall River on June 14, 1997. She is moored on the port side of the USS Lionfish (SS-298).

PT Boats[]

PT 617
PT 796

The year 1975 marked the arrival of PT boat PT-796, joined in 1984 by PT-617, forming the only pair of restored PT boats on display in the world. PT-617 is the only remaining Elco PT boat on display similar to that of John F. Kennedy's PT-109.

USS Fall River[]

Main article: USS Fall River (CA-131)

Tip of the Bow of the USS Fall River

USS Fall River (CA-131) was a Baltimore-class heavy cruiser launched 13 August 1944 by New York Shipbuilding Corp., Camden, N.J.; sponsored by Mrs. Alexander C. Murray, wife of the mayor of Fall River; and commissioned 1 July 1945, Captain D. S. Crawford in command.

On 31 October 1945, Fall River arrived at Norfolk, out of which she sailed in experimental development operations until 31 January 1946. The cruiser was assigned to JTF 1, organized to conduct Operation Crossroads, atomic weapons tests in the Marshall Islands in the summer of 1946. To prepare for this duty, Fall River sailed to San Pedro, Calif., where from 16 February to 6 March she was altered to provide flagship accommodations. Arriving at Pearl Harbor 17 March, she embarked Rear Admiral F. G. Fahrion, commander of the target vessel's group for the tests, and with him sailed in the Marshalls between 21 May and 14 September.

After west coast training, Fall River served a tour of duty in the Far East as flagship of Cruiser Division 1 from 12 January 1947 to 17 June 1947. She returned to Puget Sound Navy Yard, where she was placed out of commission in reserve 31 October 1947.

The tip of her bow is now on display at Battleship Cove.

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Coordinates: 41°42′22.29″N 71°09′47.98″W / 41.7061917°N 71.1633278°W / 41.7061917; -71.1633278

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