of great historical significance to Australia in
particular. She was the first command of
Australia’s first colonial Governor, Arthur Phillip.
A fireship, the Basilisk
began life as HM Sloop Grasshopper.
She was acquired by the Royal Navy in 1776, and
was of 282 44/94 tons burthen. Her original
dimensions were 92 feet six inches on the lower deck,
with an extreme breadth of 26 feet nine inches.
Although she was recommissioned as the Basilisk
in 1779, the ship was never actually fitted out as a
fireship, the yard deciding in 1780 that she was beyond
repair. Consequently, although she was Phillip’s
first real Royal Navy command, he never actually got to
sail her anywhere.
of HMS Basilisk
hull of the model pictured was constructed from cedar planks
on hardwood bulkheads and keel. She has been
constructed on a scale of 1:40, and has been fitted out
to correspond with the original draught of the Grasshopper.
Her fittings include a binnacle, windlass, ship’s
wheel, bilge pump, belfry, fife rails, and capstan as
depicted on her original draught. Her hull has
been plated with approximately 1000 individual copper
plates. The planks of her hull and decks have been
fixed to the frames with wooden tree-nails (‘trunnels’).
The ship has a full head, and quarter-galleries, and has
been painted in a manner that is consistent with the
decoration of British warships of the era. Her
masts and spars have been constructed from Tasmanian
oak, and conform to the official design of the period.
Her standing rigging consists of ropes which have been
fashioned from polyester fibre, while her running
rigging consists of ropes which have been fashioned from
cotton thread. The ship has been painted with
acrylic paints, and lacquered with a polyurethane
lacquer to preserve and protect the colours and timbers
of her hull.