Greater City Providence

Bring the Carrier Museum to Providence

ProJo reports today that the Quonset Development Corporation will not hold a berth at Quonset Point for the U.S.S. Saratoga Museum which would include the U.S.S. Saratoga aircraft carrier. QDC issued a statement, reported by the Journal, stating, “While QDC applauds the Saratoga Foundation and its supporters for their ambitious efforts and sympathize with their desire to preserve this piece of American history, the project is regrettably incompatible with the ongoing development of the Business Park.”

And you know what, I kinda think this is good. Quonset should be a working port facility, not a place for a Museum. The anti-container port forces are up in arms no doubt, but I’ve never understood why we wouldn’t want a container port and the jobs it brings. Also, why have a Museum way out in isolation at Quonset Point, where there are no other attractions? The Saratoga Museum should be in Providence, where it can be one of many attractions drawing people to the city.

So I did a little Photoshopping to see if an aircraft carrier would even fit in Providence’s waters. I cut the Intrepid out of a Google Map of New York, and pasted it into a Google Map of Providence at the same resolution.


First we look at the former site of the Russian Sub in Collier Point Park. Without the sub, Collier Point is lacking an attraction. The carrier seems to fit here, but I do have to wonder about the draft. Also, an aircraft carrier would likely dwarf this small park, and cast it in shadows, and block the view to the water. As much as I’d like an attraction here, the carrier is probably too big for this location.


So let’s look downstream at Providence Piers. Seems to fit better here. Draft is less of a problem I imagine, but may still be an issue with this location. The ship should be able to be set perpendicular to the shore, so it is not a massive hulk blotting out the sun and water views. I’m sure Patrick Conley would absolutely love it. What might be problematic at this location is that the carrier would be longer than the pier, I don’t know if that would impact the channel at this location.

Final options if these two proved infeasible would be down by Save The Bay or, gasp, horror, the East Providence side of the river. If I had my way it would be in Providence proper, but we shouldn’t fail to remember, that we have a whole other city with a whole other giant under-used waterfront just across the Washington Bridge. It wouldn’t kill us to head over there every so often.

Jef Nickerson

Jef is Greater City Providence's co-founder, editor, and publisher. He grew up on Cape Cod and lived in Boston; Portland, Maine; and New York before settling in Providence. In addition to urbanism, Jef is interested in art, design, and ice cream. Please feel free to contact Jef if you have any question or comments about Greater City Providence.


  • The carrier will definitely stick out into the Fox Point Reach, which will be a big problem. Also, according to my charts that area of the bay runs about 8-33 ft. A Forrestal class carrier draws 37. So, no go.

  • Sigh…

    I just remembered the InterGoogles could probably provide me with a nautical chart. And yup, the carrier would stick way into the channel at Providence Piers. The Collier Point option has other issues, including draft and underwater pipelines (I image a giant carrier sitting over the pipelines would be a no no). East Providence’s waterfront seems to be completely turned over to offloading petroleum (if we had good transit maybe we wouldn’t need so much petroleum). Fields Point would be the only option it seems. However putting a giant carrier off the coast in front of Save The Bay would block their bay views, rather defeating the purpose of them being at Fields Point to begin with.

    Realizing how massively huge a carrier actually is, makes me feel moreso, that a carrier museum doesn’t really belong at Quonset (though Quonset may be the only place that has room for one). So much berth space given to a museum when Quonset’s berths should be generating commerce just doesn’t seem the right way to go to me.

  • Quonset’s momentum in creating revenue is probably what drove this – see Saturday’s Journal where they are now the 5th largest auto importer in N. America, with 300 jobs at the import company alone (8,800 on the whole base)and more to come.

  • I would trade the shadows over Collier Park for the draw of this attraction any day – that’s just my opinion though. Imagine how cool that would look from points south with the Iway bridge as a backdrop.

    Oh I know, it would be wicked pissah there. But the charts show the depth there is 24 feet dropping to 8 feet closest to the Iway. Plus there are cables and pipelines underneath. Even assuming the cables and pipes were deep enough to allow the necessary draft to be dredged, I imagine it is an involved process to dredge that close to shore. The ground would need to be retained somehow, the bank is probably not engineered to be that deep at that location.

    We need something at Collier Point though, it is so sad to have a hole in the Bay where the Russian Sub used to be.

  • Do all those cars leave quonset on the backs of car trailers? Does the train go down there yet? I would not support building up quonset until the rail line was thoroughly active. RI doesn’t need more truck traffic…

  • Jen, some cars use the rail double-stacked car carriers and some use roadway bound truck-trailers depending on the cars’ destinations.

    I too like the idea of the Sara in Providence proper, but I wonder as well if it even doable. I would trade the shadows over Collier Park for the draw of this attraction any day – that’s just my opinion though. Imagine how cool that would look from points south with the Iway bridge as a backdrop…

  • PBN has a more in-depth story than the blog post from the ProJo on this.

    Yes, the QDC made their decision in part based on growth at the port. PBN, “The QDC said it could no longer reserve such valuable land for the museum project due to the economic growth taking place at Quonset Business Park and the Port of Davisville.”

    QDC also says they have held the space for 4 years, but set conditions have not been met. PBN, “Those conditions, which included financing, fundraising, environmental permitting and planning as well as strategies to meet Homeland Security criteria, were put in place to ensure the viability of the project,” the QDC said. “However, even with the additional two years, the conditions remain unmet.”

    The museum peeps have not updated their site with any statement in response to this development yet.

  • Well, at this point, I hope we don’t entirely lose the prospect of having the Sara somewhere in RI. As a last resort, I wonder if there is room at Battleship Mass?

  • I wonder if there’s any possibility of opening the museum right where the Sara is now. The pier in Middletown is considered unused surplus by the Navy, which has long-term plans to demolish it once the decomissioned carriers are moved. While the location is technically on-base, it is very close to publicly-accessible Burma Road, making both public access and base security easy. A major attraction such as this would fit nicely with the master plan for the west side of Aquidneck Island.

  • I was wondering that exact thing, but wasn’t sure about the pier and public access – good idea Gusterfell!

  • Maybe we should bring the Sara back to Jacksonville where she belongs!

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