Charles W. Morgan Ship

Mystic, Connecticut | C.1841

Photo Credit: Accidentally Wes Anderson

The Charles W. Morgan (also known as the Morgan) is a whaling ship who is the last standing — or should we say floating? — of a whaling fleet of 2,700 ships. Her resume is impressive to say the least. She is the oldest American commercial ship still afloat. Her 80-year career as a whaling ship saw 37 voyages, most of which lasted three years or more.

The Morgan is known as a “lucky ship,” and a look at what she’s endured certainly gives that moniker legitimacy. The Morgan has survived voyages through Arctic ice, numerous storms, sailing around Cape Horn, and the Hurricane of 1938. Oh, and her crew saved a crewman from a burning ship, took in five Russian convicts escaping a forced labor camp, survived a cannibal attack… and she did all this while continually returning home with significant profit for her owners.

In 1966, by order of the Secretary of the Interior, the Morgan was designated as a national historic landmark. She arrived at the Mystic Seaport Museum in 1941 and has since hosted 20 million visitors. She didn’t hang up her boots (sails?) after that, though: on May 17, 2014, the Morgan left for her 38th voyage. She sailed to New England ports for three months to raise awareness of the United States’ maritime history and drew attention to problems related to ocean conservation and sustainability.

Julia Roberts is not the only star to draw attention to a Mystic institution; the Morgan starred in films including Miss Petticoat, Down to the Sea in Ships, and Java Head. Julia was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award for Mystic Pizza, but with all due respect to Julia, “independent spirit” actually suits the Morgan perfectly.

Written By: Ellie Hoffman

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