Widely anticipated as the official start of summer vacation season, Memorial Day weekend is one of the first opportunities that allows seasonal boaters to get back out on the water. While Memorial Day is known as a weekend that is free of work and full of play, it is also a time that encourages us to honor those men and women in the U.S. Armed Forces who have made the ultimate sacrifice by dedicating their lives to preserve our way of life.
Here are some of the most famous ships—including some aircraft carriers and battleships—of the U.S. Navy that have been preserved as floating museums for the public to explore in various areas across the country.
USS Wisconsin (BB-64)
Location: Norfolk, Virginia
Commissioned: 1944 / Retired: 2006
Of the U.S. Navy’s legendary Iowa-Class battleships, she saw combat in WWII, Korea and Desert Storm. She now serves as a museum ship.
USS Arizona (BB-39)
Location: Pearl Harbor, Hawaii
Commissioned: 1916 / Decommissioned: 1941
Sank during the attack on Pearl Harbor, this memorial is dedicated to the 1,177 sailors who lost their lives protecting our nation, and is only accessible by boat and straddles the hull of the wreck site.
USS Missouri (BB-63)
Location: Pearl Harbor, Hawaii
Commissioned: 1944 / Retired: 1995
Moored near the USS Arizona Memorial, the “Mighty Mo” is the last battleship ever built. The Japanese signed their unconditional surrender on-board the Missouri in 1945, ending WWII.
Location: Charlestown, Massachusetts
A frigate named by George Washington, today she is the oldest commissioned warship in the world. She received the nickname, “Old Ironsides,” for how cannonballs would bounce off her hull.
USS Texas (BB-35)
Location: LaPorte, Texas
Commissioned: 1914 / Retired: 1948
At 104 years old, she is the only surviving battleship to have fought in both World Wars. She bombarded Pointe du Hoc and Omaha Beach leading up to the D-Day Invasion of Normandy.
USS Lexington (CV-16)
Location: Corpus Christi, Texas
Commissioned: 1943 / Retired: 1991
This Essex-Class aircraft carrier was the first to ever have women crew members. Nicknamed “The Blue Ghost” by Japanese sailors, she was known for reappearing after being reportedly sunk several times.
USS Hornet (CV-12)
Location: San Francisco, California
Commissioned: 1943 / Retired: 1989
Another Essex-Class carrier, she was undamaged after 59 attacks in WWII. She recovered the astronauts of the Apollo 11 and Apollo 12 missions to the moon.
USS Intrepid (CV-11)
Location: New York City, New York
Commissioned: 1943 / Retired: 1982
The Essex-Class carrier is a floating air and space museum housing the Space Shuttle Enterprise and a British Airways Concorde, along with several fighter jets and helicopters.
Location: Newport News, Virginia
Commissioned: 1862 / Decommissioned: 1862
The USS Monitor was the Union Navy’s steam-powered Ironclad from the Civil War. It sank in a storm off Cape Hatteras less than a month into service. Her wreck was found in 1973.
Location: New Orleans, Louisiana
Commissioned: 1943 / Retired: 1945
Fast attacking patrol-torpedo boats from WWII, PT-305 was restored to its former glory in New Orleans, which is where they were originally made by Higgins Industries.
USS Yorktown (CV-10)
Location: Patriots Point, South Carolina
Commissioned: 1943 / Retired: 1973
This Essex-Class carrier is best known for its aircrafts, who famously aided in the sinking of the Japanese battleship Yamato. She was also featured in the 1970 film Tora! Tora! Tora!