May 21, 2014 is her 76th Birthday!  Please donate to support PortSide's work with the ship!  We are currently renovating the galley.  See what's going on and how you can help here.

The oil tanker MARY A. WHALEN is our ambassador to the BlueSpace and site of our offices and many programs.  She is on the National Register of Historic Places and significant for her role in a Supreme Court legal decision, among other things. She is the only oil tanker cultural center in the world.  As a ship which delivered petroleum products, she is a floating lesson plan on fuel-consumption and sustainability issues. See her history page

We use her in diverse ways:

  • as the site of our offices
  • as a historic ship where we give tours
  • as a stage for cultural activities
  • as a landing where other boats can tie up alongside

Our TankerTours have been customized for children, college students, professors, the general public and bilingual audiences.  TankerTours are a vivid way to learn about energy sustainability issues, fuel distribution and consumption from the 1930's until now.

Since the MARY A. WHALEN worked so long (from 1938 to 1993) and over such a wide region (the whole northeast) she is a great vehicle for "place based education," a way to use local places to teach various subject areas.  We see the tanker as a great vehicle for teaching history, economics, marine science, ethnic studies along with maritime training.  

Built 1938
LOA 172', beam 31.5'
Draft 1.5' bow, 8' stern
Guide to the words for ship parts

Where to find her:
Pier 9b south side, Red Hook Container Terminal.  See her from the IKEA ferry, Governor's Island, the ends of Degraw & Sackett Streets.


TankerTours explain how the MARY A. WHALEN's work history reflects how fuel consumption grew and changed in the northeast United States. 

TankerTours are a means to explain the New York-New Jersey port as a whole, because she worked all over the place and worked in an industry which is still a major in this port.  More fuel moves through this port than any other in the country, and this port supplies the whole northeast.

The MARY A. WHALEN was built before Americans used so much electricity, so she makes great use of natural light and ventilation -- another aspect of sustainability we explain during TankerTours.

She can also tell a human story. We are in contact with over 40 former crew members.



Ship cat Chiclet

Our ship cat Chiclet has her own webpage.