The four-masted barque Ponape was built in the Bacini yards at Genoa in 1903 and launched with the name of Regina Elena in honour of the Queen of Italy. Registered in Genoa at 2,344 tons gross (2,148 net), she measured 294 feet in length with a 42 foot beam and was designed with two decks for extra cargo capacity. In February 1911, her Italian owners sold her to Laeisz of Hamburg who employed her in the lucrative Chilean nitrate trade having first renamed her Ponape so as to match all the other ships in his so-called "P" fleet. In point of fact, all the Laeisz vessels were particularly fine examples of latter-day sailing ships and Ponape was no exception.
Soon after the outbreak of the Great War in August 1914, Ponape was sighted and captured in the English Channel and taken into Falmouth as a prize. Thereafter acquired by James Bell & Co. of Hull, she was renamed Bellhouse and, after a short period under charter to a Norwegian line, was resold to that company who re-registered her under neutral Norwegian colours in 1915. After ten more years of trading, she was sold to Hugo Lundqvist of Mariehamm [Finland] in 1925 who gave her back her former name of Ponape which she then retained until the end of her career. In 1929 she was acquired by Gustaf Erikson, also of Mariehamm, who owned the world's last commercial sailing fleet of any importance, and he operated her extremely successfully until 1936 when she was badly damaged by heavy weather off Cape Town. Even though her master Captain Granith coaxed her all the way back to Falmouth, she was condemned upon arrival as unfit for sea and promptly sold to Lithuanian shipbreakers at Libau for scrapping.