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A ship looking for a berth

Dec 20, 2012

The financially-strapped South Street Seaport Museum in New York City is currently looking for proposals from any individual or organization with a berth to accommodate the 377-foot, four-masted barque, Peking.

The ship was built in Hamburg, Germany, in 1911 for the F. Laeisz Group and was employed in the guano and general cargo trade in South America the 1920s.

Peking was acquired by the South Street Seaport Museum in 1975 where it is today. Unfortunately, the museum’s financial difficulties and subsequent takeover by the Museum of the City of New York have apparently made it impossible for the museum to maintain any of the vessels in its fleet. Earlier plans to return the ship to Hamburg where it was built have fallen through.

During Peking’s career it has served as a boarding school and training ship in the U.K. and during World War II as HMS Peking. The barque was made famous by Capt. Irving Johnson who made a short film while aboard during an exceptionally rough passage around Cape Horn in 1929.

Like many surviving ships of its era, Peking is in serious need of repairs. Unless a suitable home is found, the vessel may be destined for the scrap yard and another important piece of maritime history will be lost.

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