The two-masted warship Niagara is formally called a replica of the flagship from which Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry defeated an entire Royal Navy squadron during the War of 1812. But the ship’s current captain, Wesley Heerssen, calls the brig that contains pieces of the original ship the “third reconstruction since 1813,” The Plain Dealer reported.
The Niagara put into the Great Lakes Shipyard in Cleveland on Tuesday from her homeport of Erie, Pa. Shipwrights at the shipyard on the Cuyahoga River sanded off a coating that protects the vessel below the waterline to allow a U.S. Coast Guard inspection that is required every few years.
Workers at the shipyard will rebuild the Niagara’s engine exhausts and a generator over the next week and have pulled off both of its 32-inch propellers so they could be shipped back to the manufacturer for re-balancing. Great Lakes installed auxiliary engines in the ship in 1992 and has said this week’s work also includes cleaning and painting the hull.
Heerssen said the Niagara has had a 20-year relationship with Great Lakes “because we didn’t really trust any other yard.”
Great Lakes also donated $10,000 for the work on the ship managed by Flagship Niagara League Inc., a private nonprofit, and the donation was needed after Pennsylvania cut funding, the newspaper reported.
“It doesn’t cover all of our dry-dock expenses but it goes a long way,” Heerssen said. Two hull planks also will be replaced but “we do the carpentry,” he said.
The Niagara is owned and maintained by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, a Pennsylvania state agency. It will be at the shipyard for at least another week before returning to Erie, Pa.
The brig is scheduled to sail around the Great Lakes next year with Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigates of the U.S. Navy. It also will be a star of the tall-ship gathering at Put-in-Bay in Lake Erie in 2013, for the bicentennial of Perry’s victory.
Information from: The Plain Dealer, http://www.cleveland.com
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