Llewelyn J. Morse

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Llewelyn J. Morse (#140258) (1877-1926), built in 1877, was a full-rigged ship of 71 tons net register, 198.2 feet in length, with a breadth of 36.6 feet, and a depth of 24.2 feet. She was ultimately purchased and transformed into a prop as a replica of the ship Constitution, for the 1926 filming of Old Ironsides, on Santa Catalina Island.

The ship was transformed by building a false exterior hull, false decks, removing the old masts, and installating three high masts and a long beam. The bulwarks and approximately one-third of the ribs of the ship were cut to put in gun ports, rendering it unfit for commercial purposes, and necessitating that the vessel be handled carefully. After the ship was transformed into a prop, actors were hired to act in the film, some of whom had training as seamen. The ship had no power, but was full-rigged and was towed by a tug to a point on the ocean off Catalina Island, California. It moved along the island with sails set. There the scenes were taken, representing a battle between other vessels and the Constitution and a fort on land. Dynamite was put in the mainmast, mizzenmast, and foremast, about 30 or 40 feet from the tops of the masts. The masts were 140 to 160 feet high. In the scenes, shots from the vessels and from the fort were fired, and shots were supposed to hit the tops of the masts on the Constitution and break them off.

In reality, blank shots were fired, and simultaneously explosives, which had been placed in holes drilled in the mizzenmast of the ship in appropriate manner, were exploded, causing the top of the mizzenmast to break at that point and fall. The vessel was finally burned on September 11, 1926.