News from 1885: Coptic's war cruise

Mark Baber

Jul 4, 2000
The Evening Post, Wellington, 8 December 1885
Retrieved from the National Library of New Zealand web site,

The Coptic's "War" Cruise
The Coptic arrived here to-day, after an absence of over seven months from
New Zealand. She left Wellington on the 4th of May last, bound for no one
knew whither, but which eventually turned out to be Coquimbo, the chief
naval depí´t of the Pacific, situated nearly two hundred miles north of
Valparaiso. After a stormy passage she reached her destination on the 26th
May, where she took up her station along with another "cruiser" - the
Brittannia (one of the Pacific S.N. Company's vessels) - and five men-of-war.
She remained at Coquimbo till the 19th August with nothing more exciting to
do than to hold herself in readiness for any emergency which might arise.
The officers, however, had a very pleasant time, and enjoyed themselves as
much as it was possible to do under the circumstances. The cargo of coal
which the Coptic took from this port was not even discharged, and was
ultimately consumed in her own furnaces. It was intended at first that she
should be armed from the war vessel Swiftsure, but this intention was not
carried out, so that the Coptic was not out about or damaged by either
friend or foe, and no vessel designed for war ever had a more peaceful or
serene career. Having been 85 days lying at Coquimbo, the Coptic received
orders to proceed to London, where she arrived on the 25th September, and
was put out of commission, and her crew (including some 25 Wellington men)
were paid off. Two of the latter returned to this port as passengers, and
talk about taking proceedings against the owners of the Coptic for not
complying with the terms of the articles. We are informed, however, that the
articles were strictly carried out by the captain, the agreement being that
the men should be landed at his pleasure at some British port. A report of
the voyage of the Coptic from London to New Zealand will be found in our
shipping columns.


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