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The Fleets

Australian Royal Mail Steam Navigation Co. 1852-1860

The first regular steamship service between the United Kingdom and Australia via the Cape was inaugurated in 1852 by the Australian Royal Mail Steam Navigation Co. which had been awarded a contract for the carriage of mails by that route.
The service proved so unreliable that the contract was withdrawn in April 1853.
The outbreak of the Crimean War in March 1854 brought the company’s withdrawal from the trade as four ships were chartered by the British Government for troop transport. In 1857 the ships were returned to the Australian Royal Mail Steam Navigation Co. and laid up awaiting disposal.
In 1860 the company was finally wound up and the remaining ships were sold.

Many thanks to Henk Jungerius and Ted Finch for their assistance in collecting this data. The following list was extracted from various sources. This is not an all inclusive list but should only be used as a guide. If you would like to know more about a vessel, visit the Ship Descriptions (onsite) or Immigrant Ship web site.

Vessel Built Years in Service Tons
Adelaide 1852 built by J. Scott Russell, Millwall | 1854 became transport, 1860 sold. 1,859
Australian 1852 built by W. Denny & Bros., Dumbarton | 1854 became transport, 1857 sold to the East India Co., 1863 sold to British Steam Nav. Co., 1866 sold to Egyptian Government, fate not clear wrecked 1868. 1,392
Melbourne 1849 built by Scott & Co., Greenock | ex- Greenock, screw frigate, 1852 purchased from Admiralty renamed Melbourne, 1854 sold, 1858 property of Martin & Co., converted into a sailing vessel, later sold to Edward Bates, Liverpool. 1,450
Sydney 1852 built by W. Denny & Bros., Dumbarton | 1854 became transport, 1857 sold to the East India Co., 1863 sold to British Steam Nav. Co., 1866 sold to Egyptian Government, fate not clear. 1,391
Victoria 1852 built by J. Scott Russell, Millwall | 1854 became transport, 1858 chartered by the European & Australian Royal Mail Co., 1860 sold. 1,877

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