Convict Ship, Success

Posted: November 24, 2013 in Boats
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boat0061The ship Success was built in Burma in 1790 for members of Cockerell & Co. She served as a British merchant vessel, living up to her name, until 1802 when she was chartered by the British government to transport convicts with life sentences to Australia. She was fitted with 72 cells, intended for three prisoners each, but on some voyages there were over 350 prisoners who were crammed in. She transported prisoners until 1851, when she was permanently stationed in Hobart’s Bay, Australia as a receiving prison. She continued to be used as a prison ship until 1885, when she was scuttled and sunk. She was raised five years later as an exhibit to educate and remind people about the almost forgotten history of convict ships.

boat0060In 1912, Capt. D.H. Smith bought the Success and sailed it from Liverpool to Boston navigating her under her own sails. The accomplishment of Smith and his crew was compared to Christopher Colombus’ voyage across the Atlantic. Smith and his crew continued along the East coast, through the Panama Canal and up the West coast, where the ship was visited by huge crowds. She stopped in Cornwall in 1923, for repairs to her hull before heading on to the Great Lakes. She continued as an exhibit ship until 1943, when she was acquired by Walter Kolbe. She stayed near Port Clinton where Kolbe had some land until 1946, when she burned to the water line. The cause of the fire is unknown, though many suspect Kolbe set the fire because the Coast Guard was pressuring him to remove the ship.


The tug Myra pulls the convict ship Success to the Cornwall dry docks for repairs, 1923.


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