• Logo and text for desktop header

ANN McKIM, the first American Clipper Ship, 1833

Like a bolt out of the blue, the world's first clipper ship Red Rover was built of long-life teak at Calcutta, India to designs by New Yorker Christian Bergh. She was used by the British East India Company to carry passengers and light cargo at high speed between Calcutta and Canton, China. Completely unaware of this development, Baltimore merchant Isaac McKim built the first American clipper ship Ann McKim only three years later. During the War of 1812, ship-builders at Baltimore, Maryland and New York City had produced extremely fast square-topsail two-masted armed schooners about 100 feet long on deck, known as Baltimore Clippers. These schooners were very effective at sneaking out of the Chesapeake Bay in good weather and capturing numerous passing British merchant ships heading home from Jamaica. The British were so adversely affected by this that they sent a large fleet to Baltimore in 1814, whose giant mortar shells on-purpose “bursting in air” (as related in the National Anthem) were intended to send a message: stop capturing British ships, because the war is about to end anyway, or next time the mortar shells will land squarely on you before exploding. Baltimore merchant Isaac McKim ordered this ship from Kennard & Williamson Shipyard as a ship-rigged larger version of the clipper schooners, built of American white oak, and named her after his wife. When he died in 1837, the ship was sold to New York owners, who sailed her in the China trade and to California. In 1847, she was sold to new owners in Chile, but in 1852 at age 19, she was found to be thoroughly rotten (not surprising, since most American-built wooden ships were so rotten after only 15 years that they required a major rebuild), so she was scrapped. Long-distance voyaging being dangerous in those days, she was armed with 12 brass cannons. Her hull was pumpkin-colored with a black wale strake, and she had a square counter stern. She was 143 feet long on deck and 28 feet beam, and measured 494 tons.

The Sailing Ship Ann McKim

It was felt that she suffered from lack of carrying capacity, but she was America’s first clipper ship. She ended her days in Chile in 1853 under Chilean ownership.

We value your privacy and do not sell or distribute personal information. You can read more on our Cookie Policy Page.