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Moving Day at the Quincy Shipyard for the USS Salem

August 04, 2017 | This Website

The USS Salem, nicknamed the Sea Witch, has been relocated from the northern section of the Quincy Shipyard, to its new home in the southern section. The Salem has been part of the landscape at the Quincy Shipyard and open to the public for many years, but most people are unaware of the Salem’s distinguished history.  The Salem was a state-of-the-art Navy cruiser, built at the Quincy Shipyard in the 1940s. 

In 1949, the Sea Witch was the flagship for the Navy’s 6th Fleet and had an unparalleled presence in the Mediterranean during the first decade of the Cold War. In 1995, the Salem was re-commissioned as a member of the Historic Naval Ships Association, and is now the centerpiece of the US Naval Shipbuilding Museum at the Quincy Shipyard. The vessel also attained celebrity status for her participation in the 2016 movie “The Finest Hours,” which chronicled the historic 1952 Coast Guard rescue of the crew of the SS Pendleton, after the ship split apart during a nor'easter off the New England coast. 

As part of an effort to repair and restore the northern pier at the Quincy Shipyard, Developer Jay Cashman initiated plans to relocate the USS Salem to the southern pier. Plans were approved by the Quincy Conservation Commission to install pilings for connecting the Salem to the new wharf.  Because of the poor condition of the original pier, the Commission gave the plans emergency approval in April 2016. Critical utility work was an important component of the project in addition to the ongoing water-based work. Before the relocation could take place, the old pier needed to be removed and utility services completed to provide electricity, water, sewer, and fire alarm services to the historic vessel.

On August 3, 2017 Cashman and his team pushed the 716-foot powerless ship through the small channel. They had no mechanical means in the ship to deal with the lines, and the move required constant communication and organization between the Cashman team, the Quincy Police, the Boston Harbor Docking company, the Coast Guard, and the volunteers on the Salem.

As the Salem was moved seamlessly into her new home, the most poignant moment was the look of pride and admiration on the faces of the veterans and crew who were waiting at the new berth for the arrival of their ship. “Every time I see her, it’s like coming home, and seeing her in her new home…I couldn’t be prouder” said one of the veterans while wearing his USS Salem cap. The veterans offered a collective ‘thank you’ to Jay Cashman and his team, “We are very appreciative to Jay Cashman for saving our ship.”

“The USS Salem is a distinguished ship and a part of American history that needs to be preserved and shared with future generations. I am happy to be part of an endeavor that honors the veterans and crew of the USS Salem, who were there on August 3rd to witness their ship being relocated to its new home,” said Cashman.

Although there were extensive challenges and setbacks, Cashman was undeterred and determined to make the move happen.  The project took more than a year, and involved extensive coordination and collaboration with the Quincy Conservation Commission and the MassDEP.

Jay Cashman and Michael Condon, Executive Director of the United States Shipbuilding Museum, signed a lease to keep the landmark ship docked at the Quincy Shipyard in its new pier until the end of the five-year agreement in 2021. “There will be a formal ceremony for the grand reopening of the USS Salem in the coming months, and we look forward to seeing everyone there,” said Cashman.