COHASSET, Mass. — A 20-foot-long World War II battleship replica weighing nearly a ton isn’t a common sight on the water – never mind alongside Route 3A in Cohasset.
The destroyer escort model on display is the work of Steve MacDonald, a marine engineer from Hingham. MacDonald spent 3 1/2 years on the intricate replica that closely resembles its inspiration. It even has cannons that release smoke and sound effects to mimic a battleship.
“I studied the blueprint, and it’s pretty much identical. There are a few modifications so you can get inside it, but it’s pretty close, and you can actually drive it and everything works,” he said. “Every time you bring it into the water all these people flood around you and you feel like a celebrity. It’s like a paparazzi of boats.”
As a child growing up in Quincy near the Fore River shipyard, MacDonald, 50, said he was fascinated by the ships he saw built there.
“When I was 5, I was taking Popsicle sticks and putting sails on them,” he said with a chuckle. “I had every ship and boat, and anything that would float I would use.”
Built between 2009 and 2012, the destroyer escort is MacDonald’s fourth full-scale model.
When the USS Salem, which was built at Fore River and launched in 1949, returned to the former shipyard in 1994, MacDonald was inspired. He did some historical and architectural research, then spent five years drafting, getting patents and building replicas of the USS John Adams and USS John Quincy Adams.
MacDonald said he settled on the destroyer escort for his most recent model as a way to honor military members who served the U.S., particularly during World War II.
“If it wasn’t for them, we wouldn’t be here right now. Germany would. So it’s for what those men went through for us to live and live free,” he said. “I’ve heard a lot of great war stories and the veterans are always very grateful.”
The boats in 2000 traveled from the docks behind the Clipper Apartments on Palmer Street in Quincy to Scalisi Marine in Weymouth.
MacDonald said a second battleship owned by one of his friends sank because of damage, prompting him to put his up for sale.
“It’s fun with two people and you go out as a team and battle with them. It’s like being a kid again,” he said. “But it’s like anything else. Who wants to go parachuting or hang gliding by themselves?”
MacDonald’s battleship replica is on display in a friend’s yard, across from Cohasset Imports Auto Sales on Route 3A. He said he’d like to receive $10,000 for the replica ship.