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Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Maritime Logistics Professional

Whaleship Charles W Morgan

Posted to Maritime Musings (by on August 20, 2013

A historic reminder of a by-gone era

The whaleship Charles W. Morgan, on the National Register of Historic Places since 1975, is the only wooden whaleship surviving from the large nineteenth-century fleet of American whalers.  It was built in 1841 in New Bedford at a cost of $48,849.85, using live oak in her frame and plank and yellow pine in her upper decks.  It was the usual rounded-bow, square-rigged whaler of the period.  It had no cannon, but had false gunports painted on her sides, also typical of the era.  Launched as a ship with single topsails, it was rerigged in 1867 as a barque, and rerigged again in 1881 to a topsail rig.  The Morgan completed her 37th and last whaling voyage in May 1921.  It is credited with the killing of more than 2,500 whales, brought into port over 50,000 barrels of whale oil and 150,000 pounds of whale bone, and is estimated to have earned about $2 million profits for its owners.  The 30 October 1900 edition of the New York Times included a brief article on the ship’s return to San Francisco after a voyage to the South Seas and the Japanese coast.  It brought in 1,500 barrels of sperm oil and 3,000 pounds of whale bone on that voyage alone.  The article continued: “The Morgan is nearly sixty years old, but is still sound and a good sailor.  The only accident was when a ninety-foot whale off the Japanese coast rose under a boat and shattered it, throwing the men in all directions, but no one was hurt.  They got thirty-eight barrels of oil out of that monster.”  The ship sailed under 21 different masters with an average crew size of 33.  After retirement, the Morgan appeared in three silent motion pictures, including “Down to the Sea in Ships” in 1922.  After some years of neglect, the ship was acquired by the Marine Historical Association and moved to Mystic Seaport, its current home.  Following a five-year, multi-million dollar restoration, the whaleship was returned to the water on 21 July 2013, the 172nd anniversary of its original launching.  The United States Senate recently adopted a Resolution honoring the ship and its place in US and maritime history.   

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