Learn about the USS Salem!

Sunday, July 2, 2017 - 3:26am

A large majority of Quincy’s residents are completely unaware of the city’s rich shipbuilding history. The Fore River Shipyard has produced hundreds of ships in almost a century of manufacturing; the most famous of all being the USS Salem.

The USS Salem is a Des Moines Class heavy cruiser, and is the third Navy ship to use the "Salem" name. The Navy ordered the construction of the ship in June of 1943, and was completed and laid down in July 1945, only to be launched for the first time in 1947.

After training cruises, the USS Salem relieved the USS Newport News as flagship of the Sixth Fleet on a Mediterranean tour. The Salem would go on to do multiple tours throughout the Mediterranean and Guantanamo Bay.

Throughout her service as a Lady of Diplomacy, the Salem earned the praise of Navy officials and foreign dignitaries. She was the first ship to arrive to the scene of the Ionian Earthquakes in 1953. The Salem provided humanitarian aid for four days, earning the praise of the Greek Royal Family. She also went to Lebanon to help the Lebanese government with an anticipated coup. Due to her travels through the Mediterranean and to Guantanamo Bay, the Salem has gained nicknames such as the “Gitmo Express” and the “Pride of the Sixth Fleet”. She has also won awards for having the finest staff, even winning the sought after “Gold E” award for having the best gun crew.

In January 1959, the USS Salem was decommissioned and sent to the Atlantic Reserve Fleet in Philadelphia. In 1994, the Salem found her way back to Quincy and was then brought back into commission a year later to serve as the centerpiece of the United States Naval and Shipbuilding Museum.

Today, you can walk throughout the ship and learn what it was like to be a Navy sailor. On the main deck, you can get inside of the gun batteries and see where the shells were loaded into the massive cannons. The second deck is broken up into sections, where you can walk through and see places like the mess halls, barbershop, operating room, dentist, anchor control room and more interesting spaces. The third deck has exhibits on different vessels like the USS Newport News, the U.S. Navy Cruiser Sailors Exhibit, and archives that explain various aspects of Navy life.

The USS Salem is open from Thursday to Sunday this summer from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Adult admission is $10, senior citizens and children ages 4 to 12 are $8, and children 3 and under a free; making this the perfect family outing. Come to 739 Washington Street in Quincy and learn about our city’s proud shipbuilding history!