On Friday, 18 October 2013, the world’s oldest clipper ship CITY OF ADELAIDE will be officially renamed at a ceremony presided over by His Royal Highness, The Duke of Edinburgh at the Old Royal Naval College, Greenwich, London. The event will bring CITY OF ADELAIDE close to the historic clipper CUTTY SARK on the River Thames.
Built in 1864, the Royal Navy purchased the CITY OF ADELAIDE in 1923 and renamed her HMS CARRICK to avoid confusion with the new cruiser HMAS ADELAIDE that had just been commissioned in the Royal Australian Navy. In 2001, the decision was taken to revert to her original name, however no formal renaming ceremony was performed.
CITY OF ADELAIDE was specifically designed and built as a passenger ship in 1864 to bring migrants to South Australia from Britain. The clipper was originally 50% South Australian, 25% Scottish, and 25% English owned. In 1991, the ship sank at the Princes Dock, Glasgow, and lay on the bottom of the River Clyde for a year before being raised and taken to Irvine.
The CITY OF ADELAIDE remained at the Scottish Maritime Museum in Irvine since it was salvaged in 1992. With the cost of repairs put in excess of £10m and with her slip needing to be vacated, it looked as though the ship would be demolished. A rescue campaign was mounted by rival consortiums from Adelaide, Australia and from Sunderland, England, with the Australian group prevailing in their bid for ownership. CITY OF ADELAIDE was loaded on to a pontoon barge for her initial journey from Scotland to London, where she will later be loaded on to a heavy lift ship to be transported to Australia.
In a recent press release from the Government of South Australia:
“The iconic vessel is a symbol of the marked relationship between South Australia the United Kingdom. An estimated 1/4 million Australians today are descendants of passengers who made the long and arduous voyage to the fledgling colony. Peter Roberts, one of the volunteers bringing the clipper to South Australia, and a descendant of Cornish miners who migrated to the Moonta copper mines in South Australia in 1873 said, “as the only surviving sailing ship that gave regular passenger and cargo service between Europe and Australia, she represents a whole foundation era of Australian social, economic and maritime history, and the physical link between Britain and Australia.”
“The ‘Clipper Age’ brought the development of a highly skilled set of sailors and craftsmen, and composite clippers like the ‘City of Adelaide’ were at the technological forefront of ship-design and shipbuilding. BAE Systems, Ultra Electronics and ASC are today at the forefront of modern naval ship building and repair in South Australia, and are therefore proud to be associated with the CITY OF ADELAIDE renaming ceremony. Shipbuilding in South Australia began in 1803 with the schooner INDEPENDENCE. Now, 210 years on, South Australia is home to Australia’s premier naval industry hub, Techport Australia.”
More than £711,000 (AU$1.2 million) of British taxpayers’ money has already been spent towards the CITY OF ADELAIDE’s 16000km journey to Port Adelaide, however, recent press reports from Australia suggest that plans to return the ship to Adelaide could be in limbo as the new coalition government of Australia assesses the heritage value of the vessel. The previous Labor Government had promised The City of Adelaide Preservation Trust some AU$850,000 to cover the costs associated with her transportation from London to Adelaide. The Trust, confident that the Coalition will, indeed, honour that commitment, was not yet able to arrange for the heavy-lift ship to bring her to Adelaide.
MARTIN COX - Founder and publisher of MaritimeMatters, inspired by maritime culture and technology growing up in the port of Southampton. He works as a photographer in Los Angeles, and his works has been exhibited in LA, San Francisco, New York, London and Iceland. Martin is the co-writer of the book “Hollywood to Honolulu; the story of the Los Angeles Steamship Company” published by the Steam Ship Historical Society of America. The Los Angeles Maritime Museum has commissioned artworks and collected his photographs.