Peking (ship)

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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) Flag of the German Empire
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) Italian Ensign
Fate: Sold back to F. Laeisz, 1923
Career (Germany) Flag of Germany
Name: Peking
Operator: F. Laeisz
Route: EuropeChile
Acquired: 1923
Fate: Sold to Shaftesbury Homes, 1932
Career (UK) British Merchant Navy Ensign
Name: Arethusa II
Homeport: Upnor, Medway
Career (UK) Royal Navy Ensign
Name: HMS Pekin
In service: World War II
Career (USA)
Name: Peking
Acquired: 1975
Homeport: New York City
Fate: Museum ship
General characteristics
Class and 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 — the sister ship to the Passat. 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 the steam ships which required vast amounts of coal to fire their hungry boilers, 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 were a hard lot, working 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 Shaftesbury Homes. She was first towed to Greenhithe, renamed Arethusa II and moored alongside the existing Arethusa I. In July 1933, she was moved to her new permanent mooring off Upnor on the River Medway,where she worked as a children's home and training school. She was officially "opened" by HRH Prince George on 25 July 1933. During World War II she served in the Royal Navy as HMS Pekin.

She was retired in 1975 and sold to Jack Aron, for the South Street Seaport Museum, New York City in the United States, where she is still moored.

See also


  • Irving Johnson; 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)
  • Irving Johnson (film); Around Cape Horn (Mystic Seaport, 1985) (from original 16 mm footage shot by Irving Johnson, 1929)

External links

Coordinates: 40°42′19″N 74°00′11″W / 40.70528°N 74.00306°W / 40.70528; -74.00306

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