, Salem, MA

Local News

May 20, 2013

Preserving a Friendship

Repairs to Salem's historic vessel are ongoing


“We’re choosing not to sail because we don’t know how bad it is,” Bumagin said. “... The prudent choice is not to.”

Depending on a number of factors, including finances, the Friendship’s next sail could be summer 2015, he said.

The Coast Guard has de-activated Friendship’s certification to carry passengers at sea during the repairs; Bumagin said he expects the certification to be reinstated after the 2014 haul out.

Friendship has had five haul outs in its 15-year history, said Bumagin.

This year marks the first time they’ve had hull carpentry done while keeping the ship in Salem. The park service has made a conscious decision to do as much repair work in Salem as possible — both as a money-saving tactic but also to allow visitors to see the work being done, said Jonathan Parker, public information officer for the National Park Service.

Ongoing ship repairs would have been part of Derby Wharf life in centuries past, Parker said.

“Having (Friendship) here and visible is great, and better for everyone,” he said. “... The goal is to have Friendship available to the public and as accessible as possible.”

“We’re doing every bit of work we can do in Salem, in Salem,” Bumagin said. “The biggest reason is so we can keep it open for programming ... We’ve made a decision to change the way we do (repairs), and it’s worked out quite well.”

Finding problem spots — where water seeps in and eventually causes rot — proves difficult because Friendship has a four layer hull. Deterioration is sometimes seen on the exterior, but not the interior, or vice versa, or sometimes it’s inside the hull and can’t be seen until you pull layers away, said Bumagin.

“Finding the problem is quite a challenge,” he said.

The modern Friendship, built between 1996 and 2002 in a collaboration between the National Park Service and several community groups, is a replica of a merchant vessel launched in 1797.

The original Friendship sailed to India, China, South America, the Caribbean and Europe before she was captured as a prize of war by the British sloop of war HMS Rosamond in September 1812.

Bethany Bray can be reached at and on Twitter @SalemNewsBB.

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