København was a Danish five-masted barque used as a naval training vessel until its disappearance after December 22, 1928. Built for the Danish East Asiatic Company in 1921, it was the world's largest sailing ship at the time, and primarily served for sail training of young cadets.
The København was last heard from on December 21, 1928 while en route from Buenos Aires to Australia. When it became clear the ship was missing, a lengthy search ensued, but turned up no trace. The disappearance has become one of the greatest maritime mysteries of the modern era, and led to much speculation about the ship's ultimate fate.
A number of theories for the København's disappearance have been advanced. The most commonly accepted is that the ship struck an iceberg in the dark or fog. If so, the ship may have sunk too quickly for the crew to react. The lack of wreckage found later may have been the result of the ship's particularly secure loading and rigging, a necessity against the strong winds known as the Roaring Forties. An alternate theory is that the ship, which was in ballast with no cargo, may have been capsized by heavy winds, disabling the lifeboats for survivors.
For the next two years after the København's disappearance there were a number of sightings of a mysterious five-masted ship fitting its description in the Pacific, fueling further speculation about the vessel. Early reports came from Chilean fishermen, then in July 1930, the crew of an Argentine freighter sighted a five-masted "phantom ship" during a gale. The captain took their statements and wondered if this was the "wraith of the Copenhagen". Further sightings came in the following weeks from Easter Island and the Peruvian coast. Later some wreckage, including a piece of stern bearing the name "København", reportedly was found off West Australia.
Tentative evidence for the ship continued to emerge. In 1934 The New York Times reported that a København cadet's diary had been found in a bottle on Bouvet Island in theSouth Atlantic. The supposed diary indicated that the ship had been destroyed by icebergs and abandoned, the crew taking their chances in lifeboats. In 1935, human remains and the remains of a lifeboat were found partly buried in the sand along the southwest coast of Africa. These may have come from København.
that a ship in distress, believed to be the Kobenhavn,
was seen near that island on January 21, 1929.
The date would have fitted in. It might
well have been the Danish five-master,
except that there was no record of any
wireless message of distress having been
received, and, according to this report,
the Kobenhavn was derelict, showed only
a wisp of sail, and yet had her masts standing.
If it were she In such a plight surely she could
have wirelessed an S.O.S. On the other
hand, the vessel appeared to be unmanned,
which would suggest that she had been abandoned.
Yet, if she floated, why abandon her? And, again, why
no wireless call for help?
Seafarers believe that whatever the
vessel seen by the missionary at Tristan da Cunha,
it was not the Kobenhavn.
Fascinating mystery in the league of the Waratah. Extensive searches to no avail. Theories and the tantalising possibility that the wreck off Tristan da Cunha could be the Kobenhavn. What a magnificent vessel and desperate tragedy.