Star of India (ship)

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Star of India
U.S. National Register of Historic Places
U.S. National Historic Landmark
The Euterpe at Port Chalmers, the port of Dunedin in 1883.
Location: San Diego, California
Coordinates: 32°42′57.39″N 117°10′22.3″W / 32.7159417°N 117.172861°W / 32.7159417; -117.172861Coordinates: 32°42′57.39″N 117°10′22.3″W / 32.7159417°N 117.172861°W / 32.7159417; -117.172861
Built/Founded: 1863[2]
Governing body: San Diego Maritime Museum
Added to NRHP: November 13, 1966
Designated NHL: November 13, 1966[3]
NRHP Reference#: 66000223[1]

Star of India was built in 1863 as Euterpe, a full-rigged iron windjammer ship in Ramsey, Isle of Man. After a full career sailing from Great Britain to India then to New Zealand, she became a salmon hauler on the Alaska then to California route. After retirement in 1926[2], she was restored between 1962 and 1963[4] and is now a seaworthy museum ship ported at the San Diego Maritime Museum in San Diego, United States. She is the oldest ship that still sails regularly and the oldest iron hulled merchant ship still floating. The ship is both a California and United States National Historic Landmark.[3]


As Euterpe

Named for Euterpe, the muse of music, she was a full-rigged ship (a ship that has 3 masts and squaresails on all 3 masts) built of iron in 1863 by Gibson, McDonald & Arnold, of Ramsey, Isle of Man, for the Indian jute trade of Wakefield Nash & Company of Liverpool. She was launched on November 14, 1863, and assigned British Registration No.47617 and signal VPJK.

Euterpe's career had a rough beginning. She sailed for Calcutta from Liverpool on January 9, 1864, under the command of Captain William John Storry. A collision with an unlighted, hit-and-run Spanish brig off the coast of Wales carried away the jib-boom and damaged other rigging. The crew became mutinous, refusing to continue, and she returned to Anglesey to repair; 17 of the crew were confined to the Beaumaris Jail at hard labor. Then, in 1865, Euterpe was forced to cut away her masts in a gale in the Bay of Bengal off Madras and limped to Trincomalee and Calcutta for repair. Captain Storry died during the return voyage to England and was buried at sea.

After her near-disastrous first two voyages Euterpe was sold, first in 1871 to David Brown of London for whom she made four more relatively uneventful voyages to India, then again (displaced by steamers after the opening of the Suez Canal) in 1871 to Shaw, Savill & Company of London. In late 1871 she began twenty-five years of carrying passengers and freight in the New Zealand emigrant trade, each voyage going eastward around the world before returning to England. The fastest of her 21 passages to New Zealand took 100 days, the longest 143 days. She also made ports of call in Australia, California, and Chile. A baby was born on one of those trips en route to New Zealand, and was given the middle name Euterpe.

In 1897, after 21 round-the-world trips, Euterpe was sold, first to Hawaiian owners, then in 1899 to the Pacific Colonial Ship Company of San Francisco, California and from 1898 to 1901 made four voyages between the Pacific Northwest, Australia and Hawaii carrying primarily lumber, coal and sugar. She was registered in the United States on October 30, 1900

As Star of India

The Star of India docked in San Diego, California.
The Star of India docked in San Diego, California.

In 1901, Euterpe was sold to the Alaska Packers' Association of San Francisco, who re-rigged her as a barque (converting the square-rigged aftermost mast to fore-and-aft) and in 1902 began carrying fishermen, cannery workers, coal and canning supplies each spring from Oakland, California to Nushagak in the Bering Sea, returning each fall with holds full of canned salmon. In 1906, the Association changed her name to be consistent with the rest of their fleet, and she became Star of India. She was laid up in 1923 after 22 Alaskan voyages; by that time, steam ruled the seas.

In 1926, Star of India was sold to the Zoological Society of San Diego, to be the centerpiece of a planned museum and aquarium. The Great Depression and World War II caused that plan to be canceled; it wasn't until 1957 that her restoration began. Alan Villiers, a windjammer captain and author, came to San Diego on a lecture tour. Seeing Star decaying in the harbor, he publicized the situation and inspired a group of citizens to form the "Star of India Auxiliary" in 1959 to support the restoration of the ship. Progress was still slow, but in 1976, Star of India finally put to sea again. She currently houses exhibits for the Maritime Museum of San Diego, is kept fully seaworthy, and sails at least once a year. With the many other ships now in the Museum, she hosts frequent docent-led school tours (over 6,000 children a year) and also a Living History Program in which students "step back in time" and are immersed in history and teamwork activities during overnight visits.

The 1863 Star of India is the fourth oldest ship afloat in the United States, after the 1797 USS Constitution, the 1841 Charles W Morgan, and 1854 USS Constellation, and is the oldest ship in the entire world that still sails regularly. Unlike many preserved or restored vessels, her hull, cabins and equipment are nearly 100% original.


The Star of India is currently home-ported at the San Diego Maritime Museum, just south of Lindbergh Field (San Diego International Airport), on the west side of North Harbor Drive at approximately Ash Street - all within the Port of San Diego tidelands. This location is slightly west of downtown San Diego, California. The other ships belonging to the Maritime Museum are always docked to the north of the Star of India.

When she sails, the Star of India often remains within sight of the coast of San Diego County, and usually returns to her dock within a day. She is sailed by a skilled volunteer crew of Maritime Museum members, who train all year for the honor of taking her to sea. She has become one of the landmark ships in San Diego's Harbor.

In August - September 2009, the Star of India was removed from display to a local drydock facility for a required Coast Guard inspection and various maintenance below the waterline, at a cost of approximately $225,000, and 3–4 weeks off display.

General characteristics

  • Displacement:
    • 1197 tons gross, 1107 tons under deck (as Euterpe)
    • 1318 tons gross, 1247 tons net (as Star of India)
  • Length: 62.5 m (205 ft 5 in) waterline, 84.8 m (278 feet) sparred length
  • Beam: 10.7 m (35 ft 2 in)
  • Draft: 6.6 m (21 ft 6 in) fully loaded
  • Height:
    • Full-rigged: 7.1 m (23 ft 4 in)
    • Barque rig: 6.5 m (21 ft 6 in)

(note that these heights refer to the railing of the weather deck, not mast height)

  • Mast height: 38.8 m (127 ft 4 in) mainmast above deck
  • Main yard length: 22 m (72 ft)

Appearances in Media

The Star of India has appeared in episodes of:

  • Dirty Jobs Season Four, Episode 89, "Tar Rigger"
  • Ghost Hunters Season Four, Episode 426, "Spirits on the Water".
  • Great Ships episode "The Windjammers".


  1. "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2007-01-23. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 NPS Redbook
  3. 3.0 3.1 NHL Summary
  4. NHL Writeup
  • Star of India: The Log of an Iron Ship by Jerry MacMullen (1979, Maritime Museum Association of San Diego) ISBN 08310 7027 7 (pbk, first printed 1961)
  • Euterpe: Diaries, Letters and Logs of the “Star of India” as a British Emigrant Ship by Craig Arnold (1988, Maritime Museum Association of San Diego) ISBN 0944580 06 8 (pbk)

External links

Wikimedia Commons has media related to:
[[Commons: Category:Star of India (ship)

| Star of India (ship)


fr:Star of India pl:Star of India