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Date: 1970-1985
Overall: 560 × 1625 × 320 mm
Medium: Timber, plastic, glue, steel,
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Bequest of David Radford
Object Name: Ship model
Object No: 00054350

User Terms

    Following the wreck of the DUNBAR of South Head in 1857 a NSW Government inquiry recommended that cruising pilot cutters be stationed off Sydney Heads to provide pilot services for vessels attempting to enter the Heads. In 1871 these cutters were first replaced by the steam launch THETIS before the Government commissioned the construction of the first CAPTAIN COOK Pilot Steamer in 1877

    Often claimed to be the first purpose built Pilot Steamer in the world, CAPTAIN COOK I, was subsequently replaced by an almost identical vessel CAPTAIN COOK II (1893-1939) and later by CAPTAIN COOK III (1939-1959). With their distinctive silhouettes the three steamer became familiar sites both on the Harbour and cruising offshore - providing an essential and remarkable service to cargo and passenger vessels.
    SignificanceThis evocative model of the pilot steamer CAPTAIN COOK III is a well made, detailed and historically accurate depiction of the third Sydney Harbour pilot steamer named CAPTAIN COOK. The CAPTAIN COOK III, with its distinctive clipper bow and bowsprit, was a familiar and much loved site on the Harbour, well-known to Sydneysiders, as well as international visitors to Australia whose first contact with Sydney was often the boarding of their vessel by one of the Sydney Harbour pilots based on board the CAPTAIN COOK.
    HistoryFollowing the wrecking of the ship DUNBAR off South Head in 1857 with the loss of at least 121 lives the NSW Government introduced a series of measures to make the Harbour and its approaches safer for the hundreds of vessels that were visiting the port of Sydney each year.

    These measures included the building of the Hornby Light on South Head along with the placement of two cruising pilot cutters on station outside the Heads along with the construction of Pilot Station at Gibson’s Beach, Watsons Bay to accommodate the pilots and their families.

    By 1871 the two timber pilot cutters had been replaced by the much larger and more seaworthy pilot steamer THETIS which was operated by the Public Works Department. The 1868 steamer proved to be so successful at it job - which consisted of keeping a number of pilots and their boat crews on board ready to supply them quickly to any approaching vessel requiring pilotage services - that when it came to replace the steamer the government decided to commission the construction of what has been claimed to be the first purpose built Pilot Steamer in the World - the CAPTAIN COOK (I)

    CAPTAIN COOK (I) commenced service in February 1877 and remained more or less on Station off the Heads for 15 years before being replaced by its larger, iron built, successor CAPTAIN COOK (II).

    After 45 years’ service CAPTAIN COOK (II) was replaced by its almost identical successor CAPTAIN COOK (III) which became the third purpose built pilot steamer to operate off Sydney Heads. Built for the Maritime Services Boards of NSW by Morts Dock in Balmain the steamer was launched on the 12 December 1938 by Mrs Stevens, wife of the NSW Premier.

    CAPTAIN COOK (III) was registered in the Port of Sydney and had a tonnage of 524 gross and 214 net with length overall of 165.7ft, a width of 26.6 ft. and a depth of 15.2ft. Built with a single deck it carried two pilot 'pulling' or 'boarding' boats, a motor dingy and a large bronze figurehead of the navigator James Cook RN - which had been originally fitted to CAPTAIN COOK (II)

    Although it had been more than seventy years since the cruising pilot service had been formed the system remained much the same with the pilots and their crews living on-board the CAPTAIN COOK (III) cruising off the Heads until their services were required.
    However the increase in the number and size of vessels visiting the port and the availability and reliability of diesel engines made the CAPTAIN COOK (III) steamer obsolete and she was sold out of service in 1959 and replaced with three double-ended Pilot Cutter, the GOOLARA, the GOONDOOLOO and the GIRRALONG all built at Goat Island by the Maritime Services Board.

    CAPTAIN COOK (III) was subsequently sold to MR Koutoupos who intended to convert the former pilot steamer for commercial cruising in the Mediterranean but the business venture did not eventuate and the steamer was then sold to Hines Metals of Adelaide and the ship broken at Waterview Bay, Balmain in 1960.
    Related People
    Model Maker: David Radford

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