This article is about the colonial fleet. See also the United States First Fleet. The First Fleet was a unit of the United States Navy, in operation from as early as 1946 (but definitely active by 1948 as the First Task Fleet to February 1 1973 in the western
The First Fleet is the name given to the 11 ships which sailed from Great Britain on 13 May 1787 to establish the first European colony in New South Wales. A ship /ʃɪp/ is a large vessel that floats on water Ships are generally distinguished from Boats based on size See also Kingdom of Great Britain Great Britain (Breatainn Mhòr Prydain Fawr Breten Veur Graet Breetain is the larger of the two main islands Events 1497 - Pope Alexander VI excommunicates Girolamo Savonarola. Year 1787 ( MDCCLXXXVII) was a Common year starting on Monday (link will display the full calendar of the Gregorian calendar (or a Common It was a convict settlement, marking the beginnings of transportation to Australia. A convict is "a person found guilty of a Crime and sentenced by a court" or "a person serving a sentence in prison" sometimes referred to in Slang Transportation or penal transportation refers to the deporting of Convicted Criminals to a Penal colony, for example by France For a topic outline on this subject see List of basic Australia topics. The fleet was led by Captain (later Admiral) Arthur Phillip. Admiral Arthur Phillip RN (11 October 1738 &ndash 31 August 1814 was a British naval Admiraland colonial administrator
Scale models of all the ships are on display at the Museum of Sydney. See HMS ''Sirius'' for other ships of this name Berwick was built by Watsons of Rotherhithe in 1780 for the Baltic trade flagship is the lead ship in a fleet of vessels a designation given on account of being either the largest fastest newest most heavily armed or for publicity purposes the most well The third HMS Supply was a Royal Navy armed tender launched in 1759 which played an important part in the foundation of Australia. The Alexander was a First Fleet transport of 452 tons Barque -built with Quarterdeck, built at Hull in 1783 The Charlotte was a First Fleet transport ship built on the River Thames in 1784 and weighing 345 tons Friendship was a First Fleet transport ship built in Scarborough in 1784. The Lady Penrhyn was a First Fleet transport ship of 338 tons built on the River Thames in 1786. The Prince of Wales was a First Fleet transport ship of 333 tons (350? built on the River Thames in 1786. Scarborough was a transport ship of 418 tons built at Scarborough in 1782 which formed part of the First Fleet which commenced European settlement The Golden Grove was a First Fleet storeship built at Whitby in 1780. The Fishburn was the largest of the three First Fleet storeships The Borrowdale was a First Fleet storeship of 272 tons built in Sunderland in 1785 The Museum of Sydney is built on the ruins of the house of New South Wales' first Governor Arthur Phillip on the present-day corner of Phillip and Bridge Streets Sydney
Nine Sydney harbour ferries in current service were named after these First Fleet vessels (the unused names are Lady Penrhyn and Prince Of Wales). Sydney Ferries is a state owned corporation of the New South Wales Government providing commuter Ferry services on Sydney Harbour and the Parramatta
The number of people directly associated with the First Fleet will probably never be exactly established, and all accounts of the event vary slightly. Gillen (see References below, p. 445) gives the following statistics:
Embarked at Portsmouth
Landed at Port Jackson
During the voyage there were 22 births (13 boys, 9 girls), while 69 people either died, were discharged, or deserted (61 males and 8 females). As no complete crew musters have survived for the six transports and three storeships, there may have been as many as 110 more seamen. See section below for list of notable Fleet members.
The decision to send convicts to Botany Bay was taken by the British Government on 18 August 1786, with the responsibility to organise and choose officials falling on then Home Secretary, Lord Sydney and his junior, Evan Nepean. Botany Bay is a bay in Sydney, New South Wales, a few kilometres south of the Sydney central business district. Her Majesty's Government, or when the monarch is male His Majesty's Government, is the title used by the Government of the United Kingdom, based at Events 293 BC - The oldest known Roman temple to Venus is founded starting the institution of Vinalia Rustica. Year 1786 ( MDCCLXXXVI) was a Common year starting on Sunday (link will display the full calendar of the Gregorian calendar (or a Common Thomas Townshend 1st Viscount Sydney ( 24 February 1732 - 30 June 1800) was a British politician who held several important Cabinet posts in Sir Evan Nepean 1st Baronet PC ( 9 July 1751 or 1753 St Stephens near Saltash, Cornwall &ndash 2 October 1822 Preparations to obtain ships, convicts, guards and provisions began soon after. At the time the five hulks in service held about 1300 men, and selected convicts, including women from county gaols were transferred to the hulk Dunkirk at Plymouth and the New Gaol in Southwark. A hulk is a Ship that is afloat but incapable of going to sea Plymouth ( is a city and unitary authority area on the coast of Devon, England about south west of London. Southwark or The Borough is an area of south-east London in the London Borough of Southwark, situated 1 Optimistically, it was hoped to be able to sail in October, but a series of postponements were made. In mid April 1787 the St James's Chronicle commented that “strange as it may appear, we are credibly informed of the Fact that the Transports for Botany Bay have not as yet sailed". [Gillen, p. xxiv]
By October 1786, more than 200 marines had volunteered for Botany Bay duty, and Major Robert Ross was chosen to command them. Robert Ross may refer to Robert Ross (British army officer (1766&ndash1814 Robert Ross (CEO, founder and leader of the Muscular Dystrophy The man chosen to lead the expedition, command HMS Sirius, and take on the governorship of the colony, was Captain Arthur Phillip, of whom The First Lord of The Admiralty said, “The little I know of [him] would [not] have led me to select him". Admiral Arthur Phillip RN (11 October 1738 &ndash 31 August 1814 was a British naval Admiraland colonial administrator [Gillen, p. xxiv]
The convict ships (two were originally slave ships requisitioned by the Royal Navy) were fitted out with strong hatch bars between decks, bulkheads to divide convicts from crew, and the guns and ammunition. Slave ships were cargo Ships specially converted for the purpose of transporting slaves, especially newly purchased African slaves Provisions included food such as flour, peas, rice, butter, salted beef and pork, bread, soup, cheese, water and beer. Coal and wood were provided for fuel. Beads, looking glasses and other gifts for native inhabitants were included. Vast amounts of hardware items were taken — tents (for the settlers to live in until huts had been built), wagons, wheelbarrows, gunpowder, collapsible furniture for the governor, scientific instruments, paper, ropes, crockery, glass panes for the governor's windows, ready-cut wood, cooking equipment (including some complete cast-iron stoves), and a miscellany of weapons. Other items included tools, agricultural implements, seeds, spirits, medical supplies, bandages, surgical instruments, handcuffs, leg irons and chains. A prefabricated house for the governor was constructed and packed flat. 5,000 bricks for construction and thousands of nails were loaded. As the party was venturing into unknown territory, it had to carry all its provisions to survive until it could make use of local materials, assuming suitable supplies existed, and could grow its own food and raise livestock.
Convicts were delivered to the transports from the hulks and gaols with no reference to skills, or fitness to contribute to the creation of the new colony. The first arrivals embarked on the transports at Woolwich and Gravesend in early January, and continued throughout the next three months. Woolwich (ˈwʊlɪtʃ or /ˈwʊlɪdʒ/ is a suburb in south-east London, England in the London Borough of Greenwich, on the south side of the River Gravesend is a town in northwest Kent, England, on the south bank of the Thames, opposite Tilbury in Essex. Gradually the ships made their way to Portsmouth, where the last convicts were loaded on the day the fleet sailed. History See also History of Portsmouth There have been settlements in the area since before Roman times mostly being offshoots of Portchester, which Eventually the fleet set sails and moved off down the English Channel on 13 May 1787. Events 1497 - Pope Alexander VI excommunicates Girolamo Savonarola. Year 1787 ( MDCCLXXXVII) was a Common year starting on Monday (link will display the full calendar of the Gregorian calendar (or a Common
With fine weather the convicts were allowed on deck, and on 3 June 1787 the fleet anchored at Santa Cruz at Tenerife. Events 350 - Roman usurper Nepotianus, of the Constantinian dynasty, proclaims himself Roman Emperor, entering Year 1787 ( MDCCLXXXVII) was a Common year starting on Monday (link will display the full calendar of the Gregorian calendar (or a Common See also Santa Cruz de Tenerife (province. Historical population In 1990 the population slowly boomed above the 200000 mark falling Tenerife (previously known and spelled as "Teneriffe" in English before mass tourism adopted the Spanish spelling a Spanish Island, is the largest Here fresh water, vegetables and meat were taken on board. Phillip and the chief officers were entertained by the local governor, while one convict tried unsuccessfully to escape. On 10 June they set sail to cross the Atlantic to Rio de Janeiro, taking advantage of favourable trade winds and ocean currents. Events 1190 - Third Crusade: Frederick I Barbarossa drowns in the Sally River while leading an army to Jerusalem Rio de Janeiro ("River of January" ˈhiw dʒi ʒʌˈnejɾu in Brazilian Portuguese, /ˈriːoʊ di ʒəˈnɛroʊ/ in English is the second largest city of Brazil The trade winds (also called trades) are the prevailing pattern of easterly winds found in the Tropics near the Earth's Equator.
The weather became increasingly hot and humid as the fleet sailed through the tropics. Vermin, such as rats, and parasites such as bedbugs, lice, cockroaches and fleas, tormented the convicts, officers and marines. Bilges became foul and the smell, especially below the closed hatches, was over-powering. The bilge is the lowest compartment on a ship where the two sides meet On Alexander a number of convicts fell sick and died. Tropical rainstorms meant that the convicts could not exercise on deck, and were kept below in the foul, cramped holds. On the female transports, promiscuity between the convicts and the crew and marines was rampant. In the doldrums, Phillip was forced to ration the water to three pints a day. The Doldrums (often capitalized when referring to the geographic region is an area of the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean affected by the Intertropical
The fleet reached Rio de Janeiro on 5 August and stayed a month. Events 642 - Battle of Maserfield - Penda of Mercia defeats and kills Oswald of Bernicia. The ships were cleaned and water taken on board, repairs were made, and Phillip ordered large quantities of food for the fleet. The women convicts’ clothing, which had become infested with lice, was burned, and the women were issued with new clothes made from rice sacks. While the convicts remained below deck, the officers explored the city and were entertained by its inhabitants. A convict and a marine were punished for passing forged quarter-dollars made from old buckles and pewter spoons.
The fleet left Rio on 3 September to run before the westerlies to the Cape of Good Hope, where they arrived in mid October. Events 36 BC - In the Battle of Naulochus, Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa, Admiral of Octavian, defeats Sextus Pompeius The Westerlies or the Prevailing Westerlies are the prevailing winds in the Middle latitudes between 30 and 60 degrees Latitude, blowing from The Cape of Good Hope ( Afrikaans: Kaap die Goeie Hoop, Kaap de Goede Hoop Cabo da Boa Esperança Persian Language: دماغه امید نیک This was the last port of call, so the main task was to stock up on plants, seeds and livestock for their arrival in Australia. The women convicts on Friendship were moved to other transports to make room for livestock purchased there. The convicts were provided with fresh beef and mutton, bread and vegetables, to build up their strength for the journey. The Dutch colony of Cape Town was the last outpost of European settlement which the fleet members would see for years, perhaps for the rest of their lives. Cape Town (Kaapstad Xhosa: Ikapa) is the second most populous city in South Africa, forming part of the metropolitan municipality of the “Before them stretched the awesome, lonely void of the Indian and Southern Oceans, and beyond that lay nothing they could imagine. ” (Hughes, p. 82)
Assisted by the gales of the latitudes below the fortieth parallel, the heavily-laden transports surged through the violent seas. A freak storm struck as they began to head north around Van Diemen's Land, damaging the sails and masts of some of the ships. Van Diemen's Land was the original name used by Europeans for the island of Tasmania, now part of Australia.
In November, Phillip transferred to Supply. With Alexander, Friendship and Scarborough, the fastest ships in the Fleet and carrying most of the male convicts, Supply hastened ahead to prepare for the arrival of the rest. Phillip intended to select a suitable location, find good water, clear the ground, and perhaps even have some huts and other structures built before the others arrived. However, this "flying squadron" reached Botany Bay only hours before the rest of the Fleet, so no preparatory work was possible. Botany Bay is a bay in Sydney, New South Wales, a few kilometres south of the Sydney central business district. The Supply reached Botany Bay on 18 January 1788; the three fastest transports in the advance group arrived on 19 January; slower ships, including the Sirius arrived on 20 January. Events 350 - Generallus Magnentius deposes Roman Emperor Constans and proclaims himself Emperor Year 1788 ( MDCCLXXXVIII) was a Leap year starting on Tuesday (link will display the full calendar of the Gregorian calendar (or a Leap Events 1419 - Hundred Years' War: Rouen surrenders to Henry V of England completing his reconquest of Normandy. Events 250 - Emperor Decius begins a widespread persecution of Christians in Rome. 
This was one of the world's greatest sea voyages — eleven vessels carrying about 1400 people and stores had traveled for 252 days for more than 15,000 miles (24,000 km) without losing a ship. Forty-eight people had died on the journey, a death rate of just over three per cent. Given the rigours of the voyage, the navigational problems, the poor condition and sea-faring inexperience of the convicts, the primitive medical knowledge, the lack of precautions against scurvy, the crammed and foul conditions of the ships, poor planning and inadequate equipment, this was a remarkable achievement.
It was soon realised that Botany Bay did not live up to the glowing account that Captain James Cook had given it in 1770. Captain James Cook FRS RN ( – 14 February 1779) was an English Explorer, Navigator and The bay was open and unprotected, fresh water was scarce, and the soil was poor. First contacts were made with the local indigenous people, the Eora, who seemed curious but suspicious of the newcomers. First contact is a term describing the first meeting of two Cultures previously unaware of one another The traditional owners of the inner Sydney City region of Australia are the Cadigal people one of the peoples who belong to the Eora language group The area was studded with enormously strong trees. When the convicts tried to cut them down, their tools broke and the tree trunks had to be blasted out of the ground with gunpowder. The primitive huts built for the officers and officials quickly collapsed in rainstorms. The marines had a habit of getting drunk and not guarding the convicts properly, whilst their commander, Major Robert Ross, drove Phillip to despair with his arrogant and lazy attitude. Major Robert Ross (c1740–1794 was the officer in charge of the First Fleet garrison of marines, and Lieutenant-Governor of the Convict settlement Crucially, Phillip worried that his fledgling colony was exposed to attack from the Aborigines or foreign powers.
On 21 January, 2 days after he had arrived in Botany Bay, Phillip and a party which included John Hunter, departed the Bay in three small boats to explore other bays to the north. Events 1189 - Philip II of France and Richard I of England begin to assemble troops to wage the Third Crusade. They soon found what they were looking for and the men returned on 23 January with news of a harbour to the north, with sheltered anchorages, fresh water and fertile soil. Events 393 - Roman Emperor Theodosius I proclaims his nine year old son Honorius co-emperor Phillip's impressions of the harbour were recorded in a letter he sent to England later. He wrote "the finest harbour in the world, in which a thousand sail of the line may ride in the most perfect security . . . ". This was Port Jackson, which Cook had seen and named, but not entered. Port Jackson, containing Sydney Harbour, is the natural harbour of Sydney Australia A decision was made to relocate the party to this new site.
The party was startled when two French ships came into sight and entered Botany Bay. This turned out to be a scientific expedition led by Jean-François de La Pérouse. Jean François de Galaup comte de La Pérouse (23 August 1741&ndash1788? was a French Navy officer and Explorer whose expedition vanished in Oceania. The French group remained until 10 March, but never returned to France, being wrecked with the loss of nearly all lives near Vanikoro Island in the New Hebrides (Vanuatu). Events 241 BC - First Punic War: Battle of the Aegates Islands - The Romans sink the Carthaginian fleet bringing Hebrides (disambiguation New Hebrides was the colonial name for an Island group in the South Pacific that now forms the nation of Vanuatu.
On 26 January 1788, the fleet weighed anchor and by evening had entered Port Jackson. Events 1340 - King Edward III of England is declared King of France. The site selected for the anchorage had deep water close to the shore, was sheltered and had a small stream flowing into it. Phillip named it Sydney Cove, after Lord Sydney the British Home Secretary. Sydney Cove is a small bay on the southern shore of Port Jackson (commonly but incorrectly called Sydney Harbour) on the coast of the state of New South Thomas Townshend 1st Viscount Sydney ( 24 February 1732 - 30 June 1800) was a British politician who held several important Cabinet posts in The Secretary of State for the Home Department, commonly known as the Home Secretary, is the minister in charge of the United Kingdom Home Office This date is still celebrated as Australia Day, marking the beginnings of the first British settlement.
Unknown to the first European arrivals, it was to be almost two and a half years before other ships arrived with their cargo of new convicts and provisions. These were Lady Juliana, shortly followed by the storeship Justinian and the three ships of the infamous Second Fleet. The Justinian was a Storeship which carried provisions to the Convict settlement at New South Wales. The Second Fleet frequently is regarded as being the group of four ships which arrived together at Sydney Cove in Port Jackson, New South Wales in late
Some of the notable First Fleet members were:
Crew members who remained in the colony
Convicts (see also Convicts on the First Fleet)
Many other convicts made significant contributions to the early years of the colony, but few are remembered today, except by their descendants.