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Moving the Iconic "Peking" Back to Home Port

A magnificent four-masted windjammer is moved from New York City to its home port of Hamburg to be refurbished and featured in a new maritime museum. To insure a safe passage, AGCS jumps onboard to offer coverage for the piggy-back ride across the Atlantic, as well as for dry-dock repairs and the final museum mooring.

The Project

When it was decided by the South Street Seaport Museum in New York City that the “Peking”, a vintage-1911 steel-hulled, four-masted German windjammer freighter was destined to be sent to scrap, the city offered to return the ship to its home port of Hamburg, Germany, where it was originally built, as a gift – contingent upon raising an endowment in Germany to ensure the preservation of the vessel. A consortium in Hamburg, backed by the German government, purchased the ship for $100 as a feature of the planned German Port Museum in Hamburg, to be opened in 2020.

On July 19, 2017 the ship was transported, as cargo aboard the “Combidock III”, a semi-submersible heavy-lift ship, from New York across the Atlantic to Peters-Werft at Wewelsfleth, a small town on the River Elbe near Hamburg, where it arrived on August 2 for 3 years restoration.

The “Peking” in dry-dock undergoing restoration in Wewelsfleth, Germany

Image: AGCS; The “Peking” in dry-dock undergoing restoration in Wewelsfleth, Germany

The insurance coverages

According to Volker Dierks, Head of Marine Hull Underwriting, AGCS Central & Eastern Europe, several insurance coverages are required for such a monumental move. “We covered the Peking’s journey across the Atlantic via a Marine Project Cargo heavy-lift policy that covered loading it as cargo aboard the ‘Combidock III’.” There were no incidents on the 13-day voyage. AGCS also provides and leads a Ship Repairers Legal Liability policy for the Peking to be refurbished for at least 24 months.  Finally, AGCS participates on the Hull & Machinery cover for the operator and owner of the Peking – Stiftung Hamburg Maritim – once it is berthed at the museum.

“The return of the ‘Peking’ was an adventure not only because of its history, but also because of the connected insurance challenges that were custom-made for this exposure,” said Dierks. “After the refurbishment, she can teach the public about the past hardships of a sailor’s life. At that time, wind was the most important factor for a successful and safe journey.”


The Peking is a steel-hulled four-masted barque freighter – i.e. a ship with three (or more) masts, fore-and-aft sails on the aftermost mast, and square sails on all other masts, that were the workhorses of the Golden Age of Sail in the mid-19th century. A so-called Flying P-Liner of the German company F. Laeisz, it was one of the last generation of windjammers used in the nitrate and wheat trades around the often treacherous Cape Horn of South America.  It was referred to as a “Flying P-Liner” because the founder’s name was Pudel (English, “poodle”); after that, all of the company’s ships’ names starting with a “P”, including the “Padua,” “Passat,” “Pamir,” “Preussen,” “Pangani,” “Potosi” and “Pommern.” The "Peking" was launched on February, 25, 1911, one of the world's largest sailing ships at that time.

Docked at Valparaiso, Chile, at the outbreak of World War I, the Peking was awarded to Italy as war reparations but was sold back to the original owners, the Laeisz brothers of Hamburg, in 1923. It continued in the nitrate trade until traffic through the Panama Canal proved quicker and more economical. From Hamburg via England, where it saw duty in the Royal Navy as “HMS Pekin”, the ship finally arrived in New York, where it was sold to the South Street Seaport Museum in 1974. There it lay as a museum ship on the East River until 2016.