Pequod (Moby-Dick)
The Pequod is a fictitious 19th century Nantucket whaleship
A whaler is a specialized ship, designed for whaling, the catching and/or processing of whales. The former included the whale catcher, a steam or diesel-driven vessel with a harpoon gun mounted at its bows. The latter included such vessels as the sail or steam-driven whaleship of the 16th to early...

 that appears in the 1851 novel Moby-Dick
Moby-Dick; or, The Whale, was written by American author Herman Melville and first published in 1851. It is considered by some to be a Great American Novel and a treasure of world literature. The story tells the adventures of wandering sailor Ishmael, and his voyage on the whaleship Pequod,...

by American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 author Herman Melville
Herman Melville
Herman Melville was an American novelist, short story writer, essayist, and poet. He is best known for his novel Moby-Dick and the posthumous novella Billy Budd....

. The Pequod and her crew, commanded by Captain Ahab, are central to the story, which, after the initial chapters, takes place almost entirely aboard the ship during a long three-year whaling
Whaling is the hunting of whales mainly for meat and oil. Its earliest forms date to at least 3000 BC. Various coastal communities have long histories of sustenance whaling and harvesting beached whales...

 expedition in the Atlantic, India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

n and South Pacific
Pacific Ocean
The Pacific Ocean is the largest of the Earth's oceanic divisions. It extends from the Arctic in the north to the Southern Ocean in the south, bounded by Asia and Australia in the west, and the Americas in the east.At 165.2 million square kilometres in area, this largest division of the World...

 oceans. Most of the characters in the novel are part of the Pequod's crew, including the narrator
A narrator is, within any story , the fictional or non-fictional, personal or impersonal entity who tells the story to the audience. When the narrator is also a character within the story, he or she is sometimes known as the viewpoint character. The narrator is one of three entities responsible for...

Ishmael (Moby-Dick)
Ishmael is the narrator of the 1851 novel Moby-Dick by U.S. author Herman Melville. It is through his eyes and experience that the reader experiences the story of the ship Pequod, and the fight between Captain Ahab and the white whale...


The ship is first encountered by Ishmael after he arrives in Nantucket and learns of three ships that are about to leave on three-year cruises. Tasked by his new friend the Polynesia
Polynesia is a subregion of Oceania, made up of over 1,000 islands scattered over the central and southern Pacific Ocean. The indigenous people who inhabit the islands of Polynesia are termed Polynesians and they share many similar traits including language, culture and beliefs...

n harpoon
A harpoon is a long spear-like instrument used in fishing to catch fish or large marine mammals such as whales. It accomplishes this task by impaling the target animal, allowing the fishermen to use a rope or chain attached to the butt of the projectile to catch the animal...

er Queequeg
Queequeg is a fictional character presented in the 1851 novel Moby-Dick by U.S. author Herman Melville. He is the first principal character encountered by the narrator, serves as the chief harpooner aboard the Pequod, and plays an important role in many of the events of the book, both in port and...

 - or more precisely, Queequeg's idol-god, Yojo - to make the selection for them both, Ishmael, a self-described "green hand at whaling" goes to the Straight Wharf and chooses the Pequod.

It is revealed that the Pequod was named for the Algonquian
Algonquian languages
The Algonquian languages also Algonkian) are a subfamily of Native American languages which includes most of the languages in the Algic language family. The name of the Algonquian language family is distinguished from the orthographically similar Algonquin dialect of the Ojibwe language, which is a...

-speaking Pequot
Pequot people are a tribe of Native Americans who, in the 17th century, inhabited much of what is now Connecticut. They were of the Algonquian language family. The Pequot War and Mystic massacre reduced the Pequot's sociopolitical influence in southern New England...

 tribe of Native Americans
Native Americans in the United States
Native Americans in the United States are the indigenous peoples in North America within the boundaries of the present-day continental United States, parts of Alaska, and the island state of Hawaii. They are composed of numerous, distinct tribes, states, and ethnic groups, many of which survive as...

 who once inhabited New England
New England
New England is a region in the northeastern corner of the United States consisting of the six states of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut...

 along Long Island Sound
Long Island Sound
Long Island Sound is an estuary of the Atlantic Ocean, located in the United States between Connecticut to the north and Long Island, New York to the south. The mouth of the Connecticut River at Old Saybrook, Connecticut, empties into the sound. On its western end the sound is bounded by the Bronx...

 during the 17th century, but were annihilated during the Pequot War
Pequot War
The Pequot War was an armed conflict between 1634–1638 between the Pequot tribe against an alliance of the Massachusetts Bay, Plymouth, and Saybrook colonies who were aided by their Native American allies . Hundreds were killed; hundreds more were captured and sold into slavery to the West Indies. ...

 and are "now extinct as the ancient Medes
The MedesThe Medes...

". The reference to the doomed tribe is a deliberate foreshadowing of the fate of the ship and her crew.


The Pequod has endured the years and the elements, but not without sustaining damage. The ship is three-masted, like most Nantucket whalers of the time, but all three masts are replacements, taken on when the originals were lost in a typhoon off of Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...


The Pequod is not unlike Ahab in this respect, since many of the rest of these missing elements have been replaced by the bones of the whales she hunts. She is not a new vessel, and with age would usually come some veneration and respect, which Ishmael tries to convey by using several historical references in his description of her. But in the Pequod's case this has been negated by the thick veneer of barbarity has been overlayed onto the ship in the form of fantastic scrimshaw embellishment. Far from enjoying mere utilitarian replacements out of available whalebone, she has been ornately decorated, even to the whale teeth set into the railing that now resemble an open jaw. Like a fingerbone necklace on a cannibal, these adornments are clear evidence of the Pequod's prowess as a successful hunter and killer of whales.
The principal owners of the vessel are two Quaker
Religious Society of Friends
The Religious Society of Friends, or Friends Church, is a Christian movement which stresses the doctrine of the priesthood of all believers. Members are known as Friends, or popularly as Quakers. It is made of independent organisations, which have split from one another due to doctrinal differences...

 well to do retired whaling captains, therefore "the other and more inconsiderable and scattered owners, left nearly the whole management of the ship's affairs to these two."
Peleg served as first mate under Ahab on the Pequod before obtaining his own command, and is responsible for all her whalebone embellishments.
The depiction of life aboard the ship, although fictionalized, was based on Melville's own experiences in whaling (specifically aboard the Achushnet in the 1840s) and thus can be taken in many ways as representative of mid-19th century Nantucket whaling.


The Pequod is initially described as having by a tiller made from a whale's lower jaw, yet in one instance the helm is described as having "spokes", which refers to a wheel. (Interestingly, both of the movie versions retain this anomaly, showing both steering elements aboard the same ship).
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