Southern Cross (1891 Melanesian Mission ship)

Southern Cross was a three-masted schooner originally built in 1891 for the Melanesian Mission of the Anglican Church and the Church of the Province of Melanesia, and was lost with all hands off King Island, Tasmania in 1920.

Name: Southern Cross
Builder: Forrest & Sons in 1891
Fate: wrecked in Bass Strait, September 1920
General characteristics
Tonnage: 257 tons Old Measurement
Length: 131 ft 4 in (40.03 m)
Beam: 26 ft 0 in (7.92 m)
Draught: 14 ft 2 in (4.32 m)
Installed power: engine (prior to 1902)
Propulsion: sail & steam (prior to 1902)
Sail plan: Three-Mast Schooner, changed to Brigantine


Southern Cross was built at Wivenhoe, Essex, England by Forrest & Sons using funds estimated at £9,000 contributed by Bishop John Richardson Selwyn and others. Originally built as a steam yacht, she underwent conversion to a barquentine rig several years later.[1]


On her maiden voyage, she was extensively damaged by a storm in the English Channel during October 1891. After repair, she left in early November and arrived in Auckland during March 1892.[2][3][4]

She was in service with the Melanesian Mission from 1892 to 1902. The engines were removed in 1904 prior to her sale.[5]

Final voyage

On 11 September 1920, Southern Cross sailed from Melbourne for Hobart with a general cargo including 1,000 cases of benzine stored on its main deck. On 22 September, a large quantity of wreckage was found on the north coast of King Island. Further searches found wreckage around the island with a concentration at the southern end. As the wreckage bore traces of burning, it was speculated that the ship's deck cargo had caught fire, or that it had struck a mine laid by the German raider Wolff in 1917.[6][7][8]

The following personnel were reportedly lost in the wrecking - Frank Rule Hodgman, master; T. Watts, mate; C.F. Makepeace, boatswain; D. Dinehy, able seaman; W. O'Connell, able seaman; L. Sward, able seaman; W. Moody, able seaman; Wm. Brown, cook & steward and Stanley Bell, cabin boy.[9]

See also


  1. "Crew of the Southern Cross; the men who were on board". Examiner (Launceston, Tasmania). 28 September 1920. p. 5. Retrieved 20 February 2013.
  2. "The Melanesian Mission; The Southern Cross disabled". The Sydney Morning Herald. 22 October 1891. p. 5. Retrieved 21 February 2013.
  3. "The Melanesian Mission Schooner; Southern Cross". The Sydney Morning Herald. 24 December 1891. p. 4. Retrieved 21 February 2013.
  4. "The Melanesian Mission Yacht; Southern Cross". The Sydney Morning Herald. 22 March 1892. p. 4. Retrieved 21 February 2013.
  5. Taylor, Colin (1998). The Brothers Taylor, a Tasmanian maritime history. Canberra: Navarine Publishing. p. 74. ISBN 0958656142.
  6. "Southern Cross overdue; Charred wreckage found; indications of disaster". Examiner (Launceston, Tasmania). 24 September 1920. p. 5. Retrieved 20 February 2013.
  7. "Fate of the Southern Cross; More evidence of disaster; Wrecked on King Island, Indications of explosion; Searching for survivors; No trace of Amelia J; An aviator missing". Examiner (Launceston, Tasmania). 25 September 1920. p. 7. Retrieved 20 February 2013.
  8. "Fate of Southern Cross; finding of the Marine Court". The Mercury (Hobart, Tasmania). 24 March 1921. p. 4. Retrieved 20 February 2013.
  9. "Crew of the Southern Cross; the men who were on board". Examiner (Launceston, Tasmania). 28 September 1920. p. 5. Retrieved 20 February 2013.

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