Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Trove Tuesday - SY Aurora - Antarctic Exploration Ship

As would be expected with a place like Stockton, sailing vessels have played an important role in its history. Over the years many famous vessels have visited and played host to Stocktons' people.

On 16 April 1917, the SY Aurora was moored off Stockton.

"STOCKTON." Newcastle Morning Herald & Miners' Advocate (NSW : 1876 - 1954) 
 16 Apr 1917: 6. Web. 15 Nov 2013
STOCKTON. The Shackleton exploration vessel Aurora, which is lying at Stockton, was open for inspection yesterday, and large numbers of visitors took the opportunity of going aboard the vessel. A silver coin was charged for admission, and the proceeds were devoted to the Red Cross and Field Force Funds.

The Aurora started her life as a whaler in the northern seas around Canada. In 1910, she was purchased to be part of Douglas Mawsons' Australiasian Antarctic Expedition, helping in 1911 to establish a base on Macquarie Island. Her association with Antarctic exploration continued when in 1914 he became part of Sir Ernest Shackleton's Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition. One of her final Antarctic adventures was being the ship used to rescue the Ross Sea Party.

The fo'c'stle head of the "Aurora" sheathed with ice after a blizzard in Commonwealth Bay [Australasian Antarctic Expedition,  1911-1914] [1]
The fo'c'stle head of the "Aurora" sheathed with ice after a blizzard in Commonwealth Bay
[Australasian Antarctic Expedition, 1911-1914] - National Library of Australia - Creative Commons

After these adventures, she began to run coal between the east coast of Australia (from Newcastle and Sydney) to Chile. This run proved her downfall when in early 1918 she was listed as missing after leaving port at Newcastle. It was believed she was the victim of a U-boat attack, in the last year of World War One.

"THE MISSING AURORA." The West Australian (Perth, WA : 1879 - 1954)
4 Jan 1918: 5. Web. 25 Nov 2013

Sir Douglas Mawson, interviewed yester day with regard to the mising vessel Au rora, said that if she were lost it must have been due to a submarine attack. She had proved her seaworthiness by navigating 30,000 miles in the foulest weather during the Australasian Antarctic expedition. She had been the fnest boat engaged in polar exploration work. A Sydney telegram of Nov. 26 last said: "'The Aurora sailed from Sydney on June 1 and from Newcastle two days later with a cargo of coal for Iquique. Before her departure she had been overhauled and equipped with wireless apparatus. Shortly after the vessel sailed for South America stormy weather was experienced, but if disaster overtook ,the vessel the wireless plant should have been sufficiently strong to send messages to either Australia or New Zealand. On the eve of his depart ure Captain Beeves informed the Sydney agents that if the weather were favourable he would put in at Wellington, but the vessel apparently did not touch at New Zealand. As many of the crew belonged to Sydney, it is considered that if the Aurora had arrived at Iquique some mes sage would have been received in Welling ton or Sydney. The Aurora was fitted with auxiliary engines.'' Three other ships were announced to be missing, name ly, the Peruvian sailing ship Mario, 'which left Newcastle (New South Wales) five days after the Aurora with a cargo of coal for Callao; the barque Beluga, which left San Francisco with a cargo of oil for Sydney on May 16; and the barque Enoore, which sailed from Prescott, Oregon, on May 3 with a timber cargo for Sydney.

"AURORA MISSING." The Register (Adelaide, SA : 1901 - 1929) 
20 Mar 1918: 6. Web. 25 Nov 2013
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