A Guide to the Historic Ships in Baltimore, MD

Lightship Chesapeake in Inner Harbor
Lightship Chesapeake in Inner Harbor | © m01229 / Flickr / Derivative from original
Kate Elizabeth Orgera

Baltimore’s National Historic Seaport is one of the oldest in the country. From a prominent center of trade and ship manufacturing to a central player in the War of 1812, Civil War and Second World War, the port city has helped make America what it is today. Though the waterfront now attracts more tourists than traders, the historic ships floating in Baltimore’s harbors are a testament to the city’s nautical history and contributions.

USS Constellation


USS Constellation (1854), the last sail-only warship commissioned for the US Navy, now a museum in Baltimore Harbor, Maryland. Image shot 2012. Exact date unknown.
© iSpice / Alamy Stock Photo

The USS Constellation is the only Civil War-era ship still floating and the last sailing warship designed and built by the U.S. Navy. Serving from 1855–1955, this 22-gun sloop-of-war was known for chasing down slave ships and making the Union Navy’s first capture of the Civil War. The Constellation also has an old connection with Baltimore, as it contains eight pieces of the US Frigate Constellation, built and launched there in 1797. Since retiring, the Constellation underwent restoration as part of the Historic Ships in Baltimore museum, letting visitors experience life as a Civil War sailor.

Lightship Chesapeake


Lightship Chesapeake, Historic Ships, Baltimore, Maryland, Day
© Acroterion / WikiCommons / Derivative from original

Lightship 116’s bright red hull with the signature “Chesapeake” on the side makes it easy to spot in the Inner Harbor. Completed in 1930, it was essentially a floating lighthouse, used to guide ships safely into the Delaware and Chesapeake Bays until 1971. The lightship also patrolled the coasts during World War II and stayed on duty through two particularly powerful hurricanes in 1936 and 1962. Another part of the Historic Ships in Baltimore museum, you can go inside to learn about lightship life and sailors’ canine companions.

USS Torsk


USS Torsk, Submarine, Historic Ships, Baltimore, Maryland
© Davidwells75 / WikiCommons / Derivative from original

Called the highlight of the Historic Ships in Baltimore museum, the USS Torsk was one of just 10 submarines of its kind to see battle in World War II, sinking three Japanese ships just before the end of the war. Torsk also received a Presidential Unit Citation and a Navy Commendation Medal for its performance in the Lebanon Crisis and the Cuban Missile Crisis, respectively. Part of the Historic Ships collection since 1972, this shark-like vessel allows visitors to tour the torpedo rooms of an authentic World War II sub, plus much more.



USCGC Taney, Historic Ships, Baltimore, Maryland
© woodleywonderworks / Flickr / Derivative from original

Launched in 1936, the US Coast Guard Cutter Taney is now known as “The Last Survivor of Pearl Harbor,” as it is the only ship still floating that was involved in the attack on December 7, 1941. USCGC Taney received three battle stars during World War II, along with ribbons for service in the Korean War and the Vietnam War. It also served numerous peacetime roles in the Coast Guard until it was donated to the Historic Ships collection in 1986. Climb aboard for a look at the ship’s weapons and pictures from USCGC Taney’s 50 years of service.

Steam Tug Baltimore – Baltimore Museum of Industry


Baltimore Steam Tug, Historic Ships, Baltimore, Maryland, Black and White
© NPS / Candace Clifford / WikiCommons

Built in its namesake city in 1906, The Baltimore is the oldest steam-powered tugboat in the United States. Made for multipurpose harbor jobs like towing hefty barges and workboats or breaking up icy waters, The Baltimore also acted as an official welcoming vessel for the city, carrying school groups and VIPs on tours. The Baltimore is currently maintained by volunteers at the Baltimore Museum of Industry, where guests can walk on board the deck.

SS John W. Brown

Memorial, Museum

SS John W. Brown, Historic Ships, Baltimore, Maryland
© jeff covey / Flickr / Derivative from original

The SS John W. Brown is one of a few surviving World War II cargo ships, dubbed the Liberty ships by FDR, which transported troops, arms, and other supplies overseas. The SS John W. Brown was launched from Baltimore in 1942, and after 13 wartime voyages, it served in New York as the only floating maritime high school in the U.S. It returned to Baltimore in 1988 as a memorial museum ship and is docked there for public tours when not visiting other ports or conducting Living History Cruises, where guests can experience a day in 1944.

Frederick Douglass-Isaac Myers Maritime Park


Frederick Douglass-Isaac Myers Maritime Park, Baltimore, Maryland
© Candi Clagett

Built on the site of the first African American-owned shipyard in the U.S., the Frederick Douglass-Isaac Myers Maritime Park honors Baltimore’s African American and seafaring history. Named for the Abolitionist speaker who worked in Baltimore’s shipyards as a way to freedom, and the Chesapeake Marine Railway and Dry Dock Co.’s pioneering owner, the museum recreates the shipyard and the processes of 19th-century boat building. Complete with a replica ship and marine railway, like those that used to pull ships from the water for repairs, the museum gives the port city’s history a new perspective.

Visiting Ships – Sail Baltimore


Navy ships, Maryland Fleet Week, Baltimore, MD
© David Robert Crews / Flickr / Derivative from original

Sail Baltimore is the official committee for visiting ships in Baltimore. Established in 1975 by Mayor William Donald Schaefer, who helped develop the National Aquarium and Inner Harbor, Sail Baltimore has since invited over 750 vessels to the docks of the city. This includes historic ships like the USCGC Eagle, a 1936 German vessel taken by the U.S. after World War II. Sail Baltimore hosts events throughout the year and is a key partner in the annual Maryland Fleet Week & Air Show, which brings over a dozen military ships to Baltimore from around the world.

culture trip left arrow
 culture trip brand logo

Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip

meet our Local Insider


women sitting on iceberg


2 years.


It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.


I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!

culture trip logo letter c
group posing for picture on iceberg
group posing for picture on iceberg

Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.

map of volcanic iceland trip destination points
culture trip brand logo
culture trip right arrow
landscape with balloons floating in the air


Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.


Holiday Sale Offers on Our Trips

Incredible Savings

Edit article