Archive for October, 2009

ASLEEP IN THE DEEP – MERCHANT MEN OF THE FIRST FLEET

Sunday, October 25th, 2009

‘By Alexander, under care of Lieutenant Shortland, agent for the transports, I have sent dispatches to the Right Honourable the Lord Sydney and yourself, with a rough survey of Port Jackson….Lieutenant Shortland is likewise charged with a box of letters from Monsieur La Perouse for the French Ambassador’. Governor Phillip to Under-Secretary Nepean, July 10th 1788.

1787 – 13 May, Portsmouth England: A flotilla of eleven (11) ships commanded by Captain Arthur Phillip RN, known in Britain and Australia as the ‘First Fleet’ with a complement of approximately 1500 souls (one-half convicted criminals), sailed from Portsmouth on a voyage of 13,00 miles (21,000 km) to Botany Bay, New Holland on the 13th May 1787.

HMS Sirius and HMS Supply carried two hundred (200) Royal Naval personnel. Twenty (20) officials, two hundred and forty-five (245) marines guarding five hundred and eighty (580) male criminal combatants. They were distributed throughout nine (9) chartered vessels, three (3) from the British East India Company. See: A Tale of Two Fleets

The mission of this large naval expedition, fully funded by government, was to invade, conqueror and claim sovereignty over the entire east coast of New Holland.

‘New Holland is a good blind, then, when we want to add to the military strength of India’. Historical Records of New South Wales. Anon.

Britain’s aim was to gain supremacy, via the Southern Oceans, of alternate trade and logistical sea-routes to and from India, China and having recently – American War of Independence 1775- 1783 – lost her North American colonies, Spanish South America. See: Britain + France + America + India + Peru + New Holland = European Australia

Merchant ships were crewed to a formula related to tonnage; eight (8) seamen and one (1) boy per one hundred (100) ton. With specialist warrant officers, the number of crewmen on the fleet’s nine (9) chartered vessels, would have numbered approximately four hundred and forty (440) men.

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