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Bring the Family

Playground for kids and dads

The Greenlee and Hallman kids at the USS Massachusetts at Battleship Cove. The Greenlee and Hallman kids at the USS Massachusetts at Battleship Cove. (Tracey Hallman)
May 22, 2010

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Who: Globe editor Steve Greenlee; his wife, and their three kids, ages 8 to 11; and their friends, the Hallman family

What: Exploring a battleship and a submarine

Where: Battleship Cove, Fall River

If there is a perfect age for exploring a battleship, the boys are at it. When I refer to “the boys,’’ I’m talking about my 11-year-old sons, Aidan and Liam, and their friend Andrew. I’m also talking about their dads, who are 40.

Battleship Cove, which sits beneath the Braga Bridge in Fall River, is a playground for middle school boys — and, in this case, their elementary school sisters. We drove down on a Sunday afternoon and marveled at the fact that we had the four ships practically to ourselves. We also wished we had arrived earlier, because a good half day is needed to take it all in, even at a brisk pace.

The main attraction is the USS Massachusetts, a World War II battleship that attacked Iwo Jima and Okinawa. From the engine room to the mess hall, everything remains in its historically accurate condition, right down to the plastic scrambled eggs and bacon that still sit in warming pans. The three boys and three girls scampered up and down stairwells and snaked through narrow corridors, pretending to be enlisted men (and women) on the high seas, all while asking questions like “Why were Nazis bad?’’

The ships are docked alongside one another, and they’re connected by a series of planks, so it’s a cinch to get from one vessel to the next. Good thing, because we had to rush through the lower levels of the battleship in order to make it over to the submarine — the USS Lionfish — before the place closed. It, too, has been restored to its World War II condition.

Wandering through the belly of these beasts and lingering over their systems of propulsion and armament, it was impossible not to be impressed by the know-how it took to assemble such machinery. This is the 40-year-old talking. The 11-year-olds would tell you that it’s really cool to point the big guns at their fathers.

Admission is $15 for adults, $13 for seniors and AAA members, $9 for children 6-12, $7 for active military personnel (with ID), and free for children under 6 and active military personnel in uniform.