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|The four-masted barque Pamir entering Port Nicholson,
Wellington's harbour on 29 July 1941.
Watercolour (740 x 530)mm.
On 22 June 1941 Germany invaded Russia and Finland, which had been harassed by the Russians and was already allowing German troops to base themselves in the country, also declared war on Russia. The Pamir, sailing under the Finnish flag and still with the colours painted on her sides declaring her a neutral, was on a voyage with a cargo of guano from the Seychelles to Wellington, New Zealand. On 29 July, unaware of the state of war which now existed between her country and New Zealand, running before a fresh southerly wind on a cold, rainy day, she sailed past Pencarrow Head into Port Nicholson. On 3 August the New Zealand Government made the decision to take the Pamir as a prize.
The Pamir had been launched in 1905 at the yard of Blohm and Voss at Hamburg. She was the latest addition to the fleet of Laeisz Line, popularly known as the Flying P Line as all eighteen of their ships' names began with the letter P; Pruessen, Potosi, Peking and so on. These large powerful vessels were mostly engaged in the Chilian nitrate trade, rounding the Horn twice every voyage. Her measurements were: length 316ft., breadth 46ft. depth 27ft 10 ins, 2,796 gross tons, net 2,522.
When war broke out in 1914 the Pamir was on a voyage home. Her master decided to put into the port of Santa Cruz in the Canary Islands which were neutral. She was to remain there for five and a half years. Reparations after the war gave her to the Italians who were unable to find employment for her. During 1923/24 Laeisz began to buy back some of his ships, among them the Pamir was purchased for £7000. She continued in her old trade to Chili until 1931 when she was bought by Captain Gustaf Erikson of Mariehamn, Finland. Erikson, by the 1930's, had acquired a fleet of fourteen large sailing vessels and ran them mainly in the Australian grain trade. So it was under the ownership of the Finn, Gustaf Erikson, she entered Wellington in 1941.
Until 1949 Pamir sailed under the New Zealand flag, manned by New Zealanders. In 1947 the New Zealand government made the decision to dispose of the barque, possibly returning her to Erikson and, with offers in the wind from Glasgow shipbrokers whose clients wanted to hulk her, Pamir sailed from Wellington bound for London on 3 October 1947. From the time she entered the English Channel Pamir attracted a huge amount of interest and her passage up the Thames on 23 December was celebrated by whistles and sirens, while ships dipped their ensigns as she passed. Negotiation for the future of the Pamir became protracted and it was decided to load cement in London and slag in Antwerp for a rerturn voyge to Auckland. During her stay in London, on 3 March, Pamir was paid a visit by Queen Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh. She sailed from Antwerp for Auckland on 1 May 1948 arriving in Auckland on 18 August.
On 24 September it was decided to return the Pamir to the Finnish Government. On 21 December she left Auckland for Wellington. On 12 November the barque was handed over to her previous owner. On 1 February 1949 Pamir, under the Finnish flag, sailed in ballast from Wellington bound for Falmouth for orders.
Employment could not be found and in March 1951 both the Pamir and the Passat were sold to shipbreakers in Antwerp. A reprieve came when, under the instigation of Captain Helmut Grubbe, both ships were bought by the Germans for use as sail-training ships.
The end came for the Pamir in 1957, when on a voyage from Buenos Aires with a cargo of barley for Hamburg, she encountered hurricane force winds and she foundered due to her cargo shifting. Only six survived from her 86 strong crew. This tragedy resulted in the withrawal from sail-training of the Passat and the ruling that no longer should sail-training vessels engage in commerce.