The plan to bring the historic World War II era Navy cruiser to East Boston is one step closer to reality. Last week the land deal for the dock and surrounding 15 acres of land in Quincy that has housed the USS Salem since the 1990s was finalized and the ship should be heading to Eastie by 2015.
Built in the Quincy shipyard in the 1940s, the USS Salem has been docked at an MBTA owned Quincy pier since the mid-1990s. However, the pier has long fallen into disrepair and was in need of major upgrades.
In September the MBTA notified Michael Condon, executive director of the nonprofit that owns the USS Salem museum, that they needed to close the pier where the historic ship and museum is berthed due to emergency pier repairs. Since that time the USS Salem has been closed to the public.
Recently, the MBTA decided to sell the pier that the Salem leases to local developer Jay Cashman, leaving the fate of the Salem up in the air.
Condon worked out a deal with the Boston Harbor Shipyard and Marina on Marginal Street in East Boston to bring the Salem and its museum to Eastie.
Condon told local papers that he feels, given the neighborhood’s rich maritime history and current waterfront development, the Salem and its museum will blossom here.
Condon said Cashman, who has donated more than $100,000 to the Salem and museum, will help fund the ship’s move to Eastie. The ship should be moving out of Quincy by early 2015.
The Boston Harbor Shipyard and Marina’s co-owner Dan Noonan said he hopes the arrival of the Salem will sure up the his marina as a destination spot along the Boston Harbor.
Already the marina hosts, HarborArts, an outdoor art exhibit and annual festival, the Nantucket Lightship museum, and KO Pies, a popular Australian Restaurant that is a favorite among locals.
The Salem will be docked adjacent to Piers Park, the Pier One waterfront development project and the future Boston Harbor ferry that will shuttle commuters between Eastie, Charlestown and South Boston.
In Quincy the Salem has hosted a popular Haunted Ship program during Halloween and has also generated revenue by offering tours, educational programs and overnight stays for the Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts.
Ordered by the US Navy on 14 June, 1943, USS Salem (CA 139) was laid down on 4 July, 1945 at the Bethlehem Steel Company’s Quincy Yard in Quincy, MA and launched on 25 March, 1947. She was commissioned at the Boston Navy Yard on 14 May, 1949.
USS Salem served a distinguished 10 year career as flagship of the US Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean and the Second Fleet in the Atlantic. During her career she served as host to such notables as the US Ambassador to Spain, John D. Lodge; the Honorable Thomas S. Gates, Undersecretary of the Navy; Admiral Arleigh A. Burke, USN, Chief of Naval Operations; the Shah of Iran; the President of Lebanon and the King and Queen of Greece.
Although Salem never fired her guns in anger, her very presence served as a stimulus for peace during those troubled times that came to be called the Cold War. She served as a Lady of Diplomacy, rather than as a means of exerting brute force.
When USS Salem was decommissioned on 30 January, 1959 and joined the Atlantic Reserve Fleet at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard.
In October of 1994, Salem once again made her way north to her birthplace in Quincy. On May 14 1995 – 46 years to the day since her original commissioning – Salem was re-commissioned – this time as a member of the Historic Naval Ships Association. She now serves her country once again with her new mission of teaching people of all generations our nation’s rich history of shipbuilding and naval duty.