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DEFENDER in Townsville 2011


Vessel Number: HV000523
Date: 1895
Previous Owner:
Vessel Dimensions: 24.99 m x 6.7 m (82 ft x 21.98 ft)
Classification:Vessels and fittings
DEFENDER is a trading ketch built in 1895 at Kincumber NSW. It is one of the few surviving Australian coastal trading ketches, and the only surviving vessel from its builder George Frost. It operated across Bass Strait between Victoria and Tasmania for most of its trading life before World War II. During the war it was a transport vessel. Left idle after the war it has since been restored and has sailed in Queensland waters as a charter vessel.
DescriptionDEFENDER's hull is planked from NSW hardwoods, ironbark below the waterline and red gum on the topsides . It is 25 m LOA and has 6.7m beam. DEFENDER was built by George Frost at Kincumber on the Central Coast. It sailed with a crew of six and in 1936 is known to have had a 30 to 40 hp petrol auxiliary engine, however the original engine installation was in 1924.

DEFENDER was first registered in Sydney in 1896, then Adelade and Melbourne and finally Launceston in 1926. It earned a reputation for speed when DEFENDER first entered the history books in November 1923 after making a record breaking crossing of Bass Strait in less than 24 hours. In 1932 under Captain Legatt it set a record for the Bass Strait passage from Stanley to Williamstown of 18 hours, made entirely under sail. A report in 1939 indicating it had been sold referred to DEFENDER as the ‘smartest sailer’ and ‘blue ribbon’ holder.

The Australian Navy used DEFENDER during World War II to transport troops and supplies. After the war it returned to Tasmania where it was left idle and eventually abandoned. In the 1980's the current owner rescued DEFENDER and restored the ketch to sailing condition in time for the 1988 Bicentennial Hobart to Sydney Tall Ships Race. In 2012 it has recently been working on the Whitsunday Islands sailing under the Australian Tall Ship Cruises banner.

George Frost was born at Kissing Point (now known as Ryde) in Sydney in 1842. He moved to Brisbane Water on the Central Coast NSW when he was about 19 years of age, with a younger brother William. They worked together as sawyers around Kincumber and were supplying timber to the shipwrights of the area. George eventually acquired a small property beside Kincumber Creek where he took up shipbuilding. Between 1884 and 1906, Frost built 19 ketches, schooners and steamships. The first vessel constructed was a 52-ton, 70-foot long ship which bore the name of his beloved wife Lizzie Frost. After an eventful career of only three years, the LIZZIE FROST was totally wrecked off Brunswick Heads in 1887. DEFENDER is the only one of George Frost's vessels known to survive today. George died on 1st September, 1906, and was buried in St. Paul's graveyard.

Prepared with assistance from the Register of Australian and New Zealand Ships and Boats -
Vessel Details
Current status:floating
Deck layout:full decked
Hull material and construction:carvelcarvel-planked
Hull material and construction:timber
Hull shape:displacement
Hull shape:monohull
Keel/centreboard/rudder type:keel hung rudder
Motor propulsion:auxiliary motor
Motor propulsion:diesel
Rig type:ketch
Spar material:timber
Hand propulsion/steering mechanism:wheel

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