On this day:

1770-1849 > First Fleet and RN

05 Feb 1788

Governor Arthur Phillip allocated Garden Island, Sydney, to HMS SIRIUS for use as a ship’s garden.

11 Feb 1788

HMS SIRIUS landed a party on Garden Island, Sydney, to prepare a ship’s garden.

Three sets of initials, ‘FM’, ‘IR’, and ‘WB’, were carved on a rock on the northern hill.

These are now the oldest marks extant made by white men in Australia.

05 Oct 1789

The first boat built in the colony of NSW, the ROSEHILL PACKET, was launched in Sydney Cove.

The boat builder was R. R. Read, the ship’s carpenter of HMS SIRIUS.

13 Dec 1791

Philip Parker King, (son of Governor Phillip Gidley King, RN), was born on Norfolk Island. He was the first Australian to reach flag rank in the RN.

25 Jul 1795

A new form of signalling called semaphore was introduced into the RN.

The system was devised by the Reverend Lord George Murray.

13 Sep 1796

The Governor of NSW, CAPT John Hunter, RN, appointed Thomas Moore Master Boat Builder of His Majesty’s Dockyard at Sydney.

12 Oct 1799

The Board of Admiralty issued the first signal book to the RN.

25 Sep 1800

A battery of two guns was established on Garden Island, to protect Sydney from a French attack.

The garrison of 12 Marines was commanded by Henry Hacking.

09 Mar 1801

LEUT John Murray, RN, in HMC brig LADY NELSON, explored and took possession of Port Phillip.

He named the bay in honour of the first Governor of NSW, CAPT Arthur Phillip, RN.

11 Mar 1803

CAPT James Colnett, RN, in HMS GLATTON, was appointed Senior Officer of His Majesty’s Ships and Vessels in Port Jackson.

15 Dec 1803

HMC Schooner CUMBERLAND, (CMDR Matthew Flinders, RN), was seized by the Captain General of Mauritius, Charles Mathieu Decaen. Flinders was held prisoner for five and a half years. He was released on 19 June 1809 after the island was blockaded by a British Squadron.

08 Mar 1808

The 5th-rate, HMS SAN FIORENZO, (CAPT G. N. Hardinge, RN), captured the French ship PIETMONTAISE, (40 guns), in a battle which lasted three days.

CAPT Hardinge was killed in the battle. The victory gave the RN control of the Indian Ocean.

HMS SAN FIORENZO was the French ship MINERVE, captured at Corsica in 1794. CAPT Hardinge was presented with two prize swords for this action which are now on display at the Historical Collection of HMAS CRESWELL.

07 Sep 1811

The Sydney Gazette published a proclamation by Governor Lachlan Macquarie, declaring Garden Island, Sydney, a public domain.

25 Dec 1811

Governor Lachlan Macquarie and Mrs. Macquarie celebrated Christmas in on passage from Hobart to Newcastle.

‘My poor Elizabeth has suffered a great deal from the seasickness’, recorded the Governor.

10 Feb 1814

Captain John Piper resigned his army commission to assume the duties of Naval Officer, Port Jackson.

20 Jun 1814

HMS NELSON, later HMVS NELSON, was launched on the River Thames, London.

12 Jan 1817

HMCS LADY NELSON, (brig), sailed from Sydney to search for survivors from the brig TRIAL in the Port Stephens area.

Natives interrogated by the ship’s crew said the convicts who had landed from the wreck had built a smaller vessel and had sailed north.

19 Oct 1817

The RN adopted the 9,000 item flag signalling system compiled by CAPT Frederick Marryat, RN. The system was adapted from the French Navy manual. It was first demonstrated in Australia by HMS WARSPITE, in 1826.

CAPT Marryat achieved lasting fame as the author of Mr. Midshipman Easy.

23 Oct 1817

The monthly rate of pay for an able seaman in HMC vessels was £11 3s 6d.

Soap and slops were charged against them.

16 Oct 1818

HMC brig LADY NELSON returned to Port Jackson, Sydney, after an unsuccessful search for survivors from the schooner WILLIAM COSSAR, in the Port Stephens, NSW area.

A wreck, identified as the colonial schooner GOVERNOR HUNTER, was found on a beach 40 to 50 miles north of Port Stephens.

09 Sep 1820

HMCS SPITFIRE, transported the expedition of LEUT J. W. Smith, RN, and G. E. Dalrymple, to explore northern Queensland. Spitfire Rock was named to honour the schooner

23 Oct 1823

HMC cutter MERMAID sailed with explorer John Oxley to survey the coast between Fingal Head and Gladstone.

11 Jan 1824

The following monthly rates of pay for naval officers were fixed by the Admiralty:- £61 7s 4d (1st rate ship); £23 0s 4d (sloop); First Lieutenant £11 10s 0d (1st rate ship); £9 4s 0d (sloop); Lieutenant £9 4s 0d (1st rate ship); £7 13s 4d (sloop); Master £ 13 0s 8d (1st rate ship); £7 13s 4d (sloop); Midshipman £2 8s 0d (all ships); Chaplain £12 5s 4d (all ships); Surgeon £12 5s 4d (all ships); Assistant Surgeon £9 4s 0d (all ships); Purser £7 0s 0d (all ships); Second Master £5 9s 4d (1st rate ship); £4 14s 0d (6th rate ship).

04 Dec 1824

HMC Ship AMITY, (brig), returned to Sydney after conveying the Governor of NSW, Sir Thomas Brisbane and his staff, to the Brisbane River, for the founding of the settlement which was named in his honour.

06 Mar 1827

CAPT James Stirling, RN, in HMS SUCCESS, named Garden Island, at the mouth of the Swan River, WA, where Fremantle now stands. Garden Island became HMAS STIRLING, (Fleet Base West), and forms part of Cockburn Sound, named by Stirling after RADM Sir George Cockburn, RN.

30 Jun 1831

HMS COMET, (sloop, 18 guns), was stationed at Port Jackson, Sydney. The vessel was used for punitive expeditions in the Pacific Islands.

01 Aug 1831

The NSW Government Gazette announced that officers of the Royal Navy and Marines, retiring from the service or going on half-pay, (in Australia), would be entitled to the following remissions when purchasing Crown land:- Those who had served 20 years and upwards; £300; 15 years and upwards; £250; 10 years and upwards; £200; 7 years and upwards; £150.

11 Sep 1836

CAPT Thomas Lipson, RN, was appointed Naval Officer, Port Adelaide, SA.

12 Oct 1836

The schooner HMCS ISABELLA, (LEUT Charles Morgan Lewis, RN), arrived in Port Jackson, NSW, with one survivor and 45 skulls from the barque SIR CHARLES EATON, wrecked on Aureed Island, Torres Strait, in 1834. The crew and passengers of the barque had been massacred by natives.

11 Jan 1843

LEUT Charles B. Yule, RN, of HMS BRAMBLE, discovered and named Heron Island.

17 May 1843

The first war vessel built in Australia, the schooner ELIZA, (119 tons schooner), patrolled the estuary of the Derwent River, TAS, to put down smuggling, and prevent the escape of convicts from the colony. ELIZA was built at Port Arthur, TAS.

22 Aug 1848

An historic tug-of-war between HMS BASILISK, (paddlewheel sloop), and HMS NIGER, (screw sloop), was conducted to prove the relevant efficiency of the two systems of propulsion. NIGER won the contest. Both vessels later served on the Australia Station.

'On This Day' is based on the book "Navy Day by Day: Historic Naval Events in Australia and Abroad" written by the late Lew Lind. More information.

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