Speaking of pirates

Although not a true “pirate” by the accepted definition of the word, Felix von Luckner was quite possibly the last truly great sailing “pirate”.  Using the 245 foot SMS Seeadler, he sank almost 30,000 tons of Allied shipping during World War One – while causing only a single casualty.  Of course, this is only more remarkable in light of the fact that Seeadler was a three masted windjammer during the age of coal engines.  In fact, she was the last sailing vessel to be used during a war.


  1. Weren’t there some sail-powered minesweepers, or were those just wooden-hulled?

  2. “In fact, she was the last sailing vessel to be used during a war.”

    Not true! Didn’t ya ever see “The Wackiest Ship in the Army?”

  3. Until WWI, commerce raiders were typically privateers, profiting like pirates from the cargoes of the enemy ships they stopped. Von Luckner was one of several regular German Navy commerce raiders; he just did it more romantically than most.

    Von Luckner toured the US as a celebrity during the 1920s. He is mentioned in the Amanda Garrett future Navy series, which is where I first became aware of him. Likewise, I believe, for sail-powered ZendoDeb.

  4. I remember being a kid reading about him in Lowell Thomas’ “Raiders of the Deep.” All the other stories were about U-Boat kapitans. I still have the original hardcover!

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