Ann Alexander (ship)

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The Ann Alexander was a whaling ship from New Bedford, Massachusetts that was rammed by a wounded sperm whale on August 20, 1851 near the Galapagos Islands. Her sinking may have contributed to the success of Herman Melville's book Moby-Dick.

Sunk by a sperm whale

After the whale had already destroyed two of the ship's whaleboats in its jaws, the Ann Alexander was holed under the waterline and was abandoned. The crew was rescued on August 22, 1851 by the ship Nantucket.

Just a few months later, October 18, 1851 and November 14, 1851, the first editions were published of Hermann Melville's great whaling novel Moby-Dick. This novel was based on a similar incident involving the ship Essex, which had occurred a generation earlier, in 1820.

Melville's reaction

Melville commented, "Ye Gods! What a commentator is this Ann Alexander whale. What he has to say is short & pithy & very much to the point. I wonder if my evil art has raised this monster."[1]

Fate of the whale

"Five months after the disaster this pugnacious whale was captured by the Rebecca Sims ... Two of the Ann Alexander's harpoons were found in him and his head had sustained serious injuries, pieces of the ship's timbers being imbedded in it. The whale yielded 70 or 80 barrels of oil."[2]

Arrival at Battle of Trafalgar

Ann Alexander was also known for arriving at the scene of the Battle of Trafalgar carrying supplies.

"Capt. Snow in command of ship Ann Alexander fell in off Cape Trafalgar with the English fleet a few days after the battle of Trafalgar, between the English fleet and the fleets of France and Spain, which occurred Oct. 21, 1805." ... The ship "was on a voyage from New York to Leghorn with a cargo of general merchandise, consisting of flour, tobacco, salt, fish, lumber, etc."[3] "As Nelson's fleet lay victorious but battered after the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, the Ann Alexander of New Bedford sailed into view, carrying apples, flour, and lumber -- just what hungry sailors and damaged ships needed."[4]

Capture by privateers

In 1807, on a voyage from St. Ives, England to Leghorn, Ann Alexander was captured two times by Spanish privateers, and once by an English man-of-war.[3]


See also


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Further reading

es:Ann Alexander (ballenero) pt:Ann Alexander