When most ships are decommissioned, they are either trashed or decoupled, and new uses are found for their parts. However, in the case of La Merced, the schooner has witnessed a rebirth. Even though it is out of service, this is a ship reborn. Built in 1917 during the height of the First World War, La Merced was a petroleum career for the legendary Standard Oil Corporation owned by John D. Rockefeller. As time went on, La Merced experienced a second birth; this time, it was used as a cannery in the state of Alaska.
But just like all things in life, its usefulness came to an end, and rather than being decommissioned, the old ship was abandoned at sea and scuttled. So today, Le Merced is living out its third rebirth in a boatyard in Anacortes. Only this time, it is no longer a seagoing vessel but a protective breakwater shield.
A Relic of the National Register of Historic Places
The ship has now been overrun by trees and weeds, and its view is indeed a striking image that can be seen several miles away on the horizon. The overgrown flora all around it has transformed its appearance so much that it now looks like a natural part of the vegetation. Such is the historic significance of La Merced that in 1990, The National Register of Historic Places listed it as a historical artifact.
A Pleasure for all the city
Unlike historical sites of significance that can be only be accessed after passing through rough terrain, La Merced is just the opposite. Visitors can access La Merced via the Marina parking lot or walk towards it through a footpath covered by weeds and low plants on both sides.
For photographers, La Merced’s image can be captured from an opposite position when the tide is low. The vessel can also be seen from the highway that connects the boatyard. However, for those who prefer to get up close and personal, they will have to seek permission from the required authorities to go beyond the areas with “No Trespassing” signs.
The Grand Old Vessel
La Merced is a 4 mastered schooner and remains one of four surviving vessels out of several hundred built at the dawn of the 20th century. The schooner has outlived 2 World Wars and still serves a purpose to date. The decision to use it as a protective breakwater structure was conceived by Anton Lovric, the owner of the shipyard.
The Croatian American who emigrated to the US in 1960 transformed the former seafood plant processor into a shipyard. Anton was responsible for bringing La Merced to its current position a year after purchasing the land, and he transformed the old schooner into a breakwater protector. Today, La Merced protects the marina from the crashing waves, and by so doing, it has etched its name in maritime history books.