In January, two British ships did not arrive at the port of destination 1917. The disappearance of Gladys Royal and Landy Island at first did not cause much surprise - the World War rattles in Europe, thousands of soldiers die on the fronts every day. Who cares about the fate of two ships? What could have happened to them? There are no German ships in Atlantic - the Kaiser fleet is safely locked in its bases. The steamers must have lingered in the voyage, went to an emergency repair at some colonial port, stranded or thrown out by the hurricane on reefs ... Shipwrecks are not uncommon, and there is no way to find out about the fate of the vessel if there is no radio station on it.
The following month, the number of disasters in the Atlantic increased unusually - at the appointed time four French barges did not arrive at the ports, several schooners under the flags of Great Britain, Italy and Canada. In March, the British steamer Horngarth disappeared.
- Sir, it seems we have got a raider.
“Just the fantasy reporters of the Sunday Times.” Not a single German ship is capable of breaking the blockade and entering communications in the Atlantic.
... with a crunch, the bowsprit of the French barque Cambronn collapsed. Lieutenant Commander Count Felix von Luckner helplessly clenched his fists: he had just ruined with his own hands the next, ninth masterpiece of the sailing era. A month ago, von Luckner had to sink the Pinmore, the bark he rode during his civilian service navy. The law of war is harsh - there is no place for nostalgia.
However, fate this time turned out to be supportive of the “Cambronn”, the ship was lucky enough to stay alive. The Germans crippled the bark, cutting down the bowsprit and bram-stengi — this should have slowed its course — during the time the French ship reached the coast, the Seeadler would have time to leave the dangerous area of the ocean and go into the unknown direction. On board the "Cambronn" 6 transported prisoners, taking with the captains honest word that they would not report any information about the German raider to the oncoming ships before the moment they reach the Brazilian port.
At sunset, 21 March 1917, both ships peacefully dispersed their courses - the crippled and robbed "Cumbronn" crawled to the nearest port, and the "Seeadler" jerked in full sail to the South Atlantic.
The sight of Seeadler under full sail impressed the captain of the barge Antonin so much that he ordered a photograph of a German raider to be taken - this picture is a reproduction of that very photo.
The humane treatment of the captives had its effect - the crews of the sunken ships kept their promise, reporting on their amazing adventures only upon arrival in Rio de Janeiro. Brazilian newspapers filled with sensational stories about the "Sea Devil", the news excited the British command, a squadron of cruisers immediately went in search of a raider. Alas, it's too late. "Seeler" disappeared without a trace.
The fact that they began to have problems, von Luckner realized in February, after the capture of "LaRoshfuko". The team of the French barge was not surprised at all by the German attack, saying that only a couple of days ago the LaRochefoucault was searched by the British cruiser. It seems that the British began to suspect something. Von Luckner decided to take the raider into the Pacific, to the place where the enemy least expects a German attack.
Behind the thin skin of the board, he beat and sighed the ocean. Unseen by anyone, the Seeadler skirted Cape Horn and moved farther from the pursuers. Ahead lay thousands of miles of endless water and dozens of new victories in the name of Germany.
Felix von Luckner closed his eyes dreamily. The calculation of the command of Kriegsmarine was fully justified - the three-mast sailboat turned out to be an excellent corsair. Perfect camouflage - no one would think that a sailing bark is capable of attacking steamboats. The second important advantage is the absence of a unmasking smoke plume. The third point - Seeadler did not need bunkering and support ships, the supply of provisions was enough for a year of uninterrupted navigation. There was also no shortage of ammunition - the specificity of the work of the sailing corsair was far from the generally accepted notions about the “smoke of sea battles”. A clever, silent killer without a fight sent to the bottom a dozen enemy ships. During the “Seeadler” raid, only one person was accidentally killed - a sailor from the steamer Horngarth.
Von Lückner remembered a search in the North Sea. The British sea wolves did what they wanted - the sailing ship had barely appeared on the horizon, the Evendge cruiser with the inspection team advanced to meet him. Seeadler, pretending to be a Norwegian sailboat, warmly let the British sailors aboard, the captain presented all the necessary documents and the cargo of the forest. The British, of course, did not dismantle logs of logs, otherwise they could find a lot of interesting things - a pair of 105 mm guns, two tanks with 480 tons of diesel and 360 tons of fresh water, an auxiliary diesel unit and even a prison for future prisoners.
Disguise has done its job - Seeadler did not arouse any suspicion among the British. Half the crew of the raider knew Norwegian, and Norwegian postcards hung on the walls of the cockpits.
However, according to the laws of the genre, the German plan almost failed at the last moment: a strong squall pressed the British boat to the board of Seeadler and dragged it towards the stern. Another moment, and British sailors will notice a propeller in the clear water. And they will understand that the Norwegian sailboat “Irma” is not as simple as it seemed from the very beginning.
The situation was saved by one of the German sailors - a short tench whistled shortly in the air, hitting the backs of the British sailors. A squall of selective warfare flew from below - but the deed was done, with great enthusiasm scolding the Norwegian sailors sitting on the yards, the British did not notice the Seeadler propeller.
During the unprecedented 224-day raid, the Seeadler sailboat sailed about 30 thousand nautical miles, destroyed three steamboats and 11 sailing ships (the French bark Cambronn was not included)
Commander von Luckner grinned. Another funny episode came to mind when they took the British Horngarth. Trying to get close to the steamer, the Germans asked to tell them the time (this is the question! They would also ask how to get to the library). The German signal remained unanswered, then von Luckner went to the trick - a whole block of smoke bombs were lit on the raider's deck. Thick black smoke immediately attracted the attention of the British - the steamer rushed to the aid of the “burning sailboat”. And then he received a shell that smashed the radio station into the 105 mm cabin. I had to surrender to the mercy of the winners.
The French got even more stupid - when they saw the signal in the moonlight, “Stop immediately! Before you is a German cruiser! ”, Captain of the barge“ Duplex ”decided that this was a funny joke of his colleagues, and boldly moved towards the raider. The French captain realized that he was mistaken when a blasting charge knocked out the bottom of his ship, and he himself was locked up in a cramped cabin for “honored guests” aboard the Seeadler.
There were other moments about which the commander von Luckner could not know - his raider narrowly escaped the death at Cape Horn. Suspecting the intentions of the elusive Seeadler, the fleet of Her Majesty prepared a trap in the Drake Strait - the armed Otranto transport, under the cover of the armored cruisers Lancaster and Orbit, standing in ambush in the nearest bay. Seeadler saved the event - a strong wind carried the sailboat to the south and the ships missed each other.
Time passed, and trophies became increasingly scarce — in a month spent in the Pacific Ocean, only three American schooners “A. Johnson, Slade and Manila. The stock of food and fresh water was rapidly thawing - members of the crew of sunken ships aboard 300, before they were reloaded to the Kambronn, greatly reduced the reserves on board the Seeadler. The lack of vitamins has affected - the Germans began to torture scurvy. Finally, the ship itself after the 30 000-mile raid fell into disrepair and needed urgent repair and cleaning the bottom of the hull.
On 28 of July 1917 of the year, von Luckner brought his ship to the uninhabited atoll of Maupihaha (French Polynesia), where it was planned to make a stop, replenish supplies and give rest to the crew. Alas, this time luck turned away from the brave sailors - while the Germans drank schnapps on the shore of a paradise island, a flurry of barrage pulled the Seeadler from the anchor and smashed it on the reefs. The history of the sailing cruiser ended there, but the history of its German crew did not.
Commander von Luckner headed a small squad of six people went to the 10-meter launch in the direction of Fiji, where they intended to seize some sailing ship, return for the remaining team members and continue "robbing ships for their black soul." Pretending to be American tourists for a long time did not work out - on the island of Wakaya, jokers were captured by local police and sent to a prisoner of war camp in New Zealand. From where they soon fled, capturing a high-speed motorboat that belonged to the camp commander (to be fair, the camp commander allowed the Germans to “ride” on it). On the way, the Germans captured the 90-ton scow "Mia" and, with the help of a self-made sextant and maps from the school atlas, reached Kermadec Island, where they were again captured while trying to capture a larger vessel.
The skeleton "Seeadler"
At the same time, the remaining members of the Seeadler team did not lose time in vain - the French ship anchored off the atoll, which was immediately seized and renamed Fortune. Despite its eloquent name, the ship of fortune was no different, and soon it was broken on the rocks of Easter Island. The Germans went ashore, where they were immediately captured by the Chilean authorities.
The end of the war, von Luckner, was safely met in the New Zealand prison camp, after which he was repatriated to Germany in the 1919 year. During World War II he accomplished his only feat — he surrendered the Galle town garrison to the advancing American troops. Admittedly, von Luckner really disliked the gushing blood. The hero himself died in Sweden in 1966, at the age of 84.
The legendary German "Seeadler" (incorrect translation - "Sea Eagle", the correct translation - "Orlan") belonged to the last generation of large commercial sailing ships built at the end of the XIX century, the so-called. “Windjammers” (wind extractors). Their design has been perfected. The all-steel hull made it possible to fulfill all the requirements of hydrodynamics - the ships received a large lengthening of the hulls, as a result, their speed drastically increased, breaking all records of "tea clippers". Windjammer length exceeded 100 meters, displacement could reach 10 thousand tons - just phenomenal figures for sailing ships.
Huge steel masts raised the sails to a previously inconceivable height, the sailing armament area increased by several times. To control the giant panels used a winch with a steam or electric drive. Some of the Windjammers had a steam steering machine and even a telephone network. The golden era of the sailing fleet, masterpieces of shipbuilding!
Giant steel sailboats were not equal on distant ocean routes. Unlike smoked steamers, the sailboat did not spend a single gram of coal for the entire voyage (however, many of them still had an auxiliary machine for special occasions). Moreover, the sailboat was faster - the fresh breeze accelerated the windjammer to 15 and more nodes, which was twice the cruising speed of the ships of those years.
Vingjammery successfully competed with steamboats up to 1914 year. With the opening of the Panama Canal, the sailing fleet was doomed, the Panama Canal changed all the shipping routes in the New World. The situation of 1869 of the year was completely repeated, when the opening of the Suez Canal put an end to the era of "tea clippers". Impassable for the Windjammers, the Suez and Panama Canals became the stumbling block of the sailing fleet. The handsome Vingjammers resisted for about thirty years, but their time was considered - the fuming and rumbling steam engine confidently forced out the white panels of sails.
Four-masted bark "Kruzenshtern", the former German windjammer "Padua" (1926 g.). Russian training sailing vessel, repeated participant of round-the-world expeditions.