Cato (ship)

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Career (United Kingdom)
Name: Cato
Owner: Reeve & Green, London
Builder: Stockton, England
Fate: Wrecked on the Great Barrier Reef, Australia, in 1804.
General characteristics
Class & type: Full-rigged ship
Tons burthen: 430 tons

The Cato was a ship of 430 tons constructed at Stockton in England and registered in London to Reeve & Green. It was wrecked on the Great Barrier Reef, Australia, in 1804.

On 10 August 1803, Cato left Sydney in the company of the ships HMS Porpoise and Bridgewater bound for India. On 17 August the three ships got caught near a sandbank, 157 miles north and 51 miles east of Sandy Cape.

With shrinking leeway, both the Cato and HMS Porpoise were grounded. Bridgewater sailed on, despite knowing that the other two ships had come to grief. The crew and passengers of the other ships were able to land on a sandbank as both their ships broke up.

This sandbank become known as Wreck Reefs and is located in the southern part of the Coral Sea Islands approximately 450 km (280 mi) East Nor East of Gladstone, Queensland or 250 km (155 mi) east of the Swain reefs complex. They form a narrow chain of reefs with small cays that extends for around 25 km (16 mi) in a west to east line.

The Cato also gave its name to the nearby Cato Reef which it discovered.

On 26 August 1803 with no sign of rescue, Porpoise passenger Matthew Flinders and Captain John Park of the Cato took the largest cutter (which they named Hope) and twelve crewmen and headed to Sydney to seek rescue. Through marvelous navigation, Hope made it to Port Jackson by 8 September. Three lives were lost in the joint shipwreck. The remaining passengers were rescued.[1]


  1. ^ Australian Shipwrecks - vol1 1622-1850, Charles Bateson, AH and AW Reed, Sydney, 1972, ISBN 0-589-07112-2 p35