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Denis Sullivan leaving Milwaukee, Discovery World sells ship to Boston fleet

The Sailing Vessel Denis Sullivan, a 137-foot-tall flagship in Milwaukee, will set sail this fall, leaving the city for its new home in Boston.
DENIS SULLIVAN
Posted at 7:43 PM, Sep 15, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-16 10:00:13-04

MILWAUKEE — The Sailing Vessel Denis Sullivan, a 137-foot-tall flagship in Milwaukee, will set sail this fall, leaving the city for its new home in Boston.

Discovery World announced Thursday it has sold the tall ship to Boston's World Ocean School, a non-profit educational sailing organization founded in 2002. The ship will now pursue a new mission of connecting students to the natural environment. The non-profit provides students with at-sea opportunities.

Denis Sullivan will join the fleet this fall, but World Ocean School hopes to make return visits to Milwaukee. They also hope to Milwaukee youths will participate at its Boston and US Virgin Islands locations.

“We are excited to find a partner in World Ocean School that is well positioned to ensure the Denis Sullivan will continue to provide educational opportunities for students around the world and further the ship’s original mission," Discovery World CEO Bryan Wunar said.

The ship is the world's only re-creation of a 19th-century Great Lakes cargo schooner. For years the ship has served as an educational vessel to the Great Lakes and the world's oceans.

According to Sail Training International, Denis Sullivan was completed in Milwaukee in 2000 by professional shipwrights and nearly 1,000 volunteers. The vessel can carry up to 50 passengers on day sails and 21 overnight, and also has a professional crew of 10.

The Lakefront staple experienced financial struggles during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020. Discovery World made cutbacks that year, including letting the last two remaining crew, the ship's captain and chief mate go. The ship went into the winter without her caretakers and in fear that she would never sail again. Officials said in 2020 that maintaining a boat of the size and age of Denis Sullivan cost the museum roughly $500,000 annually.

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