Get a history lesson at Battleship Cove
Your family plans a great jaunt with friends on your boat. They arrive with their kids in tow, looking dubious, eyeing the waves and wind. Rougher than you had hoped for, but far from dangerous.
“Looks bad! Do you think we should cancel? Sally gets seasick if it is a rocky ride.”
Clearly they are not up for the Block Island cruise you had planned. You really don’t want to call it off. The cooler is full of drinks and the fridge is bursting with food. It is sunny, your kids are excited, and so you come up with a great alternative. Turn east and into the protected waters of Battleship Cove. They won’t have moped rides, hiking and shopping, but they will get to explore some pretty awesome ships and pick up a bit of history along the way.
From Warwick Light, go around Providence Point (north end of Prudence Island), then southeast and around the south side of Hog Island. As you go by, look at the 60-foot lighthouse warning large ships of dangerous shoals. There are no year-round residents on Hog Island, but the summer folks love this tiny paradise. Proceed over to the Mt. Hope Bridge and up into Mt. Hope Bay. Continue northeast to Fall River and under the Braga Bridge. In these more protected waters even Sally will be comfortable. Right there, in the shadow of the Braga Bridge you can see the museum fleet, open to the public seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Biggest of this fleet is the USS Massachusetts, “Big Maime,” the huge WWII battleship that saw action in North Africa and later participated in NATO maneuvers. You can climb all over this massive ship, raise and lower the 40mm guns on deck, see the radio room, and even climb onto a bunk in the sleeping quarters. In the mess hall you can buy lunch.
Next is the destroyer Joseph P. Kennedy, which was used in the Kevin Costner movie “Thirteen Days”. It also was a recovery vessel for the Gemini Space Program, and has memorabilia from its service in North Korea and the Pacific. Another highlight is the submarine “Lionfish.” Go aboard and marvel at how they fit so much into such a small space.
A Soviet sub, the Hiddensee, is there to explore also, a missile corvette built in Leningrad, Russia. There are PT Boats of the type run by JFK and towed in his Inaugural Parade. The PT 796 saw service in Japan, and afterwards it was used for training in Providence. Fall River Harbormaster Bob Smith is most accommodating and told me you can grab a mooring for a few hours for free and dinghy in to the public dinghy dock located between the carousel and the USS Joseph P. Kennedy, near the Braga Bridge. From there you can walk up to the entrance.
Admission is $18 for adults and $11 for kids. Of course there is a gift shop. For more information you can call the Harbormaster at 508-207-7730. He reports there is usually availability, but it would be a good idea to give him a call while you are on your way up and he can confirm there is a mooring available. If you want to spend the night, a mooring is $36 and rafting is allowed. There is The Cove Restaurant within walking distance on the waterfront by the public park, at the opposite end of the boardwalk from the carousel. If you are boatless, of course you can drive there, too. A great destination.