the ships to travel at a higher speed on their voyages across
the world’s oceans. A three-masted barque was launched
in Massachusetts in 1853 with the sharpest lines seen to
date. The ship, which bore the curious name
, was
intended for the famous “Down Easter” trade fromNewYork
via Cape Horn to San Francisco. The ship was not, however,
destined to see many trips on this trade, as changing owners
used the vessel on other routes - among them the prestigious
tea routes.
The ship came into Danish hands in 1862, when it
was taken over by one of Denmark’s most important rice
merchants, A.N. Hansen & Co. of Copenhagen. Under A.N.
Hansen’s ownership the ship was renamed the
and the vessel bore this name for the rest of its life. A.N.
Hansen only kept the
for three years - presumably
because it did not prove to be ideal for the intended rice
cargo. When it was taken over, the
was so well
equipped and maintained that it qualified for classification
in Bureau Veritas’s highest class. One of the reasons for
A.N. Hansen’s sale of the ship after only three years was
an impending new classification which required extensive
replacements and improvements on board the vessel if it
was to remain in Bureau Veritas’s highest class. The buyer
of the
was a jointly owned shipping firm which
included a couple of ship’s masters from Dragør and the
Copenhagen wholesaler Peter de Nully Brown. The shares
in the ship were traded several times in the following years,
and as the last joint owners - among them Brown, who was
the managing owner - finally could not find buyers, they had
to retain their ownership or lose the invested capital.
was not a lucky ship. Its finances were in
poor condition and the ship’s maintenance was neglected.
gradually fell lower and lower in Bureau
Veritas’s classification system, and in step with this, the
freight which it could attract was of correspondingly lower
value, which put further pressure on the ship’s finances and
made the
a classic example of a negative spiral.
finally fell right out of Bureau Veritas’s
classification system and was not subject to any form of
inspection at all in its final years. At that time the Danish
state only had rules concerning ships’ seaworthiness when
the vessels were entered in the Danish ship’s register, but
once the ship was flying the Danish flag, it was permitted
to sail whatever its condition. The old “Down Easter” thus
underwent a slow but certain transformation into a “floating
coffin”. But even with such a ship, there was only one thing
to do at that time - to sail and hope that the ship stayed
afloat, and that the trip succeeded.
After spending the winter in Copenhagen, the
departed in April 1880 to convey a load of wood from Riga
to London. The schedule was then to Uleåborg in Finland
to fetch more wood, this time for Grimsby. A load of coal
was obtained at Grimsby to be taken to Copenhagen, where
the ship was again to be stationed for the winter. But it was
found in Grimsby that the ship was so leaky that its crew
refused to make the return trip. Following intervention by
several parties, the crew were persuaded to remain on board
if a further three men were hired to pump water out of the
ship during the voyage.
’s last fatal voyage ended on the west coast
of Jutland at Klitmøller, where it was intentionally beached
on the sandbars at noon on 19 November 1880. Despite
attempts by the local rescue party, the heavy lifeboat could
not be taken out over the sandbars, and rockets could not
reach the ship. The population of Klitmøller therefore
watched with horror as the
broke up. The thirteen-
man crew (including the pumping men) all perished in the
foaming sea and shared a common grave in Klitmøller’s
It was revealed during a subsequent court trial that
numerous people had seen and heard about the ship’s
condition while it was at Grimsby and spoken to the crew
who refused to sail on the return trip to Denmark because
of the ship’s poor condition. But under the law at that time,
nobody could be held responsible for the catastrophe. It was
not until 1892 - 18 years after Samuel Plimsoll’s “Shipping
Survey Bill” was implemented in Great Britain - that
Denmark gained an equivalent law on unseaworthy ships.
This was far too late for many, including the men who had
been on board the
during its final voyage.
1...,31,32,33,34,35,36,37,38,39,40 42,43,44,45,46,47,48,49,50,51,...204