Charles W. Morgan
Charles W. Morgan is an American whaling ship built in 1841 whose active service period was during the 19th and early 20th centuries. Ships of this type were usually used to harvest the blubber of whales for whale oil, which was commonly used in lamps. The ship has served as a museum ship since the 1940s, and is now an exhibit at the Mystic Seaport museum in Mystic, Connecticut. She is the world's oldest surviving merchant vessel, and the only surviving wooden whaling ship from the 19th century American merchant fleet. She was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1966.
Charles W. Morgan arrived at Mystic Seaport in December 1941. The ship was declared a National Historic Landmark and listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1966. In 1971, the United States Postal Service issued a commemorative stamp honoring Charles W. Morgan.
For the first 30 years of the ship's life at Mystic Seaport, she was surrounded by a bed of sand to prevent her from sinking. Even so, she was open to the public and was the centerpiece of a recreated 19th Century maritime village museum inspired by Colonial Williamsburg. She is the only preserved 19th Century whaling ship in the world.
A restoration and preservation project was undertaken in 1968 which resulted in her being made seaworthy, and the sand bed was removed. Prior to the 1968 restoration, she had a wide white stripe on her sides painted with large black squares that resembled gun ports when viewed at a distance. This "camouflage" was often employed by 19th Century merchant ships to make them resemble warships so as to deter pirates and hostile navies.
In 2010, Mystic Seaport was engaged in a multimillion-dollar restoration, intended to restore the ship to seaworthy status. Charles W. Morgan was re-launched into the Mystic River on July 21, 2013, marking the 172nd anniversary of the vessel’s initial launch. During the summer of 2014, Charles W. Morgan sailed her 38th voyage on tour of New England seaports which included New London, Newport, Boston, and her home town of New Bedford.