Fort Trumbull Today
Fort Trumbull is once again the dominant feature of the high ground overlooking New London harbor and the Thames estuary as it joins Long Island Sound. From the 1930s to the late 1990s -- six decades -- the fifteen acres surrounding the Fort were occupied by an ever-expanding cluster of Merchant Marine, Naval, Coast Guard and research buildings and other structures that rendered the massive Egyptian-revival granite walls of the Fort all but invisible, whether from the land or the harbor.
The Naval Underwater Sound Laboratory, which occupied many of the buildings of the Maritime Service school from 1946 to 1970 following closure of the school, was re-named the Naval Undersea Warfare Center in 1970 when it merged with a research center by that name in Newport, RI. The Fort Trumbull center closed in 1996 when it was consolidated with the Rhode Island center.
In 2000 the Fort and its grounds became a Connecticut State Park under the jursidiction of the Department of Energy & Environmental Protection (DEEP). Virtually all vestiges of the officers school and Naval Undersea Warfare Center were replaced by lawns and walkways, returning the Fort to something resembling its appearance in 1852. McGinley, Kalsow & Associates of Somerville, Mass., architectural and preservation consultants, prepared the master plan for the park, oversaw restoration of the granite structure, its Egyptian Revival features and batteries, and designed the Visitor Center displays. The park website may be found at: www.ct.gov/deep/forttrumbull
The first major public event in the new state park occurred during Operation Sail, 2000, when four tall ships docked at the Fort Trumbull piers (see photos below.) More recently, the popular concerts by the U.S. Coast Guard Band draw large crowds. A seasonal water taxi stops hourly at the piers between May 26 and September 17, in a loop with stops at New London's City Pier and Groton's riverfront. The Fort is also one of several sites comprising Thames Valley Heritage Park.
The Coast Guard training barque Eagle ties up at Fort Trumbull occasionally, when not at her Coast Guard Academy wharf upriver, on a cruise, or undergoing maintenance. In 2017 the Navy guided-missile destroyer USS Cole and the Coast Guard icebreaker Thunder Bay were docked at the Fort and open to visitors during the Connecticut Maritime Heritage Festival.
Wikipedia is a valuable resource for the history of the Fort and includes interesting links to the history of the nation's 19th century seacoast fortifications.
A group of New London area volunteers maintains a support organization, the Friends of Fort Trumbull. Their website offers historical information, a photo gallery, information about a speakers series, and a map. It may be viewed at www.fortfriends.org