King Philip, Ocean Beach

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King Philip, Ocean Beach

by | Apr 9, 2020

King Philip was a clipper ship launched in 1856 and wrecked in 1878 on Ocean Beach, about 1 mile (1.6 km) south of the Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, California. Ocean Beach is a district bordering the Pacific Ocean and part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, which is administered by the National Park Service. The wreck of King Philip is occasionally exposed by shifting sands and is considered the best-preserved of the many shipwrecks in the bay area.

King Philip was built in Alna, Maine in 1856, with a wooden hull and three masts, she was a medium-sized clipper displacing 1,194 tons. The ship was named for Metacomet, a Wampanoag war chief who led an armed conflict in 1675–1678 between Native American inhabitants and New England colonists. The chief adopted the name King Philip because of the friendly relations between his father Massasoit and the Mayflower Pilgrims.

The ship carried cargo from the Eastern United States to San Francisco, on a route around Cape Horn, which is famous for its violent storms. King Philip had a turbulent history, including at least two mutinies or sailors’ rebellions, with the ship surviving being set on fire on both of those occasions. On January 25, 1878, King Philip left San Francisco Bay under the command of Captain A.W. Keller. There was no wind so a steam-powered tugboat towed the ship out of the bay. However, an accident on another vessel required the tugboat crew to respond and they had to release the tow. King Philip dropped an anchor but the anchor did not hold and the clipper drifted with the current towards the beach and ran aground in heavy surf, which caused the ship to break apart. Read more here and here. Explore more of Ocean Beach here:

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