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July 21, 2013

The whaleship Charles W. Morgan, the oldest American commercial vessel still afloat and a National Historic Landmark, has undergone a multi-year, comprehensive restoration in the Henry B. duPont Preservation Shipyard at Mystic Seaport. The project, which began in November 2008, renewed areas of the vessel from the waterline down to her keel and also addressed the bow and stern. On July 21, the 172nd anniversary of the vessel’s initial launch, she will be launched again.

Award-winning documentary filmmaker Ric Burns will deliver the keynote address at the ceremony and music will be provided by the U.S. Coast Guard Band. Sarah Bullard, the great-great-great granddaughter of Charles Waln Morgan, will break a bottle over the Morgan‘s bow to christen the ship and the vessel will then be lowered into the Mystic River at 2 p.m. Join us for this historic occasion as we celebrate a national treasure — it’s a once-in-a-lifetime event not to be missed!

Launch Day Details

Mystic Seaport will open at 9 am on July 21 and the Charles W. Morgan will be launched promptly at 2 pm. A large turnout is expected for the event, so we encourage visitors to arrive early. Viewing areas for the general public are standing-room only for safety reasons and to allow as many people as possible to see the launch.There will be a restricted area extending approximately 100’ from the Shiplift and general public viewing will be beyond this area. Portable chairs will not be permitted. Please be prepared for hot weather and direct sun as the Shipyard is not a shaded area.

The launch will be streamed live under a tent on the Village Green; seats in the tent will be available on a first-come, first-served basis. Room for wheelchairs will be available. Additionally, audio speakers will be set up outside of the tent. Lawn chairs and blankets will be allowed for seating on any grassy area of the green to listen to the ceremony.

The launch ceremony is expected to take less than one hour.

The launch will take place rain or shine. The Morgan will be closed to the public on the day of the launch and she will be moved alongside the Shiplift and re-opened to the public Thursday, July 25. Restoration will then continue on the vessel in advance of her 38th Voyage in 2014.

  • Visiting by car: We anticipate the Museum’s North and South parking lots will fill up early in the day. Visitors are encouraged to carpool or take alternative transportation. Free satellite parking with shuttle buses to Mystic Seaport will be available at the Brustolon GMC Buick Dealership at 47 Stonington-Westerly Rd, Mystic (Rte. 1). (View the off-site parking map.) Shuttle buses will run from 9 am to 6 pm. Visitors coming from the east are encouraged to get off I-95 at Exit 91 and go directly to the satellite lot to help ease traffic on Rte. 27.
  • Visiting by boat: Mystic Seaport docks are sold out for the day of the launch and we expect heavy marine traffic in the Mystic River. Just outside of the Shiplift is a channel for marine navigation that must remain clear. There is a dinghy dock at the north end of Mystic Seaport, but if you dock your dinghy there you must check in at the Museum’s main entrance. Our dinghy dock in the Shipyard will not be accessible.

Regular admission prices apply on July 21 (as always, Museum members will be admitted for free). In addition to the Museum’s normal food offerings (The Galley, Latitude 41°, the Bake Shop, and Schaefer’s Spouter Tavern), we will offer food and drink for purchase on the Village Green, as well as a beverage and light snack station in the Shipyard.

Watch Online

For those who cannot join us July 21, we will be offering online video feed of the launch beginning at 1:45 pm EDT. The entire ceremony and launch will also be available for on-demand viewing afterwards.