U-Boats, Bootleggers, and Buoys: The History of the Coast Guard in New York Harbor | Episode 119

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To mark the 230th birthday of the United States Coast Guard, we’re looking back at the history of the “always ready” service. Due to New York’s position as one of the country’s largest ports, the Coast Guard has ensured its safety and security for more than two centuries, and today they have the largest presence of any military service branch in New York City. We will share stories of the Coast Guard fighting U-boats in both World Wars, hunting bootleggers during Prohibition, and ensuring the safe navigation of the harbor for everybody from container ships to kayakers. We will also be joined by Coast Guard veteran Ramon Ortiz, who served aboard the icebreaking tug USCGC Sturgeon Bay and in Coast Guard Sector New York.

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Flash and Clang: Aids to Navigation with the Historic Lighthouse Tender Lilac | Virtual Program

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Unlock the mystery of maritime navigation with Mary Habstritt of the Lilac Preservation Project. At night many of our waterways become constellations of flashing lights. These Aids to Navigation (or AtoNs) keep our marine traffic moving safely, but most of us have only the vaguest idea what they mean or what it takes to establish and maintain them. The Lilac, a steam powered United States Lighthouse Service (later US Coast Guard) tender introduces the public to the world of AtoNs and helps us see our waterways with new insight.

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Fleet Week New York, Past and Present | Virtual Program

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For just the second time in 33 years, Fleet Week New York has been cancelled this year, so instead, we will look back at Fleet Weeks and naval reviews held over the past century in New York Harbor. From the return of the victorious fleet after World War II to OpSails to ships of the contemporary Navy, we will share images and stories of some of the special visits of military vessels to our harbor and to the Brooklyn waterfront. We normally host our Fleet Week tours with our friends at Classic Harbor Line, so they will be joining us to share about their own beautiful fleet of wooden sailboats and motor yachts that take visitors around the harbor.

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Slavery and the Brooklyn Navy Yard

After nearly 12 years of leading tours at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, one of the most difficult questions we get – and almost always from young people – is this: Were there slaves here?

This question is vexing not just because of the complex and painful subject matter, but also because the historical record is incomplete. The result is usually an imprecise and unsatisfying answer. In short, yes, enslaved people were an integral part of life at the Brooklyn Navy Yard for the 60 years leading up to the Civil War, just as they were across Brooklyn and New York City.

This is an effort to unpack that complexity and get somewhere closer to the historical truth of the matter.

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Special Tours Mark 75 Years Since the End of World War II at the Brooklyn Navy Yard

World War II came to a close in 1945, and looking back 75 years, it is hard to believe that Americans on the cusp of war in 1940 were as removed from the Civil War as we are from World War II today. Imagine veterans of that war, fought with horses and muskets, still alive to share their memories in the Atomic Age.

Today, we have a dwindling number of World War II veterans, all now well north of 90 years old (unlike the Civil War, there were no 10-, 11-, and 12-year-old drummer boys or powder monkeys). So throughout 2020, we are offering special content on our World War II Tours of the Brooklyn Navy Yard on the first Sunday of each month that will focus on different aspects of the human story of the war, utilizing our vast archive or oral histories and other personal stories of life on the home front and on the front lines.>> Continue reading

USNS Pathfinder, Submarine Hunter

At the Brooklyn Navy Yard‘s shipyard, operated by GMD, they repair mostly commercial ships, but they also get a fair number of federal government contracts. The shipyard does not repair US Navy combat ships, but we are currently hosting nearly every other federal agency that operates ships, with vessels from the US Coast Guard, Maritime Administration, National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, and Military Sealift Command. Right now, a unique MSC ship from the US Navy Oceanographic Office is in dry dock, USNS Pathfinder.>> Continue reading

Joining the Fleet Week Parade of Ships

Since Fleet Week returned to New York City after a sequestration-imposed hiatus in 2013, I have watched the annual parade of ships from underneath the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, which gives you a good vantage point on the Navy and Coast Guard vessels as they pass through the channel into the Upper Bay. This year, however, I got the opportunity to actually be in the parade thanks to the New York Council of the Navy League.>> Continue reading

Guide to Fleet Week New York 2019 Ships

USCG Cutter in front of a construction project with several office buildings in Downtown Brooklyn and the Williamsburg Savings Bank Tour in the background

New York City used to be a Navy town. Sailors were a regular sight at the city’s shipyards and bases, and ships made regular port calls. Now the Navy’s footprint is nearly gone, so we really have only Fleet Week New York to look forward to for sailor visits. Below is our annual guide to some of the units that will be in town – be sure to check out the full schedule of events on the official Fleet Week NYC website.

If you can’t make out to all of these spots during the week, join us on Memorial Day for our Fleet Week Harbor Tour with our friends at Classic Harbor Line, where we will cruise past all four docking locations, get a waterside view of the ships aboard a beautiful motor yacht, and discuss the rich naval history of the harbor.

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Guide to Fleet Week New York 2018 Ships

As Memorial Day approaches, that can only mean one thing – it’s Fleet Week in NYC! Here’s our annual guide to some of the units that will be in town – be sure to check out the full schedule of events on the official Fleet Week NYC website. If you can’t make out to all of these spots this week, join us on Memorial Day for our Fleet Week Harbor Tour with our friends at Classic Harbor Line, where we will cruise past all four docking locations and get a waterside view of the ships aboard a beautiful motor yacht.

Manhattan Pier 90

  • Ships open for visitors May 24–28, 8am–5pm

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