Model of the fully rigged ship Austria-Trieste, built in 1884

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© Technisches Museum Wien

The age of the sailing ship was slowly drawing to a close. This particular type of merchant ship was among the last to rival the steamship.

The term “fully rigged ship” was used in the second half of the 19th century to designate fully rigged three-masted merchant ships. On a fully rigged ship each mast is rigged entirely with square sails.

A fully rigged ship is very similar to a barque. But unlike a barque the mizzen-mast (= the aft mast) on a fully rigged ship is rigged with one gaff sail and with square sails (athwartships). A gaff sail is set in the ship’s longitudinal direction, making it a fore-and-aft sail. The barque has the mizzen mast in the aft-most position, rigged only with gaff sails.

During the second half of the 19th century and the early 20th century the large windjammers were designed as barques since gaff sails without square sails were easier to handle.

Swift tall ships followed on from the frigates built in the 18th century. The length-to-width ratio changed to as much as 7.6:1. Between 1860 and 1905 the average carrying capacity (or tonnage) increased five-fold. It meant that clippers were able to operate more cost-effectively than steamships on many routes at a time when steamships were steadily gaining in importance.

The model of this merchant vessel on a scale of 1:25 was made around 1884 by the imperial & royal state school for arts and crafts in Trieste and presented to the Technisches Museum Wien (Vienna Technical Museum) in 1916. In all probability it is not a true replica of an original, but the standard design of a fully rigged ship of the day. The exhibit was painstakingly restored in 2003, with any missing parts replaced.



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