Ric Burns to Speak at Launch

Ric Burns

Ric Burns

Ric Burns, the award-winning documentary filmmaker, will deliver the keynote address at the launch of the Charles W. Morgan at Mystic Seaport on July 21, 2013. The National Historic Landmark ship has been undergoing a comprehensive restoration since November, 2008. She will be launched and returned to the water in a public ceremony that begins at 2 p.m.

Burns is best known for his acclaimed series New York: A Documentary Film, a sweeping chronicle of the city’s history, which garnered several honors, including two Emmy Awards and an Alfred I. duPont-Columbia Award. Burns’ career began with the celebrated series The Civil War, which he produced with his brother, Ken Burns, and co-wrote with Geoffrey C. Ward. In 1991, Ric founded Steeplechase Films and has since written and directed a number of award-winning films for PBS, including Coney Island, The Donner Party, The Way West, Eugene O’Neill, and Andy Warhol: A Documentary Film. Burns most recently finished Death and the Civil War, a film based on the best-selling book This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War by acclaimed historian and Harvard president Drew Gilpin Faust.  In 2010, Burns wrote, produced, and co-directed for American Experience a film about the history of the whaling industry, Into the Deep: America, Whaling & the World.

Mystic Seaport President Steve White said, “We are honored to have Ric Burns serve as the keynote speaker at our launch ceremony. His extensive knowledge of American history and the role whaling plays in it will help us articulate the importance of the Charles W. Morgan in our nation’s maritime experience.

The Morgan is the oldest American commercial ship still in existence. The 113-foot vessel was built and launched in New Bedford in 1841 and had a whaling career that lasted 80 years and 37 voyages that spanned the far reaches of the globe. The ship came to Mystic Seaport in 1941. More than 20 million people have walked her decks since she arrived.

The launch is a key milestone in her restoration, which has been carried out at the Henry B. duPont Preservation Shipyard at the Museum. Once back in the water, work will continue with the installation of her spars and rigging, additional interior carpentry, and preparation for her 38th Voyage to begin in May, 2014. The Voyage will take the ship back to sea on a tour to historic ports in New England, including New London, Newport, Vineyard Haven, New Bedford, Provincetown, and Boston. Each port visit will include an interactive dockside program designed to inspire excitement and interest in America’s maritime heritage.  The ship will also sail through the whale-watching grounds of the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary to recognize the changing relationship of mankind to the whale.