In the daybreak hours on Monday May 21st, the Cutty Sark burned and was reduced to a blackened hull. British authorities are treating the fire as a suspicious incident.

At 138 years, the Cutty Sark was the last surviving British tea clipper specifically designed for speed. She left the port of London on her maiden voyage for Shanghai on February 16th, 1870 with “large amounts of wine, spirits and beer” and returned merely 8 months later with 1,450 tons of Chinese tea. She travelled to China for a total of 7 more times between 1871 and 1877. After her tea trade years, she continued to engage in various maritime activities until December of 1954 when she was towed into a specially constructed dry dock at Greenwich, England.

Chris Levett, the chairman of Cutty Sark Enterprises, has expressed confidence that the vessel could be restored. “This is going to make us even more determined to get this ship back up and running and keep her as original as possible,” Levett said.

For more history on the last tea clipper, visit the website of The Cutty Sark Society.

References: MSNBC, BBC, and The Cutty Sark Society.