A century-old ship called the "Peking" has left New York for her parent country, Germany. It is to be restored to serve as an exhibit at a planned maritime museum in Hamburg.
The Peking departed from a pier at the South Street Seaport Museum in New York on Wednesday. The 115-meter (377-foot) ship was pulled by two barges to a dock in Staten Island from where it will cross the Atlantic next spring.
In Hamburg, the vessel will undergo a $25 million restoration.
"The Peking is an important witness of the maritime history of Hamburg ... We will bring her back to her old glory," Joachim Kaiser of the Hamburg Maritim foundation told reporters.
The Peking was built in 1911 of riveted steel, with its tallest mast reaching 170 feet. In its heyday, the vessel made 34 trips around Cape Horn in South America, ferrying guano, which was used for making fertilizers and explosives. After it was retired in 1933, the ship served as a cargo ship, a vessel for training the German navy and as an English floating maritime school.
The Seaport Museum saved it from being scrapped in 1974. Anchored at the Seaport Museum near New York's Brooklyn Bridge, the Peking became a part of the city's skyline.
"The best part of the story for me is that the Peking was headed to be scrapped when the museum purchased her and we've kept her alive for 42 years," said the museum's executive director, Jonathan Boulware.
The Peking was in dire straits again in 2016, especially after Hurricane Sandy ravaged New York. But Hamburg, which had been clamoring for the boat's return, managed to save it at the end.
The Seaport Museum is, meanwhile, preparing for another ship, the Wavertree, to return from restoration on September 24. Nearly 100 meters long, she was built of wrought iron in England in 1885.
"It's the right ship for New York so we're bringing back an appropriate ship in excellent condition," Boulware told journalists. "In the early 20th century, the Wavertree is the kind of ship you would have seen in South Street Seaport every day of the week," he added.
mg/sms (dpa, AP)