Boston, the largest city and harbor in the New England region, is located on the western shore of Massachusetts Bay about 40 nautical miles west-northwest of the northern tip of Cape Cod. The harbor includes all the tidewater area lying within a line from the southern extremity of Deer Island to Point Allerton. Important tributaries that flow into and form part of the main harbor are the Charles, Chelsea and Mystic Rivers. The harbor region extends to the south of the main harbor and Boston proper, where the Weymouth Fore River and Dorchester and Hingham Bays comprise the more important harbor areas.
Coast Guard Integrated Support Command Boston, located on Boston's historic waterfront, is home to three 270-foot medium endurance cutters, an Aids to Navigation Team, Station Boston and Group Boston. Boston Light, built in 1716, was the first American lighthouse. Today it stands as the only manned lighthouse in the country. The current crew is comprised of active duty Coast Guard personnel, whose daily routine involves recording meteorological data, verifying the daily positions and operations of 25 aids to navigation, as well as maintaining the lighthouse and structures on the island.
The US Coast Guard Support Center is in Boston proper about a mile above the Commonwealth pier on the west bank of the inner harbor. There are five steelpiled, concrete-decked piers suitable for small to medium ships. Alongside depths range from 20 to 35 ft, with a 16-ft deck height relative to MLW. The piers are bordered by open aprons. Alongside lengths range from 260 to 550 ft.
Fleet Support Office Boston represents Navy Region Northeast in the Boston area. FSO Boston provides port services support to all visiting Naval warships (both US and foreign) in the Port of Boston, as well as all ports in Massachusetts. These other ports include Gloucester, Salem, Beverly. New Bedford, Fall River and Ware, Ma.
Because Naval assets are not available in Massachusetts, FSO Boston works closely with port authorities, city governments and other government agencies in arranging berthing. FSO also works with private vendors to arrange services like tugs, pilots and other service contractors to provide shoreside services required by these ships. FSO Boston also represents Navy Region Northeast at meetings with other state and local government agencies, and with advisor groups like Port Operators Group in the Port of Boston, safety board at the National Park Service, boards of the USO New England and Armed Services YMCA.
FSO Boston also liaisons with the Massachusetts Bay Council of the US Navy League. It represents the region on boards such as Sail Boston and Boston's Harborfest. FSO Boston works closely with all the foreign consulates during the visits of their country's Naval warships to the Boston area. FSO Boston maintains all updated navigational information in the ports were Naval warships may visit.
Navy use of port facilities for docking is usually restricted to the following areas and piers:
- South Boston: Economic Development and Industrial Park (EDIC) north jetty, Army Base Terminal and Commonwealth pier.
- Boston: Coast Guard piers.
- Charlestown: Navy Shipyard piers 1 and 2 and the Boston National Historical Park.
The EDIC jetties are located on the south side of the inner harbor entrance, across the channel from Logan International Airport. This berth is used by carriers and other large ships. It is concrete-capped with steel-sheet pile bulkheads and is solid filled. The alongside depth is 40 ft and the deck height is 18 ft, both measurements relative to mean low water (MLW). It is bordered by an open apron inboard and the channel outboard.
The Army Base berths are in the Reserved Channel, whose entrance is located immediately outside the EDIC jetty in South Boston. They are constructed from concrete, faced with steel piling and solid filled. The alongside depths are 35 ft and deck heights are 17.8 ft relative to MLW. They are bordered by approximately 50-ft aprons and storage warehouses.
Commonwealth South Boston Pier No. 5 is in South Boston about 4000 ft above the EDIC jetty. Both the northern and southern sides are available for berthing. It is constructed of concrete with solid fill and steel pile face; concrete-decked extensions run along sides and face. This berth is frequently used by visiting Navy ships. The alongside depths are 40 ft, with 18 ft deck heights relative to MLW. A two-story steel-frame reinforced-concrete warehouse sits astride the pier. Apron width is 20 ft. Both sides have alongside lengths of 1200 ft and can handle large ships.
The Boston National Historical Park (Boston Navy Shipyard) piers are located on the north side of the confluence of the Charles River with the inner harbor in Charlestown about 1600 ft above the Coast Guard Center. They are steel-piled, concrete-decked piers bordered by open aprons. Alongside lengths are less than 400 ft, which limits use of this area to frigate class or smaller ships.
There are more than 100 other berths available throughout the Boston Harbor. The majority are located above the piers normally used by Navy ships. The main container wharf is the Morin Docks on the west bank of the Mystic River, just beyond the area of confluence of the Chelsea and Mystic Rivers. The LNG terminal is on the opposite bank (east side) of the Mystic River just upstream of the container wharf. Other well constructed berths in the Mystic River include Distrigas, Exxon, Prolerized Scrap, Amstar Sugar, Revere Sugar, and Atlantic Cement. Several well constructed tanker wharves are located along the north bank of the Chelsea River (Hess Oil, Amoco Oil, Gulf Oil, and Texaco).
There are also three finger piers used for receipt of petroleum products located near the turning basin in the upper Chelsea River (Gubb Co. and Belcher, Inc.) which are not considered suitable during high winds. Both the Massachusetts Port Authority piers and Bethlehem Steel Corporation pier 1 are located in East Boston near the outer portion of the inner harbor. These piers are adjacent to the airport, across the channel from the Commonwealth pier site. All of the above mentioned piers, except for the three finger piers in the upper Chelsea River, are well constructed.
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