Historic Merchant Vessel Departs Charlestown Navy Yard

Historic Merchant Vessel Departs Charlestown Navy Yard

The Charles W. Morgan, an 18th century commercial vessel, departed Charlestown Navy Yard July 23 after a week-long visit to Boston, one of the ship’s port stops along her voyage up the eastern seaboard.


The Morgan sailed to Boston during her 38th voyage to not only share with the public the ship’s rich history, but to also share her history with USS Constitution, as the two historic ships moored along the same pier in Charlestown Navy Yard for the week.

This visit marked the first time that Constitution, the world’s oldest commissioned warship afloat, and the Charles W. Morgan, America’s oldest and last sailing wooden whaling ship, have ever ‘met’.

When the Morgan was launched in 1841 to join a whaling fleet of nearly 2,700 ships, Constitution was already in her 44th year of active naval service – working to defend the global trading lanes utilized by vessels like the Morgan. Together, both Constitution and the Morgan have a combined 390 years of American naval heritage and history under their respective keels.

“It’s quite an honor to have a ship that represented America’s economic growth moored up next to the type of ship that protected it,” said Kip Files, captain of the Charles W. Morgan.

The Morgan was originally constructed for a cost of $52,000 and embarked on 37 voyages during her 80-year whaling career, earning more than $1,400,000 and visiting more than 100 ports of call including the Azores, Madagascar and the Galapagos Islands. The Morgan was later named a National Historic Landmark in 1967.

During the Morgan’s visit, Constitution Sailors had the privilege to climb the 173-year-old whaling ship’s rigging and furl her sails alongside Morgan crew members.

“Furling aboard the Morgan was a pretty cool experience,” said Yeoman Seaman Brianna Bays. “We got to use the climbing and furling experience we’ve gained aboard Constitution, but Morgan’s sails were much lighter than ours and we were able to furl them pretty quickly. It was neat getting to see and experience the differences between modern day and original rigging.”

“[Constitution and Morgan] are two pieces of history right there,” said Jeff Koffman, a deck hand aboard the Charles W. Morgan. “To simply have these two ships moored beside each other is history itself.”

After departing Boston Harbor, the Morgan will make her way south, back to her homeport in Mystic, Conn. to complete her 12-week, seven-port east coast voyage.

USS Constitution, the world’s oldest commissioned warship afloat, actively defended sea lanes against global threats from 1797 to 1855. Now a featured destination on Boston’s Freedom Trail, Constitution and her crew of U.S. Navy Sailors offer community outreach and education about the ship’s history and the importance of naval seapower to more than 500,000 visitors each year.

Press Release, July 28, 2014; Image: Wikimedia

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