Last-of-its-kind whaling ship embarks on historic sail

MYSTIC, Conn. (WTNH) — After a six-year, $10.6 million restoration at Mystic Seaport, the Charles W. Morgan — the last surviving ship from America’s 19th century whaling fleet — is back at sea.

For the first time in more than 90 years, the 113-foot Morgan made its way through the water from Mystic to New London.

Up until Saturday, the last wooden whaling ship in the world was taking residence at Mystic Seaport, where it went through a major restoration.

“It can be exhausting and an amazing experience at the same,” said senior shipwright Walter Ansel of the restoration project that began in 2008.

(PHOTOS: The robust restoration effort)

Last summer, the 173-year-old tall ship was put back in the water. This morning, the Morgan was towed over to New London, a trip that involved passing through two bridges and navigating shallow waters.

“It’s quite exciting, not just for us but anybody else who gets a chance to see it,” said the ship’s captain, Kip Files. “There are very few people even alive today that have seen a vessel like this.”

Added Ansel, “I came to this town in 1970 when I was 12 and I never dreamed that this ship would sail and it’s just fabulous.”

The ship will receive some work in New London for about a month, going on training cruises in Fishers Island Sound, before setting sail June 14 on a tour of seven historic New England ports, which include Newport, R.I., Martha’s Vineyard, Provincetown and Boston.

The Morgan was originally launched in July 1841 in New Bedford, Mass., where it also plans to stop over the summer before returning to Mystic.

“They should think about the ship from Moby Dick, the Pequod.” Ansel said. “If you read that amazing novel, the Morgan is the last one of that type left.”

“I hope the folks in the area come down and see the ship, she’ll be open to the public,” said Files. “Come down and see her because it’s a real special vessel, real special.”

The Associated Press and News 8’s Brian Spyros contributed to this report.

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