S. N. Castle




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Ship Name: S N Castle; Sailed: 1886-1926; Type: Wood 3-masted barkentine; Built by: Hall Brothers, Port Blakely, Washington; Dimensions: 155.8' x 35.1' x 13.7'; Tonnage: 514 tons.


This is an image of a barkentine in Southern California being converted for film usage. There were two barkentines so used, the S N Castle and the old Alaska Packers Association Centennial. The latter was originally a full-rigged ship, then later a bark of well over 1,200 tons. The vessel in this image appears significantly smaller than nearly 1,300 tons, so I have surmised it isS N Castle, but it is only conjecture. One of the things that seems inexplicable is the re-emergence of the barkentine rig; S N Castle was a three-masted schooner just before joining the Hollywood fleet. Regardless, S N Castle came into being as a sugar packet intended to operate between Hawaii and West Coast ports, principally San Francisco. Its namesake was the treasurer of the Kohala Sugar Company of what was then the Hawaiian Kingdom, later Hawaii Territory (1898). Sold in 1905 to Edward Pond, San Francisco, S N Castle then engaged in the codfish industry. In this employ, S N Castle was detained by the Russians and then ejected from Okhotsk Sea. A Russian cruiser seized the papers of the barkentine and also of the City of Papeete. Damage claims were filed in July of 1907. The Russian fracas did not help Edwards Pond’s bottom line. Pond lost his business after a couple of years, and the vessel again changed hands to George A. Moore & Co., engaged in general trading. While engaged in trade in the South Pacific, S N Castle brought news of the murder of a missionary, Reverend Alexander McLoughlin, who was subsequently eaten by cannibals on St. George Island in the Solomons. The British gunboat Hinemoa endeavored to recover what remained of the missionary, but the local chieftain seemed disinclined to cooperate. After a vigorous shelling of a thatched village, the reverend’s bones were returned. S N Castle also became the harbinger of war news from World War I in the South Pacific. Before the USA entered the fray in 1917, S N Castle arrived in Honolulu with German refugees from some of the previously German-held atolls that had been displaced by Japanese warships. The Japanese shelled Papeete, and occupied Jaluit in the Marshalls and also Yap in the Carolines, the German administrative center for Micronesia. In 1917, S N Castle lost its square rig on the foremast and became a schooner owned by the Alaska Codfish Co., returning to the cod fish industry. That industry played out, and S N Castle made one last commercial voyage to Suva via Vancouver, returning to San Francisco in 1923-24. Freights were down and wooden sailing vessels could be had for next to nothing. Many of them were shoved onto a convenient mud bank until nature demolished the vessel. S N Castle had a different fate in store: Towed to Southern California early in 1926, the old ship was re-rigged and remodeled to look like a Barbary frigate for the movie, Old Ironsides. On 17 February 1926, the now full-rigged Tripolitan frigate burned and sank in 160 feet of water at the entrance to Cat Harbor, Catalina, where its remains still lie.


Merchant Ships, Ships