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Thomas W. Lawson on her maiden voyage in 1902
|Name:||Thomas W. Lawson|
|Namesake:||Thomas W. Lawson|
|Owner:||Thomas W. Lawson|
|Ordered:||June 25, 1901|
|Cost:||$248,000 construction, total costs with oil cargo in 1907: ~$400,000|
|Laid down:||November, 1901|
|Launched:||July 10, 1902|
|Christened:||July 10, 1902|
|Maiden voyage:||September 1902 via Philadelphia to Newport News, VA|
|Reinstated:||1906 as a tanker for oil in bulk|
|Fate:||sunk in a storm within the Isles of Scilly on Saturday, December 14, 1907, after 2 a.m. with the loss of 17 men out of 19 including pilot|
|Badge:||none; no figurehead|
|Class and type:|
|Tonnage:||5,218 GRT / 4,914 NRT|
|Displacement:||13,860 ts (at 11,000 ts load); 10,260 ts (at 7,400 ts load)|
|Beam:||50 ft (15 m)|
|Depth:||36.5 ft (11.1 m) (depth moulded)|
|Depth of hold:||32 ft (9.8 m)|
|Decks:||2 continuous steel decks, poop and forecastle decks|
|Installed power:||no auxiliary propulsion; donkey engine for sail winches, steam rudder, generator|
|Sail plan:||25 sails: 7 gaff main sails (No. 1 to 6 of equal size, spanker sail of larger size), 7 gaff topsails, 6 staysails, 5 foresails with 43.000 sq ft (4,000 m²) [46,617 sq ft (4,330.86 m²)] sail area|
|Speed:||16 knots (29.632 km/h)|
|Boats & landing |
|three lifeboats and captain's gig (stern)|
|Complement:||1902: 16: 1907: 18|
|Crew:||1902: 16; 1907: 18 (captain, engineer, 2 stewards, two helmsmen (1st & 2nd mates), 10 to 12 able seamen)|
Thomas W. Lawson was a seven-masted, steel-hulled schooner built for the Pacific trade, but used primarily to haul coal and oil along the East Coast of the United States. Named for copper baron Thomas W. Lawson, a Boston millionaire, stock-broker, book author, and president of the Boston Bay State Gas Co., she was launched in 1902 as the largest schooner and largest sailing vessel without an auxiliary engine ever built.
Thomas W. Lawson was destroyed off the uninhabited island of Annet, in the Isles of Scilly, in a storm on December 14, 1907, killing all but two of her eighteen crew and a harbor pilot already aboard. Her cargo of 58,000 barrels of light paraffin oil caused perhaps the first large marine oil spill.
Designed by naval architect Bowdoin B. Crowninshield (famous for his fast yachts) for Captain John G. Crowley of the Coastwise Transportation Company of Boston, Massachusetts, the construction of Thomas W. Lawson was contracted to the Fore River Ship and Engine Company on June 25, 1901. At a cost of approximately $250,000, she was the only seven-masted schooner, the only seven-masted sailing ship in modern times (see Zheng He's treasure ships), the largest schooner, and the largest pure sailing vessel, in terms of tonnage, ever built. Larger sailing vessels with auxiliary engines for propulsion were the English Great Eastern (1866), the French France II (1911) and German R. C. Rickmers (1906), the latter two of which five-masted barques.[ citation needed ]
Thomas W. Lawson's design and purpose was an ultimately unsuccessful bid to keep sailing ships competitive with the burgeoning steamship freight transport trade. However the ship's submerged hull was too large and sail area too small for good sailing properties; compounded by a forced reduction in load capacity from 11,000 to 7,400 long tons that made “working to capacity” impossible, the combination undermined expected profits.[ citation needed ]
Launched on July 10, 1902, Thomas W. Lawson was 475 ft (145 m) overall, 395 feet (120.4 m) on deck, and contained seven masts of equal height (193 feet (58.8 m)) which carried 25 sails (seven gaff sails, seven gaff topsails, six topmast staysails and five jib sails (fore staysail, jib, flying jib, jib topsail, balloon jib) encompassing 43,000 square feet (4,000 m²)) of canvas. Originally painted white, the ship's hull was later painted black. The naming of her masts was always a subject for some discussion (see external link "The Masts of the Thomas W. Lawson"). In the original sail plan and during construction named (fore to aft): 'no. 1 to no. 7', no. 7 being replaced by "spanker mast." The names of the masts changed then to: 'fore, main, mizzen, spanker, jigger, driver, and pusher' at launch and to: 'forecastle, fore, main, mizzen, jigger, and spanker' after launch. Different naming systems ensued, e.g. 'fore, main, mizzen, rusher, driver, jigger, and spanker' or 'fore, main, mizzen, no. 4, no. 5, no. 6, and no. 7', the naming preferred by the crew (which incorporated a possible misunderstanding between "fore" meaning "foremast" and "mast no. four"). Even a naming after the days of the week was discussed with the foremast being named "Sunday" and the spankermast "Saturday".[ citation needed ]
The ship consisted of a steel hull with high bulwarks and a double cellular bottom four feet deep and used 1,000 tons of water ballast. She measured 5,218 gross register tons, could carry nearly 11,000 tons of coal, and was operated by a crew of 16 to 18 including captain, engineer, two helmsmen, and two stewards. Due to the shallow depth of the eastern ports except Newport News, Virginia, she could not enter them with her maximum load. As a result, she carried a reduced capacity of 7,400 tons in order to reduce her working draft. She had two continuous decks, poop and forecastle decks, a large superstructure on the poop deck including the captain's rooms with fine furniture and leather seats, the officers' mess and rooms, card room, and a separate rudder house. On the main deck were two deckhouses around mast no. 5 and behind mast no. 6, as well as six main hatches to access the holds between the masts. Two huge steam winches were built in under the forecastle and behind mast no. 6. on the main deck. Smaller electrically driven winches were installed beside each mast. The exhaust for the donkey engine boiler was horizontally installed. All seven lower steel masts were secured by five (foremast: six) shrouds per side, the wooden topmasts with four shrouds per side to the crosstrees. The two ship's stockless anchors weighed five tons each.[ citation needed ]
Often criticized by marine writers (and some seamen) and considered difficult to maneuver and sluggish (comparisons to a "bath tub" and a "beached whale" were made), Thomas W. Lawson proved problematic in the ports she was intended to operate in due to the amount of water she displaced. She tended to yaw and needed a strong wind to be held on course. Originally built for the Pacific trade, the schooner was used as collier along the American East Coast. A year later in 1903, Crowley withdrew her from the coal trade. He had the topmasts, gaff booms and all other wooden spars removed and had chartered her out as a sea-going barge for the transportation of case oil. In 1906, she was retrofitted for sail at the Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Company for use as a bulk oil carrier using the lower steel masts to vent oil gasses from the holds. Her capacity was 60,000 barrels. Under charter to Sun Oil Company, she was the world's first pure sailing tanker, carrying bulk oil from Texas to the eastern seaboard.[ citation needed ]
In 1907, Thomas W. Lawson was under charter to the Anglo-American Oil Company (part of Standard Oil) and set sail on November 19 from the piers of Marcus Hook Refinery (20 miles south of Philadelphia) to London with 58,000 barrels of light paraffin oil. Two days before leaving the new captain George Washington Dow had to hire six new men to the crew because six other seamen had quit their jobs due to payment problems. Those new men weren't able seamen and some didn't speak fluent English. Leaving the mouth of the Delaware River, on November 20, the large schooner set course for England under fair weather conditions. But the following day the weather turned considerably worse. The ship was not sighted for more than 20 days during its first transatlantic journey, which was quite horrible in extremely stormy weather. With the loss of most of her sails, all but one lifeboat, and the breach of hatch no. 6, causing the ship's pumps to clog due to a mixture of intruding seawater and the engine's coal in the ship's hold, the schooner reached the Celtic Sea northwest of the Isles of Scilly. On December 13, entering the English Channel, she mistakenly passed inside the Bishop Rock lighthouse, the westernmost one in Europe, and her captain anchored between the Nundeeps shallows and Gunner's Rock, northwest of the island of Annet, to ride out an impending gale, refusing several requests of St. Agnes and St. Mary's lifeboat crews to abandon the ship. Captain Dow, trusting in his anchors, only accepted the Trinity House pilot Billy "Cook" Hicks from St. Agnes lifeboat, who came aboard at 5 p.m. on Friday 13. Both lifeboats of St. Agnes and St. Mary's had to return to their stations because of an unconscious crewman on the former and a broken mast on the latter. They cabled to Falmouth, Cornwall, for a tug which couldn't put to sea, unable to face the storm.
During the night, around 1:15 a.m., the storm increased, her port anchor chain broke, and half an hour later the starboard anchor chain snapped close to the hawsepipe. Left to the mercy of the raging seas, the pounding schooner was smashed starboardside on against Shag Rock near Annet by tremendously heavy seas after having grounded on the dangerous underwater rocks. All seven masts broke off and fell into the sea with all of the seamen who had climbed the rigging for safety, on their captain's command. The stern section broke apart behind mast no. 6, drifting from the capsizing and sinking ship. In the morning light the ship's upturned keel could be seen near the reef from which the wreck slid off into deeper water. Some 16 of the 18 crew and the Scillonian pilot Wm. "Cook" Hicks, who was already on board, having climbed up the spanker rigging for safety, were lost. Captain George W. Dow and engineer Edward L. Rowe from Boston were the only survivors, probably because they managed to get on deck from the rigging and jumped into the sea before the ship capsized. Both were lucky in being washed to a rock in the Hellweathers, to the south of the wrecking site, to be rescued hours later by the pilot's son, in the six-oared gig Slippen, looking for his father, [ citation needed ]Despite wearing their lifebelts, the other seamen died in the thick oil layer, the smashing seas, and the schooner's rigging that had drowned so many of the crew, including the pilot. Four bodies were found later – those of Mark Stenton from Brooklyn, cabin boy, of two seamen from Germany and Scandinavia, and that of a man from Nova Scotia or Maine. Furthermore, some bodies without heads, legs or arms were also found which could not be identified. They were all buried in a mass grave in St Agnes cemetery.
The broken-up and scattered wreck was relocated in 1969. The bow lies at 56 ft deep on position to the north-east of Shag Rock, and the stern, with the spanker mast 400 m to the southwest. It can be visited by scuba divers under calm weather conditions. One of the anchors is now built into the outside wall of Bleak House, Broadstairs, the former home of Charles Dickens, and can be seen with a picture of the schooner.[ citation needed ]
In 2008 a memorial seat was blessed by the Reverend Guy Scott in the churchyard of St Agnes, the nearest inhabitable island to the wreck and the home of the pilot, Billy "Cook" Hicks. The seat, made of granite from a St Breward quarry, faces the mass, unmarked grave of many of Thomas W. Lawson's dead.
A sailing ship uses sails, mounted on two or more masts, to harness the power of wind and propel the vessel. There is a variety of sail plans that propel sailing ships, employing square-rigged or fore-and-aft sails. Some ships carry square sails on each mast—the brig and full-rigged ship, said to be "ship-rigged" when there are three or more masts. Others carry only fore-and-aft sails on each mast—schooners. Still others employ a combination of square and fore-and aft sails, including the barque, barquentine, and brigantine. Sailing ships developed differently in Asia, which produced the junk and dhow—vessels that incorporated innovations absent in European ships of the time.
A sailboat or sailing boat is a boat propelled partly or entirely by sails smaller than a sailing ship. Distinctions in what constitutes a sailing boat and ship vary by region and maritime culture.
A sail plan is a set of drawings, usually prepared by a naval architect which shows the various combinations of sail proposed for a sailing ship. Alternatively, as a term of art, it refers to the way such vessels are rigged as discussed below.
A brig is a sailing vessel with two square-rigged masts. During the Age of Sail, brigs were seen as fast and maneuverable and were used as both naval warships and merchant vessels. They were especially popular in the 18th and early 19th centuries. Brigs fell out of use with the arrival of the steam ship because they required a relatively large crew for their small size and were difficult to sail into the wind. Their rigging differs from that of a brigantine which has a gaff-rigged mainsail, while a brig has a square mainsail with an additional gaff-rigged spanker behind the mainsail.
A barque, barc, or bark is a type of sailing vessel with three or more masts having the fore- and mainmasts rigged square and only the mizzen rigged fore and aft. Sometimes, the mizzen is only partly fore-and-aft rigged, bearing a square-rigged sail above.
A jib is a triangular sail that sets ahead of the foremast of a sailing vessel. Its tack is fixed to the bowsprit, to the bows, or to the deck between the bowsprit and the foremost mast. Jibs and spinnakers are the two main types of headsails on a modern boat.
A topsail ("tops'l") is a sail set above another sail; on square-rigged vessels further sails may be set above topsails.
A staysail ("stays'l") is a fore-and-aft rigged sail whose luff can be affixed to a stay running forward from a mast to the deck, the bowsprit, or to another mast.
The mast of a sailing vessel is a tall spar, or arrangement of spars, erected more or less vertically on the centre-line of a ship or boat. Its purposes include carrying sails, spars, and derricks, and giving necessary height to a navigation light, look-out position, signal yard, control position, radio aerial or signal lamp. Large ships have several masts, with the size and configuration depending on the style of ship. Nearly all sailing masts are guyed.
Square rig is a generic type of sail and rigging arrangement in which the primary driving sails are carried on horizontal spars which are perpendicular, or square, to the keel of the vessel and to the masts. These spars are called yards and their tips, beyond the last stay, are called the yardarms. A ship mainly rigged so is called a square-rigger.
A full-rigged ship or fully rigged ship is a sailing vessel's sail plan with three or more masts, all of them square-rigged. A full-rigged ship is said to have a ship rig or be ship-rigged.
Earl of Pembroke is a wooden, three-masted barque, currently used for maritime festivals, charters, charity fund raising, corporate entertaining and film work.
A jackass-barque, sometimes spelled jackass bark, is a sailing ship with three masts, of which the foremast is square-rigged and the main is partially square-rigged and partially fore-and-aft rigged (course). The mizzen mast is fore-and-aft rigged.
Preussen (PROY-sin) was a German steel-hulled, five-masted, ship-rigged sailing ship built in 1902 for the F. Laeisz shipping company and named after the German state and kingdom of Prussia. It was the world's only ship of this class with five masts carrying six square sails on each mast.
Wyoming was a wooden six-masted schooner built and completed in 1909 by the firm of Percy & Small in Bath, Maine. With a length of 450 ft (140 m) from jib-boom tip to spanker boom tip, Wyoming was the largest known wooden ship ever built.
Potosi was a five-masted steel barque built in 1895 by Joh. C. Tecklenborg ship yard in Geestemünde, Germany, for the sailing ship company F. Laeisz as a trading vessel. As its shipping route was between Germany and Chile, it was designed to be capable of withstanding the rough weather encountered around Cape Horn.
The three-masted schooner Victory Chimes, also known as Edwin and Maud or Domino Effect, is a US National Historic Landmark. She is the last surviving Chesapeake Ram schooner. The boat on the Maine State Quarter is meant to resemble the Victory Chimes.
Alexandria was a cargo-carrying three-masted schooner built in 1929. Originally named Yngve, she was built at Björkenäs, Sweden, and fitted with a 58 H.P. auxiliary oil engine.
Amazing Grace is an 83' topsail schooner. Her home port is in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The ship serves as the platform for the non-profit Maritime Leadership and is also available for private charters and memorials at sea. Maritime Leadership provides traditional sail training adventures through sailings ranging from 3–48 hours.
The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to sailing:
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