|The Flying Squadron 1869-70
Sydney Morning Herald
27th December 1869
Departure of the Flying Squadron
The visit of the four frigates and two corvettes, comprising Admiral Hornby’s command, terminated yesterday. Their stay in Sydney was exactly fourteen days, during which the officers of the several ships have courteously received the thousands of visitors, to whom the sight of such vessels in Australian waters was a novelty. On several occasions many of our leading residents enjoyed the hospitalities of the officers who were anxious to repay, in kind, the courteous treatment they received here, and for which they were profuse in acknowledgements. They have also rendered substantial service to several local institutions, &c, and their entertainments in aid of the funds of the School of Industry, the Sailors’ Home, and Cook’s monument, must have added considerably to their respective funds.
Admiral Hornby has also proved the advantages of having in Port Jackson the headquarters of a squadron. The Endymion entered this port with her machinery disabled, and the engineers under his command almost prevented repairs being made, by reporting that they could not be done in a royal dockyard under seven days. The Waterview Dock Company undertook to complete the work within that time, and did it without the ship having to dock. Two cutters were required from Cuthbert’s Yard, and they were reconstructed within a week.
The departure of the squadron for Hobart Town was very unostentatious, and by numbers quite unexpected. Hundreds visited the various points about the Domain after dinner, expecting to see the fleet sail at two o’clock, but by that time the ships were outside the Heads and partially under sail. Some few strollers who happened to be in the vicinity of farm Cove about noon, and saw signs of the vessels getting ready for sea, were to be seen, but nothing like the concourse of spectators that would have been there had the exact hour of sailing transpired. It speaks volumes for the admirable efficiency of the squadron that it was only yesterday morning that sailing orders were really given, and that in three or four hours afterwards the ships were at sea. Signs of departure were visible on the Challenger about 10 o’clock, and at noon she left her moorings bound for New Zealand.
Half-an-hour later the Endymion tripped her anchor, steamed slowly past Fort Dennison, and stopped until the Liverpool weighed and, followed by the Scylla, took her place at the head of the starboard division. The Phoebe – leading the port division – steamed slowly from the anchorage, followed by the Barossa and Liffey, until the other vessels were a mile ahead. The signal for increased speed was then seen and they followed their consorts seaward. On opening the heads, the flagship set her outer jib, and the orders to make sail sent a swarm of blue jackets up her rigging, gaskets were cast off, and her three topsails fell simultaneously as she passed North Head. The same procedure occurred on each ship, and at the same places. The pilots were discharged when fairly clear of the land, and when the Liverpool had an offing of about two miles from the Upper Light her topsail was thrown to the mast until Scylla and Endymion came up and formed in line abreast on the port side. Steam was then blown off. Liffey, Barossa and Phoebe, still also under topsails, came up in about 15 minutes, and after taking position in two lines, all the vessels lay-to for about half-an-hour. The whole squadron fell off before a stiff nor’-easter. Courses, topgallentsails, and royals were set in rapid succession, and in a short time the vessels appeared mere specks on the wave. The Government steamer, Thetis, Lieutenant Gowland, R.N., accompanied by Captain Hixson, superintendent of pilots, was in attendance, and escorted the vessels across the flats, to render assistance, if necessary, as one of the ships drew more water than any that has left this port. Rear-Admiral Hornby expects to be in Hobart Town about Friday next. About twenty-five men, who have overstayed their leave in Sydney, will be able to rejoin their ships by the steamer Tasmania.
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