The world’s largest naval ship exhibit, Battleship Cove opened in 1965 and is home to battleships, submarines, PT boats, and a maritime museum, all accessible to visitors. There are memorials to honors sailors who served in conflicts including World War II, the Korean War, and the Cuban Missile Crisis. Visitors are welcome to explore the USS Massachusetts, USS Kennedy, USS Lionfish, and Hiddensee, docked under the Braga Bridge in the waterfront area of Mount Hope Bay, and can also peek inside two PT boats.
The nearby Maritime Museum was founded in 1968 to showcase nautical memorabilia such as the Fall River Line and RMW Titanic. There is a special children’s section with nautical themed books, arts and crafts, and artifacts. Battleship Cove is located in Fall River, Massachusetts, one hour south of Boston and less than a half hour southeast of Providence, Rhode Island.
Battleship Cove is open year round; check for updates on seasonal hours for both the ships and museum here.
Admission tickets are valid for two consecutive days, so guests can take their time exploring and enjoy reentry privileges.
There is a large parking lot in front of the carousel building (now closed) and it is a very short walk to the entrance to Battleship Cove and a two minute walk to the Maritime Museum. The Maritime Museum does have limited street parking.
Wear closed toe shoes or sneakers for better traction on the boats.
Restrooms are located near the admission building, aboard the USS Massachusetts and Destroyer Kennedy, and inside the Maritime Museum. A small gift shop is located inside the ticket office building.
There is a snack bar aboard the USS Massachusetts serving lunch options, snacks, and drinks with indoor and outdoor seating- see the menu here. The Carousel Creamery, located inside the Carousel building, is expected to open in August 2021 and will serve sweet treats.
There are also lots of dining options near the Cove. We enjoyed a great meal at the Cove Restaurant and Marina, which has a large indoor dining room and large patio with outdoor bar. The Tipsy Toboggan is a great option for casual dining and also has indoor and outdoor dining rooms. Boneheads is adjacent to the Maritime Museum and is known for chicken wings (and plenty of sauce options!)
Plan on at least 3-4 hours to explore the four ships and Newberry Hall and another hour for the Maritime Museum.
A note about accessibility and navigating the ships: The Admission Building and Maritime Museum are handicap accessible, but the four ships are not accessible. Be careful when navigating the ships: the paths are narrow and often uneven and the ceilings are very low (under 6 feet in some spots). Many times, guests must climb over and through portholes to navigate the paths (particularly aboard the USS Lionfish) and there are several very steep stair cases (always best to go down facing the stairs, one step at the time!)
25 Things to Do at Battleship Cove:
Destroyer Joseph R. Kennedy, Jr. is named for President Kennedy’s older brother, a naval officer killed during World War II. The ship was built in Quincy, Massachusetts and served the Navy for 27 years during events such as World War II, the Korean War, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and NASA’s Gemini and Apollo space programs:
1. Track the number of battles in the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean during World War II.
2. Pay homage to Massachusetts citizens who died during the Korean and Vietnam Wars.
3. Compare the size and amenities of various cabins for the sailors (note the difference between third mate and the captain).
4. See what’s for sale in the ship’s store.
USS Lionfish is the only American submarine used in World War II on public display. The Lionfish rescued a downed crew of a US B-29 plane during World War II, destroyed a schooner, and sank a Japanese submarine. The Lionfish was recommissioned for the Korean War and then served as a training submarine in Providence, Rhode Island in the 1960s and early 1970s:
5. Count the number of locations for bunk beds and choose your ideal spot.
6. Chart your own path for the ship in the Control Room.
7. Sit in the “Galley” (kitchen) and check out the ice cream machine.
The Missile Corvette Hiddensee, a Soviet built missile of the Cold War, was built in the 1980s and joined the East German National People’s Navy. Hiddensee was transferred to the US Navy in Maryland in the 1990s to be used for training before becoming part of Battleship Cove in 1997:
8. Check out the size of the showers and bathrooms, and look at the brands of toiletries.
9. Pretend to fire a gun on the main deck.
The USS Massachusetts, “Big Mamie”, was built in Quincy Massachusetts and was involved in several battles during World War II. The USS Massachusetts was brought to Fall River, Massachusetts in 1965 as the primary exhibit of Battleship Cove. There are four levels of the ship open to the public and guests will need t elast an hour to explore the ship:
10. Watch the four minute orientation film.
11. Follow the colored coded paths to learn about difference experiences aboard the ship, such as the World War II tour, the Crew Tour, and the Construction Tour.
12. Walk through the displays showcasing personal effects of each Squadron.
13. Attempt to count the number of bunks throughout the ship (hint: the total should be close to 500)
14. Learn what meals was served as a celebration after a grueling battle (hint: it’s also traditionally served on a national holiday).
15. Watch film footage in the Pearl Harbor Room.
16. Peek inside the Tailor Shop and check out the tailor’s supplies.
17. Avoid getting trapped in the ship’s jail.
Newberry Hall, the hanger for PT617 “Dragon Lady” and PT 796 “Tail Ender”. PT boats were used by the Navy during World War II to attack enemy ships. The sailors and officers aboard the PT boats were known as “Knights of the Sea” :
18. Climb the stairs and get a birds eye view of the PT boats.
19. Peek inside the conservation of the wreckage of PT-59, resting in salt water.
20. Learn about the various types of ammunition from the display including 90 rounds and shells and 40 unique examples of munitions used in World War II.
Inside the Maritime Museum (a two minute walk from the main Cove):
21. Listen to the stories of passengers of the Titanic, like Marjorie Newell Robb.
22. Walk the catwalk in the Maritime Museum and view dozens of models of ships.
23. Compare your bedroom to the replica bedroom of the “Fall River Line”, the most well known American steamship service.
24. Read a story or draw a maritime setting in the Children’s Corner.
25. Choose a favorite knot (from a collection of 140+) from the display.
For more places to check out boats up close, check out this post, and for nearby fun check out our New Bedford City Guide. Follow along on our adventures on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.
Disclosure: My family was given a media pass to explore Battleship Cove. All opinions expressed are my own.