H.M.S. OrpheusPrint Page Print this page


Photographs supplied by Peter F Williams

The marble plaque commemorates those who were killed in the sinking of the H.M.S. Orpheus on Manukau Bar, in Auckland Harbour in New Zealand on February 1863. The tablet was originally located in the Mariners Chapel in Hobart. 

Bringing naval stores from Sydney, the  1706-ton steam corvette HMS Orpheus ran aground on the bar at the entrance to Auckland’s Manukau Harbour. Of the 259 naval officers, seamen and Royal Marines aboard, 189 died. In terms of lives lost, it remains New Zealand’s worst maritime disaster. 

Minor errors and bad luck caused the disaster. Instead of rounding North Cape to reach Waitematā Harbour, Commodore William Burnett decided to berth at Onehunga in Manukau Harbour to save time. Unfortunately, he carried outdated charts and the channel through the bar had moved. Although lookouts on shore signalled a warning when they realised the ship was off course, the Orpheus missed the message.

After striking the bar, the vessel was pounded by waves and only one small boat got away. As the ship sank into the sand, the men climbed the rigging. The masts eventually collapsed, throwing the crew into the sea. Rescuers arrived too late to prevent a catastrophe. 




Address:16 Argyle Street, Maritime Museum of Tasmania , Hobart, 7000
GPS Coordinates:Lat: -42.882574
Long: 147.331641
Note: GPS Coordinates are approximate.
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Monument Type:Plaque
Monument Theme:Disaster
Actual Event Start Date:07-February-1863
Actual Event End Date:07-February-1863
Monument Manufacturer:Huxley & Parker (Melbourne, VIC)


Approx. Monument Dedication Date:1864
Front Inscription

Sacred to the memory of 

Commodore W. F. Burnett, R. N. C.B,
Commander R. H. Burton,
W. F. W. Mudge, A. Jekyll, Lieutenants,
W. D. Strong, Master,
C. B. Haslewood, Chaplain, S. Stephens, Chief Engineer,
E. E. Hill, 1st Lieutenant, R. M. A. J Clarkson,  Assistant Surgeon,
W. H. P. M. Gillham Assistant Paymaster and Secretary,
W. T. Taylor Acting Second Master,
A. D. Johnstone Assistant Paymaster, H. N Aylen Clerk,
A. R. Mallack. T. H. Broughton. C. H Verne Midshipmen,
J. T. Tozer Master`s Assistant, J. H. Adams Engineer,
J. H. Vickery.  E. J. Miller.  W Adamson.  G. F Gossage  Assistant Engineers.

And one hundred and sixty seven Petty Officers seaman and Marines, who perished in the wreck of "H.M.S. Orpheus" on Manukau Bar New Zealand on the 7th day of February 1863.

The inhabitants of Hobart Town have erected this tablet to commemorate the heroic conduct of all on board, who under the most appalling circumstances preserved the strictest discipline to the last moment of their lives, when the ship breaking up, the crew gave three parting cheers and the last words uttered by the gallant Commodore were "The Lord have mercy on us all."

Source: MA
Monument details supplied by Monument Australia - www.monumentaustralia.org.au
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