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The Most Magnificent Steel-hulled Ships of All Time

Steel-hulled ships are a mainstay in the maritime industry and have been for decades. So what is a hull? Hulls are the base part of the boat that is in the water. The hull is designed to do one of two things: displace water or ride on top of it. Steel is the most common material used for hulls, this is due to a number of factors, primarily because of the relatively low cost of steel, the abundance/ease of sourcing steel, and the ease of manipulation and repairing of steel.

Some benefits for ships that have steel hulls include it’s abrasion resistance which means it resists erosion and scraping and thus retains its original shape for longer. Steel hulls are also less corrosive, so the hull will last longer before requiring repairs. Because of the abundance of steel, it is relatively easy to make repairs on steel hulls, whereas hulls made of other materials like aluminum are more expensive to repair/build because aluminum is much less readily available and typically a costlier material.

We set out to find the most magnificent ships of all time and have included a comprehensive list of the fifteen best steel hulled ships below. Read on to see which ones made the cut.

1. Preussen

Ship Preussen

Image By Allan C. Green

The first ship on our list is the Preussen. The Preussen was a German engineered, steel-hulled ship that was constructed in 1902. It was built for the German shipping company, F. Laeisz and was named after the German state of Prussia. For almost 100 years it was the only ship that had five masts and six square sails on each mast.

2. STS Sedov

Ship STS Sedov

Image By Christian Ferrer

The STS Sedov was a four masted steel hulled ship constructed in 1920. It was originally named the Magdalene Vinnen II when it was under German ownership. But when Russia received the ship in 1945 as reparations for WWII, it was then renamed STS Sedov. The STS Sedov was the largest traditional sailing ship for almost 80 years.

3. Passat

Ship Passat

Image By Asterion

The Passat was a four masted steel hulled ship constructed in 1911 by Germany. It is one of the Flying P-Liners, which are famous sailing ships built by F. Laeisz, the same company that built the Preussen. It is one of the last surviving windjammers. Windjammers are commercial sailing ships with multiple masts.

4. Peking

Ship Peking

Image By Nightflyer

The Peking, like the Passat and the Preussen, is a Flying P-Liner with four masts and a steel hull. It was one of the last generations of cargo carrying iron hulled ships used in nitrate and wheat trade routes around Cape Horn. Cape Horn is where the Atlantic and Pacific oceans meet and is/was an important trade route.

5. Thomas W. Lawson

Ship Thomas W. Lawson

Image Source

The Thomas W Lawson was a 112 meter long ship built by the Fore River Ship and Engine company in 1902 as a schooner. It was the largest pure sailing boat, meaning it had no engine. It was famous for having seven masts. However it tragically sank in 1907 in a storm.

6. Pamir

Ship Pamir

Image By RoundaboutSkid

The Pamir was a four masted steel hulled ship built in 1905 in Germany. It is considered the “World’s last commercial sailing ship” as it was the last ship to round Cape Horn in 1949. The New Zealand government seized the ship as a prize after WWII. In 1957 the ship got caught in Hurricane Carrie where it met its tragic end, only 6 of the total 86 crew members survived the accident.

7. Black Pearl

Ship Black Pearl

Image By Berthold Neutze

The Black Pearl is a steel hulled sailing yacht launched in 2016, owned by the Russian millionaire Oleg Burlakov. The ship is fuel efficient and aided by regenerative technologies like electricity generated from a variable pitch propeller and large storage batteries used to conserve energy.

8. A

The A Sailing Yacht

Image By Feliz

The A is a steel-hulled, motor-assisted sailing yacht launched in 2015, owned by the Russian oligarch Andrey Melnichenko. It is the largest private sail assisted motor yacht in the world. The yacht features a variable speed hybrid power plant, two controllable pitch propellers, and a three mast fore-and-aft sailing rig.

9. Maltese Falcon

Ship Maltese Falcon

Image By David Orban

The Maltese Falcon is a full-rigged steel hulled ship built in Istanbul in 2006. It was later purchased by an American millionaire, Tom Perkins. It is considered one of the world’s largest and most complex sailing yachts and features similar rigging to the Black Pearl. It was acquired for charter use in 2008.

10. Aquijo

Aquijo Yacht

Image Source

The Aquijo is an 86 meter long steel hulled superyacht launched in 2015 from the Netherlands. As of 2018 it is the largest ketch in the world. A ketch is a two masted sailboat whose main mast is taller than it’s aft mast. At present the Aquijo is available as a charter yacht.

11. Mirabella V

Ship Mirabella V

Image By ArnoWinter

The Mirabella V is a sloop-rigged superyacht launched in 2003. Sloop rigging features one mast with a large mainsail and a smaller aft-sail. The Mirabella V is the largest single masted yacht ever built. It was available for charters until purchased by Rodney Lewis and renamed M5.

11. Phocea

Ship Phocea

Image By Snaker

The Phocea is a sailing yacht built in France in 1976. It is 75 meters long and can travel at top speeds of 11 knots. It was the world’s largest sailing yacht before the 2004 launched of Athena, a larger sailing yacht. The Phocea was later renamed Enigma and has been converted into more of a luxury yacht used for charters.

13. Sea Cloud

Ship Sea Cloud

Image By BaS

The Sea Cloud was a sailing cruise ship built in 1931, was originally known as the Hussar V and was a private yacht. It became refitted as a weather ship for the US Coast Guard during WWII, in that time it became the first racially integrated warship in the US. As of 2020 it is the oldest ocean going passenger ship.

14. Eos

Ship Eos

Image By PatrickDunfordNZ

The Eos is a three masted, Bermuda-rigged schooner. It was built in Germany in 2006. When it was constructed it knocked the Athena ship off the top spot for largest sailing yacht. It is still one of the largest private sailing yachts today. In 2009 it was owned by movie and media icon Barry Diller and fashion designer Diane von Fürstenberg.

15. Athena

Athena Yacht

Image By Fosnez

Athena is a clipper-bowed three-masted schooner built in 2004 by Royal Huisman. It was constructed for internet entrepreneur James H. Clark. In 2004 Athena won the Show Boats International Award for the Best Sailing Yacht over 40 meters. Later in 2008 it was refitted and can now support 12 guests and 22 crew members.


We hope you gained some insight on the history and present of steel hulled ships. At Texas Iron and Metal we have a huge supply of surplus steel and metal inventory to meet your needs. If you are interested in finding out more or would like to request a quote, one of our knowledgeable salespeople would be happy to assist you.

Call us at 800-839-4766 or fill out the contact form, we look forward to hearing from you.