Steel bark moves to a new berth

Moshulu leaves Philadelphia waterfront after 25 years

May 24, 2001|By Joseph A. Gambardello | Joseph A. Gambardello,KNIGHT RIDDER/TRIBUNE

CAMDEN, N.J. -- The Moshulu is setting sail for Camden.

A fixture on the Philadelphia waterfront for most of its quarter-century on the Delaware River, the ship will make its new home at a pier between the New Jersey State Aquarium and the Campbell's Field minor-league baseball stadium, said Tom Corcoran, president of Cooper's Ferry Development Association.

Cooper's Ferry, which is overseeing redevelopment of the Camden waterfront, plans to ask the Delaware River Port Authority for $600,000 for work to prepare the pier to handle the 97-year-old, four-masted, 394-foot steel bark, the only one of its kind still afloat.

The Moshulu operated as a restaurant from 1975 until a fire damaged it in 1989. Plans originally called for it to be docked in Camden after its $6 million restoration, but it reopened at Philadelphia's Pier 34 in 1996 after Camden failed to make good on promised pier work.

The Moshulu has been closed since last May, when part of Pier 34 collapsed. The collapse killed three New Jersey State Aquarium employees attending a party at Heat, a club operated by the Moshulu's owners on the end of the dock.

The recent announcement sounded another positive but incomplete note for waterfront development in Camden.

The Moshulu is scheduled to arrive in Camden by early this fall, with the restaurant to open by next spring.

The ship is owned by HMS Ventures, a corporation run by restaurateur Eli Karetny, who had signaled a possible move to Camden before the pier collapsed. One of the corporation's main investors is Dorrance Hamilton, an heiress to the Campbell Soup fortune.

A Philadelphia judge has imposed a gag order on lawyers involved in 20 lawsuits filed in the pier collapse as well as on the Philadelphia district attorney's office, which had launched a grand jury investigation.

Vicki Scharfberg, vice president of marketing for the aquarium, said that while the tragedy of the Pier 34 collapse was still fresh for aquarium workers, they did not associate it with the Moshulu.

"The Mosholu was not involved in the accident. It just shared the pier, unfortunately," she said. The ship's presence would be a plus for the aquarium, she said, because it would give visitors another option for something to do.

"It's another positive sign that the future of the waterfront is ... just around the corner," Scharfberg said.

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