Shunned By Her Hometown, Historic Ship May Be Scrapped

peking ship south street seaport

101 years ago the steel-hulled four-masted barque Peking, one of the last windjammers ever built, was launched at Blohm & Voss shipyard in Hamburg, Germany. She worked mostly in the nitrate and wheat trades around South America’s treacherous Cape Horn, but also saw service against her home nation during World War II while serving in the Royal Navy as HMS Pekin.

Tall Ship Wavertree
The tall ship Wavertree, one of the 11 ships owned by the South Street Seaport Museum.  Photo courtesy of the South Street Seaport Museum

In 1975, the Peking was retired and moored at New York’s South Street Seaport Museum where it was hoped she would find a permanent home.  37 years later, and plagued by high maintenance costs, the Museum now needs to get rid of her.

According to the New York Times, the Museum of the City of New York took over the beleaguered Seaport museum last September and with a $2 million grant from the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, the City Museum was given 18-months to evaluate the future of its historic ships.

The clock is ticking

Susan Henshaw Jones, President of the Seaport Museum, told the Wall Street Journal that she will hear proposals from anyone with a berth for the old ship. The most obvious choice may be her hometown of Hamburg, however after mulling over the proposal, the city has since declined.  Now museum officials are distressed in their search for someone, anyone, who will accept the vessel.

“The ultimate alternative, which is to scrap her, it’s unthinkable,” Jones concluded.