NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Driving down the West Side Highway on your morning commute, you may notice something unexpected: a warship docked at West Harlem Piers.
What’s the ship used for, and why is it there? On The Dig, Elle McLogan decided to find out.
Climbing aboard, she met Port Captain Scott Koen, who recounted the dramatic history of the Baylander IX-514.
“It’s a helicopter landing trainer that was used up until 2011 to train helicopter pilots for the various services and how to land on a moving ship,” he said. “It started its service life in 1968. It was a landing craft that was used during the Vietnam War.” The Baylander has had 122,000 landings on board since its construction.
Despite its wartime history, the ship today is a place of peace. “Once you come on out here, it’s like the city stops,” Koen said. “It’s very calming and very soothing up here.”
It has also become a place of learning. Cherise James, 8th grade math teacher at M.S. 324, brought her students aboard to take part in the Billion Oyster Project.
“The Billion Oyster Project is a project that tries to restore the oysters that are found in the different estuaries surrounding New York City,” she said. “Basically, the oysters filter the water. And so, with my students, we’re talking about how we can restore the oyster population in New York City.”
The students combined biology and chemistry, examining the components of the Hudson River’s water and ecosystem. Other school groups visit throughout the week.
For those looking to experience history and science in one spot, the Baylander is free and open to the public Saturdays and Sundays from noon until 4 p.m.
The Baylander IX-514
West Harlem Piers
(between W. 129th and 130th Streets)
New York, NY 10027