SPARROWS POINT — A proud piece of Baltimore maritime history has been grounded in Dundalk for several years, with few people aware of it and even fewer able to view it.
It’s “The Tommy,” a former Baltimore City firefighting ship named after former Baltimore Mayor Thomas J. D’Alesandro, Jr. The ship, its hull trimmed to the waterline and most of its stern cut off, sits on the site of the old Bethlehem Steel Shipyard, which is now part of Tradepoint Atlantic.
Commissioned in 1956, the ship — officially named Mayor Thomas D’Alesandro, Jr. — was 103 feet long and 21 feet wide. It had three water cannons that could send out 12,000 gallons per minute.
And just as Dundalk becomes aware the “Tommy” is within its borders, the community may be about to lose it — but it’s for a good cause.
The Fire Museum of Maryland, located in Lutherville, is exploring the possibility of giving the ship a proper home where it can be displayed with dignity among other examples of firefighting history.
“There are several big challenges ahead before we could consider taking ownership, such as transportation to the museum, the cost of putting in a foundation, making alterations to our building facade, paint and restoration,” said Amy Landsman, media relations director for the Fire Museum.
To that end, representatives from the Fire Museum and The Dundalk Eagle visited the boat last Thursday. We posted video online of officials attempting to assess the ship’s current condition. Discussions centered around the possibility of relocating the historic nautical vehicle to Lutherville.
Tradepoint Atlantic is willing to donate the ship to the museum in order to preserve it.
According to Eric Kelso, preservation experts from The Fire Museum of Maryland will have to cut the boat into different sections in order to successfully move it to its new home.
“The city had offered the Baltimore and Chesapeake Steam Boat Company the fire boat,” said company official Walter Mathers as he viewed the Tommy on Thursday. “After consultation with our board we realized we could not take it, so we indicated that we would try to find folks in Little Italy to take it. We couldn’t find anybody. So, we told the City of Baltimore that we would not be able to do that. It’s good that folks in the area can be a part of saving a piece of their heritage. It could be used to inspire young folks as far as fire prevention and firefighting service. It’s really of great piece of eye candy.”
Thomas D’Alesandro, Jr. was a member of Congress for eight years before serving three terms (12 years) as mayor of Baltimore. He is the father of U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi.
“History tend to lose its way when pieces of the puzzle are allowed to stray,” said Mathers. “We’re here to get the pieces of the puzzle back together.”