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Peking (ship)

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Peking (ship)

Peking docked in New York City
The Peking is currently docked at the South Street Seaport in New York City, where she acts as a maritime museum
Career (Germany)
Name: Peking
Operator: F. Laeisz
Route: EuropeChile
Builder: Blohm & Voss, Hamburg
Laid down: 1911
Fate: Interned at Valparaiso, and handed over to Italy as war reparations
Career (Italy)
Fate: Sold back to F. Laeisz, 1923
Career (Germany)
Name: Peking
Operator: F. Laeisz
Route: EuropeChile
Acquired: 1923
Fate: Sold to Shaftesbury Homes, 1932
Career (UK)
Name: Arethusa II
Homeport: Upnor, Medway
Career (UK)
Name: HMS Pekin
In service: World War II
Career (USA)
Name: Peking
Acquired: 1975
Homeport: New York City
Fate: Museum ship
General characteristics
Class & type: Flying P-Liner
Displacement: 3,100 long tons (3,150 t)
Length: 377 ft 6 in (115.06 m) sparred length
320 ft (98 m) length on deck
Beam: 45 ft 7 in (13.89 m)
Height: 170 ft 6 in (51.97 m)
Draft: 16 ft (4.9 m)
Sail plan: 44,132 sq ft (4,100.0 m2) sail area

The Peking is a steel-hulled four-masted barque. A so-called Flying P-Liner of the German company F. Laeisz, it was one of the last generation of windjammers used in the nitrate trade and wheat trade around the often treacherous Cape Horn.


Eking out meager existence on routes difficult to serve by steam ships that required vast amounts of coal, these tall ships and the sailors sailing them were the last of their breed. Sailed in the traditional way with few labor saving devices or safety features, her sailors worked four hours on and four hours off 24 hours a day for the entire length of the voyage, sometime for more than a hundred days in a row.

Made famous by the sail training pioneer Irving Johnson, his footage filmed on board during a passage around Cape Horn in 1929 shocked experienced Cape Horn veterans and landsmen alike at the extreme conditions Peking experienced.

She was in Valparaiso at the outbreak of World War I, and was awarded to Italy as war reparations. She was sold back to the original owners, the Laeisz brothers in 1923, and continued in the nitrate trade until traffic through the Panama Canal proved quicker and more economical.

In 1932, she was sold for £6,250 to World War II she served in the Royal Navy as HMS Pekin.

The Peking was retired in 1975 and sold to Jack Aron, for the South Street Seaport Museum in New York City, where she is still moored as of 2014. However, at this time the Seaport does not see the Peking as part of their long-term operational plans. A 2012 offer to return the ship to its port of building, Hamburg, as a gift from the city of New York was contingent upon raising an endowment in Germany to ensure the preservation of the vessel, and was not successful on that basis.[1] No other entity has offered to take over the ship on an endowed basis. As the ship is as of 2013 in need of extensive repairs, the Seaport is unwilling to turn it over to a purchaser on any other basis, and its future is uncertain.

See also



  1. ^ Robin Pogrebin, "Wanted: A Berth for a Lonely Old Ship, The New York Times, October 13, 2012, Section C, p. 2


  • Johnson, Irving. Round the Horn in a Square Rigger (Milton Bradley, 1932) (reprinted as The Peking Battles Cape Horn (Sea History Press, 1977 ISBN 0-930248-02-3)
  • Johnson, Irving. Around Cape Horn (film) (Mystic Seaport, 1985) (from original 16 mm footage shot by Irving Johnson, 1929)

External links

Media related to at Wikimedia Commons

  • The History of Shaftesbury Homes and the Arethusa, giving details of the purchase of the Pekin/Peking
  • South Street Seaport Museum webpage

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