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List of world's largest wooden ships: Map

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A list of the world's largest wooden ships is compiled below. The vessels are sorted by ship length including bowsprit, if known.

Methodology

Finding the world's largest wooden ship is not straightforward since there are several contenders, depending on which definitions are used. For example, some of these ships benefited from substantial iron or even steel components since the flexing of wood members can lead to significant leaking as the wood members become longer. Some of these ships were not very seaworthy, and a few sank either immediately after launch or soon thereafter. Some of the more recent large ships were never able or intended to leave their berths, and function as floating museums. Finally, not all of the claims to the title of the world's largest wooden ship are credible or verifiable. A further problem is that especially wooden ships have more than one "length". The most used measure in length for registering a ship is the "length of the topmost deck" - the "length on deck" (LOD) - 'measured from leading edge of stem post to trailing edge of stern post on deck level' or the "length between perpendiculars" (LPP, LBP) - 'measured from leading edge of stem post to trailing edge of stern post in the construction waterline (CWL)'. In this method of measuring bowsprit including jibboom and out-board part of spanker boom if any have both no effect on the ship's length. But for comparing ship records the total or "over all" length (LOA) should be given. The longest wooden ship ever built, the six-masted New England gaff schooner Wyoming, had a "total length" of (measured from tip of jib boom (30 metres) to tip of spanker boom (27 metres)) and a "length on deck" of . The -difference is due to her extremely long jib boom of its out-board length being .

Largest known wooden ships

Length Beam Name Service Current Status Comment
51 m
(167.3 ft)
12 m Peter von Danzig Before 1462- late 1470s wrecked A Hanseatic League caravel, built in the French Atlantic port town Rochelle, and the first large vessel in the Baltic Seamarker with carvel planking.
58.5 m
(191.9 ft)
11m Götheborg 2003- operational This Swedishmarker ship is 40.9 m (134.2 ft) long without the bowsprit, and a replica of the original that sank off Göteborgmarker in 1745.
61.3 m
(201.1 ft)
16.2 m Santísima Trinidad 1769-1805 sunk after battle One of the few four-deckers ever built. 136 guns.
62 m
(203.4 ft)
17 m Mahmudiye 1829-1874 disassembled to sell components Mahmudiye (1829), ordered by the Ottoman Sultan Mahmud II and built by the Ottoman Imperial Naval Arsenal on the Golden Horn in Istanbul, was for many years the largest warship in the world. The 62x17x7m ship-of-the-line was armed with 128 cannons on 3 decks with complement of 1280. She participated in many important naval battles, including the Siege of Sevastopol (1854-1855) during the Crimean War (1854-1856). She was decommissioned in 1875.
65 m
(213.2 ft)
10.6 m SV Tenacious 2000- operational A recently made Britishmarker ship designed for the disabled.
65.18 m
(213.8 ft)
16.24 m Orient 1791-1798 blew up Of the Frenchmarker 118 gun Océan class ship of the line 16 ships were built. Orient was the flagship of the French Nile fleet. She was destroyed when fire reached her magazine during the Battle of the Nilemarker.
66.4 m
(218 ft)
15.2 m Grace Dieumarker 1420-1439 sunken wreck An Englishmarker carrack used as King Henry V's flagship. It burned after being hit by lightning.
69 m
(226 ft)
15.7 m HMS Victorymarker 1765 - 1865 museum ship HMS Victory is a 104-gun ship of the line of the Royal Navy. She is the oldest naval ship still in commission and the only remaining ship of the line. She sits in dry dock in Portsmouthmarker as a museum ship.
69 m
(226.3 ft)
11.7 m Vasamarker 1628-1628 museum ship This Swedishmarker warship sunk on its maiden voyage when a gale forced water onto the ship, it fell over on its port side and sank.
70 m
(229 ft)
18 m Caligula Nemi shipsmarker Ca. 37 destroyed These two Roman ships were found in Lake Nemimarker, a volcanic lake about 30 km south of Romemarker when the lake was drained between 1929 and 1932.
71 m
(233 ft)
13.5m Jyllandmarker 1860-1908 museum ship A restored Danishmarker ship on display in the coastal town of Ebeltoftmarker, Denmarkmarker It is the longest wooden ship in the world.
71.1 m
(233.3 ft)
14.1 m Zheng He Treasure ship replica 2008 (planned)- under construction This ship will exceed "the Göteborgmarker, the world's largest wooden ship, by 10 m. in length" (sic), according to China Daily.
71.9 m
(236 ft)
10.7 m
(35.1 ft)
SS Great Western 1837-1856 disassembled in salvage yard A Britishmarker steamship designed by the renowned English engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel for regular transatlantic steam "packet boat" service. In addition to its paddle wheels it carried 4 masts for supplementary propulsion and stability.
76 m 11 m HMS Sovereign of the Seas 1637-1696 accidentally burned Being one of the first three-decker warships, the ship was built as deliberate attempt to bolster the reputation of the English crown. The ship took part in many battles after the upper deck had been removed for reasons of balance.
78.30 m 14.50 m Adler von Lübeck 1567-88 disassembled The Adler von Lübeck was built by Lübeckmarker in two year's time to serve as the main fighting ship of the Hanseatic League. The galeon featured 138 guns, and space for 650 marines and a 350 men strong crew. It was the largest ship of its time.
83.7 m
(274.6 ft)
18.5 m Al-Hashemi-II 2001- museum and restaurant Planning for this non-seagoing model of a Kuwaiti dhow began in 1985, and construction started in 1997.
91.1 m
(299 ft)
23.7 m
(78 ft)
Eurekamarker 1890 - 1957 museum ship Eureka is steamboat with twin, 27-foot paddlewheels. She carried railcars, cars and passengers across San Francisco Bay. This National Historic Landmark is at the Maritime National Historical Parkmarker.
91.7 m
(301 ft)
13.0 m
(42.5 ft)
Frank O'Connor 1892-1919 burned A steam screw operating on the Great Lakesmarker, it required an innovative iron and steel-reinforced hull to be a viable vessel.
91.74 m
(301 ft)
15.4 m
(50 ft)
Columbus 1824-1825 broke apart and sunk It was the first timber ship or disposable ship with a kind of four-masted barque rigging - just three square sails (course, top, and topgallant sails) per mast, two fore and aft sails on the spanker mast, and two foresails. Built to avoid taxes on timber (the timber used for the ship was tax-free), its cargo and components were intended to be sold after the ship's arrival from Quebecmarker (Anse-du-Fort) to London. Changing its plans Charles Woods, her builder and owner, had only the cargo discharged and sold and ordered the ship back for another voyage with a timber cargo before being disassembled. But the ship broke apart and sunk in the Channelmarker on her return voyage to St. John, New Brunswickmarker. The ship had a 356 ft / 108 metres over all length.
92.7 m
(304 ft)
18.6 m
(61 ft)
Baron of Renfrew 1825-1825 stranded and broke apart; planned to be disassembled to sell components This unseaworthy Britishmarker ship was a disposable ship. Created to avoid taxes on timber, its components were intended to be sold after the ship's arrival from Quebecmarker to London. The ship stranded on the Goodwin Sandsmarker and broke apart while being towed with a pilot aboard. Parts of her timber were found on the French coast. The ship had 5,294 GRT and an over all length of 362 ft / 110 metres.
97.2 m
(319 ft)
12.8 m
(42 ft)
Appomattoxmarker 1896-1905 Great Lakesmarker shipwreck in a fog An Americanmarker ship built with metallic cross bracing, keelson plates, and multiple arches because of its extreme length. Several syphons and steam-driven pumps were required to keep it afloat.
98.8 m
(324 ft)
14.0 m
(46 ft)
Santiagomarker 1899-1918 swamped in gale and sunk An Americanmarker schooner-barge on the Great Lakesmarker, towed by the Appomattoxmarker until 1905 and then the steamer John F. Morrow until 1918.
97.84 m
(311 ft)
14.98 m
(49 ft)
Roanoke 1892-1905 sunk after having burnt down to the waterline A huge four-masted barque with skysails of a total length of and 3,539 GRT. In 1905 she was in command of Capt. Jabez A. Amesbury when it caught fire while loading at the anchorage of Noumea. The crew, sustained by those of the four-masted barque Susquehanna of the same owner and the three-masted ship Arabia, all in all 60 men, tried to fight the fire. This Americanmarker ship used iron bolts and steel reinforcements. It belonged to the fleet of Arthur Sewell & Co. of Bath, Maine. It was the largest wooden ship (115 m / 377 ft LOA) after the Great Republic.
102.1 m
(335 ft).
16.2 m
(53 ft)
Great Republic 1853-1872 abandoned leaking This Americanmarker ship used iron bolts, and reinforced with steel, including 90 36 foot 4x1 inch cross braces, and metal keelsons. The MIT Museummarker noted that: "With this behemoth, McKay had pushed wooden ship construction to its practical limits.". The over-all-length including jibboom was .
102.1 m
(335 ft)
18.3 m
(60 ft)
HMS Orlando and HMS Mersey 1858-1871, 1875 resp. sold as scrap These Britishmarker warships were pushing the limits of what was possible in wooden ship construction and suffered structural problems.
103 m
(338 ft)
13.4 m
(44 ft)
Pretoria 1900-1905 sunk An Americanmarker barge built for use on the Great Lakesmarker. To strengthen its wooden frame and hull, it included steel keelson plates, chords, arches, and also was diagonally strapped with steel. A donkey engine powered a pump to keep its interior dry.
104 m
(341 ft)
20.3 m
(66 ft)
Caligula's Giant Ship ca. 37 foundation of lighthouse Traces of this Roman barge were found during the construction of Romemarker's Leonardo da Vinci International Airportmarker in Fiumicino, Italymarker. Some speculate that this ship, or a similar ship, was used to transport the obelisk in St. Peter's Square from Egyptmarker on the orders of Roman emperor Caligula.
115.0 m
(377.3 ft)
22.2 m
(72.8 ft)
Rochambeau 1865-1874 scrapped This Frenchmarker ship was an iron-clad ship built in New Yorkmarker. About of her length was a ram. She was not particularly stable or seaworthy, even with her substantial metal components, and only made one voyage in the open ocean to reach her new owners.
137.16 m
(450 ft)
15.3 m
(51.1 ft)
Wyoming 1909-1924 sunk This Americanmarker ship had a tendency to flex in heavy seas, causing the long planks to twist and buckle. This allowed sea water into the hold, which had to be pumped out.


Less well-documented large wooden ships

Length Name Completed Comment
54.86 m
(180 ft)
Isis Ca. 150 The Roman ship Isis was described by the sophist Lucian when he saw it in Athen's seaport Piraeusmarker.
55.0 m
(180.4 ft)
Syracusia Ca. 240 BC The Greek ship Syracusia is claimed to be the largest transport ship of antiquity. It was designed by Archimedes and built around 240 BC by Archias of Corinth on the orders of Hieron II of Syracusemarker.
73.2 m
(240 ft)
Great Michael 1511 Some claimed that the Scottishmarker carrack Great Michael was over twice the size of its competition of the same era, and had oak sides over 3 meters (10 ft) thick. It was allegedly armed with the largest ship's cannon ever.
Modern estimates range from 63-95 m by 27-32 m Hatshepsut's barge ca. 1500 BCE Used to transport obelisks.


Unconfirmed or Mythological large wooden ships

Purported Size Name Completed Comment
115×14 m
(377.3×46 ft)
Thalamegos ca. 200 BCE Thalamegos (Ancient Greek θαλαμηγός = "leader of the rooms" from θάλαμος, -οι (thálamos, pl. -oi) = room(s) and (hegeísthai) - to lead, guide) was a river going pomp boat of Ptolemy IV Philopator. It was divided in two storeys with different preciously designed rooms and halls, the upper one for the queen, the lower one for the pharaoh with a taller height. The ship had a twin hull like a catamaran, one single mast with a yard and sail on the forecastle and is said to be towed from the banks of the Nile. Columns surrounded the storeys like a temple. Athenaios' report doesn't tells us where the servants' rooms were installed, probably on both the upper and lower storeys. Some sources report a second large ship, the Tessarakonteres (forty), of the same king.
126.73×51.84 m

(416×170 ft)
Treasure ship 15th c. Historical records from the document "History of the Ming dynasty" claim that the largest Chinesemarker Treasure Ships were more than long. However, the size of treasure ships is still disputed and some scholars argue that they were probably closer to 200-250 feet in length, while others argue that they were actually 309-408 feet in length and 160-166 feet in width.
128.0×17.7 m
(420×58 ft)
Tessarakonteres ca. 200 BCE The Greek trireme Tessarakonteres reportedly carried a crew of 400, was powered by 4000 oarsmen and transported 2850 soldiers, according to Athenaeus and Plutarch (Life of Demetrios). Historical evidence for this ship is limited to ancient references. Ships and Seamanship in the Ancient World, Lionel Casson 1994.
137.0×22.9 m
(450×75 ft)
Noah's Ark unknown Noah's Ark is described in accounts in Genesis and the Qur'an.


References

  1. The Peter von Danzig introduced the Mediterranean ship building technique of carvel planking into Northern Europe.
  2. Because of the conditions of the Baltic Sea, the Vasa was well preserved and was recovered relatively intact in 1961. It is now in the Vasa Museum in Stockholm, Sweden. ( The Swedish Ship Vasa's Revival)
  3. http://www.fregatten-jylland.dk/default.aspx?pageID=60&lang=en
  4. China To Revive Zheng He's Legend, China Daily, September 4, 2006
  5. Deutsche Museumswerft
  6. CNN WORLD REPORT: World's Largest Wooden Ship Unveiled in Kuwait, CNN Transcript, July 8, 2001.
  7. Her round-bottomed hull is 42 feet (12.7 m) wide by 277 feet (83.9 m) long. The house rests on a platform extending 18 feet (5.5 m) from the hull on either side.
  8. Originally known as the City of Naples, it was one of 3 sister ships (the others being the City of Venice and the City of Genoa).
  9. Its 2 sister ships were constructed the same way for the same reasons.
  10. Service History, Frank O'Connor article, Wisconsin's Great Lakes Shipwrecks website, Wisconsin Historical Society and University of Wisconsin–Madison Sea Grant.
  11. Launch of the Columbus
  12. She left Quebec Augt. 23rd & filled with water 650 Miles from land, drew . & had . water in her Hold, was waterlogged & went ashore in 3 pieces 24th Octr: near Calais. ( Baron Renfrew Timber Ship (Timber Drogher) 1825, Library and Archives Canada, Acc. No. R9266-3280 Peter Winkworth Collection of Canadiana).
  13. Also known as a timber ship, or timber drogher.
  14. Wisconsin's Great Lakes Shipwrecks: Appomattox University of Wisconsin–Madison Sea Grant Institute and Wisconsin Historical Society, 2003
  15. Santiago, Great Lakes Shipwrecks, ©1999-2007, David D. Swayze, Lake Isabella, MI, retrieved August 16, 2007.
  16. http://www.bruzelius.info/nautica/Ships/Fourmast_ships/Roanoke(1892).html.
  17. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=9B02EFD8173DE733A25752C1A96E9C946497D6CF
  18. Lubbock, Basil: The Down-Easters. Glasgow: Brown, Son, & Ferguson, 1929, pp. 49 and 253
  19. It started to leak after encountering a hurricane off Bermuda.
  20. Great Republic, A Sailor (presumed to be Duncan McLean), Eastburn's Press, Boston, 1853
  21. MIT Museum's Hart Nautical Collection Portrays the Romance and Reality of Clipper Ships: The Clipper Ship Era, A Fever for Gold, Speed, and Profit 1843-1869, September 30, 2004 — July 10, 2005; More on the history of the clipper ship: Remarkable Achievements, MIT Museum article.
  22. "Even the biggest of the 5,000-6,000-ton wooden battleships of the mid- to late 19th century and the 5,000-ton wooden motorships constructed in the United States during World War I did not exceed in length or in width. The longest of these ships, the Mersey-class frigates, were unsuccessful, and one, HMS Orlando, showed signs of structural failure after an 1863 voyage to the United States. The Orlando was scrapped in 1871 and the Mersey soon after. Both the Mersey-class frigates and the largest of the wooden battleships, the 121-gun Victoria class, required internal iron strapping to support the hull, as did many other ships of this kind. In short, the construction and use histories of these ships indicated that they were already pushing or had exceeded the practical limits for the size of wooden ships." ( Asia's Undersea Archeology, Richard Gould, NOVA, PBS Television article)
  23. "Britain had built two long frigates in 1858 - HMS Mersey and HMS Orlando - the longest, largest and most powerful single-decked wooden fighting ships. Although only long, they suffered from the strain of their length, proving too weak to face a Ship of the line in close quarters." ( HMS Warrior, h2g2, BBC Television)
  24. Wisconsin's Great Lakes Shipwrecks: Pretoria University of Wisconsin–Madison Sea Grant Institute and Wisconsin Historical Society, 2003
  25. The World's Largest Ship, And a Tale of Two Ports, Alan Lucas, AFLOAT, October 2006
  26. It foundered in heavy seas in 1924 with loss of all hands.
  27. The twisting and bucking of the planks were caused by the Wyoming's extreme length and mostly wood construction, although it did include metal bracing and other metal components.
  28. Steam-driven pumps were installed and run constantly to keep the hold relatively dry.
  29. The Great Michael was said to carry the Mons Meg cannon, the largest gun ever carried on any vessel in history with a bore of 56 cm (22 inches) that fired a 180 kg (396 lb) projectile. It also carried dozens of other cannons.
  30. Ancient Records of Egypt: Historical Documents from the Earliest Times; Volume Two: The Eighteenth Dynasty, James Henry Breasted, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1906, ISBN 0837016606; republished by University of Illinois Press (May 17, 2001), ISBN 0252069749
  31. Ancient Egypt: River Boats website
  32. Ships of the Pharaohs, Björn Landström, Allen & Unwin, London, 1970
  33. 'It is estimated that the obelisk barge may have been over ninety-five metres in length and thirty-two metres wide. Too large to be equipped with a sail and not very manoeuvrable, the barge would have been towed downstream by smaller vessels, also using the current, from Aswan to Thebes.' ( Technology along the Nile: Ancient Egyptian Boats, Robert Partridge, Ancient Egypt Magazine, Volume 4, Issue 5, April/May 2004, last modified March 27, 2002)
  34. 'It was over long, Casson, Lionel, 'Ships and Seamanship in the Ancient World', 1995, page 342
  35. 'Athenaios does not indicate his sources for the second ship, [the Thalamegos] but it must have been an eye-witness or a person who obtained measurements and other details from a contemporary', Sarton, George, 'Hellenistic Science and Culture in the Last Three Centuries B.C.', 1993, page 121
  36. 'well known from historical sources', Robert, Michael, 'Text and Artifact in the Religions of Mediterranean Antiquity', 2000, page 347
  37. "History of the Ming dynasty" «明史», Zhang Tingyu chief editor, published 1737, “四十四丈一十八丈”
  38. "Eunuch Sanbao's Journey to the Western Seas" «三宝太监西洋通俗演义记»Luo Maodeng, published 1597, “宝船长四十四丈四,阔一十八丈,每只船上有九道桅。”
  39. Stern rudder posts have been found that are over 15+ ft, and calculations show that the ships would have been around 400 ft long from this. Some claims of lengths as much as exist.
  40. Ancient Chinese Explorers, Evan Hadingham, Sultan's Lost Treasures, NOVA, PBS Television
  41. Asia's Undersea Archeology, Richard Gould, NOVA, PBS Television article
  42. The Great Chinese Mariner Zheng He [Cheng Ho], China the Beautiful webpage with Zheng He links.
  43. Zheng He: China and the oceans in the early Ming dynasty 1404–1433, Edward L. Dreyer, Longman, ISBN 0321084438, reviewed in China at sea, Jonathan Mirsky, The Times Literary Supplement, Times Online, January 24, 2007
  44. The Colossal Ships of Zheng He: Image or Reality?, Sally K. Church, p.155-176 of Zheng He; Images & Perceptions, South China and Maritime Asia , Volume 15, Hrsg: Ptak, Roderich /Höllmann Thomas, O. Harrasowitz Verlag, Wiesbaden, 2005
  45. When China Ruled the Seas", Louise Levathes, p. 80
  46. The Age of the Supergalleys, Chapter 7 of Ships and Seafaring in Ancient Times, Lionel Casson, University of Texas Press; 1st University edition, March 1994 ISBN 029271162X.
  47. Athenaeus, The Deipnosophists, Book 5, Loeb Classical Library No. 208, Harvard University Press, 1987
  48. Biblical literalists sometimes ascribe a date of ca. 4000BC to this ship, but even among biblical literalists there is little agreement as to the date of its putative construction.



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