USS Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr.

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USS Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr.
Photo from NPS Maritime Heritage Program collection
Built by Bethlehem Steel Corporation of Quincy, Massachusetts, the USS Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. was commissioned at Boston on December 15, 1945. The USS Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. was named for the eldest son of Ambassador and Mrs. Joseph P. Kennedy, who was killed off the coast of Normandy on a secret bombing mission. The vessel is a Gearing-class destroyer, the largest class of American destroyers built during World War II and the backbone of the post-war navy. Equipped to defend attacks from the air, on the surface, and below the water, the USS Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. measures 390 feet in length and 41 feet at extreme beam, and displaces 2,616 tons of water. The steel hull and aluminum superstructure are painted battleship gray.

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Historic photo of USS Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr.
Photo courtesy of Battleship Cove, www.battleshipcove.org

The USS Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. played a significant role in the Korean War, the Cuban Missile Blockade and America's space program. In 1951, the vessel received battle stars for the first United Nations counter-offensive and for the Communist China Spring Offensive in the Korean War. In 1961, the weapons systems, electronics and communications aboard the USS Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. were modified. The vessel received worldwide attention the following year when it participated in the Cuban Blockade. The USS Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr., along with the USS Pierce, intercepted, halted and boarded the Russian-chartered freighter Marcula. In addition, the vessel served as part of the NASA recovery forces for the Gemini 6, Gemini 7, Gemini 12 and Apollo 4 missions. Robert F. Kennedy, the brother of the vessel's namesake Joseph Kennedy, Jr., served on the ship. President John F. Kennedy watched the America's Cup race from the second deck in 1962. Decommissioned in 1973, the USS Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. was moved to Battleship Cove in 1974.

The USS Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr., a National Historic Landmark, is located at Battleship Cove as part of the museum's historic vessel collection. Battleship Cove is located at 5 Water St. in Fall River, and is open to the public throughout the year for a fee. The times change slightly from season to season, and Battleship Cove is closed on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Year's Day. For up-to-date information, please call 508-678-1100 or visit Battleship Cove's website.

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