NEW YORK, NY.- South Street Seaport Museum announced
the commencement of the restoration of the 1930 Tugboat W.O. Decker, with the receipt of a $200,000 Maritime Heritage Grant from the National Park Service. In partnership with the U.S. Department of Transportation's Maritime Administration (MARAD), the National Park Service awarded grants for projects that teach about and preserve sites and objects related to our nation's maritime history.
"Protecting our nation's maritime history is an important part of the National Park Service's mission to share America's story," said Acting National Park Service Director Michael T. Reynolds. "These grants will support efforts to conserve important parts of our maritime history and educate students of all ages."
Capt. Jonathan Boulware, Executive Director of the Seaport Museum, spoke enthusiastically about the tugboat and the project:"W.O. Decker is the last surviving New York-built wooden tugboat and a key part of our fleet of ships that tell the story of Where New York Begins. We've been working toward this project for years, and at last we are ready to proceed! Paired with a generous $200,000 challenge grant from George A. Matteson, author of the book Tugboats of New York, this National Parks grant gets W.O. Decker to the shipyard. While the actual project budget will exceed the $400,000 in hand, these two funds will get the project started and take care of the bulk of the work."
When complete, Decker will once again be an active part of the Museum's fleet, both as a passenger vessel and educational platform carrying students and visitors on New York Harbor, and as a working tug serving the needs of the Museum's fleet.
The last surviving, New York-built, wooden steam tugboat (later refitted with a diesel engine.) W.O. Decker was built in 1930 by the Newtown Creek Towing Company and originally named Russell I, after the towing company's owners. She was renamed W.O. Decker in 1946 after being sold to the Decker family's Staten Island tugboat firm and was donated to the Seaport Museum in 1986. Decker is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is an exemplary model of the types of steam tugs that were once an abundant sight in New York Harbor. This unique vessel is a true testament to New York City's maritime heritage, which is a direct factor in the city's global prominence today.