We recently posted about the five-masted full-rigged cruise ship Royal Clipper, a modern sailing ship designed as an homage to the great five-masted windjammer Preussen. We are very pleased to have a guest post about the mighty windjammer by Robin Denny:
With the Peking now back in her home port of Hamburg, perhaps it is opportune to mention another of the Flying P sailing ships, the great Preussen. A five-masted full-rigged ship, 482′ LOA, with square sails on all masts, she was one of the fastest sailing ships, matching the Clippers with speeds up to 20 knots.
Built in Geestemünde, Germany, she was launched in May, 1902 with her hull, masts, spars and rigging, both cable and rods, all being of steel. She proved to be a well found and weatherly, sailing, among other destinations, to Chile, Japan and New York, where most of New York turned out to welcome her.
Near midnight on 5th. November, 1910, under Captain Jochim Nissen, sailing south-west down the English Channel at about 16 knots she encountered the cross-Channel ferry steamer Brighton.
A fast turbine steamer, Brighton, 273ft. LOA had been built by Wm.Denny Bros. at Dumbarton, Scotland, and launched 13th June, 1903 for the ferry service Newhaven, England to Dieppe, France. Her speed on trials was 21.37 knots.
Closing fast, 8 miles south of Newhaven, under Col. Regs. the Brighton had right of way being off the starboard bow of Preussen, except that steam gives way to sail. Completely misjudging Preussen‘s speed, the Brighton attempted to cross in front of her but hit her bow, carrying away the bowsprit, forward stays and bringing down Preussen’s fore top-mast.
Brighton returned immediately to Newhaven for assistance from the tug Alert which towed Preussen 40 miles NE to Dover where she was anchored. Later, in a rising gale both Preussen‘s anchor chains parted leaving her to be driven ashore near Crab Bay, South Foreland, some 3 miles beyond Dover port, breaking her back. All her crew survived.
Her eroded hull can still be seen at Low-Water Springs.
Four years ago I was on board MV Saga Sapphire, returning from Norway behind schedule due to engine trouble. Since a berth was not available she had to anchor just off the South Foreland. On weighing the anchor it was found to have snagged a heavy steel cable. I do wonder if that was one of Preussen‘s stays or shrouds?
About the author: Robin Denny’s family ran the Wm. Denny & Bros shipyard in Scotland for 130 years.