Bark (5m). L/B/D: 418.8’ x 55.8’ x 24.9’ (127.7m x 17m x 7.6m). Tons: 5,633 grt. Hull: steel. Comp.: 45. Mach.: 2 screws. Built: Chantiers de la Gironde, Bourdeaux; 1912.
The second five-masted bark of the name, FRANCE was the largest sailing ship ever built, with a gross tonnage that even exceeded that of the five-masted ship PREUSSEN. She was not considered as graceful as her predecessor (built in 1890), having a pronounced sheer that Basil Lubbock describes as "so steep you could toboggan down it in wet weather", and sporting a jubilee rig, meaning that she set a course, double topsails, and topgallants, but no royals. Built for the Société des Navires Mixtes (Prentout – Leblond – Leroux et Compagnie) for their nickel ore trade from New Caledonia, she made three voyages in that trade, her last ending at Clydebank in October 1916. FRANCE was then sold to Compagnie Francaise de Marine et Commerce of Rouen, who fitted her with two 90mm guns.
She cleared for Montevideo in February 1917, and a week out was attacked by a German U-boat. Under sail and auxiliary power she escaped from her pursuer, making her way to Montevideo. After a trip to New York, she sailed for Port Adelaide with case oil before heading for New Caledonia. After her return to France in March 1919, her engines were removed and she was towed to Shields, England, to load coal for Baltimore. While under tow into the North Sea on December 1, the tow rope parted and FRANCE was knocked on her beam ends. The tow boat reported her as in distress, but she was later found and towed into Leith, where her cargo was restowed, and she cleared for Baltimore. After three transatlantic voyages, she cleared Newport, England, with coal for Lyttleton, New Zealand. In September 1921, she cleared Wellington for London carrying 6,000 casks of tallow and 11,000 bales of wool, the largest cargo ever shipped in a sailing ship from New Zealand. Arriving at London 90 days later, she loaded cement, trucks, and rails for the New Caledonian mines, arriving at Tchio on May 19 after a passage of 105 days. Two months later, she was en route to Pouembout for a cargo of ore when she grounded on a coral reef. She was abandoned and her hull was sold for L.2.000.