NotesThe models of Sirius and Supply were presented to the Museum after the 1938 parade and displayed on Level 4 of the Museum's Harris Street building. They were featured by Australia Post on the 27 cent Australia Day stamps for 1983.
The ship this model represents is the Royal Navy armed tender Supply, commanded by Captain Henry Ball. The vessel served as one of the two naval escorts accompanying the First Fleet of settlers to Australia. Initially the Grantham was chosen for the voyage, but it was discovered to be badly decayed and was replaced by the Supply.
The brig-rigged sloop HMS Supply was a two-masted Naval tender of wooden construction built in 1759 for the Admiralty in a Thames-side shipyard, possibly by either H. Bird or Thomas Slade. A contemporary Admiralty plan provides the vessel's dimensions as:
Length on range of the deck 78 feet 6 inches (23.9 m)
Breadth extreme 22 feet 2 inches (6.7 m)
Depth of hold 11 feet 6 inches (3.5 m)
Burthen Just over 168 tonnes
A letter of the 18 August 1786 from the Home Secretary, Lord Sydney, to the Lords Commissioner of the Treasury set in motion the machinery to implement the British Government's decision to found a penal settlement at Botany Bay. From the vessels proffered in response to an Admiralty advertisement posted up in the coffee-houses frequented by shipowners, ship brokers and merchants, the Navy Board chartered five transports (Alexander, Charlotte, Friendship, Lady Penryn and Scarborough) and three store ships (Borrowdale, Fishburn and Golden Grove). Together with the two warships, Sirius and Supply, a sixth transport (Prince of Wales) was added to the expedition.
Recruiting crew immediately after a substantial period of war was not easy. Added to this was the fact that the ship formed a convict convoy of 11 ships heading to the farthermost corner of the globe, to found the first permanent British settlers in Australia. The Supply was commissioned on 27 October 1786 and was the smallest ship of the Fleet. It carried four three-pound guns and had a complement of 55 seamen. The Supply was intended as an armed companion to the flagship Sirius and back-up in case of an emergency.
The Fleet weighed anchor from Portsmouth, England, on Sunday 13 May 1787. Heading south, the Fleet sailed via Tenerife in the Canary Islands where it anchored on 3 June to take on fresh water and supplies before the long Atlantic crossing to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. On this leg, water shortages led to rationing and sickness, and the Fleet arrived in Rio in early August to load food and water as well as tropical plants, seeds, and rum. Leaving on 4 September, the Fleet sailed back across the Atlantic. It reached Cape Town on 13 October and dropped anchor there until 12 November. The Fleet set out on the last leg of the voyage after re-stocking with fresh supplies, adding more livestock to those brought from England, and taking on board more plants and seeds.
Being the fastest vessel, the Supply often had the job during the voyage of rounding up ships that had become detached from the Fleet. Its crew searched for a man lost overboard from the Alexander on 27 July 1787. The Supply also sailed ahead to find land and relayed the commodore's signals, which sometimes were unobserved or ignored. Because of its size, the Supply lay so low in the water that in a gale the vessel laboured a great deal and could carry little canvas.
On leaving Cape Town on the final leg of the voyage, Captain Phillip transferred from the flagship Sirius to the Supply. The Supply reached Botany Bay on 18 January 1788, two days ahead of the rest of the Fleet, and the Supply's officers planted a flag. Phillip, with three boats, set off to explore Port Jackson; finding it more suitable, he decided to form the settlement there. At dawn on 25 January 1788 the Supply sailed for Port Jackson, but owing to adverse winds and tides did not anchor in Sydney Cove until 7 pm that evening. The following day Phillip hoisted the British flag on the new colony.
After the disembarkation of the convicts and stores, only the Sirius and Supply remained in the colony. The other ships eventually returned to England or were wrecked on the return journey. The Supply made numerous voyages to Lord Howe Island and Norfolk Island and a long voyage to Batavia for stores. In 1790 the Sirius and Supply were sent by Phillip to transport 275 convicts and marines to Norfolk Island, where crops were reported to be growing well. On this voyage the Sirius ran aground on a reef off Norfolk Island and on 19 March was wrecked, leaving only the Supply as the main means of obtaining supplies and communicating with the outside world.
The fate the Supply is uncertain. Some sources indicate that it served as a hulk in Sydney Cove until broken up in 1807. Others say the vessel returned to England in 1791, was renamed the Thomas & Nancy, and served as a coal carrier on the Thames until around 1806.