One of Hawaii's great ships faces uncertain future

Blaire Collis
Blaire Collis

By Howard Dashefsky - bio | email

HONOLULU (KHNL) - The dismantling of one of Hawaii's great treasures continues at Honolulu Harbor.

Works crews are bringing down the topsails and rigging of the Falls of Clyde.

What remains to be seen, is if this is the ship's final fall from grace.

A broken down shell of it's former self, the Falls of Clyde heads for an uncertain future.

The ship that was first brought to Honolulu by Captain William Matson in 1899, now shows signs of old age, that may be far beyond repair.

We have contracted a well noted derigger, a historic ship derigger," said Blaire Collis with the Bishop Museum. "They are going to be taking down the rig. So all of the top masts, gallons and spas that make up the rig will be disassembled and placed on deck."

An assessment of the Falls of Clyde last year concluded with the recommendation the rigging come down for safety reasons.

A martime surveyor also suggested it would cost upwards of $30 million to restore the ship.

A number that suggested that its end was near.

"Actually we had put in a deadline of mid-year as a sense of urgency so that people would respond," said Collis.

But none did. And the Bishop Museum simply does not have the kind of funds needed to restore the ship to her former glory.

"We have moved forward with the process of finding someone who had the necessary skills to perform this specific task," said Collis. "We are at that point where we are taking it down."

Once the derigging is complete, the Falls of Clyde will be stripped of all remaining materials, so it's hull can be reinforced to to stabilize the ship that is listing to one side.

The only questions that remains is: what now happens to the ship that was decommissioned 50 years ago?

"We always remain hopeful we are talking to people now about potentially a new care taker for the vessel," said Collis.

The derigging of the Falls of Clyde is expected to continue through August.