The Preussen

Sunday, 1 September 2019 - 01:00 pm (CET/MEZ) Berlin | Author/Destination:
Category/Kategorie: Tall ships, Hamburg, Yacht of the Month
Reading Time:  6 minutes

Deutsches Museum in München - Fünfmast-Vollschiff Preußen Modell © Mattes

Deutsches Museum in München – Fünfmast-Vollschiff Preußen Modell © Mattes

Preußen (usually Preussen in English) was a German steel-hulled five-masted ship-rigged windjammer built in 1902 for the F. Laeisz shipping company and named after the German state and kingdom of Prussia. It was the world’s only ship of this class with five masts carrying six square sails on each mast. Until the 2000 launch of the Royal Clipper, a sail cruise liner, she was the only five-masted full-rigged ship ever built. Her homeport was Hamburg.

The Preußen was built as hull-number 179 at the Joh. C. Tecklenborg ship yard in Geestemünde according to the plans of chief designer Dr.-Ing. h. c. Georg Wilhelm Claussen, launched and christened on 7 May 1902. The ship was commissioned on 31 July 1902 and left the harbour of Bremerhaven the same day on her maiden voyage to Iquique under the command of Capt. Boye Richard Petersen who assisted naval architect Claussen in his plans. The basic idea of building such a ship is said to come from famous Laeisz captain Robert Hilgendorf, commander of the five-masted steel barque Potosi. Story has it that Kaiser Wilhelm II, while visiting the Potosi on 18 June 1899, asked Carl H. Laeisz when the five-masted full-rigged ship will finally “come”. This inspired Laeisz to build the ship. The initial construction plans were found among the effects of Carl Ferdinand Laeisz, grandson of founder Ferdinand Laeisz and son of C. H. Laeisz, who died early at an age of 48 in 1900, even before his father Carl Heinrich Laeisz who died in 1901. The ship was subsequently ordered in November 1900.

Preussen © Library of Congress Preussen © Allan C. Green - John Oxley Library - State Library of Queensland Preussen in Hamburg © sendker Preussen in Hamburg © Allan C. Green - John Oxley Library - State Library of Queensland Deutsches Museum in München - Fünfmast-Vollschiff Preußen Modell © Mattes
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Preussen in Hamburg © Allan C. Green - John Oxley Library - State Library of Queensland
The sturdily built ship could weather every storm and even tack in force 9 winds. In such conditions eight men had to hold the 6 1/2-foot-tall (2.0 m) double steering wheel. She was successfully used in the saltpeter trade with Chile, setting speed records in the process. Due to her appearance, uniqueness, and excellent sailing characteristics seamen called her the “Queen of the Queens of the Seas”. In 1903 (2 February – 1 May) she sailed an unequalled record voyage from Lizard Point to Iquique in 57 days. She made twelve “round trips” (Hamburg-Chile and back home) and one journey round the world via New York and Yokohama, Japan in charter to the Standard Oil Co. When she entered New York harbour, almost all New Yorkers were “on their legs” to see and welcome that unique tall sailing ship. Capt. B. R. Petersen was accompanied by his wife and his little son; both left the ship and returned to Hamburg later by steamer. The mighty Preußen, as she was named by many seamen, had only two skippers in her career, Captain Boye Richard Petersen (11 voyages) and Captain Jochim Hans Hinrich Nissen (2 full voyages and the last). Both masters learned and developed their skills sailing such a huge sailing ship under Capt. Robert Hilgendorf, late master of the Potosí.

On 5 November 1910, on her 14th outbound voyage, carrying a mixed cargo including a number of pianos for Chile, the Preußen was at 23:35 rammed by the small British cross-channel steamer Brighton 8 nautical miles (15 km) south of Newhaven. Contrary to regulations, the Brighton had tried to cross her bows, underestimating her high speed of 16 knots (30 km/h). The Preußen was seriously damaged and lost much of her forward rigging (bowsprit, fore topgallant mast), making it impossible to steer the ship to safety. Brighton returned to Newhaven to summon aid and the tug Alert was sent to assist Preußen. A November gale thwarted attempts to sail or tug her to safety in Dover Harbour. It was intended to anchor her off Dover but both anchor chains broke and Preußen was driven onto rocks at Crab Bay where she sank as a result of the damage inflicted on her. While crew, cargo and some equipment could be saved from Preußen, with the keel broken she was rendered unsalvageable. She sits in 6 metres (3.3 fathoms) of water at 51°8.02′N 1°22.17′E. The Master of the Brighton was found to be responsible for the accident and lost his licence as a result. A few ribs of the Preußen can be seen off Crab Bay at low spring tides.

Read more on Wikipedia Preußen. Learn more about the use of photos. To inform you about latest news most of the city, town or tourism websites offer a newsletter service and/or operate Facebook pages/Twitter accounts. In addition more and more destinations, tourist organizations and cultural institutions offer Apps for your Smart Phone or Tablet, to provide you with a mobile tourist guide (Smart Traveler App by U.S. Department of State - Weather report by weather.com). If you have a suggestion, critique, review or comment to this blog entry, we are looking forward to receive your e-mail at comment@wingsch.net. Please name the headline of the blog post to which your e-mail refers to in the subject line.




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