America’s last whaling ship makes first waves in 38th journey


Above, the Charles W. Morgan, the oldest whaling ship in the United States, sits on the shiplift prior to being lowered into the waters of the Mystic River at Mystic Seaport on Sunday, July 21, 2013. The ship is heading toward the final year of its restoration project, which will enable it to hit several ports during the 38th voyage in the spring. Courtesy of Mystic Seaport

When the Charles W. Morgan heads out for her 38th journey in the spring, more than 90 years will have passed since America’s last surviving wooden whaleship made her last journey.

Since 2008, Mystic Seaport has been working to restore the 113-foot-long vessel at the Henry B. duPont Preservation Shipyard at the seaport. With her launch on Sunday, the ship now moves into the final phase of that multimillion dollar project, with craftsmen working on rigging, the interior and other systems that will enable the ship to head out to several spots in the Northeast on its ceremonial voyage in May.

At the launch celebration on Sunday, many state dignitaries were present, among the many others who came to see the ship go back into the water. Among the guests were Sarah Bullard, the great-great-great granddaughter of Charles Waln Morgan, one of the original owners of the boat. She christened the vessel by smashing a bottle containing water from the many oceans over which the ship sailed during its career. There were drops fro mthe North and South Atlantic, the Indian and Pacific oceans. New Bedford and Mystic waters were added, as well, signifying the ship’s original and present home ports. Documentary maker Ric Burns also spoke at the event.

During the day of the launch, the ship was closed to visitors. However, it will be open once again to visitors while in the water, and as the restoration continues. Below, you can see some of the work done earlier this summer to get the boat closer to its launch.

Christina Hennessy