October 2013

On Friday, 18 October 2013, the world’s oldest clipper ship ‘City of Adelaide’ will be officially honoured at a renaming ceremony presided over by His Royal Highness, The Duke of Edinburgh at the Old Royal Naval College, Greenwich.

In 1923, the Royal Navy purchased the ‘City of Adelaide’ and renamed it ‘HMS Carrick’. At a 2001 conference convened by The Duke of Edinburgh, the decision was taken to revert to her original name, but a formal renaming ceremony was not performed. Ceremonies involved in naming ships are based on traditions thousands of years old and October’s ceremony will respect ancient mariner superstitions.

Specifically designed and built in 1864 as a passenger ship to bring migrants to South Australia from Britain, the clipper was originally 50% South Australian, 25% Scottish, and 25% English owned.

As ‘sister’ ship and five years older than the famous ‘Cutty Sark’, the ‘City of Adelaide’ is an impressive and tangible piece of maritime history. It has strong ties to South Australia’s English, Scottish, German, Cornish and copper mining heritage. The iconic vessel is a symbol of the marked relationship between South Australia and the United Kingdom, one that is specifically demonstrated by the significant number of skilled migrant applications being received by South Australia, which at 360 (an average of 66 per week), has more than doubled since May this year.

An estimated 1/4 of a million Australians today are descendants of passengers who made the long and arduous voyage to the fledgling colony. Peter Roberts, one of the volunteers bringing the clipper to South Australia, and a descendant of Cornish miners who migrated to the Moonta copper mines in South Australia in 1873 said, "as the only surviving sailing ship that gave regular passenger and cargo service between Europe and Australia, she represents a whole foundation era of Australian social, economic and maritime history, and the physical link between Britain and Australia."

The Clipper Age brought the development of a highly skilled set of sailors and craftsmen, and composite clippers like the ‘City of Adelaide’ were at the technological forefront of ship-design and shipbuilding. BAE Systems, Ultra Electronics and ASC are today at the forefront of modern naval ship building and repair in South Australia, and are therefore proud to be associated with the ‘City of Adelaide’ renaming ceremony. Shipbuilding in South Australia began in 1803 with the schooner ‘Independence’. Now, 210 years on, South Australia is home to Australia’s premier naval industry hub, Techport Australia.

“The ‘City of Adelaide’ is representative of all sailing ships from The First Fleet, and is also symbolic of the spirit of South Australia, a state that has long attracted migrants in search of a new and better quality of life. South Australia continues to attract professionals from the UK, so it’s remarkable to see this epic ship return to the Port of Adelaide, where its legacy will represent an entire two centuries of migration,” said Bill Muirhead AM, South Australia’s Agent General.

The ‘City of Adelaide’ will be moored next to the ‘Cutty Sark’ for the weekend 18th - 20th October before its last voyage from London to Port Adelaide takes place next year. The voyage atop a heavy-lift ship will represent the last ever voyage of a 19th century clipper.

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