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  • Updated 6 December 2015
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The Wooden Whale

Aldarion the King's Heir of Númenor was a great mariner, and he planned the making of an immense vessel to make the crossing of the Sea from Númenor to Middle-earth. The many-masted ship was designed to be a fortress of the sea, larger than any vessel built before.1 It was constructed in the shipyards of Rómenna, and the size of its great ribbed body during its building earned it the nickname Turuphanto or the 'Wooden Whale'.

Turuphanto was eventually completed, and set sail for Middle-earth in the spring of II 877, though Aldarion had not received permission from the King to set out. At that time he gave the ship its true name, Hirilondë or 'Haven-finder'. Though the voyage was planned to take two years, five years passed before the ship returned to its harbour.

From that voyage Aldarion returned with a sealed letter for his father King Tar-Meneldur, in which Gil-galad asked the King for aid against the first stirrings of Sauron in Middle-earth. Tar-Meneldur comprehended the threat, but also saw that his son was better equipped to deal with such matters than himself, and chose to pass the throne to Aldarion. The new King, now Tar-Aldarion, set out from Númenor almost immediately after his accession. On the prow of his ship he set a jewelled eagle with a golden beak, a gift from Círdan the Shipwright, and sailed for Middle-earth in II 883.

This second voyage of the ship that had been called Turuphanto is not described in any detail, but we're told that Tar-Aldarion sailed up the river Gwathló as far as Tharbad, where he met Galadriel.2 It's hinted that he made other later journeys to Middle-earth, perhaps aboard the same ship, though of these later voyages no records remain.



Aldarion was said to have planned the ship to carry 'men and stores enough for a town' (Unfinished Tales Part Two II, Aldarion and Erendis). This is perhaps an exaggeration, but it gives some idea of the scope and scale of the vessel.


Since the entire purpose of Tar-Aldarion becoming King was the plea for help from Gil-galad, it seems reasonable to assume that the Númenóreans provided assistance of some kind. We have very little detail about such matters, except for a note that Tar-Aldarion '...laid the foundations of the achievement of Tar-Minastir long years after, in the first war with Sauron...' (ibid). This is a reference to the fleets of Tar-Minastir that drove Sauron back out of Eriador in II 1700, some eight centuries after Tar-Aldarion's voyages to Middle-earth.

See also...

The Wooden Whale

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