12. Mary A. Whalen

The Mary A. Whalen, last-of-her-kind coastal oil tanker, is home to the nonprofit PortSide NewYork, making her the only oil tanker in the world repurposed for public education and culture. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the MARY was built for the Red Hook-based company Ira S. Bushey & Sons in 1938. She is an early example of lap-welding (one steel plate overlaps the other), the transition from riveting to butt welding (the way welded joints are put together today to make a flush surface).

She is significant for her role in the 1975 Supreme Court legal decision U.S. vs Reliable Transfer. On Christmas Day 1968, The MARY went aground on the Rockaways in New York. A Coast Guard light was out and the MARY’s owners blamed the Coast Guard. The case reached the Supreme Court, which ruled that in marine accidents, damages should be apportioned according to blame. The law in effect since 1854 had been that damages were split 50/50 regardless of fault.

During OHNY Weekend, tour the engine room, galley with wood-paneled fridge and diesel stove, wheelhouse, and cabins. Learn about her history and ongoing restoration efforts. Hear what it means that she is a bell boat, sit in the sun-lit galley and hear stories of pink food and peas. Ponder the workings of her massive engine and pose by her wheel in the pilothouse.

The site will be open on Saturday, October 19th from 1:00PM to 6:00PM. The main deck of the ship MARY A WHALEN is accessible by wheelchair via the gangway. However, the rest of the ship is not. Rubber-bottomed shoes advised, not leather or high heels. Gangway can be steep at high tides. Ship does not leave the dock but does sway gently. Photographs and an audio tour can be found online — links upon request.

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