MYSTIC, Conn. (WTNH) — Over the next two years about fifty percent of the wood on the Mayflower II is going to be replaced, much of it in the ship’s hull. 

In a nearby shed, a shipwright uses an electric planer to reshape wood from a tree being used in the restoration. Piece by piece the framing and other structural sections are handcrafted to recreate those being replaced.

Shipwrights from Mystic Seaport where the Mayflower II sailed into port last fall are working side by side with workers from Plimouth Plantation which owns this reproduction of the ship which brought the Pilgrims to Massachusetts in 1620.

“It was given to America as a gift of appreciation from the English for our help and cooperation during World War II,” explained Whit Perry, the Director of Marine Preservation and Operations for Plimouth Plantation.

The Mayflower II built in 1957 is now sixty years old and in need of repair. To get it ready for the 400th commemoration of the Pilgrims’ arrival at Plymouth the ship now sits under a huge tent and is held up by massive I-beams.

“If we didn’t have the support and we took certain sections of the keel out the ship would have a tendency due to its weight to slump or fall away,” said Matt Barnes, the Lead Shipwright with Mystic Seaport.

Among the wood used to rebuild the ship are live oaks from Belle Chasse, Louisiana. The southern oaks grow strong and curved and are perfect for shipbuilding.

“We like to try to fashion out curved pieces up in the ship using the natural turn of the way the tree grew,” said Perry.

Many of the trees come from Sam Bordelon’s Gulf Coast property which was cleared for a power line right of way. Others are from Mississippi and Europe.

“For the landowners to be able to donate the trees to the Mayflower II to know that it’s going into an iconic historic ship like this means a lot to them,” said Perry.

The restoration is expected to be complete in the Spring of 2019 and that’s when the Mayflower II is set to sail back to Plymouth, Massachusetts. The 400th anniversary of the Pilgrim’s arrival will be commemorated in 2020.