The historic heart of Stanley

The Fennia

Four-masted steel barque of  3,112 tons built in 1902

and known previously as the Champigny.

In 1923 the Finnish School Ship Association was looking for a vessel to replace the first Fennia and found the Champigny to be ideal – she was modern as sailing-ships went and her build made her easy to fit out as a cadet-ship. She was purchased by A/B Finska Skolskeppsrederiet of Helsingfors, and renamed Fennia, under the Finnish flag.

Fennia sailed as a tramp Cape Horner until 1927. On 10th February 1927 she sailed from Cardiff, under the command of Captain Ragnar Christerson, bound for Valparaiso with a cargo of nearly 4,000 tons of coal.

Christerson hoped that he would be past the Horn well before the southern winter began and might have managed this, but the ship encountered violent storms with squalls of Force 10 – “always from the direction in which the heavy-laden ship had to go.”

Vital running rigging began to go, then standing rigging, then swiftly afterwards the masts.  Christerson did “miraculously” to keep the ship afloat and headed for the Falklands… “with the whole of the main and mizzen-masts out and half the fore, and the jigger topmast as well.”

Nearing the Islands, a local steamer approached, offering “assistance”, claiming salvage.

“I am not ‘salvage’ while I have one mast left,” said the Captain, but he knew the situation was perilous. He induced the steamer to accept a towage agreement – “costly but not ruinous” – and was moved to safe anchorage.

The ship was condemned, anchored in Stanley Harbour and became the Falkland Islands Company wool store.

The Fennia is fondly-remembered by the older generation and by all accounts was a wonderful weather vane, showing at first glance the wind direction!

In 1967 she was sold to the San Francisco Maritime Museum and towed away from the Islands. The intention was that she would be taken to San Francisco, where she would be restored to her former glory. Tragically, the project ran out of funds and the Fennia made it no further than Montevideo, where she languished for years before being towed on to Paysandu, Uruguay, to be scrapped.

The Fennia was the last Cape Horner to be dismasted off the Horn and survive to make Stanley. She was also one of the largest sailing vessels ever to arrive in Stanley.