Thursday, 30 June 2016




Type:Five-masted barque
Tonnage:3,965 GRT
Length:430 ft (130 m) o/a
Propulsion:Auxiliary diesel engine
Sail plan:
  • Barque
  • 56,000 sq ft (5,200 m2) sail area
Crew:26 crew and 45 cadets

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.[1]
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.[3]
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.[4] The supposed diary indicated that the ship had been destroyed by icebergs and abandoned, the crew taking their chances in lifeboats.[1] 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.[2]
In 2012, divers found a wreck off the south west coast of Tristan da Cunha. The wreck has not yet been identified. The island's authorities are working with the Danish Maritime Museum, the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Danish East Asiatic Company to work out if this is the København

The Mercury (Hobart) Wednesday 4 May, 1932.

(From a Tasmanian to London.)
LONDON, March 31.
The tragedy of the Danish training
ship Kobenhavn, with her missing 45
cadets - now believed dead this three
years or more has been recalled by the
proposal of the parents of the lost boys
to finance a further search for their
Although it is perhaps natural that
relatives should cling to the hope that
the lads have not gone for ever, few
sallormen share the faith that proposes
to search anew the Islands of the South
Atlantic, and if necessary, the Indian
Ocean. For they believe that it is 
impossible that, were any of the crew of
the great Danish five-master alive, they
could all these days have been so long
cast away.
The Kobenhavn mystery is one of the
most inexplicable tragedies of the sea.
She sailed from Montevideo for Melbourne 
in ballast on December 15, 1928.
She was chartered to land Australian
wheat for Europe, and was to have 
participated in the 1929 wheat race. She
was seen by a steamer a few days out
of the River Plate and since then nothing
has been heard of her. According
to one report she sent out Christmas
greetings for 1928 by her wireless, but
this may be only one of the frills that
gather about a legend as time goes on.
Many of the best families in Denmark had 
their lads training on the Kobenhavn, 
and no expense was spared when lt was 
realised that disaster must have befallen 
the vessel, the largest and best-found 
sailing ship afloat. A gleam of hope seemed 
to come when after weeks of anxiety a 
report was received from Tristan da-Cunha 
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.

No comments: