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Historic Tanker Celebrates 75th Birthday with Open House and Tours

By Nikhita Venugopal | May 20, 2013 3:06pm | Updated on May 20, 2013 7:10pm
 The tanker's "crew" PortSide NewYork will celebrate with an open house and ship tours.
Tanker MARY A. WHALEN Celebrates 75th Birthday in Red Hook
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RED HOOK — The chance to explore a waterfront landmark has finally arrived as the MARY A. WHALEN celebrates its 75th birthday on Tuesday.

The ship will be will be open to the public on May 21 with ship tours, talks and cake to commemorate the tanker at Pier 11 of the Atlantic Basin.

“It’s the kind of boat that no one has ever seen or ever gotten on,” said Carolina Salguero, director of PortSide NewYork, a nonprofit maritime organization whose office is housed on the tanker.

As people roam the ship, they can hear from guides stationed at several stops, from the galley with a diesel stove patented in 1918 to a six-cylinder engine room that’s “bigger than most people’s bedroom,” said Salguero.

People can also explore the “fidley,” a unique element to the great tanker, where the speed of the ship is controlled.

As the world’s only oil tanker that is an educational and cultural center, visitors can learn about MARY A. WHALEN and how the boat survived the brunt of Hurricane Sandy last year.

Since the ship is usually docked in a container terminal regulated by Port Authority and U.S. Homeland Security officials, it hasn’t been open to the public since August 2010, said Salguero.

But PortSide NewYork has been searching for a spot where it can remain publicly accessible year-round while staying in Red Hook, said Salguero.

The group is currently negotiating with GBX-Gowanus Bay Terminal for a new home across Columbia Street near Brooklyn's IKEA, she said.

Since discussions are ongoing, Salguero could not give any further details, she said.

“It looks like a really interesting place to set up.”

The MARY A. WHALEN will be hosting an open house, May 21, from 1:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. with cake and remarks from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. The free event will be held at Pier 11, Atlantic Basin near the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal. Pedestrians can enter at Conover and Pioneer streets.