W.O. Decker


W.O. Decker | 1930 Wooden Tugboat

W.O. Decker can be viewed at her berth at Pier 16 | Decker is available for film and public appearances
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The last surviving, New York built, wooden steam tugboat (later refit 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. The tugboat was donated to the Seaport Museum in 1986, and was refit with a diesel engine. 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.

2017 Restoration Update!

The South Street Seaport Museum is undertaking the preservation of the treasured tugboat W.O. Decker. This restoration will allow here to take students and visitors on educational excursions around New York Harbor, help in the training of maritime students, and serve as a functioning tugboat for the Museum’s fleet of historic vessels. Though the watertight integrity of the exterior decking of Decker remains mostly intact, the framing and structural timbers supporting the deck, deckhouse and pilothouse are significantly decayed. Decker is in need of a major refit to stop her deterioration, preserve her for generations to come, and reactivate her as an educational platform for New York and the South Street Seaport Museum.

A rehabilitated Decker would not only be an asset for local communities, but would be able to participate in an exciting state-wide celebration, planned for 2018. The Seaport Museum will collaborate with the Corning Museum of Glass for an upcoming celebration of the 150th anniversary of glassmaking coming to Corning from Brooklyn. Corning’s GlassBarge celebration will retrace the 1868 journey on the Hudson River, Erie Canal and the canal system of New York State to commemorate when Brooklyn Flint Glass Works moved from Brooklyn Heights to Corning, New York. This exciting 30-city, statewide journey on New York State waterways is planned for May through September 2018, stretching from Brooklyn Bridge Park to the shores of Seneca Lake in Watkins Glen. The W.O. Decker is the perfect, historic tug to accompany the GlassBarge on this voyage. We look forward to this collaboration and ask for your support of the rehabilitation of Decker so that she may make this journey!

How Can You Help?

Funds are needed to undertake this rehabilitation, so that Decker can assume her place in the waters of New York Harbor and beyond once again. The Museum has taken the first step–a generous donor has pledged to match funds donated to Decker’s rehabilitation dollar-for-dollar.

Your support of this project will help rehabilitate Decker and restore her to service in New York’s waterways. After her rehabilitation, she will once again take passengers and students on voyages of discovery for years to come. Her first planned trip with Corning’s GlassBarge will take her to 33 of the 62 counties in New York State and help raise awareness for the South Street Seaport Museum. Click the button below to make a donation to help support this project.