Hawai'i State News

A challenge for Honolulu Harbor’s Pier 7 redevelopment: What to do with historic Falls of Clyde?

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Falls of Clyde. (Wikipedia image)

The Hawaiʻi Department of Transportation is working to redevelop Honolulu Harbor’s Pier 7, which has been vacant and inactive for the past 14 years after Bishop Museum closed the Hawaiʻi Maritime Center.

A redevelopment challenge has been what to do with the Falls of Clyde, the historic vessel that was gifted to the museum and remains moored at Pier 7.

Before the transportation department can issue a new request for proposals for the vessel’s removal from the harbor, it must be delisted from the Hawaiʻi Register of Historic Places. The transportation department is in the process of doing this, although it said this step is not a reflection of the vessel’s important history.


Falls of Clyde is the last surviving iron-hulled, four-masted full-rigged ship, and the only remaining sail-driven oil tanker. It was designated a U.S. National Historic Landmark in 1989.

The boat was built in 1878. After 21 years as a British merchant ship, Falls of Clyde was bought for $25,000 by Captain William Matson of the Matson Navigation Company, taken to Honolulu in 1899, and registered under the Hawaiian flag, according to Wikipedia.

Falls of Clyde was scheduled to be sunk in 1963 as part of a breakwater in Vancouver, B.C., but funds were raised to save it and have it towed to Honolulu. It was given to the Bishop Museum and opened to the public in 1968. 


The transportation department said in a press release it has the obligation to ensure public resources, including commercial harbors and related infrastructure, are being managed effectively. The Falls of Clyde needs to be removed after a condition assessment conducted in March 2023 revealed its structural integrity has deteriorated substantially over the years.

The assessment is available here.

The state pays a contractor to regularly monitor water levels and pump water from its hull. Without this intervention, the ship would likely sink, list or damage surrounding facilities.


The transportation department said it remains open to supporting the ship’s owner, Friends of Falls of Clyde, by partnering with an entity that can both remove and preserve the property.

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