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Photograph of PAMIR 1905

Date: 1926
Medium: Silver gelatin print
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Gift from the Estate of John Watt
Object Name: Photograph
Object No: ANMS0416[280]

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    HistoryBuilt by Blohm & Voss in Hamburg, PAMIR was launched in 1905 and joined the fleet of the German company Laeisz primarily for use in the Chilean nitrate trade. After World War I the ship was awarded to Italy as war compensation, but was bought back by Laeisz in 1924 and continued working the trade route around Cape Horn to Chile.

    PAMIR was later sold to Captain Gustaf Erikson of Finland, and in 1932 the vessel entered the Australian grain trade. It made headlines in February 1934 when it arrived in Sydney from Port Victoria, South Australia and had to lower the topgallant mast in order to pass under the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

    During World War II the ship changed hands again when she was seized as a war prize while berthed in Wellington, New Zealand in August 1941 - the first ship ever taken in this way in New Zealand. Under the New Zealand flag with Captain Horace Stanley Collier in command, PAMIR made several commercial voyages to Australia.

    In January 1947, PAMIR brought 750,000 super feet of New Zealand timber and stayed in Sydney for three months as a result of minor industrial disputes and the wharf-labourers’ strike. One major event during the vessel’s sojourn was Sydney’s Anniversary Regatta. The 111th Australia Day Regatta was held on the public holiday on 27 January 1947. The PAMIR was the flagship of the regatta and, along with a naval gunboat, was moored at Kurraba Point acting as the starting and finishing line for some 2,000 race participants. In the end, 30 vessels were capsized during the races, a record at the time.

    In 1948 the vessel was returned to the Erikson Line. PAMIR then sailed from New Zealand to Australia to collect grain before voyaging onto Falmouth, on the journey that confirmed the vessel's status as the last sail ship to carry a commercial load around Cape Horn in July of 1949.

    As the Erikson fleet became more reliant on steamships, sailing ships such as PAMIR were becoming obsolete and the vessel eventually became a training ship for the German navy. In 1957 tragedy struck en route from Buenos Aires to Hamburg. The ship became caught in a hurricane and sank in the middle of the Atlantic. Of the 86 men aboard, only 6 survived to be rescued. The legacy of PAMIR is closely linked to the shipping history of Cape Horn as she was the last commercial sail ship to pass the cape in 1949.

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