Falls of Clyde is the last surviving iron-hulled, four-masted full-rigged ship, and the only remaining sail-driven oil tanker. Designated a U.S. National Historic Landmark in 1989, she is now a museum ship in Honolulu, but her condition has deteriorated. She is currently not open to the public. In September 2008, ownership was transferred to a new nonprofit organization, the Friends of Falls of Clyde. Efforts to raise $1.5 million to get the ship into drydock did not succeed. In November 2021 HDOT accepted a bid from Save Falls of Clyde – International (FOCI) to transport the ship to Scotland for restoration.

Falls of Clyde
Falls of Clyde at Honolulu in 2008
NameFalls of Clyde
NamesakeFalls of Clyde, Lanarkshire
Port of registry
BuilderRussell & Co, Port Glasgow
Yard number17
Launched12 December 1878
Completed13 February 1879
IdentificationIMO number8640313
StatusMuseum ship
General characteristics
TypeIron-hulled sailing ship
Tonnage1,807 GRT, 1,741 NRT
Length266.1 ft (81.1 m)
Beam40.0 ft (12.2 m)
Depth23.5 ft (7.2 m)
Sail plan4-masted full-rig
NotesFigurehead: a maiden
Falls of Clyde (Four-masted oil tanker)
Falls of Clyde (ship) is located in Oahu
Falls of Clyde (ship)
Falls of Clyde (ship) is located in Hawaii
Falls of Clyde (ship)
LocationPier 7, Honolulu Harbor, Hawaii
Coordinates21°18′20.5″N 157°51′54″W / 21.305694°N 157.86500°W / 21.305694; -157.86500
ArchitectWilliam Lithgow
NRHP reference No.73000659[1]
Significant dates
Added to NRHP2 July 1973
Designated NHL11 April 1989
Removed from NRHP2 February 2024

History edit

Russell and Company built Falls of Clyde in Port Glasgow, Renfrewshire, Scotland.[2] She was launched as the first of nine iron-hulled four-masted ships for Wright and Breakenridge's Falls Line.[3] She was named after the Falls of Clyde, a group of waterfalls on the River Clyde, and built to the highest standard for general worldwide trade, Lloyd's Register A-1. Her maiden voyage took her to Karachi, then in British India, and her first six years were spent engaged in the India trade. She then became a tramp pursuing general cargo such as lumber, jute, cement, and wheat from ports in Australia, California, India, New Zealand, and the British Isles.

1896 painting of Falls of Clyde, when she was a British merchant ship

After twenty-one years as a British merchant ship, Falls of Clyde was bought for US$25,000 by Captain William Matson of the Matson Navigation Company, taken to Honolulu in 1899, and registered under the Hawaiian flag. When the Republic of Hawaii was annexed by the United States in 1900, it took a special act of the United States Congress to secure the foreign-built ship the right to sail as an American flag vessel.[citation needed]

To economize on crew, Matson rigged Falls of Clyde down as a barque, replacing the five yards on her (jigger) mast with two more easily managed fore-and-aft sails. At the same time, he added a deckhouse, charthouse, and rearranged the after quarters to accommodate paying passengers. From 1899 to 1907, she made over sixty voyages between Hilo, Hawaii, and San Francisco, California, carrying general merchandise west, sugar east, and passengers both ways. She developed a reputation as a handy, fast, and commodious vessel, averaging 17 days each way on her voyages.[citation needed]

In 1907, the Associated Oil Company (later Tidewater Oil) bought Falls of Clyde and converted her to a bulk oil tanker with a capacity of 19,000 barrels (3,000 m3). Ten large steel tanks were built into her hull, and a pump room, boiler and generator fitted forward of an oil-tight bulkhead.[3] In this configuration she brought kerosene to Hawaii and returned to California with molasses for cattle feed.[citation needed]

In 1927, she was sold to the General Petroleum Company, her masts cut down, and converted into a floating fuel depot in Alaska. In 1959 she was bought by William Mitchell, who towed her to Seattle, Washington, intending to sell her to a preservation group. Mitchell's plan fell through and subsequent efforts by Karl Kortum, director of the San Francisco Maritime Museum, and Fred Klebingat, who had sailed in her as chief mate in 1915, to place her in Long Beach, California, or Los Angeles, California, were similarly disappointed.[citation needed]

In 1963, the bank holding the mortgage on Falls of Clyde decided to sell her to be sunk as part of a breakwater at Vancouver, British Columbia. Kortum and Klebingat aroused interest in the ship in Hawaii, and within days of the scheduled scuttling raised funds to buy the ship. At the end of October 1963, Falls of Clyde was taken under tow bound for Honolulu.[citation needed]

As a museum ship edit

Detail of Falls of Clyde's prow
Looking forward along the deck

Falls of Clyde was given to the Bishop Museum and opened to the public in 1968. In 1970 shipbuilder and industrialist Sir William Lithgow, the grandson of original 19th century designer William Lithgow, was engaged to assist in her restoration as a full-rigged ship. His Port Glasgow shipyard donated new steel masts, and topgallants, jib and spanker booms of Oregon pine.[3]

In 1973 the ship was entered into the National Register of Historic Places,[4] and declared a U.S. National Historic Landmark in 1989.[4][5]

In 1982 the ship was seriously damaged in Hurricane Iwa.[6] By 2008 she was in poor condition. Causes of the deterioration of the ship are multiple. The ship has not been dry docked for a long time. Sandblasting arguably damaged the ship. Preventive maintenance was not performed. The Bishop Museum, "has been accused of incompetence and dishonesty" for raising $600,000 to preserve the ship but then spending only about half that, and for other decisions on how the money that was spent.[7][8]

In 2008, the Bishop Museum announced plans to sink her by the end of the year unless private funds were raised for an endowment for her perpetual care.[9] In September 2008 the Bishop Museum was persuaded to transfer ownership to the non-profit group Friends of Falls of Clyde, which intended to restore her. Many artifacts and fixtures had previously been given away, taken, or otherwise disappeared on the assumption that the ship was to be scuttled.[10][11] $350,000 was obtained from the Robert J. Pfeiffer Foundation, but hoped-for federal funds under the "Save America's Treasures" program or other programs did not come through.[12] Each year,[13] the Foundation hoped to get her into drydock but did not succeed.[14] In June 2016 Harbors Division of the Hawaii Department of Transportation (HDOT) revoked the permit for her to moor at Pier 7, citing safety and security risks to port users.[15]

Restoration and repatriation efforts edit

Falls of Clyde in 2013, with her masts reduced in height

In August 2016 a group based in Glasgow, Scotland launched the Save Falls of Clyde – International (FOCI) Campaign, with a view to have her returned to Scotland where she was originally built. Initially, they answered a call for help from the charity known as the 'Friends of the Falls of Clyde' (FFOC) who owned and wanted to save the FOC from being scuttled. They put together a plan to get her back to Scotland attempting to work with HDOT and building and executing a plan.[6]

In February 2019 HDOT put the ship up for auction but did not receive any qualified bids.[16]

In July 2021 HDOT solicited bids for removal of the ship from Honolulu Harbor, and received two proposals in response. The Foundation challenged the Harbors Division's assessment of the ship, and says they never gave up ownership rights.[17]

In November 2021 HDOT accepted a bid from FOCI to transport the ship to either Greenock or Glasgow where it would be restored and returned to sea.[18] In March 2022 David O'Neill of FOCI said, "There's just a few legal and technical points to be ironed out, and then we will finalise the contract."[19] HDOT canceled the bid in May 2022 after they said FOCI failed to meet conditions of the contract.[20] The state has since begun the process of soliciting bids for scrapping the ship, and it has been delisted from the Hawaiʻi Register of Historic Places. Delistings from the National Register of Historic Places and National Historic Landmarks programs were pending in early January 2024.[21] The ship was delisted from the National Register on February 1, 2024.[22]

In popular culture edit

  • The ship appears as a filming location in Magnum, P.I., Season 2, Episodes 5 and 6, "Memories are Forever" (5 November 1981)[23] and Season 6, Episode 10, "Blood and Honor" (21 November 1985).[24]

References edit

  1. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 9 July 2010.
  2. ^ "Falls of Clyde". Scottish Built Ships. Caledonian Maritime Research Trust. Retrieved 19 August 2022.
  3. ^ a b c Carter, Robert (September 2008). "Notes on a Picture: Falls of Clyde". Australian Sea Heritage (93/94). Sydney, Australia: Sydney Maritime Museum Ltd: 59–61.
  4. ^ a b "Falls of Clyde (Sailing Oil Tanker)". National Park Service. Archived from the original on 1 March 2007. Retrieved 20 June 2008.
  5. ^ Delgado, James P. (15 July 1988). "National Historic Landmark Nomination: Falls of Clyde" (pdf). National Park Service. Retrieved 22 June 2009. and
    "Accompanying photos, exterior and interior, from 1986, 1988 and undated" (pdf). Retrieved 31 August 2012.
  6. ^ a b "Scottish Group Calls for Help to Save Historic Ship". The Maritime Executive. Retrieved 14 May 2020.
  7. ^ Pala, Christopher (18 October 2008). "Historic Ship Stays Afloat, for Now". The New York Times. Retrieved 19 October 2008.
  8. ^ Pala, Christopher (24 September 2008). "Falling into place". Honolulu Weekly. Archived from the original on 26 December 2010.
  9. ^ Hall, Sabrina (22 February 2008). "Falls of Clyde May Have Sinking Fate". KGMB9 News Hawaii. Archived from the original on 9 January 2009. Retrieved 2 March 2013.
  10. ^ Bernardo, Rosemarie (27 September 2008). "Museum to transfer historic ship". Honolulu Star-Bulletin. Retrieved 2 March 2013.
  11. ^ Mary Vorsino (1 December 2008). "Falls of Clyde artifacts missing". Honolulu Advertiser. Retrieved 7 March 2015.
  12. ^ Catherine Cruz (3 July 2012). "Steel-hulled sailing tanker Falls of Clyde faces funding challenges". KITV.com. Archived from the original on 2 April 2015. Retrieved 7 March 2015.
  13. ^ "Historic 'Falls of Clyde' has sights set on dry dock". Hawaii News Noew. 22 July 2012. Retrieved 7 March 2015.
  14. ^ Evelyn Hunter (11 August 2014). "Drydock". The Friends of Falls of Clyde website. Retrieved 7 March 2015.
  15. ^ "State 'evicts' Falls of Clyde from Honolulu Harbor, citing safety concerns". KHON2. 16 June 2016. Archived from the original on 18 June 2016. Retrieved 18 June 2016.
  16. ^ "The Falls of Clyde didn't sell at auction. Now what?". Hawaii News Now. March 2019. Retrieved 14 May 2020.
  17. ^ Nina Wu (3 August 2021). "State received 2 proposals in bid for removal of the Falls of Clyde from Honolulu Harbor". Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Retrieved 17 December 2023.
  18. ^ Ross Crae (21 November 2021). "Falls of Clyde: 143-year-old tall ship to finally return home for a new eco-friendly future". The Sunday Post. Retrieved 17 December 2023.
  19. ^ Martin Hannan (16 March 2022). "Falls of Clyde: Bid to bring ship home receives major boost". The National. Retrieved 17 December 2023.
  20. ^ "Update on status of Falls of Clyde". Department of Transportation. 3 May 2022. Archived from the original on 19 August 2022. Retrieved 19 August 2022.
  21. ^ "The End for the Falls of Clyde? Hawaii Seeking New Contractor to Remove Ship From Honolulu Harbor". The Old Salt Blog. Retrieved 4 February 2024.
  22. ^ "WEEKLY LIST OF ACTIONS TAKEN ON PROPERTIES: 1/26/2024 THROUGH 2/2/2024". National Park Service. Retrieved 4 February 2024.
  23. ^ "Memories are Forever (2)". Magnum-Mania.com. Retrieved 26 March 2015.
  24. ^ "Blood and Honor". Magnum-Mania.com. Retrieved 26 March 2015.

Further reading edit

  • Gibbs, Jim (1987). Pacific square-riggers: pictorial history of the great windships of yesteryear. West Chester, PA: Schiffer. p. 110. ISBN 0-88740-106-6. OCLC 17480667.
  • Heine, William C (1977). Historic ships of the world. New York: Putnam. ISBN 0-399-11957-4. OCLC 833913258.
  • Klebingat, Fred K (1972). Falls of Clyde. Menlo Park, CA: Oceans Magazine Co. OCLC 224258149.

External links edit