10 Longest Wooden Ships Ever Built

Did you know that some of the longest wooden ships date all the way back to the 17th century?  Unfortunately all of the ships were destroyed in way or another, but their likenesses were fortunate to be captured in paintings.  So, without further ado, down below we have gathered ten of some of the longest wooden ships every built.

10. French Ironclad Trident

10 Longest Ships French Ironclad Trident

Built for the French Navy in the 1870s, the ship was the flagship of the deputy commander of the Mediterranean Squadron.  After its service throughout the 1870s and 1880s, the Trident was reclassified as a training ship.  The Trident is most known for its service in the French occupation of Tunisia.

Fate: Scrapped

Length: 335 ft

Years in service: 1878–1909

Origin: France

9. HMS Mersey

de Simone, Antonio, 1851 c.1907; HMS 'Orlando'

Commissioned in 1858, just six years after the first Mersey had been broken up, the HMS Mersey and its sister ship, the Orlando, were the longest wooden warships built for the Royal Navy.  In comparison to other ships that were built for the Royal Navy, the HMS Mersey was nearly twice the size of other ships that were built in that era.

Fate: Broken up

Length: 335 ft

Years in service: 1858–1875

Origin: Britain

8. HMS Orlando

de Simone, Antonio, 1851 c.1907; HMS 'Orlando'

Built alongside its sister ship, HMS Mersey, the HMS Orlando was also built in the year 1858.  Just like its sister ship, the HMS Orlando was a wooden-hulled, steam-powered ship.  The warship was heavily armed and was quite fast in comparison to many of her contemporaries at the time.  Both the HMS Orlando and the HMS Mersey had an approximate speed of 12½ knots.

Fate: Broken up

Length: 335 ft

Years in service: 1858–1871

Origin: Britain

7. Great Republic

10 Longest Ships Great Republic

When the Great Republic launched in 1853, it was the largest wooden ship in the world.  The Great Republic was also record breaking as being the largest full-rigged ship ever built in the United States.  The ship was designed by the famed naval architect and shipbuilding engineer, Donald Mckay.  Being one of the fastest merchant streamers, one of the most notable records set by the Great Republic was logging 413 nautical miles in a single day.

Fate: Sunk

Length: 335 ft

Years in service: 1853–1872

Origin: USA

6. Pretoria

10 Longest Ships Pretoria

Noted as one of the largest wooden ships to have ever been built, Pretoria was an American schooner barge.  Pretoria was built by James Davidson in West Bay City, Michigan, for use on the Great Lakes.

Fate: Sunk

Length: 338 ft

Years in service: 1900–1905

Origin: USA

5. Caligula’s Giant Ship

10 Longest Ships Caligulas Giant Ship

Also known as the round ship, Caligula’s Giant Ship was a very large wooden barge whose ruins were found during the construction of Rome’s Leonardo da Vinci International Airport.  Aside from its size, the ship is most notable for its transportation of the St. Peter's Square obelisk from Egypt.

Fate: Reused as foundation of a lighthouse

Length: 341 ft

Years in service: c. 37 AD

Origin: Rome

4. Dunderberg

10 Longest Ships Dunderberg

Built for the Union Navy, the Dunderberg was an ocean-going casemate ironclad.  The name is derived from a swedish word meaning thundering mountain.  While the ship’s initial construction began in 1862, the progress was slower than usual and was not launched until after the end of the American Civil War in 1865.  The ship was ultimately not accepted by the Union Navy, and so Dunderberg was shopped around for another buyer.  It ended up being bought by France in spite of Prussia so they wouldn’t acquire it for their fleet.  Dunderberg served under France as Rochambeau.  Though it was mobilized to serve in war, it ultimately saw no action.

Fate: Broken up

Length: 377 ft

Years in service: 1865–1874

Origin: USA

3. Bretagne

10 Longest Ships Bretagne

Designed by Jules Marielle, the Bretagne was a three-deck ship of the French Navy.  The ship was built as a means to improve upon their previous very successful ships.  While it was the largest wooden ship of the line ever launched, it was not considered a successful design.  It ultimately ended up failing to match the performance of Napoleon class two-deckers and was made almost obsolete by the introduction of the ironclad.

Fate: Broken up

Length: 393 ft

Years in service: 1855–1879

Origin: France

2. Solano

10 Longest Ships Solano Ferry Boat

Built as a reinforced paddle steamer, the Solano was a large railroad ferry.  The Solano was designed by Arthur Brown, the superintendent of bridges and buildings for Central Pacific Railroad.  He reinforced the ferry boat much like a rail bridge using wooden pratt trusses.  Furthermore, the ship had independently powered side wheels by the Central Pacific Railroad  The ship is also notable for two records.  One, when it was built in 1878, it was the largest ferry boat to ever be built.  From 1879 to 1914, it held this record for 35 years until its sister ship was introduced.  Two, from 1879 to 1930, the Solano carried entire trains across the Carquinez Strait between Benicia and Port Costa in California, daily for 51 years.

Fate: Scuttled

Length: 425 ft

Years in service: 1878–1931

Origin: USA

1. Wyoming

10 Longest Ships Wyoming Schooner

Coming in as the longest ship on this list, Wyoming was a wooden six-masted schooner built and completed in 1909 by the firm of Percy & Small in Bath, Maine.  Similar to many of the other ships on this list, the Wyoming was the largest known wooden ship ever built.  Because of the ship’s extreme length and wood construction, the Wyoming had a tendency to flex in heavy seas.  The planks would twist and buckle despite being fitted with metal bracing.  Water was near constantly having to be evacuated by steam pumps.  

Fate: Sunk

Length: 450 ft

Years in service: 1909–1924

Origin: USA

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