Mayflower II at State Pier in Plymouth, Massachusetts, 2006
|Builder:||Upham Shipyard, Brixham, Devon|
|Laid down:||July 27, 1955|
|Launched:||September 22, 1956|
|Christened:||by Stewart Upham & Reis Leming|
|General characteristics |
|Displacement:||238 long tons (242 t)|
|Beam:||25 ft 6 in (7.77 m)|
|Draft:||13 ft (4.0 m)|
|Sail plan:||4-masted ship|
|Armament:||2 × 3-pounder minion stern chasers|
Mayflower II is a replica of the 17th-century ship Mayflower, celebrated for transporting the Pilgrims to the New World. The replica was built in Devon, England during 1955–1956, in a collaboration between Englishman Warwick Charlton and Plimoth Plantation, an American museum. The work drew upon reconstructed ship blueprints held by the American museum, along with hand construction by English shipbuilders' using traditional methods. Mayflower II was sailed from Plymouth, Devon on April 20, 1957, recreating the original voyage across the Atlantic Ocean, under the command of Alan Villiers. According to the ship's log, Mayflower II was towed up the East River into New York City on Monday, July 1, 1957. Afterwards, Villiers and crew received a ticker-tape parade in New York City.
The ship was built at the Upham Shipyard in Brixham and financed by private donations in England and the Plimouth Plantation. It represented the alliance between the United Kingdom and the United States for collaboration during the Second World War. The ship is considered a faithful replica within a few details (electric lights added and ladder replaced with a lower-deck staircase), with solid oak timbers, tarred hemp rigging, and hand-coloured maps. It is 106 ft (32 m) long by 25 ft (7.6 m) wide, 236 tons displacement, 4 masts (mainmast, foremast, mizzen, sprit), and 6 sails.
The ship is seaworthy and sailed to Providence, Rhode Island in 2002. In December 2012, the Mayflower II was towed to dry dock at Fairhaven Shipyard in Fairhaven, Mass for Coast Guard inspection as well as repairs. The repairs took longer than originally planned because unexpected damage was discovered during the inspection. Repairs were eventually completed and the Mayflower II returned to her berth in Plymouth, Massachusetts, on August 7, 2013. In December 2015, the ship arrived at the at the Henry B. duPont Preservation Shipyard in Mystic, CT for restoration. The ship is expected to make its return to Plymouth in June 2016.
In August 1954, Warwick Charlton conceived the idea to construct a reproduction of the Mayflower to commemorate the wartime cooperation between the United Kingdom and the United States. He had served alongside many American allies in the North African theatre during World War II. Project Mayflower was created in 1955 to build a replica of the Mayflower in England and sail the ship to the United States as a symbol of Anglo-American friendship.
The project's sponsors wanted to ensure proper siting of the ship after it reached the United States. They were aware that earlier reproduction vessels had rotted away after interest in their initial voyages faded. Project Mayflower learned of the Plimoth Plantation museum, and John Lowe of Project Mayflower came to the United States in March 1955. He met with representatives of Plimoth Plantation to gain assistance in future berthing and exhibition of Mayflower II.
Plimoth Plantation had planned years earlier to add a replica of the Mayflower to its exhibits. In 1951, the museum had already commissioned plans for a Mayflower II from naval architect William A. Baker of MIT. Baker's detailed plans had been finished by the time that Project Mayflower announced its goals. A waterline model of the vessel's hull had also been built, but nothing more.
By the spring of 1955, the two organizations negotiated an agreement: in exchange for using Baker's design plans and advice, plus the Plimouth Plantations' guarantee to maintain and exhibit the vessel permanently, Project Mayflower agreed to build Mayflower II and sail it across the Atlantic, visiting various East Coast ports to exhibit the ship. The Project would then release it to Plimoth Plantation.
The construction of Mayflower II was conducted at the Upham shipyard in Brixham, Devonshire, England. The ship's keel was laid on July 27, 1955, and ship architect William A. Baker was sent by Plimoth Plantation to advise the builders and view the progress of the ship's construction.
The ship was replicated as accurately as possible, with carefully chosen English oak timbers, hand-forged nails, hand-sewn linen canvas sails, hemp cordage, and the Stockholm tar of the type used on 17th-century ships. Mayflower II has the brown hull and the dark-red strapwork ornamentation of 17th-century merchant ships, based on analysis of the traditional colors and designs of English merchant ships illustrated in Dutch and English paintings. Carved into the stern of Mayflower II is a blossom of a hawthorne or English mayflower. In England, the skills of elderly traditional workmen were employed to build a vessel that reflected Baker's detailed research which could sail the Atlantic as securely as the original ship.
The Mayflower II was launched on September 22, 1956, a rainy day. The ceremony was based on knowledge about christenings of 17th-century vessels. The ship was toasted from a gold loving cup that was afterward thrown into the water, and then quickly retrieved by an underwater diver, in the traditional manner. The ship slid gracefully down the ways to enter Brixham harbor with a large splash.
On April 20, 1957, Mayflower II began the solitary voyage across the Atlantic. For time and to avoid the risk of winter ice, the new ship took a more southerly route than the original Mayflower in September 1620, but otherwise the voyage was an accurate replication of a period ocean crossing. The weather cooperated; Mayflower II first sailed calm seas and then met a violent storm off Bermuda, common weather for a transatlantic crossing. She was commanded on her maiden voyage by Alan Villiers, and among the crew was Peter Padfield, who went on to become a naval historian.
In December 2012, the Mayflower II was towed to dry dock in Fairhaven Ship Yard in Fairhaven, MA, where shipbuilders and U.S. Coast Guard inspectors called for extensive repairs. This is the first in a number of scheduled repairs over the next 7 years to restore the Mayflower II to pristine condition for the 400th anniversary of Plymouth in 2020. Expected costs for these repairs are expected to exceed 2 million dollars.
The ship has been a popular attraction near Boston; it has become the site of national and state celebrations. On Thanksgiving 1970 (the 350th anniversary of Mayflower landing), members of the American Indian Movement (AIM) led by Russell Means seized Mayflower II in protest of the United States government's failure to abide by treaties with American Indians and its historically poor treatment of them.
- Ship replica (including a list of replicas)
- "Mayflower II is launched". British Pathé. 1956. Retrieved 7 October 2012.
- "Mayflower II". Society of Mayflower Descendants in the State of North Carolina. 2009. Retrieved 7 October 2012.
- "Press Kit - Mayflower X" (with history of the Mayflower), Plimoth Plantation Museum, 2004, Plimoth.org webpage: PlimothOrg-MayflowerBG.
- Peter Padfield biography at andrewlownie.co.uk, accessed 18 October 2015
- Official Site
- All about the Mayflower and Plymouth, UK
- Mayflower II Tour - My Big Adventure (72 Images)
- Cooke, Alistair (12 June 1957). "The Mayflower lands again". The Guardian. Retrieved 2008-06-12.
- "The Mayflower" Popular Mechanics, April 1957, pp. 90–91 cutaway drawing.
- Mayflower II repairs underway
- The Harwich Mayflower Project - A separate project building its own Mayflower replica