Charles W. Morgan (ship)

Charles W. Morgan (Ship)

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Charles W. Morgan (ship)

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Charles W. Morgan was a U.S. whaleship during the 19th and early 20th century. Ships of this type usually harvested the blubber of whales for whale oil, which was commonly used in lamps during the time period. The ship is currently an exhibit at the Mystic Seaport museum in Mystic, Connecticut, and is the world's oldest surviving merchant vessel.


The ship is named for its original owner, a Quaker whaling merchant who ordered its construction from the shipbuilders Jethro and Zachariah Hillman of New Bedford, Massachusetts. The ship's maiden voyage began on September 6, 1841, with a journey around Cape Horn and cruised across the Pacific Ocean. Following the Morgan's initial three year and four month voyage, she came home with 1,600 barrels of sperm oil, 800 barrels of whale oil and 10,000 lbs of whalebone, known as baleen, which was worth around USD$56,000.

The hull and deck of Morgan reflected the three typical functions of a whale ship:
  • to serve as a mother ship to a fleet of small whaleboats, which are stored on the davits when not in use,
  • to serve as a factory and a refinery ship with tryworks for extracting oil from the whale blubber,
  • to serve as an oil tanker.

In her 80 years of service, she made 37 voyages ranging in length from nine months to five years. Charles W. Morgan, in total, brought home 54,483 barrels of sperm whale oil and 152,934 pounds of whalebone. She sailed in the Indian and South Atlantic Oceans, surviving ice and snow storms....
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