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April 2023

Object Title: Petrel blueprint
Object Number: 2013.13
Our Object of the Month is a very fragile blueprint of a whale catcher called Petrel. A blueprint is a technical drawing, created by using a contact print process on light sensitive sheets. Before the development of the photocopier and digital printing, blueprints allowed accurate production of copies to be made. Petrel was built in 1928 in Oslo, Norway, and was a small, yet powerful steam powered vessel. At 35.1m long and 245 tons, she was capable of 11 knots. She was one of the first catchers to be equipped with the gunner’s bridge, a walkway that connected the wheelhouse to the harpoon gun mounted on the bow. The line drawing of the ship shows the bridge and also the crow’s nest, used to spot the whales at sea before the invention of helicopters, radar and sonar.

Petrel stopped whaling in 1956 and was converted to sealing the following year. Today the Petrel sits alongside the engineering workshop in Grytviken as part of the heritage site.

Blueprint of the whale catcher, Petrel



A side-view line drawing of Petrel


Petrel at the jetty in Husvik, South Georgia c.1950s


Petrel at mooring in Grytviken, South Georgia 2019