(BPT) - There are approximately 120 navy vessels designated as national historic landmarks in the United States. Naval ship museums help preserve American maritime heritage and educate future generations about the history of these ships. These museums are often housed in retired warships and submarines, bringing history to life as visitors explore these maritime vessels.
Some of these museums you may be familiar with — the USS Midway, USS Enterprise and USS Pampanito, to name a few. Others may not be as famous but offer a glimpse into key moments in our country’s naval history. For example, the SS Red Oak Victory is one of the last surviving WWII Victory Ships built on an emergency basis to carry vital supplies and troops to all theaters of war. Well-known or not, all these museums have one thing in common — costly preservation.
"We have a responsibility to future generations to preserve historic ships like the SS Red Oak Victory and to raise awareness through events like the Longest Night of Museums," said Fred Klink, Director of Marketing and current Executive Committee chairman. "The ship provides visitors with a truly unique hands-on experience plus an opportunity to learn about not only the ship but also the remarkable efforts of the WWII homefront workers who built her. Our 100% volunteer crew not only conducts tours but does all of the maintenance and restoration work. A historic ship is a huge financial effort, and we rely on donations from corporations, organizations and generous individual donors to support our efforts to keep history alive."
Maintaining and operating these floating museums often falls to veterans' groups with minimal or no government funding. These naval museums rely on the generosity and support of their members and the public to preserve the ships and the history they contain.
You don't need to be a millionaire to support naval and maritime museums. Here are five simple ways you can support naval ship museums near you and across the country.
One of the easiest and most fun ways to support naval ship museums is to visit them! The mission of these museums is to preserve and teach the public about naval history through exhibits, displays and collections. By purchasing a ticket and exploring the museum, you're helping generate revenue for the museum and bringing its mission to life.
It takes a lot of people to run a museum. You can help your local naval museum by volunteering to lead tours, staff the information desk, assist at special events and perform day-to-day tasks that keep the museum open and operational. Set aside a couple of hours every week or take longer shifts once or twice a month to help relieve some of the workloads from existing volunteers and museum staff.
Many naval ship museums rely solely on donations to operate and maintain their collections. Show your support by putting aside money to donate to your local naval ship museum or support other museums across the nation. Big or small, every dollar helps keep naval history alive.
4. Spread the word
Don't keep it to yourself! Tell others about naval ship museums and encourage them to visit and support. Plan an outing with friends, family or co-workers to your local naval museum so they can experience naval history firsthand. Stop by the gift shop on your way out and buy a souvenir to remember your outing and support the naval ship museum's operations.
5. Tune in
If you can't visit a naval ship museum nearby or want to visit others outside your town, you can do so from the comfort of your own home. World of Warships, a naval tactical game, is encouraging players to tune into their annual Longest Night of Museums livestream to support naval ship museums near and far.
World of Warships prides itself on its longstanding relationship with naval museums. Wargaming, the game's developer, supports its efforts to preserve naval history by raising donations to restore several museum ships and spreading awareness of these museums. In 2021, the game's developer Wargaming launched its first Longest Night of Museums event, attracting 1.4 million viewers on Twitch alone. During this livestream, viewers could take virtual tours of over a dozen naval museums worldwide and learn about each vessel's maritime history.
On May 18, you can join others for free virtual tours of 18 naval museums worldwide. Tune in via YouTube or Twitch and visit WorldofWarships.com to learn more.
Naval ship museums are critical to preserving naval history, educating the public and honoring those who served on these ships and continue to keep them running. Support naval ship museums through these five easy actions and be a part of protecting history.