Peking (ship)

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

Not to be confused with the iron steamship City of Peking built in 1874
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
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
Fate: Sold back to F. Laeisz, 1923
Name: Peking
Operator: F. Laeisz
Route: EuropeChile
Acquired: 1923
Fate: Sold to Shaftesbury Homes, 1932
United Kingdom
Name: Arethusa II
Homeport: Upnor, Medway
United Kingdom
Name: HMS Pekin
In service: World War II
United States
Name: Peking
Acquired: 1975
Homeport: New York City
Fate: Museum ship
General characteristics
Class & type: Flying P-Liner
Displacement: 3,100 long tons (3,150 t)
  • 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. 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.


Peking out a meager existence on routes difficult to serve by steam ships that required vast amounts of coal, 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 worked 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.

The Peking was retired in 1975 and sold to Jack Aron, for the South Street Seaport Museum in New York City, where she is still moored as of 2014. However, at this time the Seaport does not see the Peking as part of their long-term operational plans. A 2012 offer to return the ship to its port of building, Hamburg, as a gift from the city of New York was contingent upon raising an endowment in Germany to ensure the preservation of the vessel, and was not successful on that basis.[1] On November 12 2015 the German Bundestag has decided to purchase the ship. It is going to be a part of the announced German Port Museum in Hamburg, for which €120 million were allocated.[2]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ Robin Pogrebin, "Wanted: A Berth for a Lonely Old Ship, The New York Times, October 13, 2012, Section C, p. 2
  2. ^ "Millions For Hamburg's Historic Museums". Hamburg News. Retrieved 2 December 2015. 


External links[edit]

Media related to Peking (ship) at Wikimedia Commons