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20 August 2014

The “John Bolton”… Launched at Huskisson 1933

Fan far and celebration for a little ship that would sail the uncharted seas.
Sat February 1933. Alf Settree was overseeing the launching of another one of his magnificent wooden ships into Currumbene creek. The 500 ton ‘John Bolton”.
142-John-Bolton-ready-for-launch When a new vessel was being launched into the “creek” it was always met with great enthusiasm and celebration, The launching of the John Bolton drew a large crowd that gathered on the waterfront to witness the launch.

From early morning the workmen had been busy preparing for the launch at high tide.

By 9.30 everything was ready for the Hon. C.Marr Minister for Health and Repatriation, who would be assisted in the christening ceremony by Mrs. Marr.
Mr Morris manager of the American Shipping Co., presided over the opening, in his opening remarks stated “that practically the whole of the timber used in the vessel was obtained locally, a fact of which the district should be proud”".
737-The-John-Bolton Designed for trade in the islands of New Guinea, and was named  “Bolton” after John Bolton Carpenter, pioneer of W.R. Carpenter and Co.
Mr Marr. “It might be interesting to tell you, that the contract for the ship was obtained in open competition with the world.”
Mrs. Marr then released the suspended bottle of Champaign and Christened the vessel “Bolton” and wished her every success.
The vessel moved off gently and took to the water as graceful as a swan to the accompaniment of cheering and applause.
With the celebration over, she was moored to Huskisson Wharf and loaded with a cargo of 140 tons of spotted gum, the job was finished by lunch time Sunday.
She was then towed by the Illawarra Co.’s ship the Kianga to Sydney, where the engines will be installed and the cabins and fittings completed, before sea trials.
Sydney April 12th – Start of the Sea Trials.
Just two months after her launch at Huskisson she was ready for sea trials.

She was leaving port under her own power for the first time, as the John Bolton passed Fort Denison on her way to Bradley’s Head the “Barcamul”", a 237 ton trawler left her port at Woolloomooloo Bay.
The vessels collided at right angles, the steel stem of the trawler striking the John Bolton close to the Starboard bow and tearing a great hole, described as “large enough for a man to crawl through”, which extended from the deck to the waterline.
Water immediately rushed through the strained planking, the pumps were set going at once.
Realising the ship was in danger of sinking, Captain Cruickshank turned her towards the nearest shallow, Rushcutter Bay.
The Barcamul bore little trace of the collision.
George Dent injured in collision.At the time George H. Dent 45 shipwright of Huskisson was working in the galley, was thrown heavily and received head injuries. He was treated in Sydney Hospital where it was found he was not seriously hurt.

George Dents recollection of the incident.
Dent said, “he remembered very little of the incident, except that he was working in the galley when he was suddenly knocked off his balance, and hurried across the floor to a corner, where he struck his head on a post. He was temporarily rendered unconscious, when he recovered there were shouts of confusion on the deck above, and it was only then that he realised that a smash had occurred”.

Mr. Alf Settree leaps to mans rescue.
One man who leaped overboard and probably would have drowned, was rescued by the builder of the motorship, Mr. Alf Settree, who followed him into the water, and supported him until they were pulled back to the boat with a line. A number of other members of the crew were thrown off their feet by the impact, some suffering minor injuries, for which they were subsequently treated by ambulance officers.
30th May 1933 - John Bolton arrives at Samarai.Just one month later after her eventful start she arrived in Samarai for the start of her Island trade.
”W. R. Carpenter's new island motorship John Bolton arrived early this morning after an excellent passage from Sydney. The average speed was 8 knots. After effecting registration, the vessel, under Captain Cruickshank, will sail for Rabaul”.
18th Dec 1945 “John Bolton” sunk by Japanese. AWM…
After many years of service throughout the Islands of the pacific and sometime during the late stages of WW2 the John Bolton met her end at the hands of the Japanese.
This is the only record I have found that relates to the sinking of the John Bolton.

If you have any more details please contact us - contact details above.



18th January 2016
We received this letter from Kim Flemming of London
He has added the details below to the story of the John Bolton.

On your interesting blog about this vessel you invite others to add to its story.  I can contribute two or three facts.

1 In "The Register of Australian and New Zealand shipping, 1874-1949" a vessel with this name is listed, although some of the details appear to be wrong (there are numerous acknowledged errors in this book).  It is shown as being registered at Samarai, but then as having foundered at Witu Island in 1949, which contradicts other more reliable accounts.

2 The MV John Bolton was certainly chartered by Sir Harry Maude's Phoenix Islands Settlement Scheme, which began in 1938, to carry Gilbertese people to the islands.

3 In January 1940 the vessel delivered supplies to the British administrator (my great uncle) on Canton Island.  It had come from Beru (in the southern Gilbert islands), very probably having loaded from Suva in Fiji in November of the previous year.

With best wishes.

Kim Fleming

Thanks you Kim for the information,  most interesting.

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