Ships To Commemorate Canal, Maritime History

The whaling ship Charles W. Morgan paid a short visit to the Massachusetts Maritime Academy this week. It will be back at the end of the month for the canal centennial celebration.
MICHAEL J. RAUSCH/ENTERPRISE - The whaling ship Charles W. Morgan paid a short visit to the Massachusetts Maritime Academy this week. It will be back at the end of the month for the canal centennial celebration.

Two historic tall ships and two maritime training vessels will travel the waters of the Cape Cod Canal and open their decks as part of the canal’s Centennial Celebration starting on July 25.

The Massachusetts Maritime Academy will provide state pier berths and land-based support for the vessels while they are open to the public for tours.

Spectators came to view the restored [and oldest] surviving merchant vessel, the Charles W. Morgan, on Tuesday as it came into Buzzards Bay. Tours were not offered to the public. The whaling ship took advantage of Mass. Maritime Academy’s overnight hospitality while giving crew members a chance to come ashore and stretch their legs and created an opportunity to bring new crew aboard for the next leg of its summer voyage. The ship will be back on Saturday, July 26.


“In my opinion the Charles W. Morgan is the most interesting of the ships that will be coming to participate in the canal centennial celebrations. The Morgan was built in 1841 and was recently restored at Mystic Seaport in Connecticut. The recent renovation cost approximately $7 million and it has so much history surrounding it,” Mass. Maritime Academy vice president of operations Francis X. McDonald said.

The restoration of the Charles W. Morgan took five years and was celebrated with the relaunch of the vessel in May. It is considered the oldest commercial ship still afloat.

The Charles W. Morgan will be open to the public during the canal celebration 9AM to 5 PM on July 26 and 27.

On July 28, the Charles W. Morgan will sail away but the tall ship of Delaware, the Kalmar Nyckel, will arrive and be available for tours on July 29 from 9 AM to 5 PM.

“The Kalmar Nyckel was the equivalent of the Mayflower and is a beautiful ship. Monday, July 28, will be a good day to be on the Mass. Maritime campus to get to see two tall ships sailing in and out, both on the same day,” Mr. McDonald said.

The Kalmar Nyckel was an armed merchant vessel famous for bringing Swedish settlers to North America in colonial times. The current ship, built in 1997, is a replica of the original ship built in 1638.

The US Coast Guard and Mass. Maritime will also offer public tours of their training ships. The Coast Guard's Eagle sailing ship and the TS Kennedy will both be available for viewing and tours from July 25 through 27 at various times. The TS Kennedy will be the only ship available for tours and viewing on July 28.

The Eagle is a three-masted cutter built in Germany in 1936 and taken as reparation by the United States after World War II. The Coast Guard uses the ship, which can accommodate 175 cadets, to train officers. The Eagle is the only commissioned sailing vessel in the US military service.

The youngest boat on display, the TS Kennedy, was built as a freighter in the 1960s and converted into a training ship in 2003 for the Massachusetts Maritime Academy. The vessel has taken 10 training voyages to train approximately 6,000 cadets. One voyage was not expressly for training purposes.

“Many people don’t know that training vessels belong to the federal government and are a part of the federal ready reserve fleet. The ships are actually on loan to maritime colleges and academies but could be called into military service at any time,” Mr. McDonald said.

In 2012 the TS Kennedy was called into service for approximately one month by the federal government to support New York and New Jersey in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. The vessel became a floating hotel for first responders and FEMA personnel.

Mr. McDonald and the entire academy will be on hand to support as many of the canal centennial celebrations as they can.

“We are delighted to support these ships and the Canal Centennial. Our maritime histories are tied together. Come and look at these ships up close. Each one is spectacular in its own way and there is a real chunk of history on each of the vessels,” Mr. McDonald said.

The Cape Cod Canal Centennial Committee has a complete list of offerings and events happening in addition to the visiting ships. Visit for the full list.


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