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Section of sternpost, possibly from HMS RESOLUTION

Date: c 1770
Overall: 300 x 2150 x 290 mm, 59 kg
Medium: European white oak
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Gift from Newport Historical Society
Classification:Vessels and fittings
Object Name: Relic
Object No: 00000200

User Terms

    HMS RESOLUTION is famously remembered as the vessel in which Captain Cook sailed on his second and third voyages of exploration. However, after Cook's death in Hawaii, the RESOLUTION returned to England where it was fitted for service in the East Indies as a store ship in Admiral Sir Edward Hughes's fleet. In 1782 it was captured by the French warship SPHINX. The French Admiral Andre de Suffren sent the captured RESOLUTION to the Philippines for supplies but by the end of hostilities (September 1783) he had received no news of the vessel.

    It is believed that the RESOLUTION (under different names) worked in the French whaling industry until it was condemned at Newport, Rhode Island in 1792. This large timber is believed to be part of RESOLUTION's stern post and was given to the museum by the Newport Historical Society.
    SignificanceThis section of sternpost is believed to be part of Captain Cook's ship RESOLUTION in which he circumnavigated the world on his second and third voyages of exploration.
    HistoryCaptain James Cook was born at Marton, North Yorkshire on 27 October 1728. By the age of 20 he was serving an apprenticeship in the port of Whitby, gaining skills in navigation and mathematics under the coal shipper John Walker. In 1755 Cook joined the Royal Navy and was made master's mate on HMS EAGLE. Soon after he was promoted to Master of the PEMBROKE and conducted survey work on the St Lawrence River in Quebec, and the coasts of Nova Scotia and Newfoundland.

    In 1768 Cook was chosen by the Admiralty to conduct an expedition to the Pacific in command of HMB ENDEAVOUR, to view the transit of Venus and locate the Great South Land. He undertook two more voyages to the Pacific, the second in command of RESOLUTION and ADVENTURE with the hope of finding the Great South Land and the third in command of RESOLUTION and DISCOVERY to locate the Northwest Passage. It was during this third voyage that Cook visited Hawaii (then called the Sandwich Islands by Cook) and was killed on 14 February 1779 in an altercation with the Hawaiians.

    Cook's second expedition left for the South Pacific in July 1772 with the intention of proving conclusively if a great southern continent existed. With the ships HMS RESOLUTION and HMS ADVENTURE Cook travelled round the Cape of Good Hope and into the ice of the Antarctic Circle. After charting many islands around the Pacific, Cook concluded that the great southern land did not exist. He arrived back in England during July 1775, having circumnavigated the globe via Cape Horn and South America.

    Cook’s third and final voyage was to chart the north-west passage between the north Atlantic and Pacific oceans. He departed England in 1776 in command of HMS DISCOVERY and RESOLUTION and sailed to New Zealand, then headed north to the Cook Islands and Hawaii. He then charted the coast of British Columbia and Alaska before returning to Hawaii for the winter. On 14 February 1779 Cook was killed following an altercation with the Hawaiians over the theft of one of the ship's boats.

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