The William P. Frye at sea depicting the American 4-masted barque under shortened sail. signed lower left "Jack L. Gray" oil on canvas 26 x 40 in. (66 x 101.6 cm.)
The barkentine William P. Frye was built in 1901 and sailed out of Bath, Maine. Named for the well-known Maine senator William Pierce Frye (1830-1911), she was traveling from San Francisco to England carrying a cargo of wheat. On January 27, she was intercepted by a German cruiser in the South Atlantic off the Brazilian coast and ordered to jettison her cargo as contraband. When the American ship's crew failed to fulfill these orders completely by the next day, the German captain ordered the destruction of the ship. On January 28, 1915 she became the first U.S. merchantman to be sunk by the Germans in World War I.