Heritage VIC




Kitty Millers Bay, Phillip Island

VHR Number


Date lost


Year of construction


Official number


Statement of Significance

Physical Description  
Construction Material Composite
Rig Full Rigged Ship
Hull Details The vessel had two decks, 1 cemented bulkhead, upper decks sheathed in wood. Anchors and chains prooved and tested by Lloyds. Poop deck 60.0', Bridge Deck 60.0', Forecastle 38.0'. Freeboard 6.0'. Lower masts steel, topmasts timber.
Propulsion Sail
Number of Masts 3
Length / Breadth / Depth 310.0 Feet / 42.2 Feet / 25.6 Feet
Builder T.R. Oswald & Co.
Built Date 1891
Built Port / Country Milford Haven / Wales
Registration Port / Country Liverpool / England
The Speke was the second largest ship-rigged vessel ever built. In February 1906 it ran ashore on Phillip Island as a result of poor navigation by the captain. One man was drowned when one of the lifeboats capsized, but the remainder of the crew reached safety. Although the Speke eventually broke up, it was extensively salvaged. After battling headwinds on a voyage from Sydney to Melbourne in ballast, the ship Speke was forced ashore east of Kitty Miller's Bay. A boat was launched but capsized in the heavy surf. One man was drowned, but the remaining occupants swam ashore with a line allowing the rest of the crew to reach safety. During the Marine Board of Inquiry, the master stated that a bush fire had obscured the land, and that heavy seas from the south-west caused the vessel to go ashore. He was found guilty of poor navigation and lost his master's certificate for 12 months. According to Lubbock, the SPEKE was the second largest ship-rigged sailing vessel ever built.
Voyage Details  
Date Lost 22/02/1906
Voyage from Peru-Sydney to Melbourne
1500 tons sand ballast
Owner Sailing Ships SPEKE Co. (Lim). (R.W. Leyland & Co)
Master of Vessel Captain Tilson
Cause of Loss
Vessel missed stays in poor visibility and ran ashore. Navigational error
Further Details  
Number of Passengers 0
Number of Crew Members 0