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Preussen was built as a 133 meter long steel-hulled five-masted ship-rigged windjammer and was the largest of the Flying P-liners. The Flying P-liners were the sailing ships of the German F. Laeisz shipping company renowned for their cruising speed, high reliability and their name all starting with the letter P (such as Pamir, Passat…). She was named after the German state and kingdom of Prussia.
Preussen was –until the 2000 launch of the Royal Clipper- the only five-masted full-rigged ship ever built. A full-rigged ship was harder to manoeuvre and required an appropriate qualified crew, however this gave her a speed advantage.
Preussen was originally put to sea for the saltpetre trade between Chile and Europe. Many considered Preussen to be the fastest sailing ship of its time as she could reach speeds of 18.5 knots and in 1903 she beat the record by reaching Inique (Chile) in only 58 days.
In 1910, while crossing the Channel she was rammed south of Newhaven by a small British steamer who, contrary to regulations, tried to cross before her bows. Preussen was tugged towards Dover but attempts to put her to safety failed as the tug could not cope with her sheer size in gale force conditions and she broke onto rocks at Crab Bay where she sunk.