Become a Captain of the S.S. Friend Ship as you Explore The Port

A front view of Port Discovery's multi-story Port Exhibit, which features a giant blue ship called the S.S. Friendship
Explore a life-sized cargo ship in The Port!

Here’s something you can’t miss: A GIANT ship in the Museum! Whoa! TheS.S. Friend Ship has officially docked at Port Discovery Children’s Museum and is ready to welcome little learners and their families to an imaginative adventure featuring a life-sized cargo ship!

Here are a few unique things to see and do in this massive new adventure!

  1. Role-play & make believe as you learn about The Port of Baltimore

Become a Captain of the S.S. Friend Ship as you Explore The Port
Role-play as the ship’s captain, sailors, navigators, and engineers as you explore the seas, discover how products make their way around the world, and work together to move, stack, and explore what’s inside shipping containers. Operate a gantry crane, learn how to navigate a ship, and more!

Through this hands-on, massive new exhibit, little learners and their families can learn more about the Port of Baltimore – and the many jobs and products that make up one of the world’s most active ports!

  1. Captain the S.S. Friend Ship​​

Become a Captain of the S.S. Friend Ship as you Explore The Port

Take charge as the ship’s captain! Explore the bridge of the ship, engine room, and help steer the S.S. Friend Ship to dock….and then explore it all again as you pretend to be a sailor, navigator, engineer, and more.

Fun Fact: The Captain’s Wheel in the exhibit was donated by John Timmins from the Maryland Port Administration in Memory of Capt. William Timmins & 1st Lieutenant James Timmins. Capt. Timmins and 1st Lieutenant Timmons were John Timmins’ father and uncle who both served in the military.

  1. Explore the Bridge of the Ship

Become a Captain of the S.S. Friend Ship as you Explore The Port

Get hands-on with real ship parts! As you explore the Bridge of the Ship, try your hand at the ship’s wheel, throttle controls, gauges, and more. Check out navigational maps and charts of oceans and stars. Explore a map of The Port of Baltimore. Also, be sure to call out “Land ho!” via the whisper tube, which allows the “Captain” to communicate with the Engine Room!

Fun Fact: Many of the components of the Bridge of the Ship are authentic, just like you’d see in a real ship!

  1. Become an Engineer in the Engine Room

Become a Captain of the S.S. Friend Ship as you Explore The Port

Your challenge, should you choose to accept it:  Keep the engine running smoothly in the Engine Room!  Try your hand at four engine component activities which can be activated in different sequences to trigger engine events. Don’t worry – you won’t fire up a real engine…but you will hear sound effects in the engine room!

Fun Fact: The engine room features tools and components that may be found in a real marine engine room!

  1. Move Cargo with the Container Gantry

Become a Captain of the S.S. Friend Ship as you Explore The Port

Steering and docking a ship is only part of the fun that happens in the port. Another super fun activity: moving and stacking cargo! Try your hand at operating a gantry crane and use all your might to move container blocks over visitors’ heads and onto the deck of the S.S. Friend Ship!

Beware: Some cargo might fall, but not to worry….it’s soft and designed to cause giggles, not boo-boos.

  1. Load & Move a RoRo Truck and Train

Another activity you’ll find at a working Port: is loading and moving cargo from ship to land! Give it a go by loading and pushing Roll On, Roll Off (Ro-Ro) trucks and a cargo train, and move containers to and from the Ship, Market, Warehouse, and Crane!

  1. Explore the Security Station

Become a Captain of the S.S. Friend Ship as you Explore The Port

Safety is key! Take on the role of Security in The Port to ensure all goods and products coming in are safe and headed to their right destination. What could be inside the cargo? Cars? Aluminum? Toys? You won’t know unless the cargo is scanned through the Security Station! Learn about where certain materials and goods come from and are shipped all around the world!

Fun Fact: There are over 25 different materials and goods inside the cargo to scan! Can you find and scan all of them while you’re here?


This project has been financed (in part) with Federal funds from the National Maritime Heritage program, administered by the National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior. However, the contents and opinions contained herein do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the Department of the Interior, nor does the mention of trade names or commercial products constitute endorsement or recommendation by the Department of the Interior.

This program received Federal financial assistance for preservation of historic maritime resources and for increasing public awareness and appreciation for the maritime heritage of the United States. Under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and the Age Discrimination Act of 1975, as amended, the U.S. Department of the Interior prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, disability or age in its federally funded assisted programs. If you believe you have been discriminated again in any program, activity, or facility as described above, or if you desire further information, please write to Office of Equal Opportunity National Park Service 1849 C Street, NW Washington, DC 20240