Nuclear Ship Savannah opened its decks to the public on Sunday in Canton, Maryland, just one day before National Maritime Day. The holiday, which is observed on May 22, was created by Congress in 1933 to honor those lost at sea. The ship, docked at Pier 13, is currently used as a museum, which has been in operation since 2008. In honor of National Maritime Day, the interior of the ship was lined with tables set up by the Green Port of Baltimore, the Baltimore Museum of Industry, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and numerous other organizations. The Baltimore Fire Department, the Maryland State Police and the Baltimore Police Department docked ships near the Savannah.
The ship was built in the 1950s, and is one of just four nuclear-powered cargo ships to ever be constructed. The interior features a nuclear reactor compartment and mid-century decor.
The Savannah hosted approximately 300 guests on Sunday for the special event. That’s more than last year, when the holiday fell on a rainy day. The goal of the event is to make the public more aware of the maritime industry’s contribution to today’s society, and to honor those who were lost at sea in maritime accidents.
“The iPhone you have, the sneakers you’re wearing, the notebook you have, probably didn’t come from New Jersey or Camden or Dundalk,” said mike Reagoso, Baltimore Port Alliance’s acting chairman. “It came from overseas and it got here on a ship. Ninety percent of things we use on a daily basis came here on a vessel, and the port helps bring those to you. It’s important that people are more aware of that’s how they get things but also there’s great [job] opportunities out here.”
The Savannah wasn’t the only ship open to the public in celebration of the holiday. Ports across the nation honored National Maritime Day on Monday, and several maritime museums are hosting special events in honor of the holiday, including Port Duluth-Superior, Port of Galveston, Canaveral Port Authority and Port of New Orleans.
In Savannah, Georgia, a wreath laying ceremony was held as well as a luncheon. The SS Savannah left its home port on May 22, 1819 for Liverpool, England. It was the first steam ship to ever cross the Atlantic. It was the SS Savannah’s voyage that inspired the holiday, which also honors the merchants who transport goods across the globe.
President Donald Trump recognized National Maritime Day, noting the important role the Merchant Marine plays in the local economy and in national security.
“Bounded by two oceans and the Gulf of Mexico, and crisscrossed by inland waterways, America was destined to be a maritime nation. Our fledgling Republic expanded and became stronger, as our Nation’s growing Merchant Marine connected the States and cemented ties among our new allies,” the White House said in a press release.
The President proclaimed May 22, 2017 National Maritime Day, and called for ships sailing under the U.S. flag to dress ship.
Each year, the President of the United States proclaims the holiday and asks Americans to observe this important day.