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France II was at the time the largest sailing ship ever built.
France II was built in 1911 in the Bordeaux dockyards and launched in 1912. She was 150m long, had five masts, 6,350m² of sails and two 900hp diesel engines.
She was used to transport nickel from Caledonia, new ore of strategic importance that was used in alloys.
During World War I she frequently sailed around Cape Horn, Cape of Good Hope and Cape Leeuwin.
In 1922 she ran aground on Ouano reef in New Caledonia. Tugging her free of the reef could have been possible but her owners decided that it was not financially worth it. So she remained a familiar sight on the reef until 1944 when Americans bombers used her for target practice