Mar 21, 2013
07:56 AMConnecticut Today
The Restored Charles W. Morgan to Be Officially Re-Launched in July
According to fictional anchorman Ron Burgundy, a very old wooden ship is called diversity—but at Mystic Seaport, the only remaining wooden whaleship in the world is being restored; and its name is the Charles W. Morgan.
The Morgan is currently undergoing extensive restorations in preparation for her 38th voyage that will launch on July 21, 2013. The ship will be stopping in New London, Newport, New Bedford, Martha’s Vineyard, Provincetown and finally, Boston to join the USS Constitution before returning home to Mystic Seaport. Each port will be hosting a series of educational programs and events unique to that city’s maritime heritage while also exhibiting the Morgan.
The oldest surviving American commercial vessel was built over a nine-month period in 1841 in New Bedford, Mass. Throughout its successful whaling career, the Charles W. Morgan made 37 voyages under the command of 20 different captains to 59 ports of call from the South Pacific to the West Indies. It braved ocean storms, Arctic ice, and even a cannibal attack to provide the eastern seaboard of the United States with lubricating oil for industrial machines, illuminating oil for lighthouses, and whale bone, which was known as the "plastic" of the era (because of its versatility and use in many products). These adventures are captured in the Morgan’s logs, detailing the incredible—a rescue of Russian prisoners who escaped a forced labor camp—to the tragic: Captain Thomas C. Lander’s loss of his 16-year-old son overboard.
The National Historic Landmark was named after Charles Waln Morgan, an investor and entrepreneur who at one point managed 15 vessels and had shares in 18 others. While away on business in 1841, his nephew named the new whaleship after his uncle who would pass away 20 years later. As a whaleship, the Morgan’s function was to hunt sperm, right and bowhead whales by harpooning the animal then killing it with a lance or heavy firearm after it tired. The carcass was then processed aboard the ship, where the desirable parts were harvested and stored before being sold. On its maiden voyage of 3 years, 3 months, and 27 days, it killed 59 whales before returning to port.
After 80 years, the Charles W. Morgan retired in 1921 to South Dartmouth, Mass., until 1941 when it was moved to Mystic Seaport. Since then, more than 20 million visitors from across the country and the world have walked its decks, boosting Connecticut’s tourism industry and educating the public about its proud history.
For more information, visit mysticseaport.org or call (860) 572-0711.