France II

France II

The France II was a French sailing ship and the second one of that name. She was an extremely large tall ship of 5.633 GRT, 4.544 NRT, and of square rigging as s five-masted barque, making her the biggest sailing ship ever built. She had a length of 146 meters (479 feet), a displacement of 10.710 t (10.541 tons or 10.541 ton standard (ts)), and could carry 7.300 tons of cargo. The vessel had some wooden components, including wooden decks, a beautiful lounge with a piano and precious furniture, seven luxury passenger cabins, a library, a darkroom, and a seawater therapy equipment. She had a steel hull and 5 masts of steel tubing. Her deck-line was striking in that she had an extremely long poop, forecastle, and midship island with only two short open upper deck sections, each containing one of her huge loading hatches. Her sail area amounted to 6.350 m² [68.350 sq ft]. She carried 38 sails: 20 square sails, 4 jibbs, 12 staysails, 1 spanker gaff sail, 1 spanker gaff topsail. Built in 1911 at the Gironde yards ("Chantiers et Ateliers de la Gironde") in Bordeaux for the nickel trade, she had the French call sign "JHGT" and was owned by the "Société Anonyme des Navires Mixtes (Prentout-Leblond, Leroux & Cie.)". The huge barque was equipped with two Schneider 950 hp diesel engines which have been removed in 1919. Her crew consisted of 5 officers: captain, 2nd captain (on French ships only (second capitaine); a naval officer of a captain's rank as a vice-captain and security officer, see chief mate) and 40 able seamen, later on (1919) 45.

In July 1922 she went aground in New Caledonia homeward bound to Europe with a nickel cargo. Because of fallen cargo rates her owner refused to tow her free from the Ouano reef by a tug which was absolutely possible. In 1944, American bombers bombed the wreckage.

There are currently plans to build a replica of the France II.

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