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Centurion II

Vessel Number: HV000691
Date: 1955
Vessel type: Pearling Luggers
Vessel Dimensions: 17.38 m × 14.32 m × 4.3 m × 1.73 m (57.02 ft × 46.98 ft × 14.11 ft × 5.68 ft)
Classification:Vessels and fittings
CENTURION II is a pearling lugger understood to have been built in Broome in 1955 for Streeter & Male. It is a rare surviving example of the Broome lugger from the 1950s, a craft unique in design to that region. The mother of pearl shell industry was a major economic activity in northern Australia (north-west and Torres Strait) for over 100 years from 1850 and was one of the contributors to the development of those regions. By 1910, Broome was the largest pearling centre in the world with over 400 luggers and 3500 people involved in the search for shell in those waters of North-Western Australia. The industry was multi-cultural and involved Aboriginal people, Europeans and Asians in all aspects so much so that it was granted exemption from the White Australia Policy on immigration of the early 20th century. Streeter & Male were one of the prominent pearling companies of Broome. Although some modifications have been made to the vessel it remains in good condition.
DescriptionCENTURION II is understood to have been built on the beach in Broome by Japanese shipwright Tarataro Arata in 1955. It was planked in jarrah. It is 58 feet long, and 14 ft 3 inches wide. The hull followed the traditional shape with a shallow rise to the floor and strong bilge section below the waterline, a straight keel, overhanging counter stern and spoon bow. This hull form that became standard on Broome pearling luggers, in particular the many vessels built in the 1950s before construction of the type came to an end. It has a raised bulwark forward, and also had a high cabin top forward which may have been an addition to the accommodation forward as an improvement for European crew members.

It was launched with the name CENTURIAN and number B20 but during its life the spelling was changed to CENTURION and then “II” was possibly added to distinguish it from a previous lugger called CENTURION that was lost during World War II. Images of the craft show it with the number B20, B10, then B2 and finally B8. It was originally operated by Daniel McDaniel and Son but later was working under Male and Co. one of the principal pearling operators in Broome

Initially CENTURION II would have worked the fields in a traditional manner, using its diesel to get to and from the fields, and then operating under sail drifting across the pearling beds as the divers worked their way slowly along the ocean floor.

It was probably retired from the pearling industry during the mid to late 1970s as the traditional use of the craft came to an end. It is understood it then went into net fishing owned by L C Keogh of Applecross, and moved to Fremantle. At a later date it was sold and made an epic voyage across the bight in difficult conditions in 1980 to Port Adelaide, before being delivered to Sydney.

Its movements after that are not recorded, and the current owners bought the vessel in Queensland in 2014. It shows a number of the changes that have occurred over time. The sheer had flattened out toward the stern, and it now has a long cabin and wheelhouse between the two masts, and is fitted out with accommodation for cruising. The rig appears to be quite similar to the original rig.

The new owners have undertaken an extensive project of rebuilding and restoration, and the work on the hull is now complete. Further research into its background is also being undertaken.

Prepared with assistance from the Register of Australian and New Zealand Ships and Boats compiled by Mori Flapan;
Vessel Details
Cabin or superstructure material and construction:timber planked
Deck layout:full decked
Deck material and construction:timber planked
Hull material and construction:carvelcarvel-planked
Hull material and construction:timber
Hull shape:monohull
Keel/centreboard/rudder type:full keel
Keel/centreboard/rudder type:keel hung rudder
Motor propulsion:diesel
Rig type:gaff
Rig type:ketch
Spar material:timber
Hand propulsion/steering mechanism:wheel
Additional Titles

Assigned title: Centurian

Assigned title: Centurion II

Alternate Numbers

Registration Numbers in Broome fleet: B2, B8, B10 and B20

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