Omega (barque)

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StateLibQld 1 144023 Omega (ship).jpg
  • Drumcliff (1887-98)
  • Omega (1898-1958)
  • Gillison & Chadwick (1887-98)
  • Hamburger Rhederei AG (1898-1920)
  • Peruvian Government (1920-26)
  • Compania Adminstradora del Guano (1926-58)
Port of registry:
  • United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland Liverpool (1887-98)
  • Germany Hamburg (1898-1920)
  • Peru Callao (1920-58)
Builder: J. Russell & Co, Greenock
Launched: 1887
Out of service: 26 June 1958
  • United Kingdom Official Number 93713 (1887-98)
  • Code Letters KJVQ (1887-98)
  • ICS Kilo.svgICS Juliet.svgICS Victor.svgICS Quebec.svg
  • Code Letters RLBQ (1898-1920)
  • ICS Romeo.svgICS Lima.svgICS Bravo.svgICS Quebec.svg
Fate: Sank
General characteristics
Tons burthen:
  • 2,471 GRT
  • 2,468 NRT
  • 2,378 tons under deck
Length: 94.68 m (310 ft 8 in)
Beam: 13.16 m (43 ft 2 in)
Propulsion: Sails
Sail plan: Barque

The Omega (named the Drumcliff until 1898) was a four-masted, steel-hulled barque built in Greenock, Scotland in 1887. In 1957 Omega became the last cargo-carrying square-rigger in the world.

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

She was renowned above all because 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.


Bow of Omega
Deck of Omega

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 28 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 harbours of Tocopilla and Iquique, before returning 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 Compañia Administradora 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 26 June 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.

The last captain of the Omega was Capt. Juan Anibal Escobar Hurtado from the City of Callao, who was accused of sinking the Omega, therefore suspended from his duties and later charged for the sinking of the barque. Capt. Escobar Hurtado paid a group of divers to photograph and bring proof, which was later presented as evidence, that the Omega sank due to age and poor maintenance and not due to bad maneuver by Capt. Escobar Hurtado; Capt. Juan Anibal Escobar Hurtado was never cleared from the accusation and died six years after the Omega sank on August 16, 1964.


References and notes[edit]

  1. ^ Wilhelmsen, F D (1956). Omega: Last of the barques. Westminster, MD: Newman Press. p. (introduction).
  • Bruzelius, Lars (1999-01-23). "Sailing Ships: Drumcliff". The Maritime History Virtual Archives. Retrieved Nov 15, 2006. According to Bruzelius, 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.
  •, Nov. 15, 2006

Further reading[edit]

  • Kooiman, W (April 1990). "Omega: Last of the guano traders". Sea Classics. Canoga Park, CA: Challenge Publications. 23 (4): 50–57.
  • Meyer, Jürgen (1974). Hamburgs Segelschiffe 1795-1945. Norderstedt: Heinemann.
  • Naylon, John (1999). "Omega: The last of her race". Sea Classics. Longton, Preston [U.K.]: J. & M. Clarkson. 8: 228–234.
  • Wilhelmsen, F D (1956). Omega: Last of the barques. Westminster, MD: Newman Press.