After being covered up for over a year and a half, and closed to the public, the Flagship Niagara will once again raise its masts.
Sen. Dan Laughlin says, initially, local legislators were told the ship would be covered up all season because of the COVID-19 pandemic. While the cover can come off, a lot of work needs to be done before the public can step on board.
As CDC guidelines loosened this spring, Sen. Laughlin and other local legislators reached out to the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission to see if they could at least get the ship uncovered for the summer season. This time, they got a yes.
“Clearly, having the Niagara back in Erie and being able to be visited and toured is really good for our port and local tourism and local hotels. People come from all around to view the Niagara and its just great to have it in the home port.” Sen. Laughlin said.
While the cover can come off, the Flagship Niagara League has its work cut out for them. A Coast Guard inspection needs to be scheduled and a lot of maintenance needs to be done.
“When a ship has a crew, the ship is taken care of on a regular basis. When the ship does not have a crew, when it’s uncovered, a lot of that work is not happening.” said William Sabatini.
Sabatini says the Flagship Niagara is important to the City of Erie.
“The Niagara is iconic to Erie, there is so much as who we are as a city and who we are as a region that is tied to the Niagara and the building of the fleet here in Erie back in 1812 to 1813.” Sabatini said.
Sabatini says there is no time frame yet when the cover can be taken off, but plans are underway. Sen. Laughlin says he is working with the PHMC to get enough funding to rebuild the ship or build a new one.