The Albatross was built as a schooner at the state shipyard in Amsterdam, Netherlands, in 1920, to serve as a pilot boat in the North Sea. The ship spent two decades working the North Sea before being purchased by the German government in 1937. She served as a radio-station ship for submarines during Second World War. In 1949, Royal Rotterdam Lloyd bought her for use as a training ship for future officers of the Dutch merchant marine. The fact that she was small made her ideal for this kind of work, and
the dozen trainees could receive personal attention from the six or so professional crew. While under Dutch ownership she sailed the North Sea extensively, with occasional voyages as far as Spain and Portugal.
The American aviator, filmmaker, and novelist Ernest K. Gann purchased the Albatross in 1954, re-rigged her as a brigantine, and she cruised the Pacific for three years. According to Charles Gieg (The Last Voyage of the Albatross), the Albatross survived a tidal wave in Hawaii during this time. She was also used in the 1958 film Twilight for the Gods (starring Rock Hudson and Arthur Kennedy), whose script and the underlying novel by the same title
were written by the Albatross' owner Gann.k reminder of an unfortunate part of world history. spring 1961, a crew of four instructors (including the
Sheldons), a cook and 13 students sailed the Albatross from the Bahamas through the Caribbean to the Galápagos Islands and back to the Caribbean; a fourteenth student had been on the ship for the first part of the voyage, but had left in Balboa, Panama. At the beginning of May, the Albatross was en route from Progreso, Mexico, to Nassau, the Bahamas.
On 1 May, skipper Sheldon decided that they would make a stop at one of the Florida Keys to refuel. Shortly after 8:30 am on 2 May 1961 the Albatross was hit by a sudden squall about 125 miles (201 km) west of the Dry Tortugas. She keeled over suddenly and sank almost instantly.