Final Departure of World's Oldest Clipper Ship from Scotland - 20 September 2013

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Final Departure of World’s Oldest Clipper Ship from Scotland - Bound For South Australia - 20 September 2013

UPDATED Friday 20 SEPT at 11:30pm BST: Third time lucky and she's away! After being delayed by the weather on Wednesday and Thursday, the last mooring line on the barge carrying the City of Adelaide was let go at 1:17pm BST on Friday 20 September 2013. The City of Adelaide has now left Scotland for the first time in 90 years!

DID YOU KNOW: The City of Adelaide was renamed HMS Carrick when purchased by the Royal Navy in 1923. This was to avoid confusion with the new cruiser HMAS Adelaide that then had recently been commissioned in the Royal Australian Navy. Twelve years ago, on 19 September 2001, the clipper's name reverted to City of Adelaide after a Conference convened by HRH Duke of Edinburgh to discuss the future of the historic ship. A formal renaming ceremony was not conducted at that time. According to mariner superstitions to rename a ship without appeasing the gods of the sea and the winds will bring bad luck, something we appear to be experiencing with the winds now, and also a week ago when we first tried to traverse the narrow bridge.  ... or is it just the Scottish weather?

The last ever voyage of the world's oldest clipper ship is ready to commence from Scotland - ultimately bound for South Australia.

The City of Adelaide - the only surviving purpose-built sailing ship to bring migrants from Europe to Australia - will depart from Irvine, Scotland, before the high tide on Friday 20th September.

The clipper’s journey will, firstly, head to her original homeport of London for a celebration and formal farewell in October (2013) at historic Greenwich on the River Thames.

The City of Adelaide , atop a large barge, will moor for several days near her younger ‘sister’– the world famous Cutty Sark, a Greenwich landmark for six decades - before continuing her journey via a quarantine and 'preparation stop' in Europe.

The City of Adelaide first arrived in Scotland when purchased by the Royal Navy in 1923 and was renamed HMS Carrick. This was to avoid confusion with the new cruiser HMAS Adelaide that had recently been commissioned in the Royal Australian Navy.

The Carrick became a well known landmark on the River Clyde in Glasgow, and after World War II, the clipper became clubrooms for the Naval Reserve. After a sinking mishap in the 1980s, she became an insurance write-off. In 1992 she was rescued by the Scottish Maritime Museum and moved to a slipway in Irvine.

Despite being listed in the UK’s National Register of Historic Ships, the Trustees of the Scottish Maritime Museum (SMM) were being forced to vacate the slipway where the clipper sat.

The City of Adelaide was regarded as unrecoverable from the banks of the Irvine River in western Scotland. For many years the ship was stranded by a heavily silted river and UK experts feared she could never be extracted as the adjacent delicate wetlands prevented the option of dredging the river to rescue her.

With the ship stranded, the SMM in turn had to request permission to demolish the A-Listed ship. That is until Clipper Ship City of Adelaide Ltd. (CSCOAL), an Adelaide-based volunteer organisation, stepped in.

CSCOAL organised engineering firms from across South Australia worked together to create a prefabricated steel cradle that would allow the ship to be rolled across a temporary bridge over river mudflats and onto a low-draft barge.

Weighing 100 tonnes and worth more than $1.2million, the cradle was shipped to Scotland in five shipping containers, before being assembled and tested, and then disassembled again for installation beneath the 450 tonne clipper piece by piece.

The overall engineering feat involved the efforts of six-dozen organisations in nine countries, including the three dozen firms distributed over 20,000 kilometres of rural and metropolitan South Australia who built the cradle.

On Friday 6th September, the clipper was rolled across a temporary roadway that had been built and a steel bridge over mud flats onto a grounded flat-deck barge in front of the guests at a ceremony to transfer ownership from the Scottish Maritime Museum to CSCOAL.

A crowd of 3,000 people watched the emotional moment on the following Monday (9/9), when the barge with clipper aboard was floated free and moved down the river to a narrow bridge. Strong wind gusts delayed the transit through the bridge, but the following day an additional tug helped to guide the clipper through the narrow opening.

The clipper’s cradle has now been welded to the barge, and additional sea-fastenings installed, and the barge and precious cargo are now ready to proceed to sea.

A large crowd of onlookers and media is expected to gather at the mouth of the river Irvine about noon (British Summer Time) on Thursday19th September to witness the departure from Scotland.

The City of Adelaide is scheduled to eventually arrive in Port Adelaide between February and April next year (2014). The voyage will end an extraordinary 14-year campaign by engineers, maritime historians, ship enthusiasts, descendants of the ship’s migrants and supporters.

'City of Adelaide' on her barge being pushed downstream on the River Irvine on 9 September 2013. Photo by Peter Roberts (CSCOAL).
'City of Adelaide' on her barge being pushed downstream on the River Irvine on 9 September 2013. Photo by Peter Roberts (CSCOAL).

 

Images may be used for non-commercial purposes for the positive portrayal of the CSCOAL project to rescue the 'City of Adelaide', with attribution to Peter Roberts. Professional media may obtain high resolution images on request to Rann Communication.

 

 

NOTES

The clipper City of Adelaide was renamed HMS Carrick when purchased by the Royal Navy in 1923. This was to avoid confusion with the new cruiser HMAS Adelaide that had recently been commissioned in the Royal Australian Navy. In 2001, the clipper's name reverted to City of Adelaide after a Conference convened by HRH Duke of Edinburgh to discuss the future of the historic ship. A formal renaming ceremony is being planned.

The City of Adelaide clipper weighs over 450 tonnes. In her sailing days she would have weighed 1500 tonnes. In its current state (hull only), the clipper is 54 metres long, which is longer than an Olympic swimming pool (50 metres). Originally - with jib-boom - she was 74 metres – 4 metres longer than a 747 aircraft.

The City of Adelaide was built in 1864, five years before the Cutty Sark. She is one of only four surviving sailing ships to have taken emigrants from the British Isles to any destination in the world, and the last survivor of the timber trade between North America and the United Kingdom. She is the world’s fifth oldest surviving merchant ship, and was designed and built specifically to serve the colony of South Australia.

The City of Adelaide is famous for being specially designed as a passenger ship. Over a quarter of a century the City of Adelaide carried thousands of English, Scottish, Cornish, German, Danish, Irish and other migrants to South Australia. Today, the descendants of her passengers can be found throughout Australia.

Greenwich has played a key role in the story of Britain's sea power for over 400 years and today its many museums celebrate its maritime history. Greenwich, at the world’s Prime Meridian, is on the portion of the Thames from where the City of Adelaide departed for each of its 23 annual voyages from London to South Australia. These attributes, combined with close links to England 's Tudor and Stuart sovereigns, give Greenwich an unrivalled symbolic presence.

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