Wooden ships like the Flagship Niagara normally require an extensive refit and rehabilitation at approximately twenty years. Even if they are well maintained, water seeps in through the deck, causing the wood of the topsides to soften and decay, and the fasteners to corrode.
The $4.8 million is coming from the Commonwealth’s Capital Budget for public improvement projects and will pay for materials and labor. The work will improve the Niagara’s safety and capabilities, while retaining its historic appearance and authenticity.
“Maintaining the Brig Niagara, preserves a sea-going legacy of American freedom and the sacrifices of the men who sailed her into battle almost 200 years ago,” said Gov. Tom Corbett. “This will keep her seaworthy but it is also an investment in the history of our great state, in the continuing, hands-on education of the young who can come here and walk her decks, examine her cannons and hear a story of freedom’s struggle.”
The re-fit will increase the Niagara’s stability. The depth of the vessel will be increased by twenty inches and approximately sixteen tons of internal ballast will be added. These changes will greatly improve its safety, allow it to meet stability regulations and improve its capabilities.
“We expect this refit to prolong the active service life of the ship by twenty to twenty five years, compared to maybe five or six, while making the ship safer and better able to carry out its mission,” said Walter Rybka, Administrator and Senior Captain of the U.S. Brig Niagara. “The design changes intended at this refit will have a small negative impact on authenticity, and a very large positive impact on safety,” he added.
Construction is expected to begin no later than 2016. Once the re-fit begins, the work should take approximately 15 to 18 months.
Detailed list of the work to be done to the Flagship Niagara is listed below:
· Complete re-building of the ship’s hull, incorporating additional wood structural components to improve strength and stability of the vessel.
· The depth of the vessel will be increased by twenty inches and approximately sixteen tons of internal ballast will be added. These changes will greatly improve its safety, allow it to meet stability regulations and improve its capabilities.
· Increase below-deck headroom to allow more functional use.
· Replace aging equipment, components and systems and install fuel and water storage tanks with higher capacity.
· Maintain historical appearance and authenticity to the greatest extent possible while accommodating needs for sailing the vessel. Virtually all above deck features/appearance would remain the same except for a higher freeboard/rail.
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