New Life as Floating Barracks
For 37 years, U.S.R.S. Wabash lay anchored just off here, the longest serving receiving ship in the U.S. Navy. From the moment in 1862 when the Navy launched its first iron-hulled battleship, the days of wooden ships in combat were numbered. In the decades that followed, several decommissioned wooden vessels found new uses at Navy yards as receiving ships. U.S.R.S. Wabash, U.S.R.S. Constitution, and the first vessel ever built here at the Charlestown Navy Yard, U.S.R.S. Independence, were among them.
These receiving ships often housed several hundred sailors. To increase usable space, the upper rigging was removed from the masts and a roof covered the top deck—transforming the once stately vessels. They served many purposes: recruiting stations, transit barracks, and hospitals, as well as training centers for both recruits and teenage boys, who began their apprenticeships on board.
After World War I, the Navy phased out receiving ships, replacing them with on-shore barracks.