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HMCS Protector and Torrens

Date: 1880s
Dimensions:
Display dimensions: 930 × 1275 mm G fini
Medium: Watercolour and gouache on paper
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Classification:Art
Object Name: Watercolour
Object No: 00054270

User Terms

    Description
    This view of HMCS PROTECTOR and the sailing ship TORRENS represents two vessels of tremendous significance to the South Australia, to the peopling of the colony and to its defence posturing. The PROTECTOR has a long and significant history in the defence forces both colonial, state and national and continued connections to South Australia, and to Queensland where archaelogical work is being undertaken on the wreck at Heron Island.

    The work represents the work of one of Australia's prolific port painters and families in George Frederick Gregory junior, when he was living in Adelaide in the mid 1880s. Both the Protector and the Torrens were favourite subjects for his clients and he is known to have produced several views of these ships - together and separately.

    SignificanceThis view of HMCS PROTECTOR and the sailing ship TORRENS represents two vessels of tremendous significance to the South Australia, to the peopling of the colony and to its defence posturing. The PROTECTOR has a long and significant history in the defence forces both colonial, state and national and continued connections to South Australia, and to Queensland where archaelogical work is being undertaken on the wreck at Heron Island.

    A it is a view of the late 19th century Australian warship, with characteristics of a sailing ship rather than a modern battleship, which was still around and incorporated into the new Royal Australia Navy in 1914 is an important indicator of both the history of warship development, as well as the fact that the navy was not all a new and modern fleet.

    There are images of the PROTECTOR, but this is unique and as a painting rather than photograph is visually richer. The inclusion of the TORRENS and its importance in South Australia is worth highlighting, along with the fact that Joseph Conrad worked as Chief Officer on two voyages to and from Australia 1891-93.

    The work also represents the work of one of Australia's prolific port painters and families in George Frederick Gregory junior, when he was living in Adelaide in the mid 1880s. Both the Protector and the Torrens were favourite subjects for his clients and he is known to have produced several views of these ships - together and separately.

    HistoryHMCS PROTECTOR

    In 1882 the South Australian government resolved to purchase a ship to protect its territorial waters. William Armstrong & Co in Britain built the ship and in 1884 it was delivered to the colony at a cost of 65,000 pounds sterling. For fifteen years, PROTECTOR patrolled the uneventful South Australian waters.

    Classified as a light cruiser, HMCS PROTECTOR (Her Majesty's Colonial Ship) displaced 920 tons and had a top speed of 14 knots. Its largest armament was an 8-inch rifled breech-loading gun mounted on the bow, which had the potential to fire a shell to a distance of almost 7,000 metres.

    In 1900, the Australian colonies took their first steps into East Asian conflicts when they sent support to the British at the Boxer War. This was a joint action by several nations including Britain, France, Germany, Austria, Russia and the USA to crush a violent uprising against foreigners in China. The term Boxer was a Western corruption of the original Chinese name.

    South Australia lent PROTECTOR with a crew of 110 to assist the British Royal Navy. Victoria and New South Wales sent naval brigade contingents totaling 462 men.

    Arriving after the main conflict was over, their main duty was guarding and policing in Tianjin (Tientsin) and Beijing (Peking). The Australian colonial forces all returned home by May 1901 leaving seven Australians behind - six who had died of illness and one suicide.

    PROTECTOR had returned to Australia by November 1900 and, after Federation in January 1901, was transferred to the Commonwealth Government and based mainly in Sydney. In 1913 it became a tender to HMAS CERBERUS naval training base in Victoria.

    With the outbreak of World War I in 1914, PROTECTOR began service as a parent/depot ship to two Australian submarines, AE1 and AE2, and escorted them to German New Guinea. After the surrender of these colonies in September, PROTECTOR remained based at Rabaul until early October 1914, when it sailed for Sydney in the company of HMAS FANTOME. In October 1915 the vessel was deployed to the Indian Ocean to report on the wreckage of the German ship EMDEN, which HMAS SYDNEY had engaged in battle in November 1914 and which had washed ashore on Keeling Island.

    PROTECTOR arrived back in Australia in December 1915 and returned to duties as a tender to HMAS CERBERUS for the remainder of the war.

    In April 1921, PROTECTOR was renamed CERBERUS (the old CERBERUS renamed PLATYPUS II), and continued to serve at the naval training base. In 1924 the vessel was decommissioned and sold. The vessel served the next years as a wool lighter called SIDNEY until it was requisitioned for war service by the US Army in 1943. After a collision with a tug near Gladstone, SIDNEY was abandoned, but its hull was later towed to Heron Island, off the coast of Queensland, to be used as a breakwater. It is still there today.


    The clipper ship TORRENS

    Sunderland Echo 16 April 2008 10:26
    The clipper ship TORRENS

    'Among the almost innumerable list of Sunderland-built sailing vessels, one stands out as being most famous of them all – the clipper ship Torrens.
    She was launched in October, 1875, by James Laing's Deptford shipyard and was the last full-rigged composite passenger clipper to be built.
    Constructed with iron frames and teak planking, the 1,335 tonner was designed to carry emigrants from England to South Australia and return home with wool and other produce.
    Flores Angel, daughter of the ship's first master and part owner, Captain Henry Robert Angel, performed the launching ceremony. A striking figurehead, modelled on Flores, was carved by sculptor, Joseph Melvin.
    Torrens entered service as flagship of the Elder Line, leaving Plymouth on December 12, 1875, for her maiden voyage to Adelaide, which was completed in 85 days. She was regarded as a beautifully modelled ship, with splendid sea keeping qualities. In light airs, when other vessels were practically becalmed, Torrens was able to glide along at several knots.
    As Commodore of Elder Line, Captain Angel flew his own ensign from Torrens' masthead; this being a white flag with a crescent and two stars. Other members of the Elder fleet flew a similar house flag with a red background.
    Captain Angel made 15 voyages between Plymouth and Port Adelaide, averaging an unequalled 74 days for the outward passage. He also established a record-breaking 64 days for the passage, once sailing 336 miles in 24 hours.
    On his retirement in 1890, Angel was succeeded by Captain WH Cope, who made six return voyages to Adelaide. On his first passage, a mid-Atlantic squall resulted in Torrens sustaining major damage, forcing her to put into Pernambuco, Brazil, for repairs. She finally arrived in Adelaide, 179 days after leaving London.
    Between 1891 and 1893, the famous Polish novelist Joseph Conrad served as chief officer on two return voyages.
    Captain Falkland Angel (son of Henry Robert) took over command in 1896 and completed six passages between London and Adelaide, the last two coming close to disaster.In 1899, TORRENS struck an iceberg near the Crozet Islands in the southern Indian Ocean losing her foretopmast, jib boom, bowsprit and figurehead.
    In 1903, while returning from Adelaide, she oaded explosive ordnance (remnants from the Boer War) from St Helena. While under tow in the Thames, she collided with another vessel, but was not badly damaged.
    Afterwards, she was sold to Italian owners and was eventually scrapped by Genoese shipbreakers in 1910.
    In 1973, Australian National Antarctic Research expeditioners discovered a headless figurehead of a woman on Macquarie Island (south-west of New Zealand). Researchers believe this is the figurehead lost by Torrens in 1899. It was later taken to the Queen Victoria Museum in Launceston, Tasmania.'

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