History of the Flying P-Liners

"Flying P-Liner" are the sailing ships that were owned by the ship owner F. Laeisz in the second half of the 19th century. The ships hulls were painted in F. Laeisz's typical colors black-white-red.

The Flying P-Liners were renowned for their robustness, safety and speed. They were always well maintained, up to date with the latest technology and were stronger build than most other sailingships. F. Laeisz's sailing ships mainly traded on Chile to carry nitrate back to Europe. For this they had to tackle the risky route around Cape Horn. In doing so, they stood out from other sailing ships as they mastered the journey much faster and safer.

66 of the 86 sailing ships owned by the shipping company F. Laeisz bore names with the initial letter "P". The reason for this can be traced back to a small barque, which was built for F. Laeisz in 1856 at H.C. Stülcken shipyard in Hamburg. The barque was baptized PUDEL - after the nickname of the shipowner's wife, Sophie Laeisz.

The shipping company F. Laeisz continued with the construction of four- and five-masted barques. In 1895 the five-masted barque POTOSI was completed. In 1902 the five-masted full rigged vessel PREUSSEN followed. This ship was supposed to be a prototype of the sailing ship of the future. However, the large size did not work out as the crews were skeptical towards the ship and it was very difficult to organize 8,000 tons of cargo in Chile's remote ports.

As early as 1892, the development of the optimal type of ship for F. Laeisz began with the construction of the four-masted barques PLACILLA and PISAGUA. Thereupon Laeisz contracted the construction of two sailing ships PEKING and PASSAT. Both ships were identical but only half the size of the PREUSSEN and were ideal for the transport of nitrate. In 1910, the PREUSSEN was lost off Dover in the English Channel after a collision with another ship.

When the First World War started in 1914 many of F. Laeisz's sailing ships were interned in Chile and had to be handed over as reparation to the Allies after the war. For the return trip from Chile, the Allies allowed the ships to carry cargo on their own account. Fortunately, the profits made through the sale of the nitrate were so high that F. Laeisz was able to buy back many of his ships from the Allies.

The Great Depression of 1931 put a heavy strain on the F. Laeisz, who were forced them to sell several ships. Among them were the PAMIR and the PASSAT.

For this reason F. Laeisz only possesed two sailing ships when the war broke out in 1939 - the PRIWALL and the PADUA. The PRIWALL was interned in Chile and then handed over to the country as a gift. She was destroyed in a cargo fire in 1945. The PADUA were given to the Soviet Union in 1946 as a reparation payment and has since been a sailing training ship under the name KRUZENSHTERN.

This time, the shipping company F. Laeisz did not buy back any of the sailing ships, but has since concentrated on motor shipping.

Today there are only four Flying P-Liners left - the POMMERN, the PASSAT, the PADUA and the PEKING. The PADUA / KRUZENSHTERN is still used as a sail training ship, while POMMERN and PASSAT are used as museum ships in Mariehamn (Finland) respectively Travemünde. The PEKING has returned from New York to Germany and will become a museum ship in Hamburg in 2020 after being completely overhauled.