Connected \\ April 19, 2019

Renewing our Friendship

Renewing our Friendship

© 2019 Peabody Essex Museum. Photography by Bob Packert

Following an absence of approximately 1,000 days from her home port, Salem’s beloved three-masted Friendship—a reconstruction of a Salem East Indiaman built in 1797—is expected to return to Salem after undergoing extensive repairs to the hull and stern.

salem harbor
© 2019 Peabody Essex Museum. Photography by Bob Packert

At the time she was built, in the mid-1990s, Friendship was the largest wooden, Coast Guard certified, sailing vessel to be built in New England in more than a century. The replica is based on PEM’s 1804 model of the original, which will be on view in the museum’s new Maritime gallery, opening in September. Maritime enthusiasts can embark on a day of making connections, seeing the model at PEM and then going to visit the ship at the National Park Service's Salem Maritime National Historic Site.

ship model of Friendship

Thomas Russell. 1780–1817, United States and Mr. Odell. Active late 1700s–early 1800s, United States Model of the 1797 ship Friendship, about 1804. Wood, cordage, and bronze. Gift of William Story, about 1804. Courtesy of the Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Massachusetts.

For generations, PEM's model of the ship Friendship has been the treasured centerpiece of Salem's seafaring heritage based on trade with Asia,” says Dan Finamore, the Russell W. Knight Curator of Maritime Art and History. “Built by sailors on board the ship as it sailed to Indonesia and China, the enormous model was so accurately detailed that, in recent times, an entire ship was built from it. Now that ship has become the centerpiece, not only for the million annual visitors to Salem, but also for all of us who live here and walk along the waterfront. Nothing can replicate the feeling of stepping on board and imagining a departure from our harbor.

The ship left Derby Wharf on July 5, 2016 and her return is met with much anticipation. The journey could take up to four hours from Gloucester Marine Railways, where she has been for the last three years. The exact date of her return is to be determined by the completion of repairs, as well as wind and weather conditions and the pull of the current beautiful full moon on the tides. A high tide allows for safe passage through Salem Harbor.

the Friendship in salem harbor

© 2019 Peabody Essex Museum. Photography by Bob Packert

According to the National Park Service, the ship could return as soon as Monday afternoon. When she is safely home at Derby Wharf, the park will host a small welcome celebration, complete with a speech by Captain Jeremy Bumagin, live music, a ceremonial toast to Neptune and a chance for the public to explore the top deck. The first floor of Pedrick's Store House (the Sail Loft) will also be open to the public from 1 to 6 pm as an interpretive space to learn about working on Friendship.

George Ropes (American, 1788–1819), Friendship, 1805, Oil on canvas, Salem, Massachusetts, 32 1/2 x 50 3/4 inches (82.55 x 128.905 cm), Gift of Mrs. Elizabeth C. Cook, 1913, M1729, Courtesy of the Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Massachusetts.

When the ship arrives, she will be without her magnificent masts and rigging. This is because work is continuing. Soon, a major project will begin to replace the main deck while the ship is at Derby Wharf. The design, construction and maintenance through the years has run at least $18 million, but the price tag is worth it, says Paul DePrey, Superintendent at Salem Maritime.

“We have this wonderful asset that has been cared for by so many people for so long,” says DePrey. “It’s not a historic vessel, but it’s definitely an iconic vessel. This is a responsibility all of us share to take care of this investment.”

This also means improving community programming on the ship, which provides a great classroom for maritime skills training, and sailing the ship about ten days each year. DePrey envisions the National Park Service using a lottery system for people to sign up to be passengers on Friendship, much like someone would sign up to hike certain trails within the NPS system.

When PEM’s new maritime art gallery opens this fall, the iconic model will be accompanied by a logbook from Friendship’s first voyage. Israel Putnam was the captain at the time and the logbook was kept by 1stMate, William Story, who was captain of Friendship during the voyage a few years later when the model of the ship was made. In conjunction with the logbook there will be a touchscreen interactive that will visually display the course of Friendship's maiden voyage using the coordinates provided in the log. Visitors will be able to see where the ship’s recorded location was on any day and learn about highlights of the trip, such as ports visited and events at sea.

Ship Friendship logbook

Ship Friendship logbook, 1805-1806, Log 3011, Phillips Library, Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Mass.

Our own Senior Photographer Bob Packert was on Derby Wharf for Friendship's Return.

Friendship in salem harbor

Photography by Bob Packert/PEM.

friendship in salem harbor

Photography by Bob Packert/PEM.


Photography by Bob Packert/PEM.


Photography by Bob Packert/PEM.

friendship of salem

Photography by Bob Packert/PEM.

IMAGE AT TOP: Friendship in full sail. Courtesy National Park Service.

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