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The launch of HMAS ALBATROSS I at Cockatoo Island Dockyard

Date: 23 February 1928
Medium: Emulsion on glass
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Object Name: Glass plate negative
Object No: 00035169
Place Manufactured:Cockatoo Island

User Terms

    This photograph depicts the launch of the Royal Australian Navy's first seaplane carrier HMAS ALBATROSS I on 23 February 1928 at Cockatoo Island Dockyard in Sydney. The woman at the centre of the photograph holding the rope is Lady Ethel Stonehaven, wife of Lord John Lawrence Baird Stonehaven, the Governor-General of Australia. Lady Stonehaven launched the vessel and performed a ceremonial christening by releasing a bottle of Australian wine. The Reverend A G Rix is also visible in the photograph, conducting a religious service also from the launching platform.
    SignificanceThe Samuel J Hood photographic collection records an extensive range of maritime activity on Sydney Harbour, including sail and steam ships, crew portraits, crews at work, ship interiors, stevedores loading and unloading cargo, port scenes, pleasure boats and harbourside social activities from the 1890s through to the 1950s. They are also highly competent artistic studies and views - Hood was regarded as an important figure in early Australian photojournalism. Hood’s maritime photographs are one of the most significant collections of such work in Australia.
    HistoryConstruction first began on the Royal Australian Navy's first seaplane carrier, HMAS ALBATROSS I, in April 1926 at Cockatoo Island Dockyard in Sydney. On 23 February 1928, HMAS ALBATROSS was launched by Lady Ethel Stonehaven, the wife of Lord John Lawrence Baird Stonehaven, the Governor-General of Australia. After Lady Stonehaven had christened the vessel with Australian wine and cut a ceremonial ribbon marking the launch, a religious service was conducted from the launching platform by a Reverend A G Rix. 'The Sydney Morning Herald' reported on the event the following day:

    '"I name this ship Albatross," said Lady Stonehaven. "I am proud that she is the result of Australian workmanship, and I congratulate those who have so faithfully and skilfully constructed her. May she prove a valuable addition to the Royal Australian Navy, and may God's protecting care be over all who voyage in her." (Applause.)'

    ['HMAS ALBATROSS. Seaplane Carrier. Launched at Cockatoo Dockyard. Workmanship Praised.' The Sydney Morning Herald, 24 February 1928, p 10]

    Following her speech, Lady Stonehaven pulled the leaver releasing the enormous vessel for it to be eased into the water. Crowds huddled around the launch platform and cheered and sang the national anthem as it made its way down.

    For the next four to five years, HMAS ALBATROSS was commissioned for various naval cruises and training exercises at home and across the Pacific region. In 1938, the vessel ended its RAN career and entered into the service of the Royal Navy as payment for the RAN's new cruiser, HMAS HOBART I. The cruiser served World War II in the South Atlantic, West Africa and Madagascar and was then recommissioned as a repair ship in 1943. HMAS ALBATROSS played a vital role in the Allied invasion of Normandy, repairing 132 vessels for the conflict. On 11 August, the vessel was torpedoed off Courseulles-sur-Mer, France resulting in 50 deaths.

    HMAS ALBATROSS was sold in 1946 and then eventually chartered by the International Refugee Organisation in 1949 to transport refugees from Europe to the vessel's original birthplace, Sydney. The ship was then scrapped in Hong Kong in August 1954.

    [Source: 'HMAS ALBATROSS (I)', Royal Australian Navy,]
    Additional Titles

    Web title: The launch of HMAS ALBATROSS I at Cockatoo Island Dockyard

    Assigned title: Image depicts naval ceremony at the launch HMAS ALBATROSS

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