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PHMC announces repair plans for Brig Niagara, hopes to be ready by 2025

PHMC announces repair plans for Brig Niagara, hopes to be ready by 2025

(WJET/WFXP) — The Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC) has announced that they have created a two-phase plan to complete all necessary repairs to the American Brig Niagara. They say everything will be done in time to celebrate America’s 250th birthday.

The PHMC announced Wednesday that repairs to the Niagara’s structure, planking and systems are needed. The repairs will likely take place at a shipyard in Cleveland.


The PHMC also said they are in discussions with former captains Walter Rybka and Wesley Heerssen to assist with plans while the vessel awaits transport.

Phase one of the repairs will consist of replacing the ship’s two propellers, one of which broke off in 2023 and ended the season. Engine improvements will also be made. In cooperation with the Coast Guard, work is underway to obtain the necessary assessments and approvals.

The PHMC said the Niagara requires two custom-made, five-blade, variable-pitch propellers, placing the estimated shipyard date at the end of August this year. They expect phase one to take one to two weeks.

There a professional maritime inspector will conduct a sub-waterline survey as part of an ongoing comprehensive survey of Niagaracurrent mechanical and maintenance requirements. This survey will then enable them to plan for the second, larger shipyard phase.

Niagara has played a significant role in Erie’s history and is an integral part of its identity,” said Melissa Mann, PHMC’s director of historic sites and museums. “She inspires Pennsylvanians and draws visitors to the Erie region. PHMC’s Erie Maritime Museum staff and professional maritime advisors have worked tirelessly to prepare for Niagara‘s upcoming shipyard experiences. We look forward to making the necessary repairs to return Niagara to sail on the Great Lakes.”

While the full extent of the repairs needed will not be known until Niagara is taken to a shipyard, PHMC said the second phase of repairs will include at least the following:

  • Stabilization of the bow/stem structure of the ship
  • Replacement of deteriorated hull planking
  • Remediation of wood rot above the waterline, including woodwork along waterways, gun ports and other planking and frameworks.
  • Replacement of the deck if necessary and re-sealing of the entire deck
  • Improvements to the electrical system and installation of new generators
  • Plumbing Upgrades
  • Pump replacement and upgrade

JET 24/FOX 66 will continue to report on the status of the American Brig Niaga as information becomes available.