An historic U.S. Navy vessel that was originally deployed during Vietnam and later used to train U.S. helicopter pilots will temporarily dock at Pier 5 of Brooklyn Bridge Park (BBP) and for the first time be open for public tours, organizers announced today. In advance of construction of the Brooklyn Bridge Park Marina, The Baylander IX-514 will open for tours as part of a larger program designed to highlight the history of the ship and its extraordinary background, as well as facilitate the Marina’s community boating program.
In addition, the developers of Brooklyn Bridge Park Marina, the largest recreational marina to be developed on New York Harbor in 50 years, is excited to announce an array of programming goals for the summer of 2014 associated with the arrival of the Baylander, which will further BBP’s goal of promoting recreational boating and on- water educational programming, and provide New Yorkers even more opportunities to actively connect with their waterfront.
The development team currently anticipates an open date of April 2015 for the marina. Prior to the start of construction, it is bringing the Baylander to BBP to serve as the platform for other vessels to access the park. These will include, amongst other historic vessels, the Lettie G. Howard, a wooden Schooner built in 1893, owned by South Street Seaport and operated by the Urban Assembly Harbor School, as well as the John J. Harvey a retired FDNY fireboat built in 1931.
Free walk-up tours of the Baylander are currently scheduled for weekends from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. beginning July 26 through Labor Day. The Baylander IX-514 131-foot vessel began its service in Vietnam in 1968. In 1986 the Baylander was transformed into a helicopter trainer for the U.S. Navy, Marine, Air Force, Coast Guard and National Guard. For more than 10 years the ship provided a cost-effective training platform for single-spot deck landings, covering both day and night operations. Since 1986 the Baylander completed 120,000 error-free helicopter landings with a record of 346 landings in one day in June 1988.
“We are excited to bring the Baylander IX-514 to Brooklyn,” said Al Trenk, a longtime aviation specialist and philanthropist, who helped bring the Baylander to its new temporary home. “Stationing the ship in the soon-to-be opened Brooklyn Bridge Park Marina will afford thousands of New Yorkers the opportunity to visit, see and learn about a ship that was fully operational and designed to support helicopters from all military services and government agencies.”
“The Marina is a centerpiece of the park master plan,” said Regina Myer, President of Brooklyn Bridge Park. “Our selection of Edgewater Resources as the developer/operator of the Marina was based not only on their outstanding design, but also their commitment to a robust community boating program. We are so excited to have the Baylander at Brooklyn Bridge Park to assist in achieving this goal of getting the community out on the water.”
“We are so pleased to partner on this project with the team from Baylander,” said Timothy O’Brien, Director of the Brooklyn Bridge Park Marina. “This project will only help us achieve our mission – further connecting the people of Brooklyn and New York City to the waterfront and its harbor. By partnering with Brooklyn Bridge Park and existing community based waterfront groups we will create the most vibrant and accessible space in all of New York Harbor.”
In addition to the thousands of tourists who visit Brooklyn every year, the Baylander docking will also have a direct impact on the New York Harbor School. Once the ship is installed, NY Harbor School students will be able to use the ship as a way to access their classes on Governor’s Island.
“The Baylander will offer the New York Harbor School an opportunity to not only have our students easily access the waterways that are their classroom, but it will also allow the children in our classes to demonstrate their knowledge of the ocean by offering visitors a chance to see the skills they have learned and what they are able to do on the water,” said Murray Fisher, President of the New York Harbor Foundation.
The Baylander and Brooklyn Bridge Park Marina will collaborate in the coming months to establish a series of events and programs that will further highlight the unique features on the Baylander, and provide more community boating programs access to the waterfront.