Coast Guard Saves Schooner Ernestina

Coast Guard Saves Schooner Ernestina

Natalia Cooper

Students in a hands-on program based at UMass Boston recently got more sea experience than they bargained for when the teaching boat Ernestina required an emergency rescue by the US Coast Guard. On July 24, just two days after its initial departure, the ship began taking on water off the Connecticut coast. A seam between two planks near the keel sprang a leak.

The Associated Press reported that at 7:30 am that day, the crew of the historic ship sent an emergency call to the Coast Guard. According to reports detailing the incident, the flooding reached heights of 3 feet in the bow of the ship, and 6 to 8 feet in the stern.

The Coast Guard sent two boats from New London, Connecticut and a helicopter from Cape Cod to assist the ailing ship. The help arrived within half an hour of the mayday call. With the use of water pumps, the crew of a 41-foot rescue boat from New London were able to stabilize the 114-foot tall ship Ernestina.

The schooner was then escorted to Greenport, New York on the Eastern end of Long Island. Eight people were removed from the ship at first, but were returned when it was decided that the Ernestina was safe enough to carry them to Greenport.

On July 22, participants boarded the Ernestina in New Bedford to begin a week- long trip down the New England coast. On board along with the 15-member crew, were 13 students from the UMass summer course “Exploring the Coastal Environment.” The course boasts six undergraduate credits for two courses. The interdisciplinary program presents historical and geographic perspectives on such topics as whaling, trade, and regional maritime history. Jack Looney, director of the summer program involving the ship, told The Mass Media that Ernestina has been the site of a field laboratory for physical oceanography, ma

ritime history and marine resources.

According to , the ship is still docked in Greenport, New York. The crew is “working on a plan for transit back to New Bedford to haul out.” The site goes on to explain, “The rescue effort is not over. This comes at a busy time of year for Ernestina and will trigger the loss of programs while we expend funds to make sure there is never a reoccurrence.” The crew has been working to evaluate the damage to the ship and figure out how long she will be out of commission.

Programs are cancelled through at least August 9. An evaluation is planned for Monday, August 5 to determine the schedule of programs for the rest of August.

The Ernestina was built in Essex, Massachusetts in 1894. In the years following, the ship was used as a fishing vessel, an exploration boat to the Arctic, and most recently, a floating classroom. In 1990, the Ernestina gained National Historic Landmark status. In 1991, the ship survived the weather pattern that was detailed in the book and film, “The Perfect Storm.”

In 1994, the Ernestina received a certificate of inspection from the U.S. Coast Guard for operation as a sailing school vessel and as a passenger-carrying vessel. It is also the official vessel of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.