France II

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France II
France II. (Schiff).jpg
France II at Bordeaux harbour in 1912 before her maiden voyage
Civil Ensign of FranceFrance
Name: France II
Namesake: State of France
Owner: Société Anonyme des Navires Mixtes (Prentout-Leblond, Leroux & Cie., Rouen
Route: France-Australia-New Caledonia-USA
Ordered: 1911
Builder: Chantiers et Ateliers de la Gironde
Laid down: March, 1912
Launched: November 9, 1912
Completed: October 1913
Maiden voyage: November 25, 1913 via Glasgow to Thio, New Caledonia with a cargo of coke
Homeport: Rouen, France
  • Code letters J H G T (French)
  • ICS Juliet.svgICS Hotel.svgICS Golf.svgICS Tango.svg
Fate: stranded on Teremba reef on July 12, 1922, no loss of men
Status: wreck, bombed in 1944
Badge: none; female figurehead representing the State of France
General characteristics
Class and type:
  • five-masted steel barque
  • nickel ore bulk carrier
Tonnage: 5,633 GRT / 4,544 NRT
Displacement: 10,710 ts (at 7,300 ts load)
  • 480.5 ft (146.5 m) (overall)
  • 441.27 ft (134.50 m) (hull)
  • 432.74 ft (131.90 m) (length on deck)
  • 389.1 ft (118.6 m) (btw. perpendiculars)
Beam: 55.65 ft (16.96 m)
  • 211.6 ft (64.5 m) (keel to masthead truck)
  • 167.3 ft (51.0 m) (deck to masthead truck)
Draft: 27.9 ft (8.5 m)
Depth: 36.42 ft (11.10 m) (depth moulded)
Depth of hold: 31.18 ft (9.50 m)
Decks: 3 continuous steel, poop, midship, and forecastle decks
Deck clearance: 8.2 ft (2.5 m)
Propulsion: sail and auxiliary propulsion (2 Schneider Diesel engines of 950 HP, removed in 1919)
Sail plan:
Speed: 17,5 knots
Boats & landing
craft carried:
4 lifeboats
Capacity: 7,300 ts cargo (7,417 t)
Complement: max. 45, since 1919: 50
Crew: captain, 2nd captain, 1st, 2nd, & 3rd mates, steward, 39/44 able seamen and shipboys (including sailmaker, cook etc.)
Armament: 2 cannons (bow and stern) during WW I
Notes: lounge with piano, seven 1st class passenger cabins, library, darkroom, seawater therapy equipment

The France II was a French sailing ship and the second one of that name. She was the second largest commercial merchant sailing ship ever built.


She was an extremely large tall ship of 5,633 GRT and square rigged as a five-masted steel-hulled barque. Her five masts, all yards and the spanker boom were made of steel tubing; lower mast and topmast were made in one piece. She featured a so-called "jubilee rig", also called "bald-headed rig", meaning she was rigged with no royal sails above double top sails and double topgallant sails sails. She had a huge sail area of 6,350 m² [68,350 sq ft]. Her long yards and the less tall masts gave her a rather wide and depressed appearance in comparison to other tall ships of her class. She was 146.5 meters (480.5 ft) long, her displacement was 10,710 metric tonnes (10,541 tons standard (ts)), and she could carry 7,300 tons of cargo.

The vessel had some wooden components built in, including wooden deck covering, a beautiful lounge equipped with a piano and precious furniture, seven luxury passenger cabins, a library, a darkroom, and seawater therapy equipment. She could take passengers in luxury accommodation in addition to carrying cargo, making her one of the most elegant sailing cargo carriers.

Her deck-line was striking with an extremely long poop deck similar to sail training ships, forecastle, and midship island (three-island-ship) with only two short open upper deck sections, each containing one of her huge loading hatches.


Built in 1911 at the yards ("Chantiers et Ateliers de la Gironde") located on the banks of the river Garonne in Bordeaux to the plans of chief designer Gustave Leverne (1861–1940) for the nickel ore trade and was owned by the "Société Anonyme des Navires Mixtes (Prentout-Leblond, Leroux & Cie.)".

The huge barque was equipped with two Schneider 950 hp diesel engines which were removed in 1919. At that time she became the largest sailing ship ever built. Her crew consisted of 5 officers: captain, 2nd captain (on French ships only (second capitaine); a naval officer of a captain's rank as a vice-captain and security officer, see chief mate), 1st, 2nd, and 3rd mates and 40 able seamen including cook, steward, sailmaker, ship's carpenter, which was increased to 45 in 1919.

In 1915 she was sold to Leroux-Henzey of Rouen and sold again in 1916 to the "Compagnie Française de Marine et de Commerce" ("French Company of Marine and Trade") also of Rouen, her port of registry remained the same.

In the night of July 12, 1922 she went aground on the Teremba reef (Urai bay) north west to the Ouano reef, nearly 60 nm north west of Nouméa, New Caledonia, homeward bound to Europe with a cargo of chrome ore from Pouembout. Because of fallen cargo rates her owner refused to pay to tow her free from the Ouano reef by a tug boat which was absolutely possible. In 1944, American bombers bombed the wreckage for target practice.

In 1995 planning started to raise funds to design and build a replica of the France II but by 2010 very little progress had been made. However, tall ship cruise line "Star Clippers" has since announced they are in the process of building a new ship based on the "France II" for launch in the second half of 2017. As promised the ship was lounched on the 10th of June 2017 in the shipyard Brodosplit in Croatia.

See also[edit]


  • Roger et Christian Bernadat: "France(II), le plus grand voilier du monde, construit à Bordeaux". Les Editions de l'Entre-deux-Mers, Saint-Quentin-de-Baron 2008 ; ISBN 978-2-913568-59-4
  • Jochen Brennecke: Windjammer. Der große Bericht über die Entwicklung, Reisen und Schicksale der "Königinnen der Sieben Meere". Koehlers Verlagsgesellschaft, Herford 1984; Kap. XXII - Die Größten unter den Segelschiffen der Welt, pp 299; ISBN 3-7822-0009-8
  • Hans-Jörg Furrer: Die Vier- und Fünfmast-Rahsegler der Welt. Koehlers Verlagsgesellschaft, Herford 1984, pp 93; ISBN 3-7822-0341-0
  • Jean Randier: Grands voiliers français 1880-1930. Construction, gréement, manoeuvre, vie à bord. Editions des Quatre Seigneurs, Grenoble 1974; ISBN 2-85231-012-0

External links[edit]

  • French Ship Academy Association dedicated to the building a replica of France II. Contains details of plans for a replica and also the history of France II. The site is written in both English and French.
  • [1] Tall ship cruise line "Star Clippers" press release regarding the build and launch of new ship based on the "France II".

Coordinates: 21°48′30″S 165°38′48″E / 21.8082°S 165.6467°E / -21.8082; 165.6467