Sound the alarm, all hands on deck, save our ship. The ship is being lost and we must save her. It's not the sea that's pouring into her hull and there is no fire burning out of control. It's the auctioneer's hammer that threatens to steal our ship away.

The state of South Carolina is concerned with trying to save the state's heritage. I read regularly how this or that organization is trying to take down a flag or remove a monument. Tens of thousands of dollars are spent in South Carolina defending or attacking the state's heritage.

But one piece of South Carolina's maritime heritage is moored quietly at the Charleston Maritime Center's berth. She is unmanned, her crew has fallen silent and no one is fighting for her. She is a cause all people of South Carolina can grasp and be proud of. She represents all the people of South Carolina. She brings our people together. She is the sailing vessel Spirit of South Carolina. She is the masterpiece of Mount Pleasant master shipwright Mark Bayne. She is the dream of the Lowcountry and as much a part of South Carolina as the great oaks that live in her hull.

The backs and sweat of the South's greatest professional ship builders and hundreds of volunteers worked for years at Charleston's Ansonborough Field downtown. Thousands came and donated what they could to see her commissioned. She is the pride and the spirit of the people of South Carolina. Over 6,000 of the state's young people have experienced their Southern maritime heritage firsthand on her decks. But on Wednesday, June 18, the Spirit of South Carolina's fate is at the end of the auctioneer's gavel. Because of hard economic times and rising costs, the Spirit of South Carolina has been removed from her mission and secured to her berth. She has not sailed in months and her upkeep has been minimal as her owner is a bank.

The Spirit of South Carolina must be saved. She is the seagoing ambassador of the South. Her blue palmetto flag should fly in ports around the globe. She is representative of our people, our heritage with the sea and dedication to education, international commerce and environmental causes in our state.

I pray that the governor will declare her a state park, a protected property of the state of South Carolina. Perhaps a South Carolina "not for profit" organization, or a South Carolina industry such as Boeing or BMW can save her. Whatever, wherever or whomever. We simply cannot lose our ship.

Manning James Harvey III

U.S. Navy (Retired)

Riverland Woods Place

James Island