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Blue Jacket (clipper)

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Title: Blue Jacket (clipper)  
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Subject: Red Jacket (clipper), PS America, PS Ireland, SS Hornby, SS Tropic (1871)
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Blue Jacket (clipper)

Career (United States)
Owner: Seccomb & Taylor, Boston ; Sold to John Frost for his Fox Line of Australian packets later that year.
Builder: Robert E. Jackson, East Boston, MA
Launched: August 7, 1854 or Aug. 27, 1854
General characteristics
Class & type: Extreme clipper
Tons burthen: 1790 tons
Length: 220 ft (67 m). ; 235 ft (72 m). LOA
Beam: 41 ft 2 in (12.55 m), or 41 ft. 6 in.
Draft: 24 ft (7.3 m).
Notes: 2 decks [1][2]

The Blue Jacket was an 1854 extreme clipper in the Liverpool and Australia trades, named after the blue jackets, a traditional name for sailors in the US and British navies.


“The figurehead was ‘a man from the waist up, in old sailor's costume, a blue jacket with yellow buttons, the jacket open in the front, no waistcoat, loose shirt, and a large knotted handkerchief round the neck.’”


Blue Jacket had a sharp bow, and a full midship section designed for stowing a large cargo. Lubbock describes this fuller style of hull, which created an appearance of "strength and power" rather than "grace and beauty," as being characteristic of ships designed by Donald Mackay.[3]

The frame of Blue Jacket was white oak, with planking and ceiling of hard pine. She was diagonally braced with iron, and square-fastened throughout. The interior finish work was quite elegant, according to a contemporary description in the U.S. Nautical Magazine:

Her cabins, of which she has two, are under a poop deck. The saloon is 40 feet long by 14 wide, painted white, and ornamented with papier maché gilt work; in the centre of each panel is a representation of flowers, fruit and game. This saloon contains 20 state-rooms, ventilated and finished in a superior manner; the furniture, carpets, and drapery in each, being different. Each room has a square window on its side, and deck lights above. The after, or ladies' cabin, is 30 feet long by 13 wide, and contains eight state-rooms and a bath-room. This cabin is a miniature palace. It is wainscoted with mahogany, the entablatures are of rosewood, and the pillars of satinwood. The panels are ornamented with flowers, surrounded by gilt scroll work.[4]


The Blue Jacket was chartered by the White Star Line in 1854.[5]

  • Lyttelton, NZ to London
    • 63 days, Captain James White, 1863 [1]

Loss of the ship

Blue Jacket left Lyttleton, NZ with a general cargo that included flax. On March 5, 1869, off the Falkland Islands, the flax caught fire. Four days later, on March 9, the ship was abandoned. On March 16, the German barque Pyrmont of Bremen rescued the crew.[1] There were nine survivors, who managed to guard 15,000 pounds sterling of gold from the ship.[7]

Recovery of her figurehead

After the loss of the ship, "the figurehead of the Blue Jacket was found washed up on the shore of the Rottnest Island, off Fremantle, Western Australia".[1]

The figurehead washed ashore 2½ years later, roughly 6,000 miles (9,700 km) from the location where Blue Jacket burned  – . The average speed of drift for the figurehead was calculated to be 6½ miles per day.[8]


  1. ^ a b c d Bruzelius, Lars (1997-03-21). "Clipper Ships: "Blue Jacket" (1854)". The Maritime History Virtual Archives. Retrieved August 6, 2010. 
  2. ^ Crothers, William L. (1997). The American-Built Clipper Ship, 1850–1856: Characteristics, Construction, Details. Camden, ME: International Marine. pp. xvii.  
  3. ^ Lubbock, Basil (1921). The Colonial Clippers (2nd ed.). Glasgow: James Brown & Son. pp. 86–87.  
  4. ^ Bruzelius, Lars (1997-03-21). "The U.S. Nautical Magazine, Vol. I (1854-55), p 253.". The Clipper Ship “Blue Jacket”, in the Liverpool and Australian trade. The Maritime History Virtual Archives. Retrieved August 6, 2010. 
  5. ^ Clark, Arthur H. (1912). The Clipper Ship Era, An Epitome of Famous American and British Clipper Ships, Their Owners, Builders, Commanders, and Crews, 1843–1869. Camden, ME: G.P. Putnam’s Sons. p. 270. 
  6. ^ Thrum, Thomas G (1920), "Famous American Clippers Visiting Honolulu", All about Hawaii. The recognized book of authentic information on Hawaii, combined with Thrum's Hawaiian annual and standard guide. Hawaiian annual for 1921. The reference book of information and statistics relating to the territory of Hawaii., 47th year, Honolulu, HI: Thos. G. Thrum, p. 36 
  7. ^ Irving, Joseph (1880). "March 1869". The annals of our time: a diurnal of events, social and political, home and foreign, from the accession of Queen Victoria, June 20, 1837, to the peace of Versailles, February 28, 1871. New ed., rev. (London: Macmillan): 863. Retrieved August 6, 2010. 
  8. ^ "Zur Kenntnis" Der Meeresströmungen". Das Archiv für Seewesen. Mittheilungen aus dem Gebiete der Nautik, des Schiffbau- und Maschinenwesens, der Artillerie, Wasserbauten etc., sowie der Literatur und Bibliographie des Seewesens (Wien: C. Gerold's Sohn). 8. Jahrgang (Neue Folge. 2. Band): 297. 1872. Retrieved August 9, 2010. 

External links

  • Painting of the American clipper Blue Jacket, Henry Scott (British, 1911–2005)
  • Description of the Blue Jacket, from the U.S. Nautical Magazine, 1854
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