Oil Tanker Mary A. Whalen
mary a whalen

The tanker MARY A. WHALEN was launched in 1938. She is 172’ long.

She was originally called the S.T. KIDDOO, for Solomon Thomas Kiddoo, the Vice President and Treasurer of Fairbanks Morse. The tanker has a Fairbanks Morse engine (37E12 direct reversing). Bushey's distributed Fairbanks engines. She moved gasoline from 1938-1958 during her years as the S.T. KIDDOO.

In 1958, she was converted to move heavier fuel products and rechristened, MARY A. WHALEN. At that point, Alf Dyrland became one of her captains and worked on the MARY for twenty years. His family has donated to us an extensive collection of Captain Alf's documents, photos, and objects pertaining to the MARY.

The MARY A. WHALEN worked until 1994 and covered an extensive territory in New England She "went outside" (in the Atlantic) delivering gasoline as far away as Maine until 1958 (a testament to the small number of cars in Maine then). She went up many rivers.

She also covered a lot of the New York City metropolitan region doing various kinds of work. She did "creek work," harbor slang for working little waterways like the Gowanus Canal and Newtown Creek where she delivered home heating oil. She also fueled ships, "bunkering" them at dock and at anchor.

Her voyages became shorter as Americans consumed more fuel and her size became too small to merit sending her very far. She went out of service in 1994 after her engine crankshaft was damaged.

In 1995, she came back home to Red Hook where she served in Erie Basin as a dock and office for Hughes Marine, a sixth-generation firm self-described as "the clearinghouse for marine difficulties."

September 2006, she became the base of operations for PortSide NewYork. In January-February 2007, she underwent hull repairs and maintenance for the first time in 16 years. PortSide's offices moved aboard in July 2007.

She is the the last of her kind in the USA. She is the only oil tanker cultural center in the world. She is on the National Register of Historic Places for many reasons, and is also significant for her role in a 1975 Supreme Court legal decision U.S. vs Reliable Transfer. She is a symbol of post-Sandy resiliency in NYC because the PortSide crew rode out the storm on the ship with the office aboard, and then brought that office ashore and set up and ran a hurricane Sandy pop-up aid station.


Museum info:
Address: South end of Pier 11, Atlantic Basin, Red Hook,  190 Pioneer Street, Brooklyn, NY
Phone: 917 414 0565
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