Monday, December 26, 2011

The Eure - French Man o' War that became a coal hulk

The Eure was a French man of war built sometime in the 19th century, at this stage I haven't been able to find any details about her commissioning in the French Navy. She first visited New Zealand in 1898, coming into Auckland Harbour for the first time in that same year. She also called at various ports around the country including visiting the settlement of Akaroa, before heading to Port Chalmers under the command of Captain Le Cuve.

Arrival in Port Chalmers
ARRIVAL. March 7. Eure, French war corvette, 1600 tons, 10 guns, Captain Le Cuve, from Akaroa.
 Otago Daily Times 8 March 1898

The vessel again visited New Zealand waters in 1900 including a visit to Wellington. She was then under the command of Captain Thibauld.

In 1911 after her decommissioning, the Eure was towed to Sydney from Noumea and dismantled according to some reports at Balmain in Sydney, where as other reports in the Australian papers have stated she was dismantled in Noumea. In 1913 she was purchased by the Northern Steamship Company for use as a coal hulk and was towed by the Ihumata to Auckland arriving 26 January 1913.

 AUCKLAND, 26th January. The old French gunboat Eure arrived to-day in, tow of the steamer Ihumata. The passage from Sydney was made in eight days ten hours. The Eure has been, purchased by the Northern.Company, for use as a coal hulk.
 Evening Post 27 January 1913

For the next 26 years until 1939 the Eure was laid up and used as a hulk for storing coal for the Northern Steamship Company supplying its fleet of vessels until 1939, when the old vessel's days finally came to an end. She was sold to the ship breakers and beached at Shoal Bay where she was broken up. The Evening Post report below stated she was towed to Auckland by the 'Joan Craig', however that is not accurate. It was the Ihumata that towed her from Sydney on her last journey to Auckland Harbour. 

 Another of the old ships lying in Auckland's "Rotten Row," a former French man-of-war. Eure, has been sold to the ship-breakers and is to be beached at Shoal Bay for dismantling. While this is being done the men engaged on the task will live on board the Taniwha. which was recently sold by the Northern Steam Ship Company to the same firm for breaking up. When the Eure's teak and oak timbers and metal work have been recovered, the Taniwha will be beached for similar treatment. Little is known of the Eure's service in the French Navy. Her last station, however, was Noumea. New Caledonia, where she was probably sent on patrol among French possessions, the inhabitants of which were not so friendly to white people in those days as they are now. That she has seen battle is evidenced by the fact that when she came to Auckland her sides bore signs of shot marks. She was bought by the Northern Steam Ship Company for use as a hulk a few years before the war. The French Government sent her to Sydney, and from there she was towed across the Tasman in 1912 by the Joan Craig. Since then she has spent her days as a hulk, though oblong ports for her guns in the remnants of her poop and forecastle indicate her former status. Though the Eure has outlasted her usefulness as a hulk, her timbers are still remarkably sound, and it is considered on the waterfront, that she has been a particularly well-found ship. All her timbers are teak and oak.
 Evening Post 14 June 1939

 A brief investigation into the Australian papers of the earlier time period (1890's) show reports of the Eure visiting various ports along the Australian coastline. She had taken part in the search for a missing vessel, and I also found several reports of her visiting New Guinea. She had also laid a supply depot down at an island called 'Amsterdam Island' for ship wrecked sailors. Whatever her early history the Eure had been an impressive vessel in her time, and played a significant role in the history of the Pacific Islands.

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