Do you need to get the kids out of the house and away from electronic devices? Do you want to do something that is free? Sounds good, doesn’t it? So give this a try if you live near Bremerton, Washington. Go check out the Naval Inactive Ship Maintenance Facility (NISMF) in Bremerton. In other words, a naval graveyard for ships.
This morning I took my 14 year old girls out and we just so ended up (how did that happen?) at a NISMF in Bremerton to see some big ole Navy ships. They were “I don’t want to go, I want to go home.” Parked in the empty parking lot right under the bow of an aircraft carrier and left the car to wander and look. They followed soon after and had a great time. Exploring, running, taking photos, climbing on the rocks down near the water. They were happy, they enjoyed themselves, and they were out of the house.
There are three places in the world for US Navy graveyard ships: Pearl Harbor, Philadelphia, and right here in Bremerton. Ships here are inactive and are either waiting to go to scrap somewhere or are laid up for long-term preservation and maintained with minimal maintenance in case they need to be recalled to active duty. Many ships have been docked here including the USS Missouri, upon which the Japanese surrendered in September 1945, ending World War II.
Sadly, you can only get near two of the ships as the remainder are located within the confines of the shipyard. There used to be more ships here, but many have left to be turned into museums or become scrap. The two you can get near are the USS Kitty Hawk and I believe the other is the USS Independence, both aircraft carriers.
So how to get here. Head to Bremerton. Once you come around Sinclair Inlet you will be on highway 3 north. Take the Charleston Blvd exit to downtown Bremerton (you will be continuing to drive along Sinclair Inlet). Look for very large ships on your right, you will see signs for Cliff’s Cycle Center and the Bug Museum on your left, and at the traffic light, turn right into the large parking lot and head right over to the ships. You are there.
Don’t go during the week as this parking lot will be filled with the cars of shipyard workers. During the weekend it is empty.