City of Galveston




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Texas Tech University Libraries


Ship Name:City of Galveston; Sailed: 1919-1921; Type: Wood 5-masted auxiliary barkentine; Built by: Orange, Texas, International Shipbuilding; Dimensions: 282' x 45.9' x 22'; Tonnage: 2259 tons.


During the First World War, feverish efforts to build ships grew partly out of actual need, and partly out of a fear of losses due to submarine warfare. One the west coast, Ferris hulls and big schooners—many auxiliary-powered, filled in the gaps between launching steamers. Several of these auxiliaries were built for French interests. The Gulf coast answered with its own brand of sailing ship--a flock of auxiliary-powered barkentines sponsored by a New Orleans-based Italian consulate official named Henry Piaggio. The engines in these auxiliaries were gasoline, powering screws. The barkentine sailing rigs were bald-headed on the foremast (i.e., foresail, double topsails, double topgallants, and nothing above the topgallants). Each of these ships had very full ends and a characteristically stunning sheer forward. Over thirty-five years ago, I talked with a now-deceased naval architect in Orange, Texas who was just beginning his career when these ships were built. While generalizations are always misleading, his comment was that some of these ships were so hastily put together that there was as much as three feet of difference between the beam centerline to the port side and the beam centerline to the starboard side. Obviously, such discrepancies made it difficult in the extreme to set up the rigging. City of Galveston only made a couple of voyages, very difficult ones at that, before being condemned in Italy as unseaworthy and broken up. The engines were previously removed in 1920 because they were too small to affect the ship in a seaway, and took up too much valuable cargo space. Auxiliary-powered sail freight ships have always been fraught with enough compromises to be neither good sailers or good motor ships—a lesson still not learned by the purveyors of auxiliary automobiles. Photograph 105a is a bow shot of City of Galveston. Photograph 105b is a broadside view of City of Lafayette (I think) while fitting out after launching. The seemingly record-breaking sheer is most obvious. City of Lafayette was a little larger (2439 tons) than City of Galveston.


Merchant Ships, Ships