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Victorian-Era Ship Gets NY Restoration

Monday, October 3, 2016

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One of the last large wrought-iron ships ever built has made its way back to a New York maritime museum after 16 months of restoration work.

Wavertree, a 131-year-old iron ship that reportedly measures 279 feet in length, has belonged to South Street Seaport Museum since 1968. It was sent away in May 2015 for restoration at a shipyard in Staten Island after having sat on a Manhattan dock for decades, a symbol of New York City’s shipping history.

Now it’s back on the East River at the so-called “street of ships,” and as The New York Times reports, its return symbolizes a comeback for the museum as well.

Ship History

Wavertree was built in 1885 in Southampton, England, for R.W. Leyland and Company, and served as a cargo ship, originally carrying jute between India and Scotland, according to the museum. Originally called Southgate, the three-masted ship is the largest of its kind still afloat today.

The ship underwent a restoration in 2000, in what the museum said amounted to the largest ship restoration in the United State at that time, running more than $1 million. But that was a small job compared with this year’s $13 million restoration, performed, according to the Times, at Staten Island’s Caddell Dry Dock and Repair Co. Inc.

The restoration included the replacement of steel plates below the waterline, a new ballast system, updated electrical systems, and coating work that includes a cathodic protection system, according to reports.

Caddell, founded in 1903, is described as a full-service ship repair facility, with carpentry, welding, blasting, painting and other related services. It has eight dry docks, ranging from 176 feet to 425 feet in length.

Overcoming Troubles

South Street Seaport Museum was founded in 1967 and has built its fleet of ships in the decades since, but hit hard times after damage from Hurricane Sandy in 2012 and financial trouble in recent years.

The huge restoration for Wavertree was funded by money from New York City’s Department of Cultural Affairs, city council and Manhattan’s borough president, reports say.

As the Times reports, the museum also put together grants from the Federal Emergency Management Agency ($11.6 million), Lower Manhattan Development Corporation ($4.8 million), and New York City ($4 million) for repairs to its facilities, and with the return of the newly restored Wavertree, the floating institution appears to be back on solid ground.


Tagged categories: Cathodic protection; Historic Preservation; Ships and vessels

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