The Mary A Whalen - PortSide NewYork's Flagship

The retired coastal oil tanker MARY A.WHALEN is on the National Register of Historic Places, the last of her kind in the USA. She is a ship museum, a floating classroom and cultural center, and the site of our offices. She's got a fascinating history, and PortSide is adding to it!


PortSide's flagship, the coastal oil tanker MARY A.WHALEN, is our ambassador to the BLUEspace, a museum of herself, a floating education and cultural center,  the site of our offices, and the home of famous ship cat Chiclet

The MARY is the last of her kind in the USA. Built for Red Hook's Ira S. Bushey and Sons, she was launched May 21, 1938 and is significant to area history and national maritime law. 

We are currently trying to restore her engine room to operating condition. This is more than a preservation project. It will enable the ship to be used for training purposes, it will help us get volunteers with maritime skills – and key due to changes in the marine insurance industry – it will make it easier to get insurance.

In August 2020, we got an intact vintage engine from the Kennett, Missouri powerplant that we can use for parts. In 2021, we got parts from other historic ships that were scrapped, the tugs PEGASUS and HELEN MCALLISTER.  Fall of 2022, we are trying to get parts from the 1938 Bushey tug CHANCELLOR soon to be scrapped.  Search the hashtag #makeMARYrunagain on social media for news.

Below are a collection of stories, images and oral histories relating to the Mary A Whalen.

The oil tankerMARY A. WHALENwas launched May 21, 1938.The ship is PortSide NewYork's ambassador to theBLUEspaceand site of our offices and many programs. Why she is significant? She is the the last of her kind in the USA.She is the only oil…

Explore The Mary Whalen by clicking on the links below and hearing about her places and people. (Links will take you to our PortSide NewYork website) Plimsoll Line audio element. Deck audio…

The MARY A WHALEN is a rare surviving example of a bell boat. On a bell boat, the person steering (the captain or the mate) has no direct control over the speed of the engine, nor whether the ship goes forward or in reverse. The engineer, as the name…

The engine of the MARY A WHALEN is a Model 37 diesel engine manufactured by the Fairbanks-Morse company. Developed in the 1920s, the engine design was tried and true when MARY was built in 1938 (originally christened as the S.T. Kiddoo.) The engine…

Alf Dyrland was Captain of the MARY A. WHALEN from her rechristening in 1958 until 1978 when he retired. He was her first captain as the MARY; she was his last boat. Alf loved the MARY deeply. As he lay dying in 1996, what he said out loud revealed to family in…

The MARY A. WHALEN went aground on the Rockaways in New York, shortly before Christmas 1968. The company who owned The MARY at the time, Reliable Transfer Co., blamed the Coast Guard. They argued that accident occured because one of the harbor lights…

Hear notable marine engineer and architect Dr. Charles R. Cushing talk about the rescue of the MARY A. WHALEN.  Cushing has played a significant role in maritime history during 60+ years, including being one of the architects of containerization. In…

Gary Shiflett, a fleet manager at the time of this video, used to work for Ira S. Bushey and Sons and Eklof Marine.  In 2016, while standing in the galley of PortSide NewYork's MARY A. WHALEN -a "Bushey boat" - he shared some of his memories of working on ships. His…

In honor of the ship MARY A .WHALEN reaching its 80th year, PortSide NewYork invited the Urban Sketchers to come and be inspired by her. Below is some of the artwork made that day.  This became a tradition, the annual Mary Art inspiration day.  Scattered on, around, and in the Red Hook neighborhood of…

Ira S. Bushey started his work life driving mules on the Erie Canal in the latter half of the Nineteenth Century. By 1895 Bushey began repairing boats, settling up shop in Brooklyn in 1905. His shipyard was located at the foot of Court Street, on the…

PortSide NewYork created this Red Hook WaterStories product. PortSide is a maritime non-profit founded in Red Hook in 2005. Our goal is to create a waterfront center with a landing for boats, a home for the MARY A. WHALEN, and more programs and…

The short answer is Mary Agnes Whalen was Captain John Tabeling's wife and mother to James Harold. They ran the Reliable Fuel Supply Company, the company that, from 1962 to 1971, owned the ship launched in 1938 as the S.T. KIDDOO.  In 1958 that ship was…

Ther names for ship parts are very different from the names of building parts, even if the parts seem similar. A building has "walls," a ship has "bulkheads."  Plus, ships have things buildings do not. Using our MARY A WHALEN as the example, here is some nautical nomenclature. 

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