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South Street Seaport Museum’s Tall Ship Wavertree
Sets Sail for Staten Island, May 21, 2015

by Ted Scull and Stuart Gewirtzman

The South Street Seaport Museum’s tall ship WAVERTREE was built at Southampton, England in 1885 for R.W. Leyland & Company of Liverpool. One of the last large sailing ships built of wrought iron, she is today the largest such ship afloat. Her career included carrying jute between eastern India (now Bangladesh) and Scotland, carrying cargoes throughout the world in the tramp trades (including to New York), being dismasted off Cape Horn, and serving as a floating warehouse in Punta Arenas, Chile and as a sand barge in Buenos Aires, Argentina. In 1968 she was acquired by the South Street Seaport Museum.

The following photos were taken on May 21, 2015 as WAVERTREE departed her berth at Pier 15 on the East River for the Caddell Drydock and Repair Company shipyard on Staten Island to undergo $10.6 million of restoration work including replacement of 20 metal plates below the water line, installation of a new ballast system, restoration of the main deck and reinstallation of the ’tweendeck (the deck below the main deck and above the cargo holds).

For more information on the WAVERTREE and the other historic ships in the South Street Seaport Museum’s collection, visit the museum’s website at southstreetseaportmuseum.org.

Wavertree

1. WAVERTREE at Pier 15 with tugboat RAE (1952).

Wavertree

2. WAVERTREE departing Pier 15 with the Museum’s 1911 four-masted barque PEKING at Pier 16.

Wavertree

3. Historic fireboat JOHN J. HARVEY (1931) and tugboat ELIZABETH MCALLISTER (1967) standing by as WAVERTREE backs into the channel.

Wavertree

4. Tugboat RAE and the WAVERTREE with the Brooklyn Bridge as a backdrop.

Wavertree

Wavertree

Wavertree

7. Tugboats PELHAM (1960) and RAE guide the WAVERTREE into the channel as the THOMAS J. BROWN (1962) stands by.

Wavertree

8. Historic fireboat JOHN. J. HARVEY salutes the WAVERTREE. In the foreground is the New York Harbor School utility boat PRIVATEER.

Wavertree

9. Historic fireboat JOHN J. HARVEY was launched in 1931. A veteran of the NORMANDIE fire in 1942, she was retired from service with the FDNY in 1994, only to be reactivated on September 11, 2001 to help pump water at the World Trade Center site.

Wavertree

10. WAVERTREE starts downriver with tugboats PELHAM, RAE and THOMAS J. BROWN as tugboat SASSAFRAS (2008) passes in the background.

Wavertree

11. Heading downriver trailed by the fireboat JOHN J. HARVEY.

Wavertree

12. Passing Brooklyn Heights led by tugboats RAE and ELIZABETH MCALLISTER.

Wavertree

13. WAVERTREE and her escorts pass the South Street Seaport Museum’s 1885 schooner PIONEER.

Wavertree

14. The fireboat JOHN J. HARVEY, schooner PIONEER and the WAVERTREE off Brooklyn Heights.

Wavertree

15. Spectators on Pier 15 watch the passing flotilla.

Wavertree

16. WAVERTREE and her escorts approach Governors Island.

Wavertree

17. The South Street Seaport Museum’s 1885 schooner PIONEER, the only iron-hulled American merchant sailing vessel still in existence.

Wavertree

18. FDNY fireboats BRAVEST and FIRE FIGHTER II (at left) join the JOHN J. HARVEY in saluting
the WAVERTREE as she approaches Governors Island.

Wavertree

19. The WAVERTREE off Governors Island.

Wavertree

20. View of the schooner PIONEER returning to her berth at Pier 16 from WAVERTREE’S now vacant berth at Pier 15.