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New whaleboat for an old ship

Dec 20, 2012
Charles W. Morgan, Americas’s oldest merchant ship is undergoing an extensive restoration at the Mystic Seaport.

Charles W. Morgan, Americas’s oldest merchant ship is undergoing an extensive restoration at the Mystic Seaport.

Photos courtesy Mystic Seaport Museum

Student apprentices at the Apprenticeshop in Rockland, Maine, will have their work join an important piece of American maritime history. The apprentices have been hard at work building a whaleboat for Charles W. Morgan, flagship of the Mystic Seaport Museum and America’s oldest merchant ship. The new whaleboat, scheduled for completion in the spring will be one of seven new boats built for the 162-year-old Morgan and part of the whaling ship’s $5 million restoration.

Built in 1841 in New Bedford, Mass., the 106-foot ship had the capacity to process and transport 90,000 gallons of whale oil back to its home port. According to historian Matthew Stackpole, a total of 17,042 crewmen sailed on Morgan during its 37 voyages.

Charles W. Morgan made its final voyage in 1921 as motors replaced sails and the industry turned its attention to petroleum products. Over the course of its career, Morgan processed 58,483 barrels of whale oil and harvested 152,934 pounds of whalebone for a total revenue of $1.4 million.

Morgan is scheduled to re-launch on July 21, 2013. Restoration and reinstallation of the rig will continue with hopes of Morgan embarking on its 38th voyage. The trip will attempt to raise awareness for marine mammals and will be conducted by NOAA’s Maritime Heritage Division. The ship is scheduled to visit its former home port of New Bedford during the voyage.

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