Omega (barque)

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Career England
Name: Drumcliff
Owner: Gillison & Chadwick, Liverpool, England
Builder: J. Russell & Co. in Greenock, Scotland
Launched: 1887
Career Germany
Name: Omega
Owner: Hamburger Rhederei Akt. Gesellschaft
Acquired: 1898
Career Peru
Out of service: 1958
General characteristics
Tons burthen: 2471 GRT 2468 NRT, 2381 tons under deck
Length: 94.86 m or 90.96 m
Beam: 13.16 m
Sail plan: Barque
Notes: Radio call sign after 1887: KJVQ (UK); after 1898: RLBQ (Germany); British Registry Number, 93713, 1887

The Omega (named the Drumcliff until 1898) was a four-masted, steel-hulled barque built in Greenock, Scotland in 1887.

She was a sailing cargo ship used for transporting oil, guano, nitrate, wheat, and other goods.

She was renowned above all due to the fact that after 1957, having been in service on the Peruvian coast, she was the last square-rigger in the world that was transporting cargo. Her sinking in 1958 was the last sinking of a large cargo-carrying sailing ship.


The Drumcliff was built at the shipyard of J. Russell & Co. in Greenock, Scotland, for Gillison & Chadwick, Liverpool, England. After her launching in 1887 she was placed under the command of Captain H. Davies.

On the 28th of July, 1898, the Drumcliff was sold to the Hamburger Reederei AG, which renamed her Omega. From 1898 until 1905 she sailed under Captain H. Krause, who was in command for her first great trip around the world. In 1898 she left the Lizard in the south of England for Adelaide, Australia. The following year she sailed to Newcastle, Australia, putting in at the Chilean harbors of Tocopilla and Iquique, before returing to the Lizard.

From 1906 until 1907 she sailed under Captain M. Ratzsch, followed by Captain A. Schellhas from 1908 until 1920. Under his command the ship also made long passages between Europe, South America (Pisagua and Tocopilla in Chile), Africa (Port Nolloth in South Africa) and Australia (Newcastle). From 1910 until 1912, under Captain G. Oellrich, she sailed to harbors on the West Coast of the US (San Diego, Portland, Oregon), in Europe (Hamburg, Rotterdam), Australia (Sydney, Newcastle), and South America (Chile). From 1913 until 1914 Captain P. Hammer assumed command.

During the First World War, the ship was interned in Peru. In 1918, she became a sail training ship.

In 1920, the Omega was released to Peru as a war reparation, and in 1926 she was transferred to the guano firm Compania Adminstradora del Guano in Callao, Peru. From then on, the ship was used to transport guano from outlying islands to the Peruvian mainland.

Over the course of the following decades, as all the large sailing ships were gradually removed from service, in the wake of the sinking of the Pamir and the end of service of the Passat, the Omega remained.

"The only commercial square-rigged sailing ships still operating anywhere in the world, in the year 1953, were the Peruvian guano barques: the three-masters Tellus and Maipo, and the four-master Omega'.[1]

In 1957 Omega became the last cargo-carrying square-rigger in the world.

On the 26th of June in 1958 the Omega embarked on a voyage from the Pachamac Islands to Huacho, both in the Lima region, along the Peruvian coast, with a load of 3000 tons of guano, she sprang a leak and sank. It was the last sinking of a large sailing ship on a cargo-carrying voyage.


References and notes

Large portions of this article are based on the website, retrieved on Nov. 15, 2006. Additional references include:

1., retrieved on Nov. 15, 2006.
2. According to, retrieved on Nov. 15, 2006, there are discrepancies regarding the measurements of Drumcliff/Omega. 94.86 m × 13.15 m × 7.36 m (311'3 × 43'2 × 24'2 in feet), with another source indicating 90.96 m × 13.16 m ×7.47 m.

Further reading