New Yorkers, don't be surprised if you see an oar-powered Athenian Warship triumphantly chugging around the Statue of Liberty on July 4th, 2012. If one determined group of trireme fans get their way, they'll transport a full-scale replica of the ship from Greece, refurbish it, and row it around in the city's harbor. They've already got the go-ahead from the Greek government. And they promise you: it will look nothing like Ben Hur.

In a profile for the Wall Street Journal's Page 1, Sophia Hollander details the "epic struggle" of these history buffs as they seek to raise $3 million dollars in funding, debate the finer points of the actual ancient design of the ship, and refurbish the once sea-worthy trireme replica, Olympias. The boat originally sailed in sea trials between 1987 and 1994, but now sits in a naval museum in Athens.

One day soon, they hope, the vessel will be freed and seaworthy in time for a fateful Statue of Liberty visit. After refurbishing, of course, they'll need to recruit a crew. "Ideally you would get 170 fitness fanatics," remarked Trireme proponent Charles Hirschler to the WSJ. "I look at [the ship] as a human-powered, waterborne missile that can operate like a jet boat."

Godspeed.



[H/T: Smart Set]