Skip to primary navigation Skip to content Skip to footer


Back to Patriot Harbor Lines Blog


At Patriot Harbor Lines we love to showcase hidden Philly gems. Today’s post will focus on four of our favorite famous ships. These ships are highlights of our Delaware River Harbor Cruise, Penn’s Landing to Schuylkill Banks Cruise and our Walnut to Walnut Cruise. Philadelphia, the birthplace of the US Navy and at one time a shipbuilding mecca is home to the world’s oldest floating steel Navy vessel, the Navy’s most decorated ship in its history and the worlds fastest ship. Our guests love seeing these historic ships up close and we love sharing these ships via PhillyByBoat.

Cruiser Olympia

a large ship in a body of waterLaunched in 1892, the cruiser Olympia is the oldest remaining steel warship afloat, built during a transformative time in American culture, science, and technology. Her victory in Manila Bay during the Spanish-American War of 1898 positioned America as a power in the Pacific making the conflict with Japan 43 years later almost inevitable. Time and again, Olympia was present at the center of world events. She was in Russia for both the crowning of the Czar and later the Bolshevik revolution. She was in the spectator fleet when General Billy Mitchell demonstrated air power as the future of military power. She was chosen to bring the body of the Unknown Soldier home from France in 1921.

Olympia is the remaining link between the age of sail and the age of steam in naval construction. She preserves marvels of engineering in their infancy including electricity, refrigeration and communications. She is a reflection of the influence of the Victorian and Edwardian eras on America, having been built before WWI swept away the aristocracies of Europe. She brings alive the inventiveness and can-do spirit of burgeoning American engineering. If you would like to tour the Olympia tickets are available at the Independence Seaport Museum.

Battleship New Jersey

USS New Jersey (BB-62) is an Iowa-class battleship and was the second ship of the United States Navy to be named after the state of New Jersey. New Jersey earned more battle stars for combat actions than the other three completed Iowa-class battleships and was the only US battleship providing gunfire support during the Vietnam War.

During World War II, New Jersey shelled targets on Guam and Okinawa, and screened aircraft carriers conducting raids in the Marshall Islands. During the Korean War, she was involved in raids up and down the North Korean coast, after which she was decommissioned into the United States Navy reserve “mothball fleet. She was briefly reactivated in 1968 and sent to Vietnam to support US troops before returning to the mothball fleet in 1969. Reactivated once more in the 1980s as part of the 600-ship Navy program, New Jersey was modernized to carry missiles and recommissioned for service. In 1983, she participated in US operations during the Lebanese Civil War.

New Jersey was decommissioned for the last time in 1991 (after serving a total of 21 years in the active fleet), having earned a Navy Unit Commendation for service in Vietnam and 19 battle and campaign stars for combat operations during World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Lebanese Civil War, and service in the Persian Gulf. She was donated to the Home Port Alliance in Camden, New Jersey, and began her career as a museum ship 15 October 2001. If you would like to plan a visit to the Battleship New Jersey, click here.

SS United States

Designed by American naval architect and marine engineer William Francis Gibbs (1886–1967), the liner’s construction was a joint effort by the United States Navy and United States Lines. The US government underwrote $50 million of the $78 million construction cost, with the ship’s prospective operators, United States Lines, contributing the remaining $28 million. In exchange, the ship was designed to be easily converted in times of war to a troopship. The ship has a capacity of 15,000 troops and could also be converted to a hospital ship.

Constructed from 1950 to 1952 at the Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Company in Newport News, Virginia, the hull was constructed in a dry dock. United States was built to exacting Navy specifications, which required that the ship be heavily compartmentalized, and have separate engine rooms to optimize wartime survival. A large part of the construction was prefabricated. The ship’s hull was made up of 183,000 pieces.

The construction of the ship’s superstructure involved the most extensive use of aluminum in any construction project up to that time, which posed a galvanic corrosion challenge to the builders in joining the aluminum superstructure to the steel decks below. However, the extensive use of aluminum meant significant weight savings.  United States had the most powerful steam turbines of any merchant marine vessel at the time, with a total power of 240,000 shaft horsepower (180 MW) delivered to four 18-foot (5.5 m)-diameter manganese-bronze propellers. The ship was capable of steaming astern at over 20 knots (37 km/h; 23 mph), and could carry enough fuel and stores to steam non-stop for over 10,000 nautical miles (19,000 km; 12,000 mi) at a cruising speed of 35 knots (65 km/h; 40 mph).

Aircraft Carrier John F. Kennedy

a large ship in a body of waterUSS John F. Kennedy (CV-67) is the only ship of her class (a variant of the Kitty Hawk class of aircraft carrier) and the last conventionally powered carrier built for the United States Navy. The ship was named after the 35th President of the United States, John F. Kennedy, and was nicknamed “Big John.” John F. Kennedy was originally designated a CVA (fixed wing attack carrier); however, the designation was changed to CV.

The ship was officially christened 27 May 1967 by Jacqueline Kennedy and her 9-year-old daughter, Caroline, two days short of what would have been President Kennedy’s 50th birthday. The ship entered service September 7, 1968.

After nearly 40 years of service, John F. Kennedy was officially decommissioned on August 1, 2007. She is berthed at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard, and, until late 2017, was available for donation as a museum and memorial to a qualified organization. In late 2017, the Navy revoked her “donation hold” status and designated her for dismantling. The name has been adopted by the future Gerald R. Ford-class aircraft carrier John F. Kennedy (CVN-79).

  • Posted in: