10th – 1860-1877 – India & Africa

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STAR’s sister ship, CORMORANT. Note she is ship-rigged rather than barque-rigged.

The 10th STAR was wooden hulled, barque rigged, and equipped with a two-cylinder horizontal single expansion steam engine and a single screw able to propel her at eleven knots.  Launched in 1860, only two weeks before Britain’s first iron-clad, HMS WARRIOR, which began a revolution in naval warfare, STAR only lasted seventeen years.  She was armed with one 110 pdr, one 68 pdr and two 20 pdrs.

Operating out of Bombay on the East Indies Station, she took part in the 1868 Abyssinian Expedition against Emperor Theodore II, which involved 13,000 British soldiers and 3,000 animals including 44 elephants from Bombay.  Of note is the fact that the actor Peter Ustinov was the emperor’s great grandson.  STAR’s crew were all awarded the Abyssinian Medal. It would seem reasonable that STAR could claim the battle honour “Abyssinia” based on that.

Later in 1868 and in 1869, STAR was involved in suppressing the slave trade along the east coast of Africa, patrolling from Socotra in the mouth of the Gulf of Aden, along the coast of Somalia as far south as Kenya, the same area that over one hundred thirty years later would also be patrolled by warships against the threat of piracy.  In January of 1870, STAR was badly damaged in a grounding in Trincomalee, Ceylon.  She was towed back to Bombay for repairs and then made her way back to England via  Aden, the Red Sea, Suez, Malta and Gibraltar and Plymouth where she was paid off and then disposed of in 1877. 

In 1873, Lt Verney Lovett Cameron, STAR’s Senior Lieutenant, and Surgeon William Edward Dillon, who had become friends on STAR’s trip back from India, were placed in charge of  the Royal Geographical Society’s expedition from the east coast of Africa to find the famous explorer, Dr David Livingstone, in the vicinity of Lake Tanganyika.  Upon hearing of Livingstone’s death, Dillon returned to the east coast with the body but, under the influence of delirium brought on by a severe fever, shot himself.  Cameron continued west to recover some of Livingstone’s papers, and then carried on to the west coast, becoming the first European to cross equatorial Africa.  He wrote a book, Across Africa, about his adventures, and was awarded the Royal Geographical Society’s Gold Medal.

Lt Cameron, formerly of HMS STAR, caricatured in Vanity Fair with the caption, “He walked across Africa”.