Three-masted Barques of type "Amiral Courbet"

( 3-mâts barques du type "Amiral-Courbet" )

built by the

Chantiers Nantais de Constructions Maritimes


History

In 1893 the French government started to enact laws providing subsidiaries for the nautical shipping industry, a move that nowadays (2007) would be frowned upon by the World Trade Organization. For sailing ships, the subsidiary was 1.7 Francs per gross ton per 1000 nautical miles, diminishing till extinction for the following 10 years. For steamers, it was only 1.1 Francs. As a result, 212 squarerigger "Bounty Ships" were built between 1897 and 1902, practically all for bulk cargo. In those days, the Panama Canal did not exist, and those ships had to round the infamous Cape Horn for trips to Chili and California.

The company "Chantiers Nantais de Constructions Maritimes" was created to take advantage of the opportunity. It designed a quite classic three-masted barque, the "Amiral Courbet" type, and within 23 months, launched 30 identical ships in its yard at Chantenay-sur-Loire. Shortly after, the company was dissolved.

The "Amiral Courbet" barque was made conventionally of steel plates.
Its capacity was 2200 Gross Tons, 2000 Net Tons, and 3100 Dead Weight Tons.
Its dimensions were length 227', breadth 40'4", and depth 22'5".

The somewhat French look of these ships comes from:
- a long poop (52') and forecastle (39'), for extended and more comfortable crew quarters,
- a steam donkey boiler to operate windlass and pumps, another cause for crew jealousy, and
- a subtly different spacing of the yards on the masts.

These ships were by no means racehorses, and they sailed significantly slower than clipper ships built decades before, but they did their job with regularity and predictability in relatively nasty seas, which is what the shareholders wanted to hear. However, the First World War, then the post-war freight slump brought an end to their story. Not a single one survives past 1932. All is left to travel back in time are now images, and for those for which no pictures were found, one starts to wonder if they ever existed at all....


Exhaustive list of the 30 ships


Amiral Courbet

Launched Apr 25, 1900, 2223 gross, 1969 net
Lost Irish Coast near Cork Oct 1915

http://voiliersnantais.free.fr/HTML/page034.html First built, and first alphabetically

see also Randier p.268


Amiral de Cornulier

Launched Jul 28, 1900, 2208 gross, 1946 net
Broken up 1923


Amiral Halgan

Launched May 28, 1900, 2214 gross, 1947 net
Broken up 1923

AmiralHalgan_VN.jpg Anchored on a calm day (Frédéric Grellier, Voiliers Nantais)


Armen

Launched Feb 27, 1902, 2243 gross, 2016 net
Lost Ile des Pins, New Caledonia, Nov 8, 1909


Babin Chevaye

Launched Oct 16, 1901, 2174 gross, 1930 net
Sunk by U-84, Bay of Biscay, Jan 14 1918

BabinChevaye_Randier174_75dpi.jpg Anchor always ready to go when under tow (Randier p.174)

BabinChevaye_Randier285_75dpi.jpg Beating the wind with all sails on (Randier p.285)


Bayard

Launched Jul 1, 1901, 2201 gross, 1970 net
Broken up Germany 1926

Bayard_VN.jpg Object on aft main deck may be a canvas ventilator (Frédéric Grellier, Voiliers Nantais)


Bidart

Launched Sep 1901, 2199 gross, 1917 net
Lost Flores island (Azores), in a place called "Baixio", May 24, 1915

http://www.slv.vic.gov.au/brodie/0/0/3/doc/bs003405.shtml Wind dead astern, not a comfortable tack

http://www.slv.vic.gov.au/brodie/0/0/2/doc/bs002089.shtml Tugs alongside in narrows [location?]


Boiëldieu

Launched Aug 1902, 2208 gross, 1981 net
Sank in St. Vincent’s Gulf. Raised and repaired in Melbourne
Broken up Lorient 1927

http://www.slv.vic.gov.au/brodie/0/0/1/doc/bs001456.shtml Waiting for cargo, a not-uncommon occurrence

http://www.slv.vic.gov.au/brodie/0/0/2/doc/bs002274.shtml Three tugs for a very narrow river [location?]

http://www.slv.vic.gov.au/brodie/0/0/3/doc/bs003198.shtml Foremast yards are braced more than main mast for steering stability

http://voiliersnantais.free.fr/HTML/page027.html Practically becalmed

see also Villiers & Picard p.104


Bougainville

Launched Jul 20, 1902, 2248 gross, 1982 net
Not to be confused with 1863 iron barque
Sunk by U-70, St George Canal, Feb 1916

http://www.slv.vic.gov.au/brodie/0/0/0/doc/bs000051.shtml Hulk in Noumea


Bretagne

Launched Sep 27, 1901, 2197 gross, 1914 net, HNPJ
Not to be confused with 1898 Bretagne lost Cape Horn in 1900
Broken up Blumenthal 1926

http://www.slv.vic.gov.au/brodie/0/0/0/doc/bs000055.shtml Sails on foremast are starting to get taken aback

see also Villiers & Picard pp.122-123, Randier pp.41, 269


Colonel de Villebois-Mareuil

Launched Nov 26, 1900, 2187 gross, 1926 net
Originally with a "Jubilee rig"
Broken up Jan 1927

http://www.slv.vic.gov.au/brodie/0/0/0/doc/bs000586.shtml Lower yards tilted to clear loading cranes

see also Villiers & Picard p.124


Connétable de Richemont

Launched Apr 30, 1901, 2297 gross, 1732 net
Lost Honolulu Oct 11, 1903


Du Couëdic

Launched May 15, 1901, 2297 gross, 1732 net
Vanished Marshall Jul 1903


Duc d’Aumale

Launched Dec 27, 1900, 2189 gross, 1944 net
Sunk by U-43 45:21N 8:50W Jan 22 1917

http://www.slv.vic.gov.au/brodie/0/0/0/doc/bs000096.shtml Anchored in a nice breeze

DucDAumale_Villiers142_75dpi.jpg Sinking with all sails set (Villiers & Picard p.142)


Eugène Pergeline

Launched Sep 20, 1900, 2203 gross, 1953 net
Sunk by U-54 Fastnet Mar 1917

EugenePergeline_VN.jpg With that wind you could probably hear the ship (Frédéric Grellier, Voiliers Nantais)


Eugène Schneider

Launched Apr 5, 1902, 2218 gross, 1939 net
Sunk by collision with SS Burutu English Channel Dec 24, 1926

http://www.slv.vic.gov.au/pictoria/b/4/0/doc/b40070.shtml Moored to an Australian wharf; looks like barkentine Mozart in background

http://www.slv.vic.gov.au/pictoria/b/4/3/doc/b43491.shtml Fore and main sails furled up to avoid damage when becalmed

see also Villiers & Picard p.144


Général de Négrier

Launched May 10, 1901, 2196 gross, 1946 net
Broken up Marseille 1928

GeneralDeNegrier_Villiers163_75dpi.jpg Loading grain by hand at Oakland (Villiers & Picard p.163)


Général de Sonis

Launched Nov 7, 1901, 2190 gross, 1943 net
Broken up Sep 1932

http://www.slv.vic.gov.au/pictoria/b/4/0/doc/b40062.shtml Heaving to, probably waiting for tug or pilot

http://www.slv.vic.gov.au/brodie/0/0/1/doc/bs001396.shtml At quay [is this Cardiff?]

http://voiliersnantais.free.fr/HTML/page043.html Anchored with the "grand pavois" flags hoisted


Guéthary

Launched Sep 1, 1901, 2178 gross, 1930 net
Lost Port Ellen Bay Oct 21, 1914


Joinville

Launched Mar 1902, 2212 gross, 1946 net
Broken up Oct 1926

Joinville_Randier227_75dpi.jpg Just about to cast off from Saint-Nazaire, with steam billowing from windlass exhaust (Randier p.227)

http://www.slv.vic.gov.au/brodie/0/0/2/doc/bs002062.shtml Under tow into unknown harbor


La RocheJacquelein

Launched Nov 1901, 2199 gross, 1954 net
Sunk by UC-17 Lizard Nov 14, 1916

http://www.slv.vic.gov.au/brodie/0/0/3/doc/bs003411.shtml Spanker and Main sails are furled when running with wind aft


Maréchal de Gontaut

Launched Feb 1902, 2240 gross, 2025 net
Vanished Pacific Ocean from Callao to Sydney Oct 1913

http://voiliersnantais.free.fr/HTML/page029.html In the process of reducing sail


Montcalm

Launched Apr 1902, 2212 gross, 1960 net
Broken up Holland 1923


Neuilly

Launched Oct 27, 1900, 2186 gross, 1923 net
Sunk by U-90 Atlantic Oct 1, 1917


Olivier de Clisson

Launched May 22, 1901, 2202 gross, 1974 net
Abandoned Cape Verde Islands Sep 23, 1905


Pierre Antonine

Launched Jun 1902, 2206 gross, 2030 net
Broken up 1928

http://www.slv.vic.gov.au/brodie/0/0/0/doc/bs000474.shtml At anchor with ladder down

http://www.slv.vic.gov.au/brodie/0/0/1/doc/bs001171.shtml Along pier, nearly fully loaded

http://www.slv.vic.gov.au/brodie/0/0/1/doc/bs001543.shtml In Sydney Harbour for repairs after struck by hurricane east of Kerguelen Island.

http://www.slv.vic.gov.au/pcards/0/0/0/doc/pc000978.shtml Sepia postcard showing how to sail without tugs


Pierre Loti

Launched Feb 23, 1901, 2196 gross, 1926 net
Sunk by Prinz Eitel Friedrich 29:53S 26:47W Jan 27, 1915


Tourville

Launched Jun 1902, 2314 gross, 1741 net
Lost maiden voyage New Caledonia June 1, 1904


Versailles

Launched Aug 25, 1900, 2201 gross, 1939 net
Broken up 1927

http://www.slv.vic.gov.au/pictoria/b/3/9/doc/b39162.shtml The royal sails are the first to go when the wind strenghtens

http://www.slv.vic.gov.au/pictoria/b/4/0/doc/b40204.shtml The sail twirl on the fore and main masts is very visible


Vincennes

Launched Jun 27, 1900, 2210 gross, 1964 net
Broken up 1926

http://www.slv.vic.gov.au/pictoria/b/3/9/doc/b39815.shtml Abeam of a strong breeze

http://www.slv.vic.gov.au/brodie/0/0/2/doc/bs002318.shtml Towed in after a long voyage

http://libapp.sl.nsw.gov.au/cgi-bin/spydus/ENQ/PM/FULL1?281731,I Stranded on Mavis beach in Sydney

http://libapp.sl.nsw.gov.au/cgi-bin/spydus/RECOPT/PM/BSEARCH/431/281730,7?http://image.sl.nsw.gov.au/gpo2/52/d2_52398.jpg Standed; was later refloated


Bibliogaphy

Alan Villiers & Henri Picard (1972) The Bounty Ships of France; The Story of the French Cape Horn Sailing Ships, NY:Charles Scribner's Sons SBN 684-13184-6 LCCN 72-6842

VilliersPicard1972_Cover.jpg

Jean Randier (1974) Grands Voiliers Francais, Grenoble:Editions des Quatre Seigneurs ISBN 2-85231-012-0

Randier1974_Cover.jpg


Repositories

http://www.musee-maritime-rouen.asso.fr/LIste%20des%20voiliers%20du%20nickel.htm Association du Musée Maritime, Fluvial et Portuaire de Rouen, maintains "Listes des Voiliers du Nickel 1890-1922".

slnsw_logo.gif State Library of New South Wales, Australia, well-made online database.

slv_logo.gif State Library of Victoria, Australia, especially the Malcolm Brodie shipping collection, well-made online database.

http://voiliersnantais.free.fr/HTML/page001.html Group keeping the "Voiliers Nantais" alive, with details on Shipping Compagnies.

http://classes.belem44.free.fr/guemene/site%20Belem/les_voiliers..htm La construction navale de Nantes à Saint-nazaire de 1850 à 1914.


Back to Jan Cocatre-Zilgien's homepage

created Jan 05, 2007
revised Jun 30, 2009