Reply To: The Oldest Vessel Afloat

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Frank Scott

In this context the term ‘Afloat’ can cover a multitude of sins.
Perhaps more useful terms would be: ‘fully seagoing’; ‘limited seagoing’, ‘harbour service only’, ‘afloat alongside’, ‘afloat in dock’.

For vessels that are ‘fully seagoing’, custom-built steel sail training ships have a phenomenal safety record, and many are still running after over a century of service. My own alma mater, Sørlandet, comes up for its centenary in 2027, and 53 years after I was a cadet in 1968 can be said to be wearing its years rather better than I am!

One of the oldest vessels to have ‘limited seagoing status’ is the whaler Charles W. Morgan, built in 1841. It was restored to seagoing status by Mystic Seaport Museum between 2008 and 2013, after having been a static exhibit for some 90 years. This restoration was an astonishing achievement, albeit a very expensive one, and although Charles W Morgan was licenced to conduct a three-month voyage along US East Coast in 2014, this was a ‘one-off’, and the vessel has reverted to a static exhibit since then.