Constructed originally as a first-class iron cargo carrier, the Illawarra succeeded the Hesperus as a cadet training ship in 1889. For many years she was used in what was acknowledged as the best system for training Merchant Navy officers.
Fifty or so cadets were placed on board and the boys were divided into two watches (shifts). Half of them "kept the deck", tending to the business of sailing the ship, while the other half studied navigation, seamanship, and nautical astronomy, taught by a Captain. To learn sail handling, they were made responsible for the mizzen mast (the third mast) and traditionally it was considered a disgrace if they required any help.
Devitt & Moore sold their fine old ship in 1907 to a Norwegian, who converted her back into a trader. However, in 1912 she was abandoned off the Old Head of Kinsale, leaking badly after a storm and sinking off the rugged Irish coast. The crew was rescued by a British steamer.
In this image, talented artist Efren Erese features this distinguished ship as she sits at anchor in earlier days.
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