Press Releases

CHARLES W. MORGAN Arrives in New London

Ship Leaves Mystic Seaport for the First Time Since 1941

MYSTIC, Conn. (May 17, 2014) — The Charles W. Morgan, a National Historic Landmark vessel and the last wooden whaleship in the world, departed Mystic Seaport to begin her 38th Voyage on Saturday, May 17. The ship was towed down the Mystic River and over to nearby New London, Conn., the first stop on what will be a nearly three month journey to historic ports in Southern New England.

The ship, which has not left Mystic Seaport since she arrived on November 8, 1941, led a procession of vessels down the Mystic River, including the Museum’s steamboat Sabino, its fishing vessel Roann, and five whaleboats rowed by Mystic Seaport staff and volunteers. The ship was cheered by crowds of onlookers as she made her way downriver en route to Fishers Island Sound, and several hundred people greeted her as she arrived at City Pier in New London.

“Today’s brief journey is the culmination of an incredible amount of work and effort by the Mystic Seaport community. This is a proud moment for the Museum and everyone who contributed to making this voyage a reality,” said Steve White, president of Mystic Seaport.

The day will began with a brief farewell ceremony in the Museum’s Henry B. DuPont Preservation Shipyard at 8:45 a.m., where the ship was formally entrusted to the care of her 22nd master, Capt. Kip Files, of Rockland, Maine.

The ship cast off her lines at 9:11 a.m. and arrived in New London ahead of schedule at 12:48 p.m.

“It was a smooth journey and we learned that the ship is fairly easy to tow,” Said Capt. Files. “Now we need to get her ready to go sailing.”

The crew will now get to work to complete preparations for the next phase of the voyage where she will actively sail for the first time since the 1920s. The ship will be ballasted (weighted down) to her correct sailing draft, the sails will be attached to the spars, and the crew will conduct four days of sail training scheduled for June 7-8 and June 11-12.

The ship will be open to the public in New London with an extensive dockside exhibit on May 24-25, May 31, and June 1 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The ship departs on the next leg of the 38th Voyage with a transit to Newport, RI, on June 14. Following that stop, the ship will then visit Vineyard Haven, Mass.; New Bedford, Mass.; and Boston, where she will dock next to the USS Constitution. She will also anchor off of Provincetown, Mass. for day sails to the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, where the Morgan will team up with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to observe whales in their natural environment and call attention to mankind’s changing relationship with the natural world.

Downloadable Media

High-resolution photos and broadcast-quality HD video of the ship’s journey will be available for download and use by news media after 4 p.m. on May 17. Downloads can be accessed on the Mystic Seaport press page.

About Mystic Seaport

Mystic Seaport is the nation’s leading maritime museum. Founded in 1929, the Museum is home to four National Historic Landmark vessels, including the Charles W. Morgan, the last wooden whaleship in the world. The Museum is located one mile south of exit 90 off I-95 in Mystic, CT. Admission is $24 for adults and $15 for children 6-17. Museum members and children under 5 are admitted for free. For more information, please visit https://mysticseaport.wpengine.com/

Charles W. Morgan News News

CHARLES W. MORGAN Arrives in New London

The Charles W. Morgan goes under the Mystic Bascule Bridge on May 17, 2014.
The Charles W. Morgan goes under the Mystic Bascule Bridge on May 17, 2014.

NEW LONDON — After an overnight of storms and rain in the Mystic area, the weather cleared just after dawn on Saturday, May 17, and presented a spectacular day and ideal conditions to move the 1841 whaleship Charles W. Morgan down the Mystic River and on to New London, Conn. on the first phase of the ship’s historic 38th Voyage.

A brief ceremony was held at 8:45 a.m.in the Henry B. duPont Preservation Shipyard, the ship’s home for the last five years of a comprehensive restoration. Several hundred visitors gathered to listen to comments from Rep. Joe Courtney and a moving blessing by Capt. Van Dickens, the Command Chaplain at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy. Mystic Seaport President Steve White then read and presented Capt. Kip Files, the 22nd captain of the Morgan, with his Letter of Instruction that formally entrusted the well-being of the ship to his care.

Lines were cast off at 9:11 a.m. and with the help of the tugs Sirius and Thuban — one in front pulling and the other pushing from the stern — the Morgan slowly made her way off the pier and into the Mystic River Channel in a procession that included the Museum’s fishing vessel Roann, the steamboat Sabino, the launch Necessity, and five whaleboats rowed by Mystic Seaport staff and volunteers. Timing was very important as the ship needed to make the 10:05 opening of the railroad swing bridge and high tide at the mouth of the river near Noank.

Cheers erupted from crowds lining the shoreline throughout the down river trip and the procession was accompanied by many spectator boats, many of which followed all the way to New London.

A high point of the journey was the Morgan’s passage through the Mystic highway bridge in the heart of downtown. The ship had never been below the bridge since her arrival on November 8, 1941, and the moment drew loud applause and cheers from hundreds of onlookers as Capt. Files and the crew carefully threaded the ship and tugs through the constricted channel beneath the bridge.

Crew members throw heaving lines to the pier from the Charles W. Morgan during her arrival in New London.
Crew members throw heaving lines to the pier from the Charles W. Morgan during her arrival in New London.

Once clear of the river, Sirius dropped back in standby and Thuban towed the Morgan to New London at a relatively swift 8 knots. Upon arrival in New London, the Morgan tied up at a berth at City Pier at 12:48 p.m.

When asked, “What did we learn today?” Capt. Files said that they learned that the ship tows easily and faster than they anticipated.

“Now we have to get her ready to go sailing!” he added.

On board the Morgan for the trip was a combination of project supporters, restoration volunteers, members of the news media, and some Museum and Shipyard staff members.

A special passenger was Hermine Dudda, who is one of the few remaining witnesses to the ship’s arrival to Mystic in 1941. Dudda was 10-years-old at the time and walked down to the river with her twin sister Ernie to see the ship pass by.

“I remember I wasn’t so impressed with the Morgan then because she was in such shabby condition,” she recalls. “But to see this ship 72 years later and be on board today is an honor and privilege, and I feel like I am living a part of history.”

“This is the culmination of so much planning and execution on the part of so many people in the Mystic Seaport community, it is hard to describe the emotion this seemingly simple act of taking the ship down the river generates,” said Museum President Steve White. “It is a proud moment for everyone: We achieved what we set out to do.”

The arrival in New London starts a very busy week for the crew and select Shipyard staff as the need to finish ballasting the ship, bend on the sails, and pass a U.S. Coast Guard incline test to prove the ship’s stability under sail. During that time the ship will be closed to visitors, but she will open on four weekend days for the public to board the ship and to experience the traveling dockside exhibition that will accompany the ship to other ports on the voyage. Those days are May 24-25, 31 and June 1, and the hours are 9 a.m.-5 p.m.