The wooden clipper Ocean Chief, 1,026 tons, was built to their own account by J. & C. Morton at Thomaston, Maine, in 1854. Designed by Samuel Pook, the creator of the famous Red Jacket (see lot 81), Ocean Chief was equally fine and measured 190 feet in length with a 39 foot beam. Soon after launching, she was sold to James Baines & Co. of Liverpool for $85,000 and thereby joined the celebrated Black Ball Line of Australian clippers just when passages to and from that colony were in huge demand due to the prevailing gold rush.
Ocean Chief's maiden voyage from Liverpool to Hobart set a new record for the run of 72 days and while her passages home that autumn and the next were 86 and 84 days respectively, she sped home in 75 days in 1856, the second fastest run of the year. Regularly carrying 109 passengers and a crew of 52, her growing reputation as a flier proved shortlived when she was destroyed by fire whilst in port at Bluff Harbour, New Zealand in January 1862.