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HMS TORCH moored in Farm Cove

Date: June 1913
Medium: Emulsion on nitrate film.
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Object Name: Nitrate negative
Object No: 00023859
Place Manufactured:Man-o-war steps

User Terms

    The British Royal Navy steel sloop HMS TORCH is shown moored in Farm Cove off Mrs Macquarie's Point. In the background are views of the Royal Botanic Gardens. The German survey vessel HMS PLANET is moored to port. TORCH served on the Australia Station 1897-1914 and is shown here after a long refit in Sydney.
    SignificanceThe Samuel J Hood photographic collection records an extensive range of maritime activity on Sydney Harbour, including sail and steam ships, warships, 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.
    HistoryHMS TORCH was an Alert class screw steel sloop built for the Royal Navy and with its sister-ship ALERT was constructed to a design by William White, the Royal Navy Director of Naval Construction. They were powered by a three-cylinder vertical triple expansion steam engine developing 1,400 horsepower and driving a single screw. Both ships of the class were armed with four 4-inch and four 3-pounder guns, and three machine guns.

    TORCH was launched at Sheerness Dockyard on 28 December 1894, completed in October 1895 and sailed to join the Australia Station in February 1897, serving in New Zealand waters in 1898 and 1899. In 1901 it formed part of the naval escort during the Duke and Duchess of York's visit to Australia and New Zealand. Its main duties on the Australia Station consisted of routine patrol work around neighbouting Pcific islands such as Fiji.

    After a major refit in 1911-12, TORCH recommissioned at Sydney on 29 November 1913, and in August 1914 became part of the New Zealand Division of the Eastern Fleet. On 16 August 1917 TORCH was transferred to the New Zealand Government as the Training Ship FIREBRAND; it was subsequently sold, renamed RAMA and fitted out as a refrigerated ship for the Chatham Islands fishing trade. While approaching the Chatham Islands on 17 November 1924 RAMA struck an uncharted rock, and was beached and abandoned.

    TORCH was 180 ft (55 m) long with a beam of 32 ft (9.8 m) and draught of 12 ft (3.7 m). The ship complement numbered about 107; top speed was 13.25 knots.

    Report from Hansard 16 October 1912:
    Mr. CHARLES BATHURST asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether His Majesty's ship "Torch" was sent to sea in May, 1911, in unseaworthy condition after being in dockyard at Sydney for about six weeks; whether, in November, 1911, her screw dropped off, and in January, 1912, she was again taken into dockyard at Sydney; whether, in or about June, 1912, it was found necessary, while undocking her, to redock her to stop leaks; and whether she is now limited to three-fifths of her power in consequence of having a screw shaft of wrought iron fitted to her instead of one of steel; and what is the total amount which has been expended upon repairs to His Majesty's ship "Torch" in 1911–12; what was the original cost of the ship; what is her age; who was responsible for her having been sent to sea in May, 1911, in unseaworthy condition; and what steps, if any, have been taken to bring home to the party concerned the responsibility for such action?

    The FIRST LORD of the ADMIRALTY (Mr. Churchill): The "Torch" was launched nearly eighteen years ago, and her original cost was £60,368. The amount spent upon repairs during the last financial year was £6,175. In November, 1911, the ship lost her propeller owing to the breaking of the shaft, and was docked at Sydney for refit in January, 1912. Until the new steel shaft on order has been fitted, the vessel is limited to three-fifths of her power. The information available is not sufficiently complete to enable me to give all the particulars asked for, but the whole question of the recent condition of the ship is a matter under close investigation at the present time.

    Additional Titles

    Assigned title: Man-o-war HMS TORCH

    Web title: HMS TORCH moored in Farm Cove

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