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ANMM Collection Reproduced courtesy of Donald Bastock


Date: c 1988
Overall: 25.5 x 35.7 mm, 0.05 kg
Medium: Oil on composite board
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Gift from John Bastock
Object Copyright: © Donald Bastock
Object Name: Painting
Object No: 00016900
Place Manufactured:Australia

User Terms

    The three-masted wooden screw corvette HMS ORPHEUS flys the blue pennant of Commodore William F Burnett CB. ORPHEUS was flagship on the Australia Station from 1862 to 1863 under the command of Commodore Burnett before it wrecked after an unfortunate collision with a sand bar in New Zealand.
    SignificanceThis painting offers a modern portrayal of HMS ORPHEUS (1862-1863), a popular flagship of the Australia Station that wrecked off the coast of New Zealand during service in 1863. This was the only ship of the Royal Navy's to be lost during service on the Australia Station.
    HistoryHMS ORPHEUS was a wooden screw corvette launched at Chatham in 1860 and commissioned for service in the Royal Navy's Australia Station. When ORPHEUS arrived in Sydney Harbour during July 1862 it was met with a warm public reception, being the most modern equipped naval warship the colony had seen.

    Only seven months later during a voyage to New Zealand to assess the naval base, ORPHEUS grounded on a sand bar on 7 February 1863 entering Manukua Harbour. The ship began to break up under crashing waves and take on water. Commodore Burnett and 188 officers were killed in what became the worst naval tragedy of the Australia Station. Only 70 crew members survived the wreck.

    During the 19th century Britain was preoccupied with increasing its colonial territories and maintaining the empire. The British Royal Navy (RN) at the height of its power divided the world into strategic zones or stations that were manned by a squadron of warships responsible for cruising and protecting British territories and shipping. Until the 1850s Australasia was covered by the East India Station, a vast area that included the Indian Ocean and the waters around Australia. After pressure from the colonial governments of New Zealand and Australia the RN formed the Australia Station as a separate command in 1859.

    The station was established to guard British shipping and trade in the Australasian region and ensure sea routes were open and safe. In 1859 the Australia Station included the British territories of New Zealand, Chatham Island, New Hebrides, Loyalty Islands, Fiji and Australia.
    Additional Titles

    Assigned title: HMS ORPHEUS

    Web title: HMS ORPHEUS

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