Historic Vessel returns to Original Homeport; Opens to the Public on Saturday, June 28
New Bedford, Mass. (June 25, 2014) — Mystic Seaport sailed the whaleship Charles W. Morgan to a celebratory homecoming at her original homeport of New Bedford on Wednesday, June 25. The Morgan, a National Historic Landmark vessel on permanent exhibit at Mystic Seaport in Mystic, Conn., was built and launched in New Bedford in 1841, and sailed from there for most of her lengthy whaling career.
After a comprehensive restoration that lasted more than five years, the ship is on a ceremonial 38th Voyage to historic ports in Southern New England. Her last voyage, her 37th, ended in 1921. Today she sailed from Vineyard Haven, Mass.
“History has never been so alive as it was just now when we brought the Charles W. Morgan through the hurricane barrier at the mouth of the harbor. To see the people of New Bedford turn out to welcome us and show how they appreciate the project and how it validates the great history of this city was a great moment for all of us.” said Steve White, president of Mystic Seaport.
The Morgan’s homecoming to New Bedford is a major event for the city, which was once the largest whaling port in the world. The ship was last in New Bedford in November 1941, and has not returned since.
“The Morgan’s return showcases her former homeport to new audiences around the nation. The ship is a living witness to New Bedford’s Golden Age of Sail, and celebrates a tradition which remains unbroken; men and women continue to go down to the sea in ships, making the Port of New Bedford the busiest commercial fishing port in America,” said James Russell, president and CEO of the New Bedford Whaling Museum.
He added, “Our hearty congratulations and deep appreciation goes to the Mystic Seaport community for their herculean accomplishment in restoring the Morgan to full seaworthiness, and especially for their brave decision in taking her to sea. We can take inspiration as our city looks to restore its own many authentic treasures such as the Ernestina and the Seamen’s Bethel, as the renaissance of the historic district continues to unfold. This maritime pageant is like no other in living memory, one in which so many have contributed so much. In the Morgan’s wake, we can best honor her by envisioning other grand activities for the port, which similarly inspires great accomplishment and captures the public imagination.”
A Dockside Exhibition
Beginning Saturday, June 28, the ship will be open to the public to board at her berth at State Pier near the city center.
In addition to touring the ship, visitors can learn about the Morgan, whales and whaling, and their importance to American history in a 22,000 square-foot dockside exhibition. There is a video and display panels that explain the history and significance of the 173-year-old vessel, the important role the whaling industry played in this country’s economic history, how the Morgan and whaleships were an early connector of different cultures, and how America’s perception of the natural world has changed over time. Hands-on activities include knot-tying, handling samples of wood used in the restoration, and searching the Morgan’s crew lists for familiar names or hometown connections.
A focal point is Spouter, a 46-foot-long, life-sized inflatable model of a sperm whale. Visitors can participate in a “What Bubbles Up?” activity by writing down their whale-related memory, question, or sketch and attaching it to a humpback whale sculpture.
Mystic Seaport interpreters will demonstrate the 19th-century maritime skills of a cooper, shipsmith, ropemaker, and whaleboat rower. There will also be live performances including sea chanteys, the interactive “Tale of a Whaler,” and a condensed rendition of the novel “Moby-Dick” – “Moby-Dick in Minutes.” Visitors will even have the opportunity to try their hand at rowing a whaleboat during select times.
Voyage partner, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, will have an exhibit booth to explain how the National Marine Sanctuaries interpret America’s maritime past, promote ocean conservation, and engage in cutting-edge research. They will show how whales feed and what they feed on, and present videos that feature information on the National Marine Sanctuary System, whales, whale research, and whaling heritage. Kids can even create their own whale hat.
In July, the Morgan will sail to the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary off Provincetown, Mass., as part of the voyage. Stellwagen Bank is a popular feeding ground for whales in the summer months.
The ship and dockside exhibition will be open on Saturday, June 28 to Sunday, July 6 from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. each day, with the last boarding of the ship to take place at 4 p.m. There is a suggested admission of $5 per person for those ages 6 years and older. Children ages 5 years and younger are admitted for free, as are current Mystic Seaport members with their membership card.
The Mystic Seaport dockside exhibition is funded in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH).
A number of New Bedford community organizations, including the New Bedford Whaling Museum, have scheduled a series of events to celebrate the city’s maritime heritage over the course of the ship’s stay. For a complete list and schedule, please visit the Destination New Bedford webpage.
The Morgan is scheduled to continue her 38th Voyage on July 7. Over a period of days, she will make her way through the Cape Cod Canal to Provincetown, which will be a base for the ship’s time on Stellwagen Bank. Afterwards the ship moves on to Boston where she will tie up next to the USS Constitution and be open to the public from July 18-22. The voyage wraps up with a stop at the Massachusetts Maritime Academy from July 26-27 to participate in the centennial celebration of the opening of the Cape Cod Canal.
High resolution photos and broadcast-quality HD video of the ship’s activities are available for download and use by news media. Downloads can be accessed on the Mystic Seaport press page
About the NEH
National Endowment for the Humanities: Exploring the human endeavor. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this program do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities. www.neh.gov
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/