The Target Ship

1971 Eastham Vacationers Handbook. Internet Archive. The Eastham Chamber of Commerce, 1971 Eastham Vacationers Handbook, https://archive.org/details/2010EasthamGuidebook/1971%20Eastham%20Vacationists%20Handbook/page/n27/mode/2up, accessed 24 February 2024


The location of the target ship in Cape Cod Bay.

Map provided by Bing Maps.


First photographs of the target ship


SS James Longstreet on October 7, 1943
Because the picture was taken 65 years ago, the British Crown no longer holds copyright protection over the image.Wikipedia. “SS James Longstreet on October 7, 1943.jpg” Photograph. Wikipedia.com, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=15318853, accessed 24 February 2024.


“‘United States Navy photo from the National Archives of the S.S. James Longstreet that became the ‘target ship in Cape Cod Bay.” Donovan, Jim. “S.S. James Longstreet.” Photograph. 1942. Digital Commonwealth,
S.S. James Longstreet (accessed October 29, 2023).


(NY26-OCT. 27) – VICTIM OF STORM – THE S.S. JAMES LONGSTREET, A 7,916 TON CARGO VESSEL, RIDES HIGH IN A 10-FOOT DRAFT AFTER RUNNING AGROUND IN A STORM OFF THE JERSEY COAST LAST NIGHT. NO LIVES WERE LOST (APWIREPHOTO) AJB42349 HO)43)”

“​​​The Liberty Ship The James Longstreet​.” Photograph. ​​​The Liberty Ship The James Longstreet​, The Longstreet Society. http://www.longstreetsociety.org/liberty-ship.html, accessed 24 February 2024.


Postcards of the Target Ship


The back of the postcard reads “THREE MASTS. This photo of the SS James Longstreet was taken by Bill Quinn of Orleans sometime in the 1950s. Notice the huge gash in her hull just below the foremast — either due to aerial bombing or local mooncussers.”
Quinn, Bill. “THE TARGET SHIP IN CAPE COD BAY.” Postcard. Design by Noel Beyle, photo by Bill Quinn, 1993. Published by the Longstreet Preservation Socity, P.O. Box 946 N. Eastham, MA 02651.


The back of the postcard reads “Target Ship off Eastham in Cape Cod Bay. Color Trans by Harold L.R. Cooper.”
Cooper, Harold L.R., “Target Ship off Eastham in Cape Cod Bay.” circa 1970. Published by Cape Cod Photos, Orleans, Cape Cod.


The back of the postcard reads “”Target Ship Laying off Eastham in Cape Cod Bay” Color Trans. by Harold L. R. Cooper published by Cape Cod Photos, Orleans on Cape Cod”
Unknown photographer. “Target Ship Laying off Eastham in Cape Cod Bay.” Postcard, circa 1967. Pubished by Cape Cod Photos, Orleans on Cape Cod.


The back of the postcard reads “TARGET SHIP, Cape Cod National Seashore, At night a flash of light, an explosion, the sound of aircraft — these are clues that tell us that once more the “James Longstreet” is under attack. This 418′ vessel lies 2 miles west of Eastham’s First Encounter Beach in Cape Cod Bay. This World War II Liberty Ship was turned over to the US Navy in 1944 to be used for target practice by the Naval Air Force. The ship rests on the bottom and has been described as a “bunch of holes held togher by their rims.” – National Park Service Photo.” Postcard. Cape Cod National Seashore. Circa 1970.


The back of the postcard reads “Sunset over the target ship on Cape Cod Bay.”
Schram, John C. “Sunset over the target ship on Cape Co Bay.” Postcard, Circa 1970. Published by Cape Cod Photos, Orleans on Cape Cod.


The back of the postcard reads: “AERIAL VIEW of TARGET SHIP “James Longstreet” is under attack. This 418 fot vessel lies 2 miles west of First Encounter Beach in Eastham, Cape Cod Bay. The World War 2 Liberty Ship was turned over to the U.S. Navy for target practice by the Naval Air Force.
Photographer unknown. “Aerial View of Target Ship.” circa 1970. Published by J. Lazarus, P.O. Box 367, Hyannis, MA 02601.


The back of the postcard reads “VIEW OF TARGET SHIP “James Longstreet” is under attack This 418 foot vessel lines 2 miles west of First Encounter Beach in Eastham, Cape Cod Bay. This World War II Liberty Ship was turned over to the U.S. Navy for target practice by the Naval Air Force.
Unknown photographer. “View of Target Ship.” Postcard, 1983. Published by J. Lazarus, P. O. Box 367 Hyannis, Mass 02601.


The back of the postcard reads: “”TARGET SHIP “JAMES M. LONGSTREET” As shown by this aerial view, the target this has been under attack many times. the 418 foot vessel lises 2 miles wesT of First Enocunter Beach in Eastham, Cape Cod Bay. Turned over to the U.S. Navy by the Naval Air Force, the World War 2 Liberty Ship has been the object of many strafing and bombing runs by naval aircraft.” Photo by Barbara Brewer”
Brewer, Barbara. “Target Ship The “James M. Longstreet.”” circa 1967. Published by SouthCape Distributors, P.O. Box 1212 Mashpee, MA 02649


The back of the postcard reads: “Skaket Beach with Target Ship in Background. Orleans — Cape Cod – Mass.”
Unknown photographer. “Skaket Beach With Target Ship in Background Orleans, MA.” Postcard, circa 1970, CardCow.com, https://www.cardcow.com/522905/orleans-massachusetts-skaket-beach-with-target-ship-background/. Accessed 28 February 2024.



The back of this postcard reads “STORM DAMAGE, On April 6-7, 1982, Cape Cod was hit by a blizzard paking high winds and tides tht combined to knock down the bow mast on the SS James Longstreet. The late Dick Kelsey of Chatham, an aerial photographer, verified the damage.”
Kelsey, Dick. “The Target Ship in Cape Cod Bay.” Postcard, circa 1982. Published by The Longstreet Preservation Society, P.O. Box 946, N. Eastham, MA 02651.


The back of this postcard reads “THE END. The stern section of the SS James Longstreet was a favorite of photographers and graffii artists for many years. This came to an end during a winter storm in February 1990 when the stern collapsed.”
Beyle, Noel. “The Target Ship in Cape Cod Bay.” Postcard, circa 1990. Published by The Longstreet Preservation Society, P.O. Box 946, N. Eastham, MA 02651. Design and photo by Noel Beyle, (c) 1993,


Coast Guard Beach.” Photograph. [ca. 1860–1980]. Digital Commonwealth, https://ark.digitalcommonwealth.org/ark:/50959/n87108249 (accessed October 24, 2023).


Postcard of Coast Guard Beach in 1978 after Blizzard of ’78 with the target ship in the background in Cape Cod Bay.
The back of the postcard reads “Cape Cod National Seashore Headquarters at Eastham.”
Unknown photographer. “Cape Cod National Seashore Headquarters at Eastham.” Postcard, circa 1978, published by Cape Cod Photos, Orleans on Cape Cod.


Noel W. Beyle


Noel W. Beyle wrote three terrific books describing the history of the target ship.

  • Beyle, Noel W. The Target Ship Goes to War! The First Encounter Press, 1993
  • Beyle, Noel W. The Target Ship in Cape Cod Bay, Illustrated. The First Encounter Press, 1992
  • Beyle, Noel W. The Target Ship in Cape Cod Bay. The First Encounter Press, 1978

Noel’s book’s contain some amazing photos of the target ship including these.


Other Photographs of the Target Ship


Photos by Al Flint
See SS James Longstreet (Updated on Nov 27, 2022)
See also The Target Ship in Cape Cod Bay (2016)


Target ship in Cape Cod Bay on its way to oblivion with its ribs still proudly showing. Location: Thumpertown Road Beach.
Alfano, Al. “The waning days of the target ship.” Photograph. July 1985. Digital Commonwealth, http://openarchives.umb.edu/cdm/ref/collection/p15774coll6/id/10509 (accessed February 25, 2024)


Flint, Al. Photograph. The Cape Codder, November 2, 1982. Via SS James Longstreet (Updated on Nov 27, 2022)


Barrie Richardson, a professional photographer and my husband, loved the target ship. He took this picture as sunset in 1990. He entered it into a photo contest sponsored by Cape Cod Savings Bank. This photo won third prize. Location: off Kingsbury Beach, Cape Cod Bay.
Richardson, Kaye. “Barrie Richardson’s prize winning photo of the target ship S.S. James Longstreet.” Photograph. 1990. Digital Commonwealth, http://openarchives.umb.edu/cdm/ref/collection/p15774coll6/id/10519 (accessed February 25, 2024).


Videos of the Target Ship




See Also

“Old Target Ship – Cape Cod Bay.” Photograph. Photo & Video Uploads from Boston, MA’s Local Community | wcvb.com – Boston, MA, https://www.pinterest.com/pin/473581717039983912/, accessed 24 February, 2024.


Kolnos, Jason. 5 things to know about rusted target ship in Cape Cod Bay Photograph. Cape Cod Times, published October 10, 2014.


Unknown author and photographer. “SS James Longstreet“, Photograph. Alchetron, https://alchetron.com/SS-James-Longstreet#ss-james-longstreet-b69d56e5-c30b-451d-84c9-f7834c69664-resize-750.jpeg. January 31, 2024. Accessed 28 February 2024.



For more about the Target Ship


Thumbnails and copyright infringement.

In the following section, I have posted thumbnail images of photos/images posted by others on other sites with links and attribution. It is my understanding that use of thumbnails is a fair use and not any copyright infringement. See Thumbnail Images – Infringement or Fair Use? Having said that, I do not want to post anything that upsets the photographer, so if you object to any of these photos, please contact me at nate@nategibson.net and I will remove them.


Photos of the Target Ship on Flickr


Smith, Harold.  “Old rusty target ship shows in Cape Cod Bay.” Photograph. Flickr. October 8, 2012. https://www.flickr.com/photos/halsmith/8067426749/in/photolist-dhTEUD, accessed 24 February, 2024.




Seufert, Christopher Photography. “Cape Cod Bay Target Ship – SS Longstreet” Photograph. Flickr. June 21, 2011. Cape Cod Bay Target Ship – SS Longstreet | Orleans, Massachu… | Flickr , accessed 28 February 2024.
© Christopher Seufert Photography

Hire Chris at Christopher Seufert Photography


Seufert, Christopher Photography. “SS James Longstreet Shipwreck” Photograph. Flickr. June 21, 2011. https://www.flickr.com/photos/mychatham/31090411455/in/photolist-Pnmu9P-9VzbyJ, accessed 28 February 2024.

See also. “Orleans, Cape Cod: The SS James Longstreet, also known as the ‘target ship’ broke her back off Long Island and was later towed to Cape Cod and deliberately grounded 3.5 miles off Rock Harbor in Orleans in 1944 to be used as a target for military aircraft. Somewhere in the late 90’s the ship degraded so much that it was no longer visible at Rock Harbor, but at low tide it’s still quite a site from the air.”
© Christopher Seufert Photography
https://www.facebook.com/search/top/?q=target%20ship%20Christopher%20Seufert
Hire Chris at Christopher Seufert Photography


Owenbtx. “Target Ship in Bay Cape Cod from fishing boat with Harold Boucher and Jean Schlosser.” Photograph. Flickr. June 25,20 13. https://www.flickr.com/photos/50455451@N00/, accessed 28 February 2024.


Photos of the Target Ship on Facebook


Foster, Sandra. Photo of the Target Ship from 1972. Facebook. December 3, 2023. https://www.facebook.com/photo/?fbid=3445241179062249&set=pcb.2116981461969974,accessed 24 February 2024.


Foster, Sandra. Photo of the Target Ship from 2022. Facebook. December 3, 2023. https://www.facebook.com/photo/?fbid=3445241202395580&set=pcb.2116981461969974, accessed 24 February 2024.


Crouch, James. Sunset and Target Ship on Cape Cod Bay. Facebook. June 6, 2017, https://www.facebook.com/photo/?fbid=1208457535933234&set=o.497974460294799. Accessed 28 February, 2024.


Crouch, James. Target Ship with sailboats on Cape Cod Bay. Facebook. June 16, 2017, https://www.facebook.com/photo/?fbid=898250350287289&set=o.497974460294799. Accessed 28 February, 2024.


Crouch, James. Target Ship with two child on sand flat at low tide in Cape Cod Bay. Facebook. April 20, 2017, https://www.facebook.com/photo/?fbid=866495263462798&set=o.497974460294799 Accessed 28 February, 2024.


Crouch, James. Rainbow over the Target Ship in Cape Cod Bay. Facebook. April 20, 2016, https://www.facebook.com/photo/?fbid=866495023462822&set=o.497974460294799. Accessed 28 February, 2024.


Crouch, James. Rainbow over the Target Ship in Cape Cod Bay. Facebook. May 3, 2023 https://www.facebook.com/photo?fbid=5917905364988404&set=gm.639006628088058&idorvanity=449670017021721.Accessed 28 February, 2024.


Crouch, James. “Another target ship shot from the early 70’s that my dad took. We used to drive down and check on the cottage in the winter and dad would take some cool pix now and then. Taken from the hill at my aunts place on Kingsbury Beach.” Facebook. May 23, 2023 https://www.facebook.com/photo/?fbid=5986574554788151&set=gm.650735916915129&idorvanity=449670017021721. Accessed 31 March 2024.


Bearse, Mary. Boy in boat near Target Ship in August 1959. Facebook. February 11, 2023. https://www.facebook.com/photo/?fbid=1583134122164549&set=gm.593533889301999&idorvanity=449670017021721. Accessed 28 February, 2024.


Rawson, Steve. Nine (9) photos of the Target Ship in 1969. Facebook. February 3, 2024. https://www.facebook.com/photo/?fbid=3656834321255665&set=pcb.801222805199772. Accessed 28 February, 2024.


Rawson, Steve. Nine (9) photos of the Target Ship in 1969. Facebook. February 3, 2024. https://www.facebook.com/photo/?fbid=3656834387922325&set=pcb.801222805199772. Accessed 28 February, 2024.


Rawson, Steve. Nine (9) photos of the Target Ship in 1969. Facebook. February 3, 2024. https://www.facebook.com/photo/?fbid=3656834311255666&set=pcb.801222805199772. Accessed 28 February, 2024.


Rawson, Steve. Nine (9) photos of the Target Ship in 1969. Facebook. February 3, 2024. https://www.facebook.com/photo/?fbid=3656834311255666&set=pcb.801222805199772. Accessed 28 February, 2024.


Rawson, Steve. Nine (9) photos of the Target Ship in 1969. Facebook. February 3, 2024. https://www.facebook.com/photo/?fbid=3656834711255626&set=pcb.801222805199772 . Accessed 28 February, 2024.


Rawson, Steve. Nine (9) photos of the Target Ship in 1969. Facebook. February 3, 2024. https://www.facebook.com/photo/?fbid=3656834774588953&set=pcb.801222805199772 . Accessed 28 February, 2024.


Rawson, Steve. Nine (9) photos of the Target Ship in 1969. Facebook. February 3, 2024. https://www.facebook.com/photo/?fbid=3656835217922242&set=pcb.801222805199772. Accessed 28 February, 2024.


Rawson, Steve. Nine (9) photos of the Target Ship in 1969. Facebook. February 3, 2024. https://www.facebook.com/photo/?fbid=3656835321255565&set=pcb.801222805199772. Accessed 28 February, 2024.


Rawson, Steve. Nine (9) photos of the Target Ship in 1969. Facebook. February 3, 2024. https://www.facebook.com/photo/?fbid=3656835287922235&set=pcb.801222805199772. Accessed 28 February, 2024.


Rawson, Steve. Target ship in the mid 1980s. Facebook. March 7, 2024. https://www.facebook.com/photo/?fbid=3664866900452407&set=pcb.801222805199772 . Accessed 09 March, 2024.


Rawson, Steve. Target ship in the mid 1990s. Facebook. March 7, 2024. https://www.facebook.com/photo/?fbid=3664866870452410&set=pcb.801222805199772. Accessed 09 March 2024.


Hurley, Beth Ray. “The target ship herself – photo credit to my nephew.” Facebook. September 1, 2023. https://www.facebook.com/photo/?fbid=10160594010173476&set=gm.10168681651850160&idorvanity=24112495159. Accessed 09 March, 2024.


Barnett, David. “View off Thumpertown Beach.” Facebook. July 2, 2019. https://www.facebook.com/photo/?fbid=10219524057682992&set=gm.10162305852330160. Accessed 09 March, 2024.


Cahill, Timothy. Someone diving off the target ship. Faceook. January 21, 2023. https://www.facebook.com/photo?fbid=1642191402902990&set=pcb.578299330825455. Accessed 09 March, 2024.


Cahill, Timothy. The target ship. Facebook. January 21, 2023. https://www.facebook.com/photo?fbid=1642191422902988&set=pcb.578299330825455. Accessed 09 March, 2024.


Twyman, David. The target ship beyond the sand flats at low tide. Facebook. February 23, 2019. https://www.facebook.com/photo/?fbid=10216702679812419&set=gm.10161780143610160. Accessed 09 March, 2024


Flint, Mark. “The target ship , storm of 78.” Facebook. July 7 2023. https://www.facebook.com/photo/?fbid=300047365711817&set=gm.10168495180250160&idorvanity=24112495159


Ambrosano, Carl. Sunset and the target ship. “When I created my post yesterday I figured it would just be there for the rest of the group to view — imagine my absolute astonishment when I checked back later in the day to find that I had over a thousand responses!! Likes, Loves, and so many comments . . . what a wonderful group of people you are, I knew the Cape was popular but never realized just how many of you there were; I can’t be sure, but it seems like the Outer Cape may hold a slight edge in the responses — that was always our favorite; the wildness, the twisted and stunted trees, the constant West wind, the steep dunes down to the sea . . . for one week each year we felt more alive than in all the other weeks . . . Thank you, Thank you all so much!! Here is another old picture; When the Target Ship was still visible from First Encounter Beach . . .” Facebook. August 1, 2023. https://www.facebook.com/photo/?fbid=6896729563678742&set=gm.2035458293455625&idorvanity=234373686897437. Accessed 09 March 2024.


Jane, Cora “The Target Ship early 70’s.” Facebook, May 9, 2016. https://www.facebook.com/photo/?fbid=10208128736527408&set=gm.10156996550855160. Accessed 09 March 2024.

Visit Cora Jane Photography


Tierney, Mary Crouch. “Only the skelton could be seen at dead low tide.” Facebook. June 18, 2016. https://www.facebook.com/photo/?fbid=1385730768110915&set=gm.10157153498075160. Accessed 09 March, 2024.


Marr, David M. “The Target ship taken a few years ago.” Facebook. June 9, 2019. https://www.facebook.com/photo/?fbid=10219391992655738&set=gm.10162207178665160. Accessed 09 March, 2024


Borelli, Theresa. Photo from 1999. Facebook. April 15. 2018. https://www.facebook.com/photo?fbid=1614827978565399&set=pcb.10160551319995160. Accessed 09 March, 2024.


Borelli, Theresa. Photo from 1995 or 1996. Facebook. April 15, 2018. https://www.facebook.com/photo?fbid=1614827995232064&set=pcb.10160551319995160. Accessed 09 March, 2024.


Borelli, Theresa. Photo from 1995 or 1996. Facebook. April 18, 2018. https://www.facebook.com/photo/?fbid=1614827971898733&set=pcb.10160551319995160. Accessed 09 March, 2024.


Cape Cod History. “The James E. Longstreet (AKA the Target Ship) was towed out into Cape Cod Bay during WWII and was used by the US Air Force for target practice. She was used for live ammunition target practice by jets from nearby South Weymouth Naval Air Station and the Air Force from nearby Otis Air Force Base until the mid1970’s.” Facebook. January 7, 2015. https://www.facebook.com/photo?fbid=1557871361125058&set=a.1557863541125840. Accessed 09 March, 2024.


Cape Cod History. This “photo shows the Target Ship in 2014. By 1995 the partially sunken ship had become a dangerous water hazard and by the mid 1990’s it began to completely break apart. The severely compromised ship finally broke into pieces and sank during an April snowstorm in 1996. Today the ruin of the target ship, which is sunken about 3.5 miles from the coast of Eastham in Cape Cod Bay, lies underwater during high tide but parts of it are still visible during extreme low tides.” Facebook. October 21, 2015. https://www.facebook.com/photo/?fbid=1670060269906166&set=pcb.1670062096572650. Accessed 09 March 2024.


Perkins, Betsy Cook. “A Cape Cod Bay sunset…with the target ship.” Facebook. August 7, 2009. https://www.facebook.com/photo?fbid=1202490265833&set=g.107502254196. Accessed 09 March 2024.


Bearse, Mary. “Hi everyone, here is another photo of the target ship years later. My brother and I were always going out there seeing the changes to the ship and go to our fishing spot. It’s the front view of it. I remember taking this picture year of 1991. There is a small tree growing if you can zoom in the photo, probably volunteer planting from a passerby Gull lol...” Facebook. February 12, 2023. https://www.facebook.com/photo/?fbid=1583751948769433&set=gm.594132372575484&idorvanity=449670017021721. Accessed 31 March 2024.


Farrell, Hap. “Ran across some photos of the USS Longstreet, “The Target Ship”. Figured I’d post them so take what you want. The ship is becoming a lost memory.” Facebook. December 6, 2021. https://www.facebook.com/photo?fbid=10209622161586405&set=pcb.10209622164706483. Accessed 31 March 2024.


Farrell, Hap. “Ran across some photos of the USS Longstreet, “The Target Ship”. Figured I’d post them so take what you want. The ship is becoming a lost memory.” Facebook. December 6, 2021. https://www.facebook.com/photo?fbid=10209622161666407&set=pcb.10209622164706483. Accessed 31 March 2024.


Farrell, Hap. “Ran across some photos of the USS Longstreet, “The Target Ship”. Figured I’d post them so take what you want. The ship is becoming a lost memory.” Facebook. December 6, 2021. https://www.facebook.com/photo/?fbid=10209622162026416&set=pcb.10209622164706483. Accessed 31 March 2024.


Farrell, Hap. “Ran across some photos of the USS Longstreet, “The Target Ship”. Figured I’d post them so take what you want. The ship is becoming a lost memory.” Facebook. December 6, 2021. https://www.facebook.com/photo/?fbid=10209622162306423&set=pcb.10209622164706483. Accessed 31 March 2024.


Farrell, Hap. “Ran across some photos of the USS Longstreet, “The Target Ship”. Figured I’d post them so take what you want. The ship is becoming a lost memory.” Facebook. December 6, 2021. https://www.facebook.com/photo/?fbid=10209622162586430&set=pcb.10209622164706483. Accessed 31 March 2024.


Farrell, Hap. “Ran across some photos of the USS Longstreet, “The Target Ship”. Figured I’d post them so take what you want. The ship is becoming a lost memory.” Facebook. December 6, 2021. https://www.facebook.com/photo/?fbid=10209622162866437&set=pcb.10209622164706483. Accessed 31 March 2024.


Farrell, Hap. “Ran across some photos of the USS Longstreet, “The Target Ship”. Figured I’d post them so take what you want. The ship is becoming a lost memory.” Facebook. December 6, 2021. https://www.facebook.com/photo/?fbid=10209622163146444&set=pcb.10209622164706483. Accessed 31 March 2024.